Chinese Singularity

Original author: Ben Goertzel
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Ben Herzel, in his article, discusses the possibility of launching the Singularity in China and concludes that many cultural, political and economic trends make this event highly probable.
Dr. Hugo de Garis, father of evolving hardware and a brave AI researcher, moved to China a few years ago and now runs the Artificial Brain Laboratory at Xiamen University . He is convinced that the Singularity in the spirit of Vinge and Kurzweil may happen later in this century, and that China is the most likely place for Strong AI ( SRI) the human level and other critical technologies that underlie the emergence of the Singularity.

As Hugo argues, “The population of China is 1.3 billion. The US population is 0.3 billion. In China, the average economic growth rate is 10% over the past 3 decades. In the USA - 3%. The Chinese government is strongly committed to serious investment in the latest technology. From the above assumptions, one can essentially prove, as a mathematical theorem, that China will be in a superior position for a decade or so to offer higher salaries (in rich southeastern cities) for creative, prominent Westerners to come to China to create artificial brains - much more than the USA and Europe can offer. With the most creative AI planet developers in China, it will be almost inevitable that the world's first artificial intelligence will have Chinese roots. ”

(Let me show you the cards: I spent a month at Hugo’s Xiamen’s laboratory this summer, and Hugo and I recently received information that the Chinese National Science Foundation approved a grant to sponsor his laboratory to continue our collaborative research in cognitive robotics aimed at giving humanoid robots Nao opportunity to learn, make decisions and communicate in English and Chinese. I even discussed their own drive to Xiamen . So I can not promise great objectivity in this thread ... and do not Otori personal passion was the reason that I asked different people involved in AI research and software technology in China, whether Chinese Singularity.)

The first destination in my search for the truth about the Chinese Singularity was a visit to the FDI researcher, Dr. Pei Wang of Temple University , who has been living in the United States for a long time, but visits his home in China every summer. Pei expressed a milder version of Hugo’s opinion: “I think China is among the most likely places (although not only one) where the first real strong intellectual system will be created ... Given the population and educational level of China, its chances are quite great ... there are solid intellectual resources to make SRI a reality ”

Pei notes that “one of the main advantages of China is the lack of strong skepticism about past failures in the creation of FIS.” The USA and Japan have spent large sums on the development of AI in recent decades with a disappointing result and, as a result, are very skeptical about AI compared to other areas of research. China has never had this experience and is making its first serious attempt to create AI in an era blessed with more powerful computers and deeper knowledge in thinking and computer science. Pei also noted that the scientific community in China is leaning toward accumulative research instead of risky attempts to change the paradigm. It seems that this has been true so far in terms of AI: Chinese AI developers have made important innovations in many areas, including fuzzy systems, genetic algorithms,

Dr. Min Jiang, an assistant professor at the Artificial Brain Laboratory, specializing in AI thinking and formal logic, outlined a factor that balances this conservatism: “China is catching up in many areas. But perhaps this is part of the reason why China wants to spend research money on cutting-edge research. This can be seen as a “tuition fee" and contribution to the future. Even if some projects fail, we can learn many things from this experience. ” Hugo's sponsorship of the laboratory seems to be proof of this perspective. And the experience of experimentation is exactly what will be necessary for the creation of FIS and other fundamental technologies that open the way to the Singularity.

Ming offers a closer look at China's particulars: “I think the most important advantage (or disadvantage) is the [political and state] system. If the ruling circles decide that the project is critical, we do it by the forces of the whole country: for example, the atomic bomb, the spacecraft. ” Another example is the First Solar initiative , launched in September 2009, a ten-year project aimed at covering 65 square meters. km Inner Mongolia's solar panels generate 2 billion watts of energy, which are enough to illuminate three million homes. When the Chinese government really wants to do something, it thinks big.

This combination - the desire to experiment with new ideas and make massive investments in selected undertakings - is very intriguing. If the Chinese sponsor an experimental singular project, and it leads to impressive enough results to interest the ruling circles, exciting things can happen. This is exactly what Hugo has in mind with his proposal for KUIM, which he voiced at the Eastern Technology Forum in Shanghai this October: “What I propose is the creation by the Chinese government of KUIM (China Artificial Brain Office) in over the next 5-10 years, consisting of thousands of scientists and engineers, to design artificial brains for the Chinese home robot industry and other applications. KUIM will do for the artificial brain what KNKU ("The China National Space Administration ) is doing for space now, that is, it is hiring thousands of scientists and engineers to design and control rockets for China’s space needs." Insanely ambitious? Maybe. But such is the idea to cover 65 square meters. km Mongolia solar panels.

I found that Western entrepreneurs running technology firms in China have the most skeptical voices regarding the Chinese Singularity. I carefully asked two of these people. Both singular optimists and both worried that their opinions remained anonymous in order to avoid harm to their business in China. Both estimated the chances of launching the Chinese singularity at less than 5%, and they gave similar reasons: they believe that Chinese engineers as a whole are “below average in terms of problem solving and creative thinking”, “very conservative, not willing to decisively do anything or, with no proven practice. ” One of them also noted that “local outstanding talents are more interested in working for American, European, Japanese or Korean (in this order) firms than for Chinese ones.

I heard this complaint about the "lack of creativity" before, but it goes against my personal experience at Xiamen University. Here, if I came across any kind of conservatism, I also met with creative and vibrant young professors and students. In my experience, researchers in China are as inventive as elsewhere, but there are subtle sociocultural nuances with different meanings in corporate and university contexts. Chinese culture, in its current incarnation, tends to create social structures that are more likely to suppress than inspire the expression of personal creativity. She also has no tendency to support the western style of teamwork. There is a saying that "one Chinese is as strong as a dragon, but three Chinese cannot be compared with a bug." These are real problems, which, however,

It should be understood that in relation to personal creativity, as well as other issues, Chinese history was very cyclical. In his controversial book "1434", Gavin Menziesclaims that the Italian Renaissance was launched by a fleet of Chinese ships that sailed to Italy and shared advanced knowledge, including encyclopedias, from which Leonardo da Vinci indirectly received many of his famous illustrations of mechanical devices, flying cars and so on. Whether this statement is true or not, Menzies provides irrefutable evidence of the advanced level of Chinese engineering and science during this period, before the change of government in Beijing ended the era of savage invention and research and brought a new era of conservatism to China. In my opinion, the Chinese “cultural DNA” has an abundance of innovation and creativity, but care must be taken to distinguish the stable characteristics of Chinese culture from cyclically changing ones. The pendulum of Chinese culture sways in a wide arc.

In the context of corporate software development, there is a strategy for working taking into account counterproductive cultural trends and identifying Chinese creative abilities - this is an adaptation of “flexible” software development methods. An InfoQ 2008 article summarizes the experience of five Chinese firms that have adopted the Scrum development methodology."- a very dynamic, team-based approach to creating software that requires constant flexible creativity from the proportion of participants. Three firms have found the approach successful, two not. Those who did not find advantages explained this by the fact that the development teams or managers understood the formalities, but not the essence of a flexible approach - the cultural gap was too big. And this, of course, refers to the reason why Chinese universities are so eager to get Western professors like Hugo de Garis. It is not only the research ideas that Westerners bring, it is another intuition, experience and habits of conducting laboratory research and scientific programs. In this light, Hugo’s emphasis on the arrival of “creative, outstanding Westerners ... to China to create artificial brains” can be understood. If China can take advantage of its economic growth and openness to the latest research areas to recruit a sufficient number of Western workhorses, then powerful events could happen. Imagine a situation in which every Chinese city has several laboratories focused on the development of singular technologies, in which leading Western developers work hard to educate young Chinese scientists on the Western model of creating creative research and development teams. In this highly plausible scenario, the prospects for the Chinese Singularity do not seem so far-fetched. Imagine a situation in which every Chinese city has several laboratories focused on the development of singular technologies, in which leading Western developers work hard to educate young Chinese scientists on the Western model of creating creative research and development teams. In this highly plausible scenario, the prospects for the Chinese Singularity do not seem so far-fetched. Imagine a situation in which every Chinese city has several laboratories focused on the development of singular technologies, in which leading Western developers work hard to educate young Chinese scientists on the Western model of creating creative research and development teams. In this highly plausible scenario, the prospects for the Chinese Singularity do not seem so far-fetched.

Like FIC, it is worth paying attention to the difference between Western and Chinese attitudes towards another essential technology of the future: life extension. Westerners tend to talk about immortality with skepticism and even moral condemnation - after all, according to standard Christian history, God wants us to die and go to heaven. But the Chinese memplex has been fed by Taoist stories of immortality for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese methods of achieving immortality are often difficult: for example, in Taoist yoga there are techniques associated with lifelong celibacy and meditation, focused on giving birth to the ultimately immortal self through the crown of the head. Many Chinese will be very pleased with the pills of immortality or life extension, which will give the same effects at a lower cost and with greater reliability.

David Chambers of the Methuselah Foundation , arguing at the 2006 Tomorrow People's Forum at Oxford University , compared Western and Chinese attitudes to life extension as follows: “Europeans do not hope for a better future, but rather for a revised version of the present. There is a mistrust of revolutionary ideas ... [But] while Europeans and Americans have their own different biases regarding the ethics and consequences of the new biology, China does not. Pei Xuetao from Beijing Institute of Transfusiology"[a leading institution in stem cell research and restorative medicine] stated very clearly [in its speech at the Forum] that China is open to business." Along with research aimed at treating cancer and other diseases, Xuetao and his colleagues made important discoveries in the field of cell aging and apoptosis, helping to understand the genetic connections that make us age.

These various approaches to immortality can be associated with the attitude towards FIR. Western skepticism about AI may be associated not only with previous debacles, but also with underlying cultural issues. The very Christian memes that tell us that we must die and go to heaven also convince us that machines can never really become intelligent because they lack an immortal soul. Even Changle Zhou, the dean who oversees the De Garis Artificial Brain Project, regularly refers to Hugo's work as the “Intelligent Robot Project”. In Chinese culture, there is little from Western subconscious resistance to thinking machines and immortal people, and this cultural difference may manifest itself in an unpredictable way in the next decade.

Another cultural difference to keep in mind is that it often makes no sense to analyze progress in China by drawing straight or exponential lines. Progress in China often corresponds to the biological concept of “intermittent equilibrium” - long periods of relative stability are interrupted by surprising and unexpected changes. Cultural Revolutionand the recent transition to a market-based “Chinese-style socialism” illustrates this phenomenon — as did the sudden start and end of Chinese global shipping in the 1400s and a dozen other cases from China’s long history. It is easy to imagine the only technological breakthrough catalyzing one of these sudden changes in the near future. It can be intelligent robotics, it can be an extension of life or something else wild and unforeseen. When this article was in the process of editing, I heard startling talk about the very significant funds Beijing allocated for a project called the “head-brain tool” (three Chinese characters), designed to improve neural functions and, therefore, accelerate human learning. I don’t know enough about it,

The likelihood of the launch of the Chinese Singularity may sow fear in the hearts of American nationalists or Eurocentres, but it is obvious that there is no big difference which nation will make the decisive breakthrough. In the modern scientific world, “information wants to be free” - and, since the most probable path to the Chinese Singularity lies through the cooperation of Chinese and Western researchers, the chances of an isolated Chinese Singularity that clearly serves Chinese national interests seem rather low. Hugo’s laboratory in Xiamen is based on open source software development. It is developing in conjunction with the work of AI programmers outside of China, and it freely enters the international research community.

So what is the verdict? Given the absence of statements from China regarding FIA and life extension, its strong economic growth, its large number of smart and hardworking young scientists, its desire to import Western key developers - will the singularity be launched in China? I will concede the last words to two creative young scientists from Amoy University.

Ming Jiang said a phrase that I found intriguing, taking into account China’s obsession with its 5,000-year-old culture: “China now looks like a young man, and, as you know, eighteen years old is an age full of curiosity and fantasies about the future!”

And Zhuytin Lian, Ph.D. from the Laboratory of the Artificial Brain, engaged in multilingual natural understanding of the language, generation of speech and dialogue, expressed himself more bluntly: "In China, the best answer to any question is" maybe "."

Ben Herzel is the CEO of Novamente and Biomind , AI companies, Ph.D. in mathematics, writer, philosopher, musician and all-round futuristic maniac.

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