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Ben Goertzel

Ben Goertzel (born December 8, 1966), is the founder and CEO of SingularityNET, a -based AI project, which brings AI and blockchain together to create a open market for AIs. Ben is also the Chairman of OpenCog Foundation, the Chairman of the Artificial General Intelligence Society, the Chief Scientist of Mozi Health, and Vice Chairman of Humanity+, and his work, writing, and ideas are influencing the way we perceive AI, technology, and .[9][10][11]

Early Life

Goertzel was born in 1966 in Rio de Janeiro to American Parents, he is the son of Ted Goertzel, a former professor of sociology at Rutgers University. He is a dual US/Brazil citizen and Hong Kong Permanent.[16]

Education

He left high school after the tenth grade to attend Bard College at Simon's Rock, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, where he studied from 1982 to 1985. Subsequently, he pursued Applied Mathematics at New York University from 1985 to 1986, adding depth to his mathematical expertise. He then moved on to Temple University in 1987, where he completed his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1988.

Career

Ben Goertzel's career began as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 1989, where he initiated his academic endeavors and laid the groundwork for his future contributions. [15]

After this initial role, he transitioned into the position of a Lecturer in Computer Science at The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, where he deepened his expertise in computer science from 1993 to 1994. This marked a significant shift in his academic journey. [15]

Following his time in New Zealand, Dr. Goertzel embarked on a new phase of his career, becoming a Research Fellow in Cognitive Science at the University of Western Australia, where he focused on cognitive research. This role spanned from 1994 to 1997, showcasing his growing commitment to cognitive science.[15]

In 1997, he transitioned into a role as an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, where he continued to contribute to the academic community until 1998.[15]

In 1998, he took on the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Webmind/Intelligenesis, marking his entry into the technology industry and the field of artificial intelligence. His tenure at Webmind/Intelligenesis extended until 2001, during which he was significantly involved in AI research and development.[15]

Simultaneously, his academic involvement continued as he served as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Nevada Las Vegas from 1989 to 1993.[15]

In 2011 he founded Novamente LLC and assumed the role of CEO. He continued to lead scientific, software development, and business efforts at Novamente from May 2001 to 2011.[15]

Parallel to his position at Novamente, he also led Biomind LLC as CEO from 2002 to 2011, contributing to the advancement of AI technologies.[15]

Simultaneously, he served as a Research Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of New Mexico from 2001 to 2002, contributing to academic research and teaching.[15]

In 2008, he became the Chairman of the Board at Humanity+, a non-profit international educational organization. He held this position till 2011, where he stepped down to the Vice President role, still serving at this position since. [15]

From 2010 to 2011, he assumed the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Genescient Corp., reflecting his continued involvement in technology and AI research.[15]

In addition, Dr. Goertzel assumed the position of Chief Science Officer at Aidyia Limited, a role he held from 2011 to 2016. His involvement in AI research and technology further expanded.[15]

Dr. Goertzel's impact extended to the position of Chairman of the Artificial General Intelligence Society, where he has been actively involved since 2010.[15]

His journey led him to Hong Kong, where he served as Chief Scientist at Hanson Robotics Limited, the company that created the AI humanoid robot called Sophia, from 2015 to March 2019, contributing to advanced AI developments.[15]

Current Positions

Dr. Ben Goertzel currently holds several positions in various organizations. His earliest current position dates back to 2008 when he has been serving as the Chairman of the OpenCog Foundation. [15]

In 2009 he took on the role of Adjunct Research Professor at Xiamen University, where he has remained actively engaged in research and education.[15]

Moving forward, since 2010, Dr. Goertzel has served as the Chairman of the Artificial General Intelligence Society, contributing to the advancement of artificial general intelligence. [15]

Since he stepped down to Vice Chairman in 2011, he has held this position at Humanity+, advocating for the ethical use of artificial intelligence.[15]

SingularityNET

Since June 2017, he has been working as the CEO and Chief Scientist at , a decentralized AI service network harnessed with  technology. In this leadership role, he directs the development of advanced artificial intelligence technologies, constantly aiming to improve their platform to simplify the use of various AI technologies and applications.[15]

Dr. Goertzel’s research work encompasses multiple areas including artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds, gaming, parapsychology, theoretical physics, and more.  He has published 25+ scientific books, ~150 technical papers, and numerous journalistic articles, and given talks at a vast number of events of all sorts around the globe.[14]

Views on AI


In May 2007, Goertzel spoke at a Google Tech talk about his approach to creating Artificial General Intelligence.[2]  He defines intelligence as the ability to detect patterns in the world and in the agent itself, measurable in terms of emergent behavior of "achieving complex goals in complex environments".[3]  A "baby-like" artificial intelligence is initialized, then trained as an agent in a simulated or virtual world such as Second Life[4]  to produce a more powerful intelligence.[5]  Knowledge is represented in a network whose nodes and links carry probabilistic truth values as well as "attention values", with the attention values resembling the weights in a neural network. Several algorithms operate on this network, the central one being a combination of a probabilistic inference engine and a custom version of evolutionary programming.  Goertzel claimed that this combination can avoid the combinatorial explosions that both these algorithms suffer from when exposed to large problems.[13]

In more recent discussions and interviews, he has stated that the next few years will be the turning point of AI technology, claiming that around 80% of current jobs could be replaced by AI. [18][19]

"You could probably obsolete maybe 80 per cent of jobs that people do, without having an AGI, by my guess. Not with ChatGPT exactly as a product. But with systems of that nature, which are going to follow in the next few years”

He has also stated that he recognizes the potential societal problems this can cause, but still believes that this advancement of AI technologies, and the development of AI/AGI integrated systems, will be of benefit for humanity. He believes that the jobs that can be replaced by AI, should be automated anyway, in order to tackle larger challenges that humanity faces. [20][21]

"I don't think it's a threat. I think it's a benefit. People can find better things to do with their life than work for a living. Pretty much every job involving paperwork should be automatable."

“Any other problem humanity faces - including extremely hard ones like curing death or mental illness, creating nanotechnology or femtotechnology assemblers, saving the Earth’s environment or traveling to the stars — can be solved effectively via first creating a benevolent AGI and then asking the AGI to solve that problem.”

Although he acknowledges the dangers of AI, he continues to develop AI and AGI technologies, hoping to achieve a breakthrough within the next five years, aiming to find synergy between three of the projects he is currently involved in. [22]

“There’s a number of risks and dangers with AGI. One of them that’s gotten a lot of media attention is that AGI will run amok and annihilate humanity and take over the universe. It’s entirely possible; you can’t rule it out."

“If we’re lucky, we’ll achieve that breakthrough in the next three to five years with OpenCog Hyperon running on SingularityNET running on Hypercycle,” he says. “But if we don’t turn out to have the secret sauce, somebody else will.”

As these technological advancements continue, he believes that there is a possibility of reaching a point where AGI surpasses human intelligence, disallowing it to be controlled by humans. Thus, he highlights the importance of correct applications of AI technology and proper education. He states that teaching AI to care for and help humans will be the key to maintaining a safe environment for AI to continue to develop. He also believes that emphasizing the importance of creativity and art within AI will enable machines to create and solve more effectively. [22]

“When an AGI is 100 times smarter than people, it doesn’t want to be controlled by us, as we wouldn’t be controlled by a chimpanzee or a donkey, right? Then I would say the question isn’t one of us controlling it, the question is: Is it well disposed to us? Will it let people regulate their own business and supply us with cool tools and nano assemblers to 3D print all the stuff that we want and cure our diseases?”

“But if you build the first AGI to do with elder care and creative arts and education as it gets smarter, it will be oriented toward helping people and creating cool stuff. If you build the first AGI to kill the bad guys, perhaps it will keep doing those things.”

“So, beneficial or not, it really comes down to what applications you’ve developed and what you’ve incentivized for.”

Media appearances

2009: Goertzel and Hugo de Garis starred in a 45-minute documentary called Singularity or Bust

2012: The documentary The Singularity by independent filmmaker Doug Wolens showcased Goertzel's vision and understanding of making general AI general thinking  [6]

2014: Goertzel appeared on the American science documentary television series, Through the Wormhole (episode 1, season 5)

2016: Goertzel starred in the British-Israeli documentary film, Machine of Human Dreams

2018: Goertzel appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast No. 1211[17]

2019: Goertzel appeared on the Epicenter podcast No. 275[7]

2019: Goertzel appeared at Teamz Blockchain Summit in Tokyo, on April 6.[8]

2019: Goertzel holds a lecture at Budapest Brain Bar

2019: Goertzel participated in a Blockchain panel at ConnectTechAsia in Singapore.

Personal Life

Goertzel loves experimental fiction and music, philosophy, foundational physics, parapsychology, functional programming. In his free time he tires his best to spend time with his family and also plays in a jazz-rock band called Jam Galaxy fronted by a robot named Desdemona.[12][22]

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Ben Goertzel

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October 22, 2023

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