Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

AGI or Artificial General Intelligence, the quest for software that does have genuine comprehension that would be recognizable as such by anyone because (in the spirit of the Turing Test) you can hold a general unscripted conversation with it. Today, outside of our work, AGI research efforts fall into two categories.

Whole brain emulation

The approach is that you first create a neural network with the size and complexity of the human brain and then program it to recapitulate, in some form, human cognitive processes that will eventually result in the production of world knowledge. The assumption here is that intelligence is kind of an emergent property of a vast neural network. We find this assumption extremely doubtful, and there are numerous other problems associated with this approach even should it produce something.
Ray Kurzweil, who popularized the idea of an AI “singularity” and is currently VP of Engineering at Google is pursuing this approach (no doubt with lots of money – he will need it).
The project at Google and numerous other whole brain research projects at DARPA, IBM and other places are described are

Cognitive algorithms

This approach seeks to discover one or a small number of immensely powerful algorithms that endow the human brain with intelligence and then reverse engineer them such that the program will be able to process raw inputs and turn them into real knowledge as humans can do. We call this the magic algorithm approach.
Significant efforts based on this approach are being pursued by Ben Goertzel at Novamente, LLC and Jeff Hawkins at the Redwood Neuroscience Institute. The latter has described Memory-prediction frameworks inspired by Cognitive Neuroscience. Hawkins is notable in that he appears to have studied the brain more thoroughly and in greater detail than most. We agree with him that, from a functional standpoint, intelligence is about the “ability to make predictions about the world,” and that pattern matching plays a key role in this. Still, we remain skeptical that any magical algorithms such as his memory-prediction framework will ever result in creating a useful knowledge about the world out of raw unstructured data.