Announcing the 2010 Singularity Research Challenge

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Offering unusually good philanthropic returns –€” meaning greater odds of a positive Singularity and lesser odds of human extinction — the Machine Intelligence Research Institute has launched a new challenge campaign. The sponsors, Edwin Evans, Rolf Nelson, Henrik Jonsson, Jason Joachim, and Robert Lecnik, have generously put up $100,000 of matching funds, so that every donation you make until February 28th will be matched dollar for dollar. If the campaign is successful, it will raise a full $200,000 to fund MIRI’s 2010 activities.

For almost a decade, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute has been asking questions on the future of human civilization: How can we benefit from increasingly powerful technology without succumbing to the risks, up to and including human extinction? What is the best way to handle artificial general intelligence (AGI): programs as smart as humans, or smarter?

Among MIRI’s core aims is to continue studying “Friendly AI”: AI that acts benevolently because it holds goals aligned with human values. This involves drawing on and contributing to fields like decision theory, computer science, cognitive and moral psychology, and technology forecasting.

Creating AI, especially the Friendly kind, is a difficult undertaking. We’re in it for as long as it takes, but we’ve been doing more than laying the groundwork for Friendly AI. We’ve been raising the profile of AI risk and Singularity issues in academia and elsewhere, forming communities around enhancing human rationality, and researching other avenues that promise to reduce the most severe risks the most effectively.

If you make a donation to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, you can choose which grant proposal your donation should help to fill. Any time a grant proposal is fully funded, it goes into our “€œactive projects”€ file: it becomes a project that we have money enough to fund, and that we are publicly committed to funding. (Some of the projects will go forward even without earmarked donations, with money from the general fund –€” but many won’€™t, and since our work is limited by how much money we have available to support skilled staff and Visiting Fellows, more money allows more total projects to go forward.)

Donate now, and seize a better than usual chance to move our work forward.