When Singularity University (SU) acquired the Singularity Summit from us in December, we also agreed to change the name of our institute to avoid brand confusion between the Singularity Institute and Singularity University. After much discussion and market research, we’ve chosen our new name. We are now the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI).
Naturally, both our staff members and supporters have positive associations with our original name, the “Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence,” or “Singularity Institute” for short. As such, any new name will feel strange for a time. However, “MIRI” has sounded better and better to us over the past few weeks, and we think it will grow on you, too.
Some will worry, “But ‘MIRI’ doesn’t express what you do in any detail!” According to our market research, however, this is “a feature, not a bug.” Researchers, in particular, said they could feel awkward working for an organization with a name that sounded too narrow or “partisan.” They also warned us that the scope of an organization’s activities can change over time, so its name should be very general.
University departments and independent research organizations learned these lessons long ago, and thus tend to have very general names (with the universities themselves usually named after their primary campus location). For example:
- Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS) at UC Berkeley
- Stanford AI Laboratory (SAIL)
- Santa Fe Institute (SFI)
- Institute for Advanced Study (IAS)
- MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)
“MIRI” has other nice properties, too. It’s easy to spell, it’s easy to pronounce, and it reflects our shifting priorities toward more technical research. Our mission, of course, remains the same: “to ensure that the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence benefits society.”
We’ll be operating from Singularity.org for a little while longer, but sometime before March 5th we’ll launch a new website, under the new name, at a new domain name: Intelligence.org. (We have thus far been unable to acquire some other fitting domain names, including miri.org.)
We’ll let you know when we’ve moved our email accounts to the new domain. All existing newsletter subscribers will continue to receive our newsletter after the name change.
Many thanks again to all our supporters who are sticking with us through this transition in branding (from SIAI to MIRI) and our transition in activities (a singular focus on research after passing our rationality work to CFAR and the Summit to SU). We hope you’ll come to like our new name as much as we do!