RE: SIAI: Donate Today and Tomorrow

From: TC (
Date: Fri Oct 22 2004 - 15:46:34 MDT

First, I'd like to state that I also donated to the SIAI today. Many of my
reasons for doing so are similar to Robin's. Moreover, the potential of
SIAI, even assuming a slim probability of success, is so mind-bogglingly
massive that it seems insane not to take a supportive action that has
virtually no impact on my own life; a few more nights out at the movies
doesn't stack up too well against the chance of eternal godhood (or whatever
your personal vision of a successful singularity might be.)

However, I am in total agreement with Wes; in fact, I think that ANY method
of raising funds is a good idea, so long as it happens faster than sitting
around and waiting for donations to amass. I might draw the line at running
drugs across international borders, but only because my human side is more
persuasive than my rationalist side.

I actually derive my income from playing poker online. The amount of money
available there for very little expenditure of effort is amazing. Assuming
you are a competent poker player and competent programmer (let alone a
programmer with AI expertise), creating a poker-playing bot is a walk in the
park. I was able to write one that would break even online in about a day.
I've little doubt that with some tweaking, it could generate significant
profit. (I did, however, have some moral objections to continuing any
further on the project.)

My point is not "The SIAI should flood the internet with poker-playing AIs,
with moral and possibly legal repercussions", but rather that this is a
large and rich world, and I am VERY skeptical that the best
effort-to-raising-capital ratio for the SIAI would be found through relying
solely on donors. There are a zillion ways for intelligent people to make
relatively easy (or fast) money.

It also occurs to me that there are a great many millionaires in the world.
Rather than soliciting donations piecemeal from average-income enthusiasts,
isn't it possible that time would be better spent targeting well-off
eccentrics and shooting for a couple million in one clean sweep? There are
plenty of people rich enough to not even notice that kind of money, or are
already looking for tax-deductable charities to dump it on. A lot of them
are in the tech sector, too, so I would imagine they're be more predisposed
to this kind of thing.

At any rate, my two cents: at least seriously *consider* possible
fundraising alternatives.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Wesley Eddy
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 12:04 PM
Subject: Re: SIAI: Donate Today and Tomorrow

On Fri, Oct 22, 2004 at 09:15:36AM -0500, Aikin, Robert wrote:
> To rely on public donations is not much different than a monk holding
> out a bowl (you never know where the next meal is going to come from).
> Unless idealistic individuals in the upper classes can be enlisted to
> support the cause, it might be more productive to create capital
> through some sort of technological innovation. There are more than a
> few clever minds on the SL4 list that could do this.

Indeed, I recall a recent news article about AIs playing online poker:

Similar projects could serve as both developmental platforms for the SIAI to
test research AND help to finance it. Even though the immediate result
wouldn't be the desired end result, a successful project like this would
demonstrate the competence of the SIAI in the field and perhaps generate
some publicity. I'm personally not an AI expert, and am hesitant to donate
money to an AI research institute that doesn't appear to have any record of
publication and citation in refereed scientific journals (although that's
not neccessarily a bad thing, it simply makes judging the
credibility/viability/productivity of the institute more difficult).


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