Human-level artificial general intelligence and the possibility of a technological singularity

Ben Goertzel
2007 Artificial Intelligence  
The AI field started out with grand dreams of human-level artificial general intelligence. During the last half-century, enthusiasm for these grand AI dreams -both within the AI profession and in society at large --has risen and fallen repeatedly, each time with a similar pattern of high hopes and media hype followed by overall disappointment. Throughout these fluctuations, though, research and development have steadily advanced on various fronts within AI and allied disciplines. Averaging
more » ... s the various historical fluctuations, we may generalize that the original vision of human-level AI has been dampened over time due to various coupled factors, including most prominently • overoptimistic promises by early AI researchers, followed by failures to deliver on these promises (Crevier, 1993; Dreyfus, 1992) • a deeper understanding of the underlying computational and conceptual difficulties involved in various mental operations that humans, in everyday life, consider trivial and simple (Minsky, 2006; Thagard, 2005) These days most R&D carrying the label "AI" pertains to some sort of very narrowlydefined problem domain, shying away from the ambitious goals that are associated with AI in the popular media. Recently, in the first years of the 21 st century, AI optimism has been on the rise again, both within the AI field and in the science and technology community as a whole. One possibility is that this is just another fluctuation -another instance of excessive enthusiasm and hype to be followed by another round of inevitable disappointment. Another possibility is that AI's time is finally near, and what we are seeing now is the early glimmerings of a rapid growth phase in AI R&D, such as has not been seen in the field's history to date. As evidence of the recent increase in AI optimism in some relevant circles, I note that the last few years have seen an increasing number of conference special sessions and workshops focused on "Human-Level AI," "Artificial General Intelligence" and related topics; for example (this is not a comprehensive list):
doi:10.1016/j.artint.2007.10.011 fatcat:bqozze5ytbbpvpsrgut2jvyrfe