Why Artificial Intelligence?

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Why is the Singularity Institute starting out by focusing its efforts on Artificial Intelligence?  We aren't limited to AI; if the Singularity movement (and that movement's support for SIAI) grows enough to support several projects on a firm basis, we could branch out into neurotechnology, brain-computer interfaces, or other more expensive research areas. We have, however, picked AI as the best place to start.

Explaining this choice requires considering the question from an activist perspective, rather than a futurist perspective, as discussed in the Quick Answer on Activism. Thus, we did not pick AI by asking "Is AI likely to give birth to the Singularity?", or "Which of these several plausible technologies is most likely to give birth to the Singularity?", or even "Which of these several technologies has the best combination of speed to the Singularity, probability of reaching the Singularity, and probable integrity of the resulting Singularity?"  What matters is the comparative degree to which well-directed actions can affect the speed, likelihood, and integrity of a Singularity technology, and the degree to which this improvement to that particular technology is likely to affect the predicted speed, likelihood, and integrity of the Singularity.

Usually it isn't necessary to keep track of all of those factors simultaneously, but they are individually important at one point or another in the decision process.

So why do we believe that the improvement a moderately-sized effort can make to the speed, likelihood, and integrity of Artificial Intelligence is likely to bring the overall greatest improvement to the predicted speed, likelihood, and integrity of the Singularity?

Here are some of the factors involved:

A more detailed exposition of the above reasons is not available at this time, but it's on our to-do list.