Alan’s conservative countdown to AGI – We are 50% there…

AI reports by Dr Thompson
Cited: NBER AI report for US Government
The ChatGPT Prompt Book
Roadmap: AI’s next big steps…
Google Pathways: An Exploration…
Use cases for large language models…
What’s in my AI? Analysis of Datasets…
The rising tide lifting all boats
Irrelevance of intelligence


Annual AI retrospectives
The sky is infinite (2022 AI retrospective)
The sky is bigger… (mid-2022 AI)
The sky is on fire (2021 AI retrospective)


AI models
Google DeepMind Gemini
Snapchat My AI
Fudan MOSS
Google Bard
The GPT-3 Family: 50+ Models
Microsoft Bing Chat (Sydney)
Anthropic RL-CAI 52B
DeepMind Sparrow
Chinchilla scaling laws
Google Pathways


AI overview
The Gap: Waiting for the AI time lag
The AI Alignment Problem
AI: The Great Flood
GPT-3.5 and Raven’s
Talk to GPT
Large language models
AI report card
AI + IQ testing
Life-changing AI
Books written by AI
AI art
AI + the human brain
Learn more about AI


AI video
Una AI
Leta AI
GPT-3 vs IBM Watson
Aurora AI
Zhibing Hua AI (China)


AI media
Alan talks to ABC
AI is outperforming humans
AI fire alarm
AI sound bites


AI theory
The Who Moved My Cheese? AI awards!
Dr Ilya Sutskever
Dr Ray Kurzweil
Mocking AI panic
Arguments about AI
Why does AI make you so angry?
AI + economics
AI + ethics
AI + prompt crafting
AI + spirituality
AI timeline
AI papers
Connor Leahy
Quotes about AI
Marvin Minsky
AI definitions
Get The Memo (w/ MIT, Meta, IBM, Tesla)

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Human or not? Sam Altman’s Worldcoin is betting the next big thing in AI is proving you are indeed human

Fake virtual identities are nothing new. The ability to so easily create them has been both a boon for social media platforms — more “users” — and a scourge, tied as they are to the spread of conspiracy theories, distorted discourse and other societal ills.

Still, Twitter bots are nothing compared with what the world is about to experience, as any time spent with ChatGPT illustrates. Flash forward a few years and it will be impossible to know if someone is communicating with another mortal or a neural network.

Sam Altman knows this. Altman is the co-founder and the CEO of ChatGPT parent OpenAI and has long had more visibility than most into what’s around the corner. It’s why more than three years ago, he conceived of a new company that could serve first and foremost as proof-of-personhood. Called Worldcoin, its three-part mission — to create a global ID, a global currency and an app that enables payment, purchases and transfers using its own token, along with other digital assets and traditional currencies — is as ambitious as it is technically complicated, but the opportunity is also vast.

In broad strokes, here’s how the outfit, still in beta and based in San Francisco and Berlin, works: To use the service, users must download its app, then have their iris scanned using a silver, melon-sized orb that houses a custom optical system. Once the scan is complete, the individual is added to a database of verified humans, and Worldcoin creates a unique cryptographic “hash” or equation that’s tied to that real person. The scan isn’t saved, but the hash can be used in the future to prove the person’s identity anonymously through the app, which includes a private key that links to a shareable public key. Because the system is designed to verify that a person is actually a unique individual, if the person wants to accept a payment or fund a specific project, the app generates a “zero-knowledge proof” — or mathematical equation — that allows the individual to provide only the necessary amount of information to a third party. Some day, the technology might even help people to vote on how AI should be governed. (A piece in the outlet IEEE Spectrum better spells out the specifics of Worldcoin’s tech.)

Investors eager to be in business with Altman jumped at the chance to fund the outfit almost as soon as it was imagined, with Andreessen Horowitz, Variant, Khosla Ventures, Coinbase and Tiger Global providing it with $125.5 million. But the public has been more wary. When in June 2021, Bloomberg reported that Altman was at work on Worldcoin, many questioned its promise to give one share of its new digital currency to everyone who agreed to an iris scan. Worldcoin said it needed to be decentralized from the outset so it could deliver future currency drops as part of universal basic income programs. (Altman has long predicted that AI will generate enough wealth to pay every adult some amount of money each year.) From Worldcoin’s perspective, the crypto piece was necessary. Yet some quickly deemed it another crypto scam, while others questioned whether a nascent startup collecting biometric data could truly secure its participants’ privacy.

Altman later said the press owed to a “leak” and that Worldcoin wasn’t ready to tell its story in 2021. Now, reorganized under a new parent organization called Tools for Humanity that calls itself both a research lab and product company, the outfit is sharing more details. Whether they’ll be enough to win over users is an open question, but certainly, more people now understand why proving personhood online is about to become essential.

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Traces from the past: scientists recover intact ancient human DNA from a 20,000 year-old pendant

An international research team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has for the first time successfully isolated ancient human DNA from a Paleolithic artefact: a pierced deer tooth discovered in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia. To preserve the integrity of the artefact, they developed a new, nondestructive method for isolating DNA from ancient bones and teeth. From the DNA retrieved they were able to reconstruct a precise genetic profile of the woman who used or wore the pendant, as well as of the deer from which the tooth was taken. Genetic dates obtained for the DNA from both the woman and the deer show that the pendant was made between 19,000 and 25,000 years ago. The tooth remains fully intact after analysis, providing testimony to a new era in ancient DNA research, in which it may become possible to directly identify the users of ornaments and tools produced in the deep past.


Pierced deer tooth discovered from Denisova Cave in southern Siberia that yielded ancient human DNA. Artefacts made of stone, bones or teeth provide important insights into the subsistence strategies of early humans, their behavior and culture. However, until now it has been difficult to attribute these artefacts to specific individuals, since burials and grave goods were very rare in the Palaeolithic. This has limited the possibilities of drawing conclusions about, for example, division of labor or the social roles of individuals during this period.


In order to directly link cultural objects to specific individuals and thus gain deeper insights into Paleolithic societies, an international, interdisciplinary research team, led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, has developed a novel, non-destructive method for DNA isolation from bones and teeth. Although they are generally rarer than stone tools, the scientists focused specifically on artefacts made from skeletal elements, because these are more porous and are therefore more likely to retain DNA present in skin cells, sweat and other body fluids.


A new DNA extraction method

Lead author Elena Essel working in the clean laboratory on the pierced deer tooth discovered from Denisova Cave. Before the team could work with real artefacts, they first had to ensure that the precious objects would not be damaged. “The surface structure of Paleolithic bone and tooth artefacts provides important information about their production and use. Therefore, preserving the integrity of the artefacts, including microstructures on their surface, was a top priority” says Marie Soressi, an archaeologist from the University of Leiden who supervised the work together with Matthias Meyer, a Max Planck geneticist.

The team tested the influence of various chemicals on the surface structure of archaeological bone and tooth pieces and developed a non-destructive phosphate-based method for DNA extraction. “One could say we have created a washing machine for ancient artifacts within our clean laboratory,” explains Elena Essel, the lead author of the study who developed the method. “By washing the artifacts at temperatures of up to 90°C, we are able to extract DNA from the wash waters, while keeping the artifacts intact.”

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‘Remarkable’ AI Tool Designs mRNA Vaccines that are More Potent and Stable

Software from Baidu Research yields jabs for COVID that have greater shelf stability and that trigger a larger antibody response in mice than conventionally designed shots. An artificial intelligence (AI) tool that optimizes the gene sequences found in mRNA vaccines could help to create jabs with greater potency and stability that could be deployed across the globe. Developed by scientists at the California division of Baidu Research, an AI company based in Beijing, the software borrows techniques from computational linguistics to design mRNA sequences with more-intricate shapes and structures than those used in current vaccines. This enables the genetic material to persist for longer than usual. The more stable the mRNA that’s delivered to a person’s cells, the more antigens are produced by the protein-making machinery in that person’s body. This, in turn, leads to a rise in protective antibodies, theoretically leaving immunized individuals better equipped to fend off infectious diseases. What’s more, the enhanced structural complexity of the mRNA offers improved protection against vaccine degradation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA-based shots against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus famously had to be transported and kept at temperatures below –15°C to maintain their stability. This limited their distribution in resource-poor regions of the world that lack access to ultracold storage facilities. A more resilient product, optimized by AI, could eliminate the need for cold-chain equipment to handle such jabs. The new methodology is “remarkable”, says Dave Mauger, a computational RNA biologist who previously worked at Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a maker of mRNA vaccines. “The computational efficiency is really impressive and more sophisticated than anything that has come before.”


Research Cited published in Nature (May 2, 2023): 


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AGI: (M)ending the World – it’s either one or the other (by Alberto Romero)

Imagine this: In front of you there’s a big magical button. You happen to know that, if you press it, there’s an indeterminate but non-zero chance that you’ll solve all the world’s problems right away. Sounds great! There’s a caveat, though. At the other end of the probability distribution lies a similarly tiny but very real possibility that you will, just as instantly, kill everyone.

Do you press it?


Superintelligence: Utopia or apocalypse?

That button is, as you may have imagined, a metaphor for the hypothetical AGI or superintelligence (will use them interchangeably) we hear about everywhere nowadays. The dichotomic scenario described above is the setting that so-called “AI optimists” and “AI doomers” have submerged us in. Superintelligence will be humanity’s blessing or humanity’s curse. It’ll be a paradisiac dream or a hellish nightmare. It’ll be the panacea to solve all our problems or the doom that will end human civilization.
Public discussions on social media and traditional media about superintelligence and the broad range of futures that will open up if—or when, for some people—we manage to create an AGI have captured the conversation; everything else pales in comparison. Debates about current, actual problems that are existentially urgent to many people are relegated to obscurity because they’re not as “existentially serious as … [AIs] taking over,” as AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton stated recently.

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How Our Reality May Just Be a Sum of All Possible Realities

Richard Feynman’s path integral is a powerful prediction machine and a philosophy. Physicists still struggle to figure out how to use it, and what it means.


The most powerful formula in physics starts with a slender S, the symbol for a sort of sum known as an integral. Further along comes a second S, representing a quantity known as action. Together, these twin S’s form the essence of an equation that is arguably the most effective diviner of the future yet devised.


The oracular formula is known as the Feynman path integral. As far as physicists can tell, it precisely predicts the behavior of any quantum system—an electron, a light ray, or even a black hole. The path integral has racked up so many successes that many physicists believe it to be a direct window into the heart of reality.

“It’s how the world really is,” said Renate Loll, a theoretical physicist at Radboud University in the Netherlands.


But the equation, although it graces the pages of thousands of physics publications, is more of a philosophy than a rigorous recipe. It suggests that our reality is a sort of blending—a sum—of all imaginable possibilities. But it does not tell researchers exactly how to carry out the sum. So physicists have spent decades developing an arsenal of approximation schemes for constructing and computing the integral for different quantum systems. The approximations work well enough that intrepid physicists like Loll are now pursuing the ultimate path integral: one that blends all conceivable shapes of space and time and produces a universe shaped like ours as the net result. But in this quest to show that reality is indeed the sum of all possible realities, they face deep confusion about which possibilities should enter the sum.


Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research develop­ments and trends in mathe­matics and the physical and life sciences.

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Solar Panels Can Now Be Printed Like Newspaper

A futuristic demonstration of emerging renewable energy material – printed solar cells, is being trialled in a public setting for the first time as it nears commercial readiness.


Creator of the organic printed solar material, Physicist Professor Paul Dastoor from the Faculty of Science said his team were excited to take their ‘science to the streets’ in what represented significant progress toward commercial availability of the material. “Globally, there’s been so few of these installations, we know very little about how they perform in a public setting. This installation is the next critical step in accelerating the development and commercialization of this technology. It presents a new scenario for us to test performance and durability against a range of new challenges,” said Professor Dastoor.


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AI-powered EDGE Dance Animator Applies Generative AI to Choreography

Stanford University researchers have developed a generative AI model that can choreograph human dance animation to match any piece of music. It’s called Editable Dance GEneration (EDGE).


“EDGE shows that AI-enabled characters can bring a level of musicality and artistry to dance animation that was not possible before,” says Karen Liu, a professor of computer science who led a team that included two student collaborators, Jonathan Tseng and Rodrigo Castellon, in her lab. The researchers believe that the tool will help choreographers design sequences and communicate their ideas to live dancers by visualizing 3D dance sequences. Key to the program’s advanced capabilities is editability. Liu imagines that EDGE could be used to create computer-animated dance sequences by allowing animators to intuitively edit any parts of dance motion.


For example, the animator can design specific leg movements of the character, and EDGE will “auto-complete” the entire body from that positioning in a way that is realistic, seamless, and physically plausible as well — a human could complete the moves. Above all, the moves are consistent with the animator’s choice of music. Like other generative models for images and text — ChatGPT and DALL-E, for instance — EDGE represents a new tool for choreographic idea generation and movement planning.


The editability means that dance artists and choreographers can iteratively refine their sequences move by move, position by position, adding specific poses at precise moments. EDGE then incorporates the additional details into the sequence automatically. In the near future, EDGE will allow users to input their own music and even demonstrate the moves themselves in front of a camera. “We think it’s a really a fun and engaging way for everyone, not just dancers, to express themselves through movement and tap into their own creativity,” Liu says.

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Here’s How Airlines Have Started Using AI

The travel industry is going all in on artificial intelligence. Here’s the latest way airlines are utilizing AI.

Per a new report from Bloomberg, airlines have begun leaning on the technology to help map the most fuel-efficient routes for long-haul flights — like the AKL-JFK route — thus avoiding unplanned and stops to refuel, as well as helping pilots avoid heavy weather, or catch a tailwind. And, as Angus Whitley notes, the mapping software is designed to get better the more it’s used — not unlike “an internet search engine that learns on the go.”

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