Binh Nguyen

Binh NguyenBinh Nguyen is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University.

His focus is on evolving artificial intelligences with human like embodiments and environments. His work draws inspiration from artificial life, embodied artificial intelligence, evolutionary psychology, and human evolution. He believes that an artificial intelligence that can survive the physical and social challenges that humans face will be a step towards artificial general intelligence.

He is working on a simulation that exposes artificial intelligences to increasingly human like embodiments and environments. He is doing so by introducing the physical traits that differentiate humans from animals and that create pressures for complex social interactions. These traits include the human form, gender differences, and a slower growth rate compared to almost every other animal. In addition, he is increasing the environmental challenge by improving the level of physical realism, introducing predators, prey, and elements that reward exploring, learning, and cooperation.

He co-wrote with Dr. Andrew Skabar, “Evolutionary Intelligence, and Communication in Societies of Virtually Embodied Agents” in Artificial Life: Borrowing from Biology, 2009.

ABSTRACT – “Evolving Artificial Intelligences with Human Like Embodiments and Environments”

There are a number of breathtaking projects underway including the Blue Brain Project led by Dr. Henry Markram, the China Brain Project formerly led by Dr. Hugo De Garis, and the OpenCog Project led by Dr. Ben Goertzel. They are breathtaking in their vision and complexity.

This talk is instead about a relatively simple idea. What if instead of scanning and modelling biological neural networks with ever more detail, or building neural networks with a staggering number of neurons, or designing cognitive architectures with immense knowledge databases, we did something different? What if we instead evolve artificial intelligences by requiring them to learn to survive with increasingly human like bodies and environments?

Skilfully coping with the world requires a lifetime of experiences. It requires engaging in a form of life, interacting with the physical world and with others in the social world. Artificial intelligences are evolving behaviours that are ever more sophisticated. Behaviours include walking, hunting, evading, foraging, reproducing, cooperating, competing, using objects, and altering environments. Most interestingly, artificial intelligences are evolving natural language, one of the most powerful human abilities.

The talk will touch upon a few key ideas. Firstly, life is an incredibly persistent force given the chance, and persistence itself can compel artificial intelligences to act. Neural networks are capable of continual reconfiguration based simply on frequency of activation. Human beings are essentially the same as they were ten thousand years ago in Africa. Finally, computing power is developing at an exponential rate, allowing us to develop more and more realistic simulations.

This talk will look at evolving artificial intelligences to cope with human embodiments and environments. It will discuss the relevant techniques, technologies, challenges, and common criticisms.

Lev Lafayette

Lev Lafayette is a sociologist by profession, a systems administrator by vocation and a old-school gamer for recreation. He is a doctoral candidate at the Ashworth Centre for Social Theory at the the University of Melbourne with a thesis entitled “A Social Theory of the Internet”, as well as being an MBA (Technology) student at the Chifley Business School, and is an honours graduate from Murdoch University in Politics, Philosophy and Sociology.

He works at the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC), a registered research agency specialising established by a consortium of universities. He has worked for the Parliament of Victoria as a database administrator and trainer, and for East Timor’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as their ICT Advisor in their first year of independence. He is the public officer Linux Users Victoria, and founding president of the Isocracy Network.

Lev presented at the Singularity Summit AU in 2010.

Social Formations in a Transhumanist World

A theoretical analysis of social formations assigns qualitative differences to social structures in socio-historical structures and in terms of individual development along formal pragmatics and action, differentiating between social systems and cultural lifeworlds. In the former, broad social formations (primitive, traditional and modern), correlated with means of communication (speech, writing, print), means of production (gathering, agriculture, industry), institutional means (kinship, the state, the corporation), systematic differentiation (kinship, political rank, economic class) and a mode of consciousness (mythic, religious, secular). In the latter, biological evolution of the self (infancy, early childhood, late childhood, adolescence and adulthood) correlates with neurological and social development of the person along cognitive, moral, identity and expressive dimensions.
Positing a technological self-transformation of the species through genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, prosthetics and animal uplifting, or a combination thereof, will also witness changes in cultural mores and social systems. Speculation on the social structural content of a transhuman, post-modern social formation poses some difficulty, due to ontological differences. Nevertheless expressions can be made based on elaborations of best current knowledge which suggest qualitative changes of thought-transference, information economics, collegial management of economic rent, and a universalistic mode of consciousness, challenged by the cognitive capability to adapt mature thought with an accelerated growth phase. The probable postmodern social formation of transhuman life has strong collectivist and environmentalist orientations which may be contrary to the desires of many of its advocates.