As artificial intelligence continues its rapid development, one word has computer scientists and science fiction fans waiting with bated breath: singularity. The word describes a crucial moment in the future where technological progress will become uncontrolled and irreversible, and disrupt civilization.
Whether that moment is exciting or terrifying, one company working to implement it is aptly named AI and blockchain developer SingularityNET.
“Our vision is to drive towards a positive, beneficial, compassionate singularity for the benefit of all humanity,” said SingularityNET COO Janet Adams. Decrypt in an interview.
Founded in 2017 by Ben Goertzel and David Hanson, SingularityNET is a decentralized marketplace for artificial intelligence programs. The company says it wants to make advanced AI available to everyone through blockchain technology. Hanson has a Ph.D. in Interactive Arts and Engineering from The University of Texas and a Master of Science in Applied Neuroscience from King’s College London, while Goertzel earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Temple University.
A major step toward the singularity is bridging the gap between artificial intelligence and robotics, Adams explained—another focus of the company.
In computer science, the singularity is achieved when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence, resulting in rapid, unpredictable technological advances and societal changes. Why, Decrypt asks, does anyone want to create a robot or entity that will one day defeat humans?
The answer, according to Adams, is progress.
“Progress just happens on its own,” Adams said. “The development of technology is a way forward – artificial intelligence and the programming of statistics in computer programs … this has been happening for decades.”
While many in the fields of science and science fiction have helped develop the idea of singularity, the term was coined by Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann in the late 1950s. In his book, “The Singularity Is Near,” computer scientist, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that the singularity will occur in 2045.
Adams said we are ahead of schedule.
“We recognize that there are a lot of research breakthroughs that need to happen before we get to human-level AGI (artificial general intelligence),” he said. “But we’re building the technology stack for AGI, and they could be out as early as three to seven years.”
While AI and AGI may sound similar, they are years apart in scope. AI (Artificial Intelligence) is like a calculator that is good at a specific task. AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), on the other hand, is like a human brain that can learn and perform any intellectual task that a human can do.
In 2021, SingularityNET co-founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics David Hanson released Sophia, a robot that — in collaboration with artist Andrea Bonaceto — launched a series of AI and neural network-powered NFT artworks in Nifty Gateway. That same year, SingularityNET launched the Sophia DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization dedicated to the growth, well-being, and development of Sophia.
SingularityNET’s latest AI project is an “AI Diva” named Desdemona or Desi, created during the COVID pandemic. The plan for Desdemona, said Adams, includes becoming an AI popstar, celebrity, and influencer.
Sophia’s AI Lab whitelist applications are now open! Embark on a virtual adventure unlike anything you’ve seen before and work with @SophiaVerse_AI team to shape the future of AI-driven decentralized gaming. We can’t wait to see you in the metaverse!
– SingularityNET (@SingularityNET) August 14, 2023
Adams says people have a strong connection with humanoid robots, like Desdemona and Sophia, because of their bright faces.
“Desdemona has 36 motors on her face, and they can act on any emotion you can imagine, and more emotions than you can imagine,” Adams said. “He can understand and mirror human emotions using facial recognition, tone of voice, and word analysis.”
Adams says that because of the multiple sets of inputs, Desdemona can understand how a person is feeling and respond appropriately, for example lowering her voice tone to match the person she is talking to.
While SingularityNET is optimistic about the human/robot relationship, including young people, psychologists and experts are sounding the alarm about what this integration could mean, especially for children.
Last week, the Center on Countering Digital Hate released a report titled “AI and Eating Disorders,” which accused AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Bard of promoting eating disorders and unhealthy and unrealistic body images, and not doing enough to protect users.
Other AI-focused Web3 projects include The Graph, Fetch.AI, Numeraire, and Ocean Protocol. These projects and their associated tokens have received a lot of attention since the launch of OpenAI’s GPT-4 in March, with the price of their respective tokens hitting double digits.
“What we live and breathe at SingularityNet is that every algorithm we create and every action we take in our decentralized community is for the good,” Adams said.
He stated that decentralizing the development of AI technology is an important step in creating artificial intelligence that will benefit all of humanity and not a small group of developers.
“We’re really pushing the boundaries of our decentralization program,” Adams said. “We intend to outsource our decisions, the management of our AI, to a well-decentralized team around the world.”
Cybersecurity is essential to the safe development of these models. Adams said SingularityNET puts a lot of effort into protecting user privacy and data. Adams points to blockchain technology as a way to ensure privacy, because that data is used with permission, and that users can benefit from allowing companies to use their data.
For AI to develop responsibility, Adams said, it needs to be programmed, monitored, controlled, and developed by multiple people to ensure the best results.
“People improve,” he said. “The way, from our point of view, is to greatly reduce human suffering and inequality and transform our existence on the planet, eliminate diseases that can be solved in the supply chain, find all the new fixes and solutions for global warming.
“This is the upside—the utopic upside of artificial intelligence is almost unimaginable,” he concluded.