15 October 2009

Machine super intelligence – 31st October

Filed under: AGI, UKTA — David Wood @ 11:25 pm

On Sat 31st October, from 2pm-4pm, Dr Shane Legg will be leading a state-of-the-art review of models of how super intelligent machines might work.  I’ll be chairing the meeting.

This will be taking place in:

  • Room 416, 4th floor (via main lift), Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX.

There’s no charge to attend, and everyone is welcome. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.  Anyone with a Facebook account can (if they like) give an RSVP here.

About the talk (text from Shane Legg)

What ever happened to the ambitious aims of artificial intelligence, specifically, its original goal of creating an “intelligent machine”? Are we any closer to this than we were 20 or 30 years ago? Indeed, have we made any progress on figuring out what intelligence is, let alone knowing how to build one? After all, if we had a clearer idea of where we want to get to, we might be able to come up with some better ideas on how to get there!

Clearly, artificial intelligence could do with a better theoretical foundation.  This talk will outline work on creating such a foundation:

  • What is intelligence?
  • How can we formalise machine intelligence?
  • Solomonoff Induction: a universal prediction system.
  • AIXI: Hutter’s universal artificial intelligence.
  • MC-AIXI: a computable approximation of AIXI.
  • Can the brain tell us anything useful for building an AI?
  • Is building a super intelligent machine a good idea?

About the speaker:

Dr Shane Legg is a post doctoral research associate at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London. He received a PhD in 2008 from the Department of Informatics, University of Lugano, Switzerland. His PhD supervisor was Prof. Marcus Hutter, the originator of the AIXI model of optimal machine intelligence.

Upon the completion of his PhD he won the $10,000 Canadian Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence Prize and was also awarded a post doctoral research grant by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Shane is a native of New Zealand. After training in mathematics he began a career as a software engineer, mostly for American companies specialising in artificial intelligence. In 2003 he returned to academia to complete a PhD.

His research has been published in top academic journals (e.g. IEEE TEC), and featured in mainstream publications (e.g. New Scientist). All of Shane’s publications, including his doctoral thesis “Machine super intelligence”, are available on his website, http://www.vetta.org

Opportunities for further discussion

Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

There’s also a chance to join some of the UKH+ regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there’s a copy of Shane’s book “Machine Super Intelligence” displayed.

About the venue

Room 416 is on the fourth floor (via the lift near reception) in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Opportunity to be a formal “responder”

If anyone would like to have the chance to be a designated “responder” to Shane at the meeting itself, please let me know. The idea is that a responder will get 2-5 minutes (depending on how much he/she wants to say – and depending on how much time is left in the meeting) to raise comments from the floor, after Shane has finished his presentation. If you have a small number of slides to show (3 at MAX), that would be fine too, so long as they’re relevant to the main discussion.

Of course, anyone in the audience will be welcome to make a comment, during the final 20-30 minutes of the alloted 2 hours (2pm-4pm). However, if I know in advance that you have prepared something to say, I’ll find a way to set aside time for you.


  1. Hi DW, congratulations on your life changes announced today (16/10). Apropos this post, is it likely that these UKTA talks will start being recorded in any way. Just audio would be a great. I recognise that question/answer pick up might be too difficult but perhaps speaker pick up would be OK.


    Comment by David Crookes — 16 October 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  2. Hi Dave,

    The UKTA meetings are generally recorded on video these days, and published at http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=KoanPhilosopher – thanks to Adam Summerfield

    Comment by David Wood — 16 October 2009 @ 8:08 pm

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