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The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 to develop safe artificial intelligence software, and to raise awareness of both the dangers and potential benefits it believes AI presents. The organization advocates ideas initially put forth by I. J. Good and Vernor Vinge regarding an "intelligence explosion" or Singularity predicted to follow the creation of sufficiently advanced AI, which, in its view, necessitate solutions to problems involving AI goal systems to ensure powerful AIs are not dangerous if or when they are created. SIAI espouses the Friendly AI model created by its co-founder Eliezer Yudkowsky as a potential solution to such problems.
Inventor and futures studies author Ray Kurzweil serves as one of the organization's directors. SIAI maintains an advisory board whose members include Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and Foresight Nanotech Institute co-founder Christine Peterson. The SIAI is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, and has a Canadian branch, SIAI-CA, formed in 2004 and recognized as a Charitable Organization by the Canada Revenue Agency.
At first, SIAI operated primarily over the Internet, receiving financial contributions from sympathetic transhumanists and futurists. On July 23 2001, SIAI launched the open source Flare Programming Language Project, described as "annotative programming language" with features inspired by Python, Java, C++, Eiffel, Common Lisp, Scheme, Perl, Haskell, and others. The specifications were designed with the complex challenges of seed AI in mind. However, the effort was abandoned less than a year later.
In 2002, SIAI published on its website Levels of Organization in General Intelligence, a preprint of a book chapter to be included in an upcoming compilation of general AI theories, entitled "Real AI: New Approaches to Artificial General Intelligence" (Ben Goertzel and Cassio Pennachin, eds.) Later that year, SIAI released their two main introductory pieces, "What is the Singularity" and "Why Work Toward the Singularity".
In 2003, the Singularity Institute appeared at the Foresight Senior Associates Gathering, where co-founder Eliezer Yudkowsky presented a talk titled "Foundations of Order". They also made an appearance at the Transvision 2003 conference at Yale University with a talk by SIAI volunteer Michael Anissimov.
In 2004, SIAI released AsimovLaws.com, a website that examined AI morality in the context of the "I, Robot" movie starring Will Smith, released just two days later. From July to October, SIAI ran a Fellowship Challenge Grant that raised $35,000 over the course of three months. Early the next year, the Singularity Institute relocated from Atlanta, Georgia to Silicon Valley.
In February 2006, the Singularity Institute completed a $200,000 Singularity Challenge fundraising drive, in which every donation up to $100,000 was matched by Clarium Capital President, Paypal Co-Founder and SIAI Advisor Peter Thiel. Among the stated uses of the funds included hiring additional full-time staff, an additional full-time research fellow position, and organizing the Singularity Summit at Stanford event in May 2006.
Singularity Institute co-sponsored the Singularity Summit at Stanford with the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford, the Center for Study of Language and Information, KurzweilAI.net, and Peter Thiel, who moderated the event. The summit took place on 13 May 2006 at Stanford University and had 1300 in attendance. The keynote was Ray Kurzweil, followed by eleven other speakers: Nick Bostrom, Cory Doctorow, K. Eric Drexler, Douglas Hofstadter, Steve Jurvetson, Bill McKibben, Max More, Christine Peterson, John Smart, Sebastian Thrun, and Eliezer Yudkowsky.
The 2007 Singularity Summit took place on September 8-September 9 2007, at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, San Francisco. A third Singularity Summit took place on October 25, 2008, at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose.
The Singularity Institute is sponsoring the Open Cognition Framework, or OpenCog, which according to OpenCog.org is intended to provide "research scientists and software developers with a common platform to build and share artificial intelligence programs."