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HackJam – Special Guests Ben Goertzel and David Hanson

Ben Goertzel's robot hacking from PolyU

Ben Goertzel is really into singularity (http://wp.goertzel.org/), while David Hanson is known for all things robotic (http://www.hansonrobotics.com/).
First up is our little chat with Ben – read on for more.
Get to know more by stopping by HackJam this Tuesday !
Ben Goertzel >>>>>
What were your very first making/hacking moments ?
As a kid I made lots of weird bicycles with atypical geometries, some even sorta ride-able.   And in my early teens I built some simple computers from kits and tried to program them in machine language (as no other languages were supported)…
What was the tipping point from an interest shaping into [what you’re known for today] ?
I’ve been focusing most of my attention on AI for the last 20 years or so, basically because in my late 20s I started to realize it’s much more difficult to accomplish amazing stuff in the world than to conceive it in your head.  So I decided I’d need to focus the majority of my attention on one of the many cool things that fascinated me, and I chose AI — mostly because it combined the properties of being intellectually fascinating, being really important for the practical world, and being something I could hack on myself without needing massive funding…
What does your [daily/project] process currently entail ?
Mostly I manage technical people, write, think, and do theory these days.  But every now and then I plunge into some specific practical hands-on project, usually programming or doing some math….  Now we’re just starting to get into some physical robot hacking at our lab at Hong Kong Poly U, which has been good fun — it’s the first time I’ve dealt with DIY style robots since the mid-1990s, and it’s awesome to see how the supporting technologies have advanced.  A picture of our goofy hacked robot is [on the left].
Who/what’s currently on your radar ?
Hah.  Too many things.   I’m trying to create human-level thinking machines, capable humanoid robots, and figure out the biology of longevity … and writing a few books on the side.  I’m psyched that robotics, AI and life extension are in a phase of being more and more broadly popular, and I hope the phase will last ongoingly !
If you could have any super power, what would it be ?

 

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