Machine Intelligence Research Institute

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The Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 to research safety issues related to the development of Strong AI. The organization advocates ideas initially put forth by I. J. Good and Vernor Vinge regarding an "intelligence explosion", or Singularity, which MIRI thinks may follow the creation of sufficiently advanced AI.[1] Research fellow Eliezer Yudkowsky coined the term Friendly AI to refer to a hypothetical super-intelligent AI that has a positive impact on humanity.[2] The organization has argued that to be "Friendly" a self-improving AI needs to be constructed in a transparent, robust, and stable way.[3] MIRI was formerly known as the Singularity Institute, and before that as the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Luke Muehlhauser[4] is Executive Director. Inventor and futures studies author Ray Kurzweil served as one of its directors from 2007 to 2010.[5] The institute 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. It 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.


In 2000, Eliezer Yudkowsky[6] and Internet entrepreneurs Brian and Sabine Atkins founded the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence to "help humanity prepare for the moment when machine intelligence exceeded human intelligence".[7] At first, it operated primarily over the Internet, receiving financial contributions from transhumanists and futurists.

In 2002, it published on its website the paper Levels of Organization in General Intelligence,[8] a preprint of a book chapter later included in a compilation of general AI theories, entitled "Artificial General Intelligence" (Ben Goertzel and Cassio Pennachin, eds.). Later that year, it released their two main introductory pieces, "What is the Singularity"[9] and "Why Work Toward the Singularity".[10]

In 2003, the 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[11] at Yale University with a talk by institute volunteer Michael Anissimov.

In 2004, it released,[12] 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, the institute ran a Fellowship Challenge Grant that raised $35,000 over the course of three months. Early the next year, the Institute relocated from Atlanta, Georgia to Silicon Valley.

In February 2006, the Institute completed a $200,000 Singularity Challenge fundraising drive,[13] in which every donation up to $100,000 was matched by Clarium Capital President, PayPal co-founder and Institute Advisor Peter Thiel.[14] The stated uses of the funds included hiring additional full-time staff, an additional full-time research fellow position, and the organization of the Singularity Summit at Stanford.

In 2006, the Institute, along with the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford, the Center for Study of Language and Information,, and Peter Thiel, co-sponsored the Singularity Summit at Stanford.[15] The summit took place on 13 May 2006 at Stanford University with Thiel moderating and 1300 in attendance. The keynote speaker was Ray Kurzweil,[16] followed by eleven others: 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 2009 Singularity Summit took place on October 3, at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, New York. The 2010 Summit was held on August 14–15, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.[17] The 2011 Summit was held October 16–17, 2011, at the 92nd St. Y in New York. The 2012 Singularity Summit was on the weekend of October 13–14 at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California Street, San Francisco, CA.[18]

From 2009-2012, the Institute released about a dozen papers on subjects including machine ethics, economic implications of AI, and decision theory topics.[19]

Having previously shortened its name to simply Singularity Institute, in January 2013 it changed its name to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute in order to avoid confusion with Singularity University.[20]

Center for Applied Rationality[edit]

In mid-2012, the Institute spun off a new organization called the Center for Applied Rationality, whose focus is to help people apply the principles of rationality in their day-to-day life and to research and develop de-biasing techniques.[21][22]


Hugo de Garis dubbed the organization the "singhilarity institute" in a 2012 H+ Magazine article, saying that creating truly safe artificial intelligence is utterly impossible.[23] However, James Miller believes that even if the organization has no prospect of creating friendly AI, it more than justifies its existence simply by spreading awareness of the risks of unfriendly AI.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Intelligence Explosion Microeconomics writes: "MIRI is highly interested in trustworthy progress on this question that offers to resolve our actual internal debates and policy issues...", suggesting that MIRI considers whether an intelligence explosion will occur to be an open research problem.
  2. ^ What is Friendly AI?
  3. ^ MIRI Overview
  4. ^ About Us
  5. ^ I, Rodney Brooks, Am a Robot
  6. ^ Scientists Fear Day Computers Become Smarter Than Humans September 12, 2007
  7. ^ Business Artificial Intelligence Conference in S.J. this week San Jose Mercury News (CA) - October 24, 2008 - 3E Business
  8. ^ Levels of Organization in General Intelligence
  9. ^ "What is the Singularity"
  10. ^ "Why Work Toward the Singularity"
  11. ^ "Humanity 2.0: transhumanists believe that human nature's a phase we'll outgrow, like adolescence. Someday we'll be full-fledged adult posthumans, with physical and intellectual powers of which we can now only dream. But will progress really make perfect?"
  12. ^
  13. ^ Singularity Challenge
  14. ^ The Singularity: Humanity's Last Invention?, Martin Kaste, National Public Radio
  15. ^ Smarter than thou?, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 May 2006
  16. ^ Public meeting will re-examine future of artificial intelligence Real brains are gathering in San Francisco to ponder the future of artificial intelligence, September 07, 2007. Tom Abate,
  17. ^ Silicon Valley tycoon embraces sci-fi future MSNBC Tech & Science
  18. ^ "Singularity Summit: Logistics". Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  19. ^ Singularity Institute - Recent Publications
  20. ^ "We are now the “Machine Intelligence Research Institute” (MIRI)", Luke Muehlhauser, 30 January 2013
  21. ^ "July 2012 Newsletter". Singularity Institute. 
  22. ^ "About Us". Center for Applied Rationality. 
  23. ^ h+ Magazine | Covering technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing human beings in fundamental ways. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  24. ^ Singularity Rising, by James Miller

External links[edit]