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Startup Funded $143M to Create Sentient Computing

Siri + Watson meet a nice-guy version of Skynet?
12/5/2014 10:13 AM EST
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R_Colin_Johnson
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New Advisors Give Sentient Merit
R_Colin_Johnson   12/9/2014 1:34:06 PM
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Sentient has also addede two new advisors to bolster their drive to market Sentient globally-- Nello Cristianini, a professsor of AI at the University of Bristol, reported by Thomson Reuters as  one of the "most influential scientists of the decade" for his books on machine learning.

To help with direct marketing, advisor Michael Scharff has two decades of retail experiene in e-commerce with well-known retailers such as Toys R Us, Staples and Best Buy. 

 

R_Colin_Johnson
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New Patent Granted
R_Colin_Johnson   12/9/2014 12:22:25 PM
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Sentient just had one of its pending patents granted--the newly granted patent protects the unique way Sentient distributes its Evolutionary Algorithms (EA) among computers on a grid, so that Big Data does not have to be in one place at the same time.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Choice vs plunging ahead
R_Colin_Johnson   12/9/2014 12:17:52 PM
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Thank you so much for your insightful analysis. I searched for "we" and the only instances of "we" I can find in the story are quotes, where we refers to Sentient itself. Regarding the dangers of AI, as predicted by Stephen Hawkings, Sentient says they are a long, long way from their AI becoming dangerously autonomous. Hopefully the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility will have plenty of time deal with these issues. Here I am only reporting on how the software works. Perhaps in a future article these issues can be discussed (if Sentient even becomes a success--the vast majority of startups fail). Thanks again for you excellent comment.

DrFPGA
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Re: MIT Spinoff or not?
DrFPGA   12/9/2014 11:59:19 AM
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I just hope they can't run their software to mine my data (if I don't want them to)  if I'm using the same data center... Not sure how this will be done....

woodhouse
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Choice vs plunging ahead
woodhouse   12/8/2014 9:13:25 PM
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The Sentient story deserves to be discussed in more sophisticated ways.

For example, when the word "we" is invoked, to whom does the author refer -- a relative handful of mostly male, mostly North Americans? What ethical principle would justify allowing them to change the conditions of life for the rest of humanity?

If democracy is widely preferred over alternatives in the political sphere, why do so few consider its advantages (and disadvantages) in the technological-economic sphere?  

 Given that historians of technology repeatedly have shown that expert predictions are often wrong, why do so many respondents argue over their guesses about the unknowable facts instead of asking about the procedures for coping with being wrong?

Given that human and organizational learning tends to take a very long time, who is asking that the accelerator be used less and the brakes more -- thereby allowing time for patient trial and error, interpretation, and revised trajectories?

As Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility puts it, "Technology is Driving the Future, It is Up to Us to Do the Steering." I see almost no intelligent discussion -- here or elsewhere -- of what it would take in terms of political, economic, and cultural change to begin to approximate CPSR's goal.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: MIT Spinoff or not?
R_Colin_Johnson   12/7/2014 2:00:24 PM
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Rick Merrit: What do they need the $143 million for? Is there a chip or data center they have to build? ANSWER: They've alredy spent $40 million (in Series A and B) to develop their software suite, and say they are using the $103 Series C to market their software to the rest of the world (plus continue perfecting its algorithm). They are a software only company and install their code on the user's datacenters. One ofits investors, Tata Communications will be the preferred provider to Sentient customers without enough of their own datacenters, with its more than one million square feet of datacenters in 44 locations, serving 240 countries and territories. Eventually Sentient hopes to have a global network of users all of whom's data centers are connected by their software and who are willing to let others use idle time on their datacenters in return for the favor when they are running a job that could benefit from massive parallelism. So the answer is no and no--no proprietary chip and no datacenters of their own. They'll run their software on their investors datacenters, the vast majority of which are also their customers with the $130 million Series C to market their software to every other potential customer dealing with Big Data.

crowbar0
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Waking up
crowbar0   12/7/2014 11:39:14 AM
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From their own words.........

The stated goal of Sentient Technologies is to build a sentient computer. "Sentience is being aware, having perceptions, being mindful, and has implications of autonomy," chief technology officer Nigel Duffy said.

"Hojat says not to worry about the network "waking up" like Skynet".

Hmmmm....., my personal logic algorythms seem to have flagged a contradiction. Maybe he meant to say "waking up" yet? If he means it never will, then just what is the goal here?

How would he know if the network, or part of it "woke up", and became self-aware? Would it announce that to the world, so that we can install safeguards against unforeseen consequences, or keep that information to itself so we don't?

Del

rick merritt
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Re: MIT Spinoff or not?
rick merritt   12/7/2014 1:12:38 AM
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What do they need $143 million for? Is there a chip or data center they have to build?

R_Colin_Johnson
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MIT Spinoff or not?
R_Colin_Johnson   12/6/2014 3:50:50 PM
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I've had some complaints about Sentient being called an MIT spinoff as well as a builder of Sentient computers. So let me set the record straight. Sentient had one big collaboration project with MIT so far and continues to plan future collaborations (mostly using MIT Big Data to make predictions using Sentient software) but no former MIT personel work at Sentient. MIT is not an investor in Sentient and Sentient does not license any IP from MIT (or anybody else for that matter--they have their own proprietary patents covering their IP). Regarding Sentient computers, Sentient Technologies Holding Ltd. is a software-only company. Of couse, their software has to run on a computer of some kind, but they do not sell any computers.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Do we have a choice?
R_Colin_Johnson   12/6/2014 3:26:44 PM
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DrFPGA: Google Trading Network Google is already in trouble in Europe where some in the E.U. are calling for their breakup. Imagine the presurre to break them up if they started a trading network!

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