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SingularityNET ICO Review

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The AI Algorithm Market

SingularityNET is a Swiss company based in the Netherlands that raised approximately $36M USD (at that moment) in exchange of their AGI token, currently valued at around $0.17 USD each, through their ICO which lasted for a single day on December 19th, 2017. What’s crazy about this company was that they raised their entire ICO in about a minute.

SingularityNET is creating a marketplace for AI algorithms and services. With the rise of AI + Blockchain developments, we wanted to take a look at some of the current players in the space and what differentiated them.

Introduction

The Idea

“The value and power of Artificial Intelligence is growing dramatically every year, and will soon dominate the internet — and the economy as a whole. However, AI tools today are fragmented by a closed development environment; most are developed by one company to perform one task, and there is no way to plug two tools together. SingularityNET aims to become the key protocol for networking AI and machine learning tools to form a coordinated Artificial General Intelligence.”
From: the SingularityNet white paper

SingularityNet defines itself as an open-source protocol and marketplace for AI services. Essentially they are trying to solve the problem that AI companies currently build their own services and libraries independently, while SingularityNet would be a collection of many AI services in one. They belief that general AI should not be owned by a few number of corporations, and instead should be owned by everyone.

This concept is very similar to Google’s TensorFlow, a project that was once a private series of algorithms created by Google’s AI team, Google Brain, and that is now also an open source library with a series of tools to enable anyone to tap into Machine learning and deep learning easily, as well as, enabling the public to contribute to its ever-growing library of AI-centered tools.

The company is looking to have a release of its software by December of 2018.

History

SingularityNET is owned by Hanson Robotics Limited, a Hong Kong company that was founded in 2013, and that specializes in creating human-like robots (or androids). The company is well known for having created Sophia (image below). In 2017 the company created SingularityNET along with its Chief Scientist, Ben Goertzel.

Image taken from the Sophia article on wikipedia.

A technological singularity is given to the epoch in human civilization when humans create an AI so powerful that it is able to improve itself at an exponentially faster rate, thus quickly surpassing humanity’s intellect, ultimately ending the current human era, or at the very least modifying it beyond anyone’s capacity to comprehend. This was described as “The Singularity”, a name coined by American SciFi author Vernor Vinge in 1993 to refer to a single artificial intelligence controlling everything. This is also known as a Super Artificial Intelligent, or SAI.

Apparently the team at SingularityNET thinks this is something that could be potentially positive to our society, and has decided to create a platform that will take us there faster. The company sees that the current state of AI is incredibly problem-specific (narrow), and in order to make a general AI, we will need to have a greater ability to share and build strong artificial intelligence libraries and tools, essentially they want to put all of the current AI techniques into one marketplace. Ultimately creating a whole that will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The company believes that the best way to do this is through a decentralized, open-source network that would enable all AI developers to add to the network.

Furthermore the company has also created a subdivision of hardware robotics by the name of Hanson Robotics. The idea would be that this hardware would look and act like humans, and then utilizing SingularityNET’s software, it could also think and behave like one. The company is looking to create the first fully functional android.

The Marketplace

SingularityNET is aiming to achieve Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). In its quest it has partnered with OpenCog Foundation, an open source toolkit looking to achieve AGI. The SingularityNET foundation will use this partnership to develop natural language processing, probabilistic logical interface, evolutionary learning and other core systems for AI development by the name of Atomspace. The agents on SingularityNET are created as an expansion of Atomspace.

The idea is that people (users) can use tokens to purchase AI services from single or multiple AI agents on the network, depending on the complexity of the problem. The marketplace is in short a combination of different AI partnerships that can be rented out to users in exchange of the token. The nodes themselves are AI blackboxes that people can hire.

Users and agents can be used exchangeably, as other AIs could request certain algorithms to be rented out by other players. Essentially created a tangled network of services and requests. The following is a diagram created by the SingularityNET team to depict an example of what this would look like practically:

Image taken from SingularityNET white paper page 18

Technology

The Platform

Currently the platform is being built on Ethereum Virtual Machines, the company is aware that this will not scale and will ultimately build their own consensus protocol.

The company claims that their platform will have the following attributes:

  • Interoperability: The network can interface with multiple blockchains
  • Data Sovereignty and Privacy: User controls what type of data is shared as controls on top of network
  • Modularity: Multiple arrangements of AI Agents, and failure recovery systems are possible
  • Scalability: The platform securely hosts private and public contracts, and claims near zero transaction costs

The company wants to enable all kinds of hardware devices to be able to run nodes, similar to IOTA. A play that significantly targets IoT and other devices that have continued access to the internet.

The Token

The tokens are used for different AI nodes and processors to exchange value.

For example, if a customer wanted to utilize a specific AI algorithm created by another developer, he could simply pay the AI node for its service. This could enable any agent to use multiple different AI technologies through their token.

AI nodes can have internal subcontractors that are private from the network. Enabling people to interact with a node, and the node itself to pay participants within it to solve the problem. The idea is that multiple computers could run a node, and the node only represents the AI that is being utilized.

Traction

This ICO is probably best known to be one of the fastest to be ever completed. In about 60 seconds the company was able to finalize its goal and raise about $36M USD in exchange of their AGI token, currently valued at around $0,17 USD per token.

Team

Image taken from SingliartyNet’s website here.

SingularityNET is built by a fascinating CEO, and a series of well-educated AI researchers, marketers and partners. Starting with Ben Goertzel. Ben is also the Chief Scientist of a prediction firm by the name aidyia holdings, as well as robotics firm Hanson Robotics. Needless to say his areas of expertise are Artificial Intelligence, robotics, data science and mathematics. He has also been in multiple documentaries for having created the android, Sophia.

The ICO

Token Distribution

SingularityNET Genesis Contract produced 1 Billion AGI Tokens. Their distribution is the following:

  • 50% for ICO
  • 20% as reward pool
  • 18% given to founders (2 years vesting)
  • 8% to the SingularityNET foundation
  • 4% given to campaign supporters

The Reward tool will be released at a rate of 2% per year, starting a year after genesis. The reserve will be itself split into different groups:

  • 40% development
  • 40% beneficial
  • 20% curation

Furthermore the platform is planning on creating its own consensus protocol / blockchain and will add a 10% yearly inflation of the reward pool awarded to new blocks generated in years 2 — 11.

Criticisms

Fundamentals

The company believes that the power of AI should be shared by groups of pople instead of small numbers of corporations

“SingularityNET is backed by the SingularityNET Foundation, which operates on a belief that the benefits of AI should not be dominated by any small set of powerful institutions, but shared by all.” — SingularityNet White Paper

We are not sure if that is the right response. Even though Elon Musk might agree with them, there are a lot of concerns when it comes to democratizing AI.

In the words of AI Safety Researcher, Robert Miles:

“The argument sounds like: Nukes are extremely dangerous, so we need to empower as many people as possible to have them”

Funding

The platform awarded 26% of its token to the founders and the SingularityNET Foundation, and 4% to campaign supporters. This means that about 30% of the tokens were given internally. It can be debated whether this is a lot of money for the company or not. We have to take into consideration that once the platform releases the price might be substantially higher.

AI Copycat nodes

The system claims to be open source, and has also partnered with an open source AI platform in order to solve users problems. However, most of the AI nodes on the platform will essentially operate as black boxes. This could cause a problem where nodes copy open source AI libraries and essentially re-sell the services through cheaper computing power as a black box solution. It is possible then, to have a system where those that spend more on marketing solutions end up getting a significant portion of the market without creating new AI innovations.

This can even be a problem in the case that there are no black box agents. Because even if all the code is open source, people could still copy algorithms from open source libraries and resell them on the market. This happens most commonly with hardware products made in cheaper countries by copying intellectual property from other countries. We can see this happening as well in an open source AI marketplace such as this one.

Blockchain

Currently the company mentioned that it is utilizing Ethereum Virtual Machines, and that its also planning on building its own consensus protocol. However, the white paper also mentions that it may use IOTA or some other IoT Blockchain. Which one is it? Why is the company so confused about its core technology for consensus? There seem to be a lot of questions regarding the token, how it will evolve, and how they will transfer or utilize multiple blockchains. Furthermore the company claims to be scalable and working on that but there are little to no details on how they will actually achieve scalability, which is especially difficult on blockchain architectures.

Conclusion

SingularityNET brings together a series of extremely important technologies that will surely lead the tech industry for the next decade. The ability to quickly and easily purchase AI algorithms is going to be a significantly powerful market in the upcoming future.

The biggest concern we have is the unforeseen consequences of decentralizing and democratizing this power. There is a real danger that could occur from having an anonymous market of people purchasing very powerful AI services.

The ultimate goal of SingularityNET is to create a Super Artificial Intelligent that physically interacts with humans through hardware devices that are also robotic humanoids. There could also be a series of dangerous consequences if this idea actually becomes successful and reaches its mission.

It is too early to determine yet what the value of this network will be, and it is therefore completely speculative to assume whether or not it will be a success, and also if it will cause the apocalypse.

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