Median Group

Current Research

Modeling AI progress through insights

We assembled a list of major technical insights in the history of progress in AI and metadata on the discoverer(s) of each insight.

Based on this dataset, we developed an interactive model that calculates the time it would take to reach the cumulation of all AI research, based on a guess at what percentage of AI discoveries have been made.

The analysis brief below provides more information on the dataset and methodology behind it.

Feasibility of Training an AGI using Deep Reinforcement Learning: A Very Rough Estimate

Several months ago, we were presented with a scenario for how artificial general intelligence (AGI) may be achieved in the near future. We found the approach surprising, so we attempted to produce a rough model to investigate its feasibility. The document presents the model and its conclusions.

The usual cliches about the folly of trying to predict the future go without saying and this shouldn’t be treated as a rigorous estimate, but hopefully it can give a loose, rough sense of some of the relevant quantities involved. The notebook and the data used for it can be found in the Median Group numbers GitHub repo if the reader is interested in using different quantities or changing the structure of the model.

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Early partial draft

Declining prices for solar energy capture and storage technologies herald the end of international petrochemical trade value within the next decade. The following brief period of transition, in which petrochemicals are commercially devalued but still strategically valuable for military purposes, will destabilize states whose revenues are dependent on petrochemical sales; and such destabilization may lead such states to pursue regional or global conflict to maintain their sovereignty and quality of life. This forthcoming paper examines the historical context, technological trends, and political incentives that will characterize this period, and what might be done to avert the most destructive outcomes.

Forecasting Forest Fires

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A proposal for improved forest fire prediction.

Toward A Working Theory of Mind

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An essay by Miya Perry that lays out an ontology for describing the mind, as well as a theory of how the mind develops over time and develops internal conflicts.

The Professional's Dilemma

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An essay by Ben Hoffman about incentive problems faced by professionals, and especially nonprofit employees.

Upcoming Research

Hymenoptera simulation

This project is a synthesis of research on cognitive and behavioral abilities of hymenopteran insects, integrating existing empirical research in order to generate a template for the capabilities that an AI would need in order to effectively model insect behavior. This will also include projections of the time-frame within which an AI with such capabilities could be produced, if indeed current methodology is adequate for this goal. Previous work in this area has concentrated on replicating specific insect abilities in isolation from one another, and there is a need for work delineating the computational requirements for simulating the integrated behavioral schema of an advanced social insect, such as the honeybee.

Conditions for intellectual progress

We plan to examine the impact of organizational structures on technical and scientific progress, with a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, to better understand what circumstances allow for the development and prudent use of new technologies that significantly benefit humanity. The work will focus in particular on methods of organizing intellectual progress that were novel for their time (such as the Macy cybernetics conferences) and their impacts on more traditional, formal structures.