John von Neumann on 1949

AI Prediction made by John von Neumann in 1949.


Predicted time for AGI / HLMI / transformative AI:

Not predicted.



Opinion about the Intelligence Explosion from John von Neumann:

There is thus this completely decisive property of complexity, that there exists a critical size below which the process of synthesis is degenerative, but above which the phenomenon of synthesis, if properly arranged, can become explosive, in other words, where syntheses of automata can proceed in such a manner that each automaton will produce other automata which are more complex and of higher potentialities than itself.


Flycer’s explanation for better understanding:

Complexity has a critical size below which synthesis is degenerative. Above this size, synthesis can become explosive, with each automaton producing more complex and higher potential automata. This phenomenon is known as the process of synthesis.



The future of humanity with AGI / HLMI / transformative AI:

Not predicted.


Flycer’s Secondary Explanation:




When looking at von Neumann’s research accomplishments, one is struck by the vast breadth and depth of his achievements. He made substantial contributions to both theoretical and practical fields, and was among the first to recognize the potential of computers for technological revolution, as well as prediction and control of the environment. Von Neumann possessed a rare combination of abilities and wide-ranging interests, which enabled him to absorb, organize, retain, and use large quantities of information. He was an applied mathematician par excellence, familiar with the problems of natural and engineering sciences, as well as the abstract methods of pure mathematics.Given his background and type of mind, it was natural for von Neumann to construct a general theory of computers. He sought a theory that would cover both natural and artificial systems, language and information in such systems, and the programming and control of such systems. He called this proposed systematic theory “the theory of automata”. Von Neumann’s early work on computer design and programming led him to recognize the strong role of mathematical logic in the new theory of automata. However, he believed that a new logic of automata would arise, which would strongly resemble and interconnect with probability theory, thermodynamics, and information theory.Unfortunately, due to his premature death, von Neumann was unable to put his research on automata theory in final form. Nevertheless, he outlined the general nature of automata theory, began a comparative study of artificial and natural automata, and formulated and partially answered two basic questions of automata theory: How can reliable systems be constructed from unreliable components? What kind of logical organization is sufficient for an automaton to be able to reproduce itself? These questions may have arisen out of von Neumann’s work with computers, as he was interested in solving non-linear partial differential equations and desired ever more powerful machines.Von Neumann’s theory of automata is highly interdisciplinary and will require a new logic of automata to be developed. While imperfectly articulated and hardly formalized, his accomplishments in this area were substantial and have paved the way for further research in automata theory.




Keywords: complexity, synthesis, automata