Fascinating article by Ben Goertzel about Is AI Engineering the Shortest Path to a Positive Singularity?: he says that with a 'AI Manhattan Project' an artificial general intelligence could be built within about 10 years. And this AGI would be the most important building block and accelerator to a singularity, which then could be few years later already ...
There are also a few remarks about free will which I find interesting:
The mother of all patterns in an intelligent system is the self. If a system can recognize the coherent, holistic pattern of its own self, by observing its actions in the world and the world's responses to it—then the system can build a self, or what psychologists call a self-model. And a reasonably accurate, dynamically updated self-model is the key to adaptiveness, to the ability to confront new problems as they arise in the course of interacting with the world and with other minds.
And if a system can recognize itself, it can recognize probabilistic relationships between itself and various effects in the world. It can recognize patterns of the form "If I do X, then Y is likely to occur." This leads to the pattern known as will. There are important senses in which the conventional human concept of 'free will' is an illusion—but it's an important illusion, critical for guiding the actions of an intelligent agent as it navigates its environments. In order to achieve human-level general intelligence, a pattern-recognizing system must be able to model itself and then model the effects of various states its self may take—and this amounts to modeling personal will and causation.
The trick of digital mind design, then, is not any particular way of representing, recognizing or enacting patterns: it's creating a pattern-recognition system, by hook or by crook, that can recognize some critical key patterns: self, will, reflective awareness. Once these patterns are recognized, then some critical recursions kick in and a mind can monitor itself, shape itself, improve itself. The question is how do we get a pattern-recognition system to that point, given the available computational resources? This is the question to which my Novamente AI design is intended to give one possible answer.