Dr. Mark Humphrys

School of Computing. Dublin City University.

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Research - The World-Wide-Mind


World-Wide-Mind publications

WWM development

Ancient Brain

The World-Wide-Mind

The "World-Wide-Mind" is an idea for helping AI scale up, and enabling the construction of large, complex minds by teams of multiple dispersed authors.

This work proposes that the construction of advanced artificial minds may be too difficult for any single laboratory to complete. At the moment, no easy system exists whereby a working mind can be made from the components of two or more laboratories. This system aims to change that, and accelerate the growth of Artificial Intelligence, once the requirement that a single laboratory understand the entire system is removed.

For short introductions see the papers at ECAL-01 or SAB-02.

For a longer introduction see the technical report: The World-Wide-Mind: Draft Proposal.


Ancient Brain

The "World Wide Mind" dream was finally realised with the launch of the site Ancient Brain on 12 Feb 2018.

Go there. Get an account. And start coding!


One of Worlds on the site.
Click to run World: Game of Crowns at Ancient Brain.
Mouse drag and zoom camera.
Keyboard arrows to control agent.

2002 video

4 minute video interview at SAB, Aug 2002.

Mind servers and World servers

In summary, it is proposed that researchers in AI construct their agent minds and agent worlds as servers on the Internet.

Under this scheme, not only will 3rd parties be able to re-use agent worlds in their own projects (a long-standing aim of other schemes), but 3rd parties will be able to re-use agent minds as components in larger, multiple-mind, cognitive systems. Under this scheme, any 3rd party user on the Internet may select multiple minds from different remote "mind servers", select a remote "Action Selection server" to resolve the conflicts between them, and run the resulting "society of mind" in the world provided on another "world server". Re-use is done not by installing the software, but rather by using a remote service. Hence the term, the "World-Wide-Mind" (WWM), referring to the fact that the mind may be physically distributed across the world.

This model addresses the possibility that the AI project may be too big for any single laboratory to complete, so it will be necessary both to decentralise the work and to allow a massive and ongoing experiment with different schemes of decentralisation. We expect that researchers will not agree on how to divide up the AI work, so components will overlap and be duplicated and we need multiple-conflicting-minds models. This is based very much on the model of mind in my PhD. See in particular How to implement existing agent architectures as networks of WWM servers.

We define the set of queries and responses that the servers should implement. See the Draft list of WWM server queries. Initially we consider schemes of low-bandwidth communication, e.g. schemes using numeric weights to resolve competition. This protocol may initially be more suitable to sub-symbolic AI. It may be premature in some areas of AI to formulate a "mind network protocol", but in the sub-symbolic domain it could be attempted now.

  1. client talks to:
    1. MindM, which talks to:
      1. Mind
      2. MindM, which talks to:
        1. Mind
      3. MindAS, which talks to:
        1. Mind
        2. MindM, which talks to:    
          1. Mind
        3. Mind
    2. WorldW, which talks to:
      1. World

A sample society of mind constructed from multiple servers.
Here the mind is distributed across 9 different remote servers.

Summary of the WWM from SAB-02 paper:

Building the city of London

This paper has argued for the need to decentralise the work in AI so that researchers may specialise on different parts, and a mind may be constructed from these multiple specialist parts. Such a future (of specialists coming together) has been imagined (at least implicitly) in many branches of AI, but no practical scheme for implementing it has yet emerged. We believe that now, with server-side programming ubiquitous on the Internet, such a scheme is now possible.

We have a new vision of a mind: no single author could write a high-level artificial mind, but perhaps the entire scientific community could. Each piece will be understood by someone, but the whole may be understood by no-one. Perhaps we need a new respect for the magnitude of the AI problem - that building a high-level artificial mind may be on the same scale as constructing something like a national economy, or the city of London. No single individual or company built London or New York. But humanity as a whole did.

Summary of the WWM from ECAL-01 paper:

Showing the world what a mind looks like

If a scheme like the WWM becomes successful, much of the user population of the Internet will gradually become familiar with minds made up of hundreds or even thousands of distributed components; minds that have little identifiable headquarters, but contain crowded collections of sub-minds, duplicating, competing, overlapping, communicating and learning, with "alternative strategies constantly bubbling up, seeking attention, wanting to be given control of the body". Such models may be long familiar to AI researchers, but they are not much understood outside AI. The WWM scheme may help large numbers of people expand their imagination to think about what a mind could be.

"If the human mind was simple enough to understand, we'd be too simple to understand it." - IBM scientist Emerson Pugh on the idea that the mind could ever be understood by one person.

Return to my Research page.

ancientbrain.com      w2mind.org      humphrysfamilytree.com

On the Internet since 1987.      New 250 G VPS server.

Note: Links on this site to user-generated content like Wikipedia are highlighted in red as possibly unreliable. My view is that such links are highly useful but flawed.