Brief bio: Dr. Ben Goertzel is Chief Scientist of robotics firm Hanson Robotics and financial prediction firm Aidyia Holdings; Chairman of AI software company Novamente LLC and bioinformatics company Biomind LLC; Chairman of the Artificial General Intelligence Society and the OpenCog Foundation; Vice Chairman of futurist nonprofit Humanity+; Scientific Advisor of biopharma firm Genescient Corp.; Advisor to the Singularity University and Singularity Institute; Research Professor in the Fujian Key Lab for Brain-Like Intelligent Systems at Xiamen University, China; and general Chair of the Artificial General Intelligence conference series. His research work encompasses artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, data mining, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds and gaming and other areas. He has published a dozen scientific books, 100+ technical papers, and numerous journalistic articles. Before entering the software industry he served as a university faculty in several departments of mathematics, computer science and cognitive science, in the US, Australia and New Zealand. He has three children and too many pets, and in his spare time enjoys creating avant-garde fiction and music, and exploring the outdoors.
If you want a high-res “head shot” of me, too bad, I haven’t uploaded one yet. The photo above to the right is my current favorite medium-res head shot of myself (click for slightly larger version).
Additional information about my professional history is implicit in my resume’.
A more personal chronology of my life to date is as follows:
- 1966: Born to Carol and Ted Goertzel, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (My parents are both American, and my heritage is mainly Eastern European Jew, but due to being born in Brazil I’m a dual US/Brazilian citizen.)
- 1968: Moved to Eugene, Oregon (an excellent, hippy-ful place, at that time)
- 1973: Moved to suburban South Jersey (egads…)
- 1982: Left high school after the 10’th grade to start university at age 15 at Simon’s Rock College (an outstanding institution that I highly recommend to all bright high school age people). This is where in 1984 I met my future wife Gwen Yorgey (later Gwen Goertzel, now Gwendalin Qi Aranya)
- 1985: Graduated Simon’s Rock in mathematics, then lived in New York City for a while, attending graduate school in applied math at NYU’s Courant Institute, and in my spare time beginning to do serious research in cognitive science and AI
- 1987: Moved to Philadelphia and attended graduate school in mathematics at Temple University. Got married. Started playing the piano and writing lots of weird fiction, in parallel with doing cognitive science and AI research and trying to unify physics and other fun stuff.
- 1989: Received my PhD in math from Temple University, moved to Las Vegas to take my first real job, as a math professor at UNLV. Late in 1989, Gwen’s and my first son, Zarathustra Amadeus, was born.
- 1993: Birth of our second son, Zebulon Ulysses. And we moved to New Zealand, where I lectured in the Computer Science department at Waikato University, and we toured around a lot. This was also the year my first two books came out, The Structure of Intelligence and The Evolving Mind, though they were written a while before. Chaotic Logic came out the
year after that.
- 1995: Moved to Perth, Western Australia, where I had a research fellowship in Cognitive Science at the University of Western Australia. Wonderful place! Of all the places I’ve lived, I’d rate Perth by far the best. Would be great to move back there one day.
- 1997: Got the crazy idea to leave academia (which made my life a lot more interesting, and a lot more stressful) and start a software company, and relocated to New York City to launch Intelligenesis Corp. (later known as Webmind Inc.), a company with the mission of creating a truly intelligent AI system and making money along the way by productizing its components. In early 1997, Gwen and I had our first girl, Scheherazade Okilani Nastasya. My book From Complexity to Creativity, written in Australia and NZ, finally came out in 97. Also, I taught at the College of Staten Island, part of the CUNY system, during 1997-98 while Intelligenesis was getting off the ground.
- 2001: Webmind/Intelligenesis shut its doors, reducing my paper millions to zero. Around the same time, Creating Internet Intelligence was published — ironic since that book, with its Global Brain focus, summarized a lot of the vision that had gone into founding Intelligenesis in the first place. Moved to New Mexico where I had a research professorship in the Computer Science department of UNM. Lived in Zuzax, in the mountains east of Albuquerque — the second best place I’ve ever lived, after Perth. Founded Novamente LLC, Webmind’s successor; and also Biomind LLC, a company specifically intended to apply Novamente technology to bioinformatics.
- 2002: Relocated to the Washington DC metro area, because I found a small amount of funding for Biomind
from an investor near there, and he wanted the company based near him. Shortly after moving to the DC area, Gwen and I split up.
- 2004: Got remarried, to Izabela Lyon Freire
- 2005-2007: During this period, as well as operating Novamente and Biomind as companies and developing my AI (and other) research projects, I started putting time into developing AGI as a research community: organizing the AGI conference series, a few edited volumes, etc. I also finally finished a novel, Echoes of the Great Farewell. I published The Hidden Pattern, summarizing a lot of my “theory of mind” work. And began working on AI for controlling agents in virtual worlds.
- 2008: In addition to everything else … founded the OpenCog open-source AGI software project. Probabilistic Logic Networks was published, and I finished a second novel, Edge of the Bleeding Abyss.
- 2009: In addition to everything else … became a Visiting Faculty in the Artificial Brain Lab in Xiamen University in China, and began a project there using OpenCog to control a humanoid robot. Izabela and I (amicably) split up…
- 2010: Began a collaborative project with Hong Kong Poly U aimed at applying OpenCog to control intelligent game characters.
- 2011: Got an apartment in Hong Kong, together with Ruiting Lian — and started spending a lot of time in HK working on various AI & AGI projects, while still retaining my house in Maryland also. Co-founded Aidyia Holdings, startup focused on HK stock prediction.
- 2012: Got married to Ruiting Lian 😉 …. Zar, having graduated college, went to teach English in Japan while plotting his next move toward world domination; Zeb was in college @ Marlboro in Vermont; Zade was in high school in Maryland; I was splitting time btw HK and Maryland …
- 2013: Full time in Hong Kong now. Zade’s in Osaka doing a year of high school abroad. Life is busy but good. The Singularity, or Pigularity, moves nearer ;o …