Hanson Robotics Ben Goertzel – An Investigation

Not so long ago I produced a video on YouTube that gained a lot of attention, 100K + views of attention. In this video we are going to go in deeper, much deeper and uncover some very awkward truths about Ben Goertzel, the head of AI at Hanson Robotics, who has previously blown $30 million of other peoples money, not his own, on similar promises of AI. Which lead me to this question; Is Ben Goartzel, who’s currently bank rolled by the millionaire David Hanson, one of those ‘scientists’ that simply chase funding, research grants and more where ever they can get it. Is his modus operandi more about getting the money, he’s even said himself the ideal would be getting millions in funding without any ties or strings attached. Is Ben Goertzel someone that is selling a dream of AI, but hasn’t anything solid, but uses animatronics to blind us of the fact that Sophia and all the other robots, are just puppets. Is he simply diverting our attention away from the abilities of his AI development, by showing this puppet to get further funding when or if David Hanson pulls the plug?

My last video I denounce the ‘claimed’ advancements in AI, made by Hanson Robotics, stating that it was simply an animatronic puppet, with no real, or limited AI. Even at CES and other shows, Hanson Robotics rolled out Sophia their animatronic AI wonder, which to me is more a case of ‘wonder why people are buying this’ more to the point, why is David Hanson believing the dream being sold to him by his head of AI, Ben Goertzel, who is the man running the show.

It turns out that the head of AI Ben Goertzel isn’t new to courting those with money, with the promise of some AI advancement. In fact, it turns out that Ben Goertzel has somewhat of a history of having other believe ‘his dream of AI’, have them throw a few million at him, and with that he promises so much. This could sound libellous, and in fact it would be, were it not in fact be true. Looking back at two prior companies; Web Mind and OpenCog as examples. Both companies wasting in excess of a combined $30 million dollars of investor and research money, with total profits for both of these at only $100K. I have to point out here, this money is not any money Ben Goertzell put in himself, in fact, before he convinced Lisa Pazer and various Venture capitalists out of $20 Million dollars in the late 90’s on the promise of an AI that could read the financial markets and gauge direction, prior to that, he was broke! He met Lisa Pazer through Yahoo dating. Lisa Pazer was a successful financial investor and knew various Venture capitalists, and through the boom of the late 90’s dot com tech bubble, raised over 20 Million in the late 90’s, which is around $30 Million in todays money. With $20 Million in other people’s money, based on a dream of AI in the financial markets, Ben Georrtzel founded Web Mind. With that $20 Million, Ben Geortzel then goes on a hiring spree. Hiring over 100+ people. It was a nepotism tsunami. He hired all his friends, and anyone he knew according to reports at the time. There’s a saying in the UK, called ‘Job’s for the boys’ and this is what it was, just hiring all his mates, friends and family. Within 3 years, after a tonne of delays and promises never fulfilled, with over 100+ staff, spending thousands of man hours developing AI. They are forced by the venture capitalists and those who invested in Web Mind, to demonstrate the advancements made. They had the AI do a search on the Internet acting as a search engine, using the AI as that search engine. The AI went looking on the Internet for Soccer and came back with garbage, nothing related. Not just once, but many times. In fact, it was random the results on what the AI pulled from the Internet, that any basic search engine could have done far better. It was a joke and within a few months the company went bankrupt blowing $20 milion, or $30 Million in todays money.

You’d think that it would stop there right?
Nope!

Later in HongKong, Ben founded OpenCog with 10 Million HKD of research money. Spending a long time in developing his ‘idea’ of AI once again. During the last visit by the Chinese Govt dignitries to see how their money was being spent and what advancements had been made. The robot couldn’t even answer simply questions, such as ‘how old are you’, barely could recognize speech. Then they got it to walk and it literally fell apart in front of their eyes and rocked from side to side. These were using off the shelf robots you and I could buy, that they had played with and butchered, It was painful. They withdrew further funding. It seemed to me, looking at the development, that they are more focused on animatronics than the AI, but are selling the AI, to get the funding.

Does Ben Goertzel stop there?
Nope!

Etheopia, we find Ben trying to convince a struggling University that he needs to be given their money. It was pretty ambiguous as to what happened on that front, but it’s unlikely anywhere solid.
Which leads us to Hanson Robotics! CEO and multi millionaire David Hanson set up Hanson Robotics based on the vision of….. you guessed right, Ben Goertzel. No figures are available as to how much has been wasted, I mean spent so far on research and development, but I have an issue. Several in fact.

Ben Goertzel is selling AI, but looking back at Web Mind he couldn’t even get $20 million dollars and 100+ of his friends to develop an AI that could act like a search engine, searching for soccer related articles. Didn’t work. Later, with OpenCog, and $10 million HKD, which was given to research AI, later they show a dodgy robot that can barely walk and the team seem more focused on animantronics than AI, but dressing up the AI as part of the robots ability, but not ever being able to prove that. Now here we have Hanson Robotics, again stating AI advancement, using scripted videos and demostrations, but the focus of the team perhaps being animatronics, and not being able to demonstrate true AI in a real world interview.
Why isn’t anyone connecting the dots here? Now granted, perhaps they have come up with something and perhaps they have managed to find that true AI leap, but I’m doubtful, increasingly so looking at the chequered history. My belief is this, they have nothing on the AI front, certainly nothing more than what Amazon have with Alexa, and dare I say it’s not anywhere near Siri (which isn’t saying much), even Samsungs Bixby it’s miles ahead. As Ben Goertzel has shown before, he tries to use animatronics to push aside the ability of his AI, but claiming that ability is there all along. When OpenCog went under, he stated that the animatronics took too long to develop! Wait What? Anyone knows that AI is software based right? Develop the AI in software, get that working, then concentrate on whether your robot can smile with it’s rubbery lips! The software is the brains the hardware is just bones and container. Which points all along that there isn’t much in that container, except a dream, a promise that is costing millions in wasted money.

What do you think? Do you think it’s all fake? Do you believe that Ben Geortzel has real AI running, share your thoughts, share this video, the truth needs to come out!

 

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About Stu Whisson

YouTuber http://www.youtube.com/bitsbytesbobs, Website owner (this one), editor of www.bitsbytesbobs.com . Doing my best to provide relevant news, without the filler, to support, help and grow a community of like minded folk. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel for all the latest videos.
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