Advisory Board

Dr. Eric B. Baum

Eric B. Baum, Ph.D. is an American computer scientist, artificial intelligence researcher and author. He is known for his materialist and evolutionist theories of intelligence and consciousness, set forth in his book What is Thought?
In his book, Eric explains that intelligence, consciousness, qualia and free will are fully explained by evolution’s mandate to “exploit the compact structure of the world”. He argues that meaning and semantics arise whenever a compact description or program correctly captures a large amount of data. He sees the mind as composed of computational modules that are “meaningful” in this sense, found and improved by evolution over large time spans and largely encoded in the genome.
He explains that the genome also provides guidance (“inductive bias”) to the very fast learning processes that occur during an organism’s lifetime. Further the genome provides a complex of evaluation functions to guide the organism’s decision processes, with the ultimate goal of maximizing propagation of the genes. The illusion of free will is seen as arising from the necessity to model future decisions of oneself and other actors, decisions that are guided by wants and desires but cannot be fully predicted. He has also developed software inspired by his theories, including Hayek, an evolutionary system that can solve large blocks world problems (named for economist Friedrich Hayek due to a bidding mechanism used by the program).
He authored A Working Hypothesis for General Intelligence, Manifesto for an Evolutionary Economics of Intelligence, Toward a Model of Intelligence as an Economy of Agents, and DNA Sequences Useful for Computation, and coauthored Evolution of Cooperative Problem-Solving in an Artificial Economy, An Evolutionary Post Production System, Focused Web Crawling using an Auction-based Economy, Where Genetic Algorithms Excel, Experiments with a Bayesian Game Player, Propagating Distributions Up Directed Acyclic Graphs, and Running dynamic programming algorithms on a DNA computer.
Eric earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard University and a Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University. He worked at NEC Research Institute from 1990 to 2002 and is currently President of Baum Research Institute, which is developing technologies for AGI, and he is also serving on the board of directors of the company Netrics.