Mindfire: Decoding the mind for humankind
Uniting the world’s best and brightest for a breakthrough in human-level Artificial Intelligence
Founder and President of the Foundation, Head of the AI board
Neuroscientist, tech-entrepreneur and the visionary behind Mindfire, is determined to unite the best talents worldwide to tackle the mind code. Kaufmann connected living brains to machines at Northwestern University, IL, USA and built one of the first cyborgs, feeding information directly into brain tissue. He takes a sceptical view on the current state of AI and is convinced that Human like Artificial Intelligence can and must be created by and for the people as an answer to the challenges of the 21st century.
Foundation Board Member, Head of the Neuroscience Board
Prof. Christoph von der Malsburg has devoted his life to the elucidation of the function of the brain. He did research at CERN in Geneva and the Max-Planck-Institute for Neuroscience and he was appointed as professor of computer science and systems biophysics in Los Angeles, USA and Bochum, Germany. He has co-founded two successful companies based on his theory of the visual system and received numerous international awards. Von der Malsburg headed the European Neural Network Society and is one of the fathers of self-organizing neural networks and their application to vision. He has been appointed recently as strategic and technical adviser to the European Human Brain Project.
Foundation Board Member
Lukas Sieber worked at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C., USA and was responsible for all public diplomacy activities and programs for the Swiss government throughout the United States. With a background in political sciences from University of Zurich and postgraduate studies at Georgetown University, USA, he now acts as Executive Director North America of Greater Zurich Area (GZA), the official investment support agency of Zurich and surrounding areas. Additionally, he advises a number of blockchain-related initiatives and US and Swiss/European based businesses.
Ethics Board Member
Prof. Dr. Joanna Bryson has a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, where she worked with Rodney Brooks and other pioneers in the field of AI. Joanna Bryson focuses on understanding natural intelligence by artificial intelligence. Joanna Bryson’s research covers topics ranging from AI, robot ethics, on to human cooperation. Bryson’s first degree is in Behavioural Science from Chicago, holding an MSc in AI and an MPhil in Psychology from Edinburgh. She has held various visiting academic positions such as with Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy and the Department of Anthropology in Oxford. Joanna Bryson is one of the global leaders in robot ethics and a frequent speaker and adviser to various organizations.
AI Board Member
Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer is a visiting professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, CHN and until 04/2017 he was a specially appointed professor at Osaka University, JP. Pfeifer was director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Zurich where he did pioneering work in embodied cognition, autonomous agents, soft and humanoid robotics. Pfeifer worked as a visiting professor at the Free University of Brussels, the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in San Diego, and the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris, he was elected “21st Century COE Professor, Information Science and Technology” at the University of Tokyo for 2003/2004, from where he held the first global, fully interactive, videoconferencing-based AI lecture series. Rolf Pfeifer is the author of the standard work on AI “How the body shapes the way we think”. Pfeifer is a frequent speaker and inspires people both as an AI contrarian and visionary entrepreneur.
Talent Manager & Project Management Support
Advisor PR & Communications
German Ramirez is a recognized subject matter expert in the digital and social media area. A digital pioneer, he started his first successful eCommerce project as early as 1996. German Ramirez is the Founder and Managing Partner of SPARK & STRATEGY Digital & Social Media Consulting & Coaching as well as Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of SwissMine, a Swiss based start-up in the area of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies.
Prior to launching his consulting business, German worked for Zurich Financial Services Ltd. where, as the Global Head of Digital Marketing and Member of the Executive Team, he was responsible for his firm’s digital strategy worldwide. German is also a guest lecturer at The University of St. Gallen, ETH Zurich, CEIBS, La Salle and ESADE Business School.
Coach and Technical Advisor
Shalini has a background of building game-changing products like CRS-1®, the world’s first terabit router by Cisco Systems, where she was the engineering program manager. She managed the spend for the development of the oral drug to treat Multiple Sclerosis, Gilenya®.
Currently, Shalini advises artificial intelligence start ups who apply AI to solve pressing problems of the future. Passionate about technologies which aid humanity and our planet, she has just joined the steering committee of the think tank World in 2050; powered by Diplomatic Courier and over 100 partners in more than 20 industries worldwide.
Sebastian is the CTO and Co-Founder of Validity Labs. He received his PhD from ETH Zurich, before turning his insatiable curiosity and energy to the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. His previous project, SONECT, a blockchain-based mobile cash withdrawal solution, attracted the interest one of Switzerland’s largest financial institutions, PostFinance. A regular speaker at major blockchain conferences, Sebastian is also one of the world’s top smart contract and Solidity developers. His work includes building applications for a wide range of industries such as insurance, real estate, banking and others.
Andre is the CEO & Co-Founder of Validity Labs, Founder of Validity Research as well as Founder of the Blockchain & Internet of Things Association (BIOTS). He has a wealth of experience in bridging industries and bringing together technology providers, researchers, academics and students in a global community of pioneers to build the future of distributed-ledger technology. He is also a top technology influencer, founding member of Chief Digital Community, mentor for the Kickstarter Accelerator program and host of the largest blockchain meetup in Switzerland.
- Crowdsale (40%)
- Talent reward pool (25%)
- Operations (18.5%)
- Founders & team (8%)
- Partners & advisers (7%)
- Rewards program (1.5%)
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If the Mindfire Foundation wants to know how the human brain works, will Mindfire also conduct research on living beings?
The Mindfire Foundation’s goal is to understand the human brain and decode the mind. We are not planning on conducting invasive research or on connecting brains with machines. We may however use noninvasive tools like an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure human brainwaves and activity centers.
Will Mindfire be conducting research on living beings or connecting brains with machines?
The Mindfire Foundation will not connect brains with machines. Our goal is to decode the mind for humankind.
Does the Mindfire Foundation want to create a super army with AI-Soldiers?
The Mindfire Foundation is diametrically opposed to using AI for military technology purposes. It is at the very heart of the Mindfire Foundation to use AI for good. All decisions we make regarding not only the structure of the organization but also the deployment of our intellectual property are guided by the ethical principles of the Mindfire Foundation.
Does the Mindfire Foundation want to turn us all into cyborgs? Why? Why else would you need to know how the brain works?
The symbiosis of humans and technology has already permeated aspects of our daily life – for example in modern medicine. People with artificial cardiac pacemakers would actually fall under the description of a cyborg. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) might be able to come up with many more such technologies, which we would certainly endorse, but knowledge about how the brain works can be applied to many other issues as well. Some argue that many of humanity’s most pressing problems, e.g. climate change or world food production, can only be solved with the help of AGI.
Human like AI is just unnatural! You should not interfere with creation!
The goal of Mindfire is to unlock the principles of intelligence and use this knowledge to aid humanity as a whole, not in creating life.
Why do you want to eliminate humanity?
We certainly do not want to eliminate humanity. Progress towards AGI is likely inevitable, however we believe the Mindfire Foundation offers the best structure to ensure that it is used in a benevolent manner.
Why do you want to replace us with machines?
We do not want to replace people with machines. We do believe, however, that certain tasks – like examining malfunctioning nuclear power plants – put humans in unnecessary jeopardy and if we can deploy machines to reduce human suffering, we will do so.
Do you have some ideas on how the brain may work?
We believe that at the heart of human intelligence lies a simple set of rules and that the brain is a super-organism that is composed of smaller organisms that simply follow these rules. This implies that the complexity of human intelligence is due to the vast number of composing organisms rather than a single complex entity.
Isn’t AlphaGo Zero an example of true AI?
No, we do not consider AlphaGo Zero true AI. While the algorithms are very impressive, they are as narrow as it gets in that they can only solve one very specific problem.
Shouldn’t the Mindfire Foundation partner with Google?
Mindfire is open to collaborate with any company interested in furthering true AI. At the same time, Mindfire will ensure independence from any corporate interests.
What is your position on the Human Brain Project?
The Human Brain Project examines critical questions such as how the brain creates a representation of an object, what the nature of consciousness is and how our memory works. Answers to these questions are crucial and we welcome any progress in this regard. Moreover, we commend the Human Brain Project on their ethics, societal impact, and the openly accessible publication of its research. The project is a case study for best practices; many groups can learn from them.
If you compare Mindfire with the dozens of other similar initiatives, why do you think Mindfire can be successful?
Currently in computer science there is the belief that if we can just get more computational power, we can simulate human intelligence. However, recent findings in neuroscience provides strong evidence that this belief is fundamentally different from the way that actual biological brains operate.
Leading researchers say that we need to build faster and more powerful computers to create AI – they can’t all be wrong!
Additional computational power and more data will certainly help AI in general, however, this help will not eventually lead to human-level artificial intelligence. To achieve human-level artificial intelligence an entirely different approach is needed.
To what endeavor in human history would you compare Mindfire?
Missions to the moon or the European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN.
What is your motivation?
We strongly believe AI for the common good will make a better world for all of us. Done right, the creation of AI will not lead to “winners” and “losers” but will increase the wealth and living standards of society as a whole. Thus, there is simply no point in using AI only for our own advantage.
What would you do if you learn something groundbreaking and a big corporation would like to acquire the new assets?
If Mindfire makes a groundbreaking discovery, it will not sell its innovation to the highest bidder or allow any one corporation to have a monopoly with its technology. If it did, than that would go against its ethics of using AI for the common good.
Why do you think you even stand a chance against big corporations who want to create Artificial Intelligence?
Mindfire employs a unique approach to research. Rather than having a group of like-minded people working in isolation, Mindfire brings together the brightest minds from all over the world with very different backgrounds and points of view. We do not only look for talents firmly established in the academic or corporate world, but also newcomers or alternative thinkers off the beaten track. This diversity and openness enables Mindfire to come up with new, creative and unconventional ideas. Further, the Mindfire Network leverages the power of the latest self-learning collaboration technology to enable global collaboration. Last but not least, the Mindfire Token incentivizes collaboration across labs and national frontiers.
How do you define a talent?
Mindfire Missions are open to all interested candidates, irrespective of academic credentials. Talents might be entrepreneurs or professionals using AI within their business. Or talents might also be undergraduates, graduates, PhD students or Postdocs in science, engineering or other relevant disciplines.
How do you distribute merit based tokens to contributors?
Different talent token distributions are feasible and we will start off with a simple peer-voting
process. Initially, all talents attending an event receive the same amount of tokens (not Mindfire
Tokens). These tokens are not transferable and constitute voting rights. All researchers vote on the
Mindfire Token allocation in one of the two following ways (defined upon acceptance of an ITO):
a) At the end of a Mission
b) At specific points in time – similar to vesting for stock corporations. Researchers vote on
future Token allocation after, e.g. 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. After which
all generated Mindfire Tokens for a specific Mission are distributed.
Read more: White Paper
Why are you sure that you will get enough talents to join Mindfire?
Thanks to Mindfire’s broad network and different boards, we have access to various institutions and people. Moreover, Mindfire’s tokenized incentive model is unique for scientific projects and constitutes a strong motivator to sign up.
Who are the speakers/workshop leaders etc.?
Pascal Kaufmann, Founder of Mindfire and Starmind, Entrepreneur;
Christoph von der Malsburg, advisor to the Human Brain Project and one of the pioneers in the field of Neural Networks;
Rolf Pfeifer, Professor at OSAKA, JP and pioneer in embodied intelligence;
Andra Keay, Managing Director Silicon Valley Robotics;
Joanna Bryson, AI researcher at the University of Bath and affiliate at Princeton University;
Dan Lovy, Executive Director at SIMC;
Eberhard Schoeneburg, AI Pioneer, AI Visionary, Alternative AI Leader, PwC’s Lead AI Advisor Hong Kong;
Richard Hahnloser, Assistant Professor Neuroinformatics at ETH Zurich;
Andy Staub, Managing Partner, FehrAdvice & Partners AG;
Jana Mittelstrass, Researcher Plant Chemical Biology, University of Zurich;
Lukas Sieber, Co-Founder Mindfire, Entrepreneur, Executive Director Greater Zurich Area North America;
Demian Stauber, Partner, Rentsch & Partner AG;
Adolf Doerig, Lecturer, Head of Expert group Cyber Defense, Swiss Federal Department of Defense;
And many more.
Do I have to book my own journey?
While talents are required to make travel arrangements on their own, the Mindfire Foundation reimburses costs incurred as a consequence of traveling to Mindfire Missions in Davos, Switzerland.
Will there be parking spots available at the event location?
Are the tokens a currency?
The Mindfire Tokens are not a currency; they represent a derivative in the form of an asset token.
How many tokens do talents get?
Initially, all researchers attending an event receive the same amount of tokens. These tokens are not transferable and constitute voting rights. All researchers vote on the token allocation in one of the two following ways (defined upon acceptance of an ITO):
At the end of the event
At specific points in time – similar to vesting for stock corporations. Researchers vote on future token allocation after a period of time (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months). This timed distribution will be based on the results of peer votes which will reflect a given researcher’s performance towards meeting the objectives of the event or project. Every researcher can cast a vote on the performance of every other researcher. Their votes will be normalized by their respective token holdings to obtain the final token allocation. Researchers cannot vote for their own performance.
How exactly will new ideas be recorded?
During all Mindfire Missions, audio and video recordings as well as depictions of drawings, writings, calculations, computer programs and other scientific assets will be certified on a blockchain to prove ownership, existence and integrity of ideas. This data constitutes an underlying value for the Mindfire Token and ensures transparency and fairness. The data will not be stored on the blockchain. Instead, a hash of the data is used as a reference to data that is stored in a separate system.
Talents can provide a reference to data that they have generated during a Mission and add them to the smart contract.
The Mindfire Foundation can also reference data with the smart contract.
Referencing of data is performed via hashes, e.g. large datasets can be stored privately by the
Mindfire Foundation, hashed and the hash is stored in the smart contract.
How do you assure that recorded ideas or concepts can be patented?
Up to the token holders. This may include an event or action related to the set of intellectual property assets to be implemented based on a vote of token holders.
Do I receive dividends for my Mindfire tokens?
You participate in the revenues arising out of the commercialization of the intellectual property created during Mindfire missions. Such participation is comparable to dividends. The latter term is, however, in practice mostly used in connection with shares.
Is there a vesting period for the Mindfire Tokens once they are received?
No. There is no vesting period. Due to national legislation in certain jurisdictions applicable to talents and advisors, Mindfire may be prohibited from issuing Tokens or making them tradable (e.g. the US). If so, Mindfire will not be able to issue Tokens to these talents and advisors or has to limit the transferability of the Tokens. In any case, Mindfire is trying to ensure that the talents and advisors concerned can still exercise their participation and voting rights. A transfer of these rights would then only be possible, however, through a written application to Mindfire and if an exceptional situation exists (in particular death of the talent or advisor; bankruptcy of talent or advisor; or in case of other valid reasons). Whether an exceptional situation exists is at Mindfire’s sole discretion and will be decided by the Mindfire ethics board.
Is the Mindfire Token a payment, utility or asset token?
The Mindfire Token qualifies under Swiss law as a derivative and a security. It is an asset token.
The Mindfire Foundation claims to be ethically responsive to the management of AI technology and intellectual property. How is this demonstrated?
The Mindfire Foundation is bound to the purpose defined in the foundation deed, which can only be changed in exceptional situations and with the approval of the Swiss Foundation Supervisory Authority. As a result, Mindfire is committed to the purpose set forth in the foundation deed and, unlike a company, cannot simply adapt or ignore it. All licensing of intellectual property is subject to a vote of the Token holders and the ethics board. This process should ensure, that the rights can only be used according to the decision of a large community.
When Mindfire stores all insights from its missions on the blockchain, they are basically public. Can patent protection really prevent the achievements from being copied and abused?
New insights will not be stored on the blockchain directly. Instead, a hash of the data is used as a reference to data that is stored encrypted in a separate system.
Can talents trade their tokens?
Yes, in dedicated exchanges. Due to national legislation in certain jurisdictions applicable to talents and advisors, Mindfire may be prohibited from issuing Tokens or making them tradable (e.g. the US). If so, Mindfire will not be able to issue Tokens to these talents and advisors or has to limit the transferability of the Tokens. In any case, Mindfire is trying to ensure that the talents and advisors concerned can still exercise their participation and voting rights. A transfer of these rights would then only be possible, however, through a written application to Mindfire and if an exceptional situation exists (in particular death of the talent or advisor; bankruptcy of talent or advisor; or in case of other valid reasons). Whether an exceptional situation exists is at Mindfire’s sole discretion and will be decided by the Mindfire ethics board.
In terms of an “intellectual property action”, how does the Mindfire Foundation make sure that the Mindfire Token holders will benefit from monetized intellectual property?
The Tokens are subject to the Token Sale Terms and Conditions that form a valid contract. Therein the Foundation is bound to commercialize all intellectual property only according to the vote of the Token holders and to distribute 80% of the revenue to the Tokens holders.
How does the Mindfire Foundation make sure that the talents work towards one goal?
Mindfire is designed around a blockchain-based Token to encourage and incentivize competition, collaboration and innovation. Through smart contracts the Mindfire platform creates a community of innovators: one that gives Mindfire tokens (“Mindfire Tokens”) where contributions to the Mindfire Missions are made.
Why did you choose Davos?
Davos is an inspiring and over the top location. Based on its history as the location of choice for the World Economic Forum, Davos represents the values of the Mindfire Foundation like no other place in the world. Moreover, we consider its alpine setting and climate the ideal backdrop for Mindfire’s missions.
What is the budget for Mindfire Mission 1?
Mission-1 is organized by the Mindfire Foundation that is supported by governmental, individual and corporate sponsors. We do not disclose information on individual budget positions.
Who stands behind the Mindfire foundation?
Founders: Pascal Kaufmann (President) CEO & Co-Founder Starmind; Christoph von der Malsburg, advisor to the Human Brain Project and one of the pioneers in the field of Neural Networks; Lukas Sieber, technology and company scout for Switzerland/Greater Zurich Area.
Why did you choose a foundation?
A foundation has no stakeholders – hence is independent. Independence from ownership of shareholders combined with a supervision by the Swiss Foundation Supervisory Authority generates some stability and reliability for talents and investors. Furthermore, the Mindfire Foundation is bound to the purpose defined in the foundation deed, which can only be changed in exceptional situations and with the approval of the Swiss Foundation Supervisory Authority. This also contributes to the long-term orientation of the Mindfire Foundation.
Why is the foundation set up in Zug?
In theory, the foundation can be set up anywhere in Switzerland but as Mindfire is leveraging blockchain technology to tokenize the licensing of intellectual property, the Canton of Zug has the greatest concentration of blockchain expertise. We are merely hoping to capitalize on that expertise.
Can a foundation issue tokens?
Yes, a foundation can issue tokens for a pre-defined purpose.
How are foundation members reimbursed?
Foundation members will be reimbursed based on the amount of work they put into the Mindfire Foundation.
What is the function of the advisory boards?
The Mindfire advisory boards are constituted to complement and strengthen the existing Mindfire board of directors. They are no substitute for the statutory boards of directors. They are free to concentrate their energies on their core role, namely to complement the main board by providing specialist experience, knowledge and contacts not readily available elsewhere. Our advisory board is an amalgam of individuals that are there fundamentally to provide advisory services.
What is the role of the Ethics Board?
It is the goal of the Ethics Board to advise the Mindfire foundation on how the strategy and challenges out of the missions are ethically aligned. The members provide expert guidance to the foundation, paying particular attention to the possible social impact of the findings.
What is the role of the AI Board?
The AI Board evaluates and proposes a strategy for Mindfire to get access to the best AI research available worldwide. Its mission is to develop a collaboration strategy with research bodies and organizations active in the area of artificial intelligence. Together with the other boards the members suggest new challenges for the mission and help evaluate the results of the teams during missions.
What is the role of the Talents Board?
The Talent Board attracts the best international talents for completing the Mindfire mission(s). Dealing with complex phenomena, as Mindfire is, means to overcome categories and methodologies to interconnect them with one other, by broadening the horizons of the various involved talents to get things done. This is our boards mission, of course, always in consultation with the other boards.
What is the role of the Neuroscience Board?
The Neuroscience Board helps Mindfire by inspiring with ideas and perspectives floating in the realm of neuroscientific and cognitive research and grounding of upcoming hypotheses relative to known facts.
How many companies have already donated and how much?
The Mindfire foundation does not disclose the financial information of sponsors.
How much has the Mindfire Foundation raised totally?
In FY2017 the Mindfire foundation has raised a figure in the one million USD range.
How many people are working for the Mindfire foundation? How many in 6 months?
As of May 2018, the Mindfire Foundation has three full time employees and a number of contractors and partners. While the Token sale will allow Mindfire to expand the team, Mindfire will be very careful in expanding operations.