©2001 by Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

1: What is Flare?

Flare is a proposal for the first "annotative" programming language.  In dialects of LISP, both the program and the program data are represented as lists.  In Flare, the program, program data, and ideally the program state, are all represented as well-formed XML.  Because XML is annotative (additional sub-elements can be easily added to any parent element without destroying the structural integrity of existing data) and extensible (new sub-element types can be easily created), these properties are shared by Flare objects and Flare programs.  This fundamental idiom enables a wide variety of new patterns, and should enable significantly greater modularity, cleanness, ease of adaptation, and so on.

For more about the programming language, see the Overview of the Flare Programming Language.

2: What license does Flare use?

Flare uses the Python 2.2 license, with "Flare" substituted for "Python 2.2" and "Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Inc." substituted for "Python Software Foundation".  The Python 2.2 license is fully open-source (OSD-compliant), and permits free intermixing with GPL software (unlike some previous Python licenses).

License Agreement for Flare.

3: What is the current status of Flare?

We're working on the design and language specification.
We hope to write our first line of code in late August.

4: Who is behind Flare?

The leader of the Flare project is Dmitriy Myshkin.

The Flare project is sponsored by, and conducted under the auspices of, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.  (Dmitriy Myshkin is answerable only to the Singularity Institute's Board of Directors and is not under the authority of any other individual at the Singularity Institute.)

4.1: Why is the Singularity Institute interested in Flare?

"AI has always been one of the traditional drivers of programming language advances, although usually for the wrong reasons.  We don't think AI is so simplistic that the thought processes have anything to do with the idioms of the underlying programming language, but we also think that current programming tools are simply inadequate.  It would be really hard to code an AI in a non-object-oriented language and it probably won't be easy to build AI in a non-annotative language either.  Flare, an extensible language easily modifiable by Flare programs, will let us write more powerful tools, and will let the AI introspect and tinker with its own source code, without our needing to become compiler and interpreter specialists."

"If there's no production-quality Flare language by the time the Singularity Institute begins writing code on the AI project, as seems likely, then we'll probably be forced to write pseudo-Flare programs in Python, at least for the prototype.  But we won't have to like it, and we'll still want to switch to Flare as soon as possible."

The Singularity Institute has embarked on a long-term quest to develop real AI.  They don't want to stop there, either; they want to develop recursively self-improving AI, Friendly AI, and transhuman AI.  The Singularity - the technological creation of greater-than-human intelligence - is a quest of such mind-boggling importance and earthshaking impact that our words cannot even begin to describe it.  (You should go read their website.)  Even if you've never heard of the Singularity Institute and you're getting involved in Flare solely because you love annotative programming, we still hope that you get a warm fuzzy feeling from helping to bring about a swifter and safer Singularity.