2014 ArtificialIntelligenceisaToolNo

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Subject Headings: Malevolent AI; Sentient Volitional Intelligence.


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I think it is a mistake to be worrying about us developing malevolent AI anytime in the next few hundred years. I think the worry stems from a fundamental error in not distinguishing the difference between the very real recent advances in a particular aspect of AI, and the enormity and complexity of building sentient volitional intelligence. Recent advances in deep machine learning let us teach our machines things like how to distinguish classes of inputs and to fit curves to time data. This lets our machines “know” whether an image is that of a cat or not, or to “know” what is about to fail as the temperature increases in a particular sensor inside a jet engine. But this is only part of being intelligent, and Moore’s Law applied to this very real technical advance will not by itself bring about human level or super human level intelligence. While deep learning may come up with a category of things appearing in videos that correlates with cats, it doesn’t help very much at all in “knowing” what catness is, as distinct from dogness, nor that those concepts are much more similar to each other than to salamanderness. And deep learning does not help in giving a machine “intent”, or any overarching goals or “wants”. And it doesn’t help a machine explain how it is that it “knows” something, or what the implications of the knowledge are, or when that knowledge might be applicable, or counterfactually what would be the consequences of that knowledge being false. Malevolent AI would need all these capabilities, and then some. Both an intent to do something and an understanding of human goals, motivations, and behaviors would be keys to being evil towards humans.


Why so many years? As a comparison, consider that we have had winged flying machines for well over 100 years. But it is only very recently that people like Russ Tedrake at MIT CSAIL have been able to get them to land on a branch, something that is done by a bird somewhere in the world at least every microsecond. Was it just Moore’s law that allowed this to start happening? Not really. It was figuring out the equations and the problems and the regimes of stall, etc., through mathematical understanding of the equations. Moore’s law has helped with MATLAB and other tools, but it has not simply been a matter of pouring more computation onto flying and having it magically transform. And it has taken a long, long time. Expecting more computation to just magically get to intentional intelligences, who understand the world is similarly unlikely. And, there is a further category error that we may be making here. That is the intellectual shortcut that says computation and brains are the same thing. Maybe, but perhaps not. …


I say relax everybody. If we are spectacularly lucky we’ll have AI over the next thirty years with the intentionality of a lizard, and robots using that AI will be useful tools. And they probably won’t really be aware of us in any serious way. Worrying about AI that will be intentionally evil to us is pure fear mongering. And an immense waste of time. Let’s get on with inventing better and smarter AI.




 AuthorvolumeDate ValuetitletypejournaltitleUrldoinoteyear
2014 ArtificialIntelligenceisaToolNoRodney A. Brooks"Artificial Intelligence is a Tool, Not a Threat2014
AuthorRodney Brooks +
title"Artificial Intelligence is a Tool, Not a Threat +
year2014 +