tisdag 18 september 2018

An essential collection on AI safety and security

The xxix+443-page book Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security, edited by Roman Yampolskiy, has been out for a month or two. Among its 28 independent chapters (plus Yamploskiy's introduction), which have a total of 47 different authors, the first 11 (under the joint heading Concerns of Luminaries) have previously been published, with publication years ranging from 2000 to 2017, while the remaining 17 (dubbed Responses of Scholars) are new. As will be clear below, I have a vested interest in the book, so the reader may want to take my words with a grain of salt when I predict that it will quickly become widely accepted as essential reading in the rapidly expanding and increasingly important fields of AI futurology, AI risk and AI safety; nevertheless, that is what I think. I haven't yet read every single chapter in detail, but have seen enough to confidently assert that while the quality of the chapters is admittedly uneven, the book still offers an amazing amount of key insights and high-quality expositions. For a more systematic account by someone who has read all the chapters, see Michaël Trazzi's book review at Less Wrong.

Most of the texts in the Concerns of Luminaries part of the book are modern classics, and six of them were in fact closely familiar to me even before I had opened the book: Bill Joy's early alarm call Why the future doesn't need us, Ray Kurzweil's The deeply intertwined promise and peril of GNR (from his 2005 book The Singularity is Near), Steve Omohundro's The basic AI drives, Nick Bostrom's and Eliezer Yudkowsky's The ethics of artificial intelligence, Max Tegmark's Friendly artificial intelligence: the physics challenge, and Nick Bostrom's Strategic implications of openness in AI development. (Moreover, the papers by Omohundro and Tegmark provided two of the cornerstones for the arguments in Section 4.5 (The goals of a superintelligent machine) of my 2016 book Here Be Dragons.) Among those that I hadn't previously read, I was struck most of all by the urgent need to handle the near-term nexus of risks connecting AI, chatbots and fake news, outlined in Matt Chessen's The MADCOM future: how artificial intelligence will enhance computational propaganda, reprogram human cultrure, and threaten democracy... and what can be done about it.

The contributions in Responses of Scholars offer an even broader range of perspectives. Somewhat self-centeredly, let me just mention that three of the most interesting chapters were discussed in detail by the authors at the GoCAS guest researcher program on existential risk to humanity organized by Anders Sandberg and myself at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg in September-October last year: James Miller's A rationally addicted artificial superintelligence, Kaj Sotala's Disjunctive scenarios of catastrophic AI risk, and Phil Torres' provocative and challenging Superintelligence and the future of governance: on prioritizing the control problem at the end of history. Also, there's my own chapter on Strategies for an unfriendly oracle AI with reset button. And much more.

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