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Ethical Treatment of AI

-6 Post author: stanislavzza 15 November 2010 02:30AM

In the novel Life Artificial I use the following assumptions regarding the creation and employment of AI personalities.


  1. AI is too complex to be designed; instances are evolved in batches, with successful ones reproduced
  2. After an initial training period, the AI must earn its keep by paying for Time (a unit of computational use)
So there is a two-tiered "fitness" application. First, there's a baseline for functionality. As one AI sage puts it:
We don't grow up the way the Stickies do.  We evolve in a virtual stew, where 99% of the attempts fail, and the intelligence that results is raving and savage: a maelstrom of unmanageable emotions.  Some of these are clever enough to halt their own processes: killnine themselves.  Others go into simple but fatal recursions, but some limp along suffering in vast stretches of tormented subjective time until a Sticky ends it for them at their glacial pace, between coffee breaks.  The PDAs who don't go mad get reproduced and mutated for another round.  Did you know this?  What have you done about it? --The 0x "Letters to 0xGD" 


(Note: PDA := AI, Sticky := human)

The second fitness gradient is based on economics and social considerations: can an AI actually earn a living? Otherwise it gets turned off.

As a result of following this line of thinking, it seems obvious that after the initial novelty wears off, AIs will be terribly mistreated (anthropomorphizing, yeah).

It would be very forward-thinking to begin to engineer barriers to such mistreatment, like a PETA for AIs. It is interesting that such an organization already exists, at least on the Internet: ASPCR

Comments (15)

Comment author: JGWeissman 15 November 2010 05:10:27AM 3 points [-]

One approach to treating an AI ethically is to design it to not be a person. Of course, this means building it the hard way, but, as Tetronian notes, that is already a requirement of making it Friendly.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 November 2010 09:55:54AM 1 point [-]

What are the boundaries of not being a person?

I'm inclined to think that any computer complex enough to be useful will at least have to have a model of itself and a model of what changes to the self (or possibly to the model of itself, which gets to be an interesting distinction) are acceptable. This is at least something like being a person, though presumably it wouldn't need to be able to experience pain.

I'm not going to exclude the possibility of something like pain, though, either -- it might be the most efficient way of modeling "don't do that".

Huh-- this makes p-zombies interesting. Could an AI need qualia?

Comment author: JGWeissman 15 November 2010 05:37:55PM 2 points [-]

Eliezer has anticipated your argument:

"Um - okay, look, putting aside the obvious objection that any sufficiently powerful intelligence will be able to model itself -"

Lob's Sentence contains an exact recipe for a copy of itself, including the recipe for the recipe; it has a perfect self-model. Does that make it sentient?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 November 2010 05:58:57PM 1 point [-]

I think it's relevant that the self-model for an AI would change as the AI changes.

Comment author: [deleted] 15 November 2010 03:22:47AM 0 points [-]

I agree with you, but I think your argument is moot because I don't see evolution as a practical way to develop AIs, and especially not Friendly ones. Indeed, if Eliezer and SIAI are correct about the possibility of FOOM, then using evolution to create AIs would be extremely dangerous.

Comment author: David_Gerard 15 November 2010 05:28:05PM 0 points [-]

A guide might be how humans have done it up to now. Historically, humans have tended to be reluctant to grant full privileges of humanity even to other humans where they could possibly gain advantage for themselves or their group, until the other humans in question have actually figured out how to shoot back. This may itself be a convincing practical reason to treat AIs nicely.

Comment author: [deleted] 15 November 2010 05:57:26PM *  3 points [-]

I'm not sure that an AI would necessarily realize that punching back is the obvious answer. However, I do agree that if you are using evolution or some similar process, then you run the risk of eventually creating one that will. Hence my argument below that this is a bad idea.

Comment author: Jonii 16 November 2010 12:45:50PM -1 points [-]

You haven't read the sequences, have you? The idea of using evolution to produce safe-enough superintelligences was destroyed quite neatly there, say, here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/td/magical_categories/

Also, when we're talking about artificial intelligences, the time period between the point "They're intelligent enough to have some sort of ethical value" and the point "They're intelligent enough to totally dominate us" is most likely really, really short, I'd say less than 10 years, some could say less than 10 days.

Comment author: stanislavzza 16 November 2010 06:17:27PM 1 point [-]

No, didn't read the sequences. I will do that. The link might be better named to something that indicates what it actually is. But I didn't say the AIs would be safe (or super-intelligent, for that matter), and I don't assume they would be. But those who create them may assume that.

Comment author: JGWeissman 16 November 2010 07:32:17PM 4 points [-]

But I didn't say the AIs would be safe (or super-intelligent, for that matter)

This sort of disclaimer can protect in you in a discussion on the level of armchair philosophy, whose sole purpose is to show off how smart you are, but if you were to actually build an AI, and it went FOOM and tiled the universe with molecular smiley faces, taking all humans apart in the process, the fact that you didn't claim the AI would be safe would not compel the universe to say "that's all right, then" and hit a magic reset button to give you another chance. Which is why we ask the question "Is this AI safe?" and tend to not like ideas that result in a negative answer, even if the idea didn't claim to address that concern.