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timtyler comments on SIAI - An Examination - Less Wrong

143 Post author: BrandonReinhart 02 May 2011 07:08AM

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Comment author: timtyler 05 May 2011 08:26:32AM *  2 points [-]

The values part seems to me (and from what I can tell, you too) where the most good would be done by public discussion while the optimization part seems to me where the danger lies if the information gets out.

The problem is if one organisation with dubious values gets far ahead of everyone else. That situation is likely to be result of keeping secrets in this area.

Openness seems more likely to create a level playing field where the good guys have an excellent chance of winning. Those promoting secrecy are part of the problem here, IMO. I think we should leave the secret projects to the NSA and IARPA.

The history of IT shows many cases where use of closed solutions led to monopolies and problems. I think history shows that closed source solutions are mostly good for those selling them, but bad for the rest of society. IMO, we really don't want machine intelligence to be like that.

Many governments realise the significance of open source software these days - e.g. see: The government gets really serious about open source.

Comment author: jimrandomh 05 May 2011 01:19:37PM 1 point [-]

The problem is if one organisation with dubious values gets far ahead of everyone else. That situation is likely to be result of keeping secrets in this area.

It's likely to be the result of organizations with dubious values keeping secrets in this area. The good guys being open doesn't make it better, it makes it worse, by giving the bad guys an asymmetric advantage.

Comment author: timtyler 05 May 2011 10:47:24PM *  6 points [-]

We discussed this very recently.

The good guys want to form a large cooperatve network with each other, to help ensure they reach the goal first. Sharing is one of the primary ways they have of signalling to each other that they are good guys. Signalling must be expensive to be credible, and this is a nice, relevant, expensive signal. Being secretive - and failing to share - self-identifies yourself as a selfish bad guy - in the eyes of the sharers.

It is not an advantage to be recognised by good guys as a probable bad guy. For one thing, it most likey means you get no technical support.

A large cooperative good-guy network is a major win in terms of risk - compared to the scenario where everyone is secretive. The bad guys get some shared source code - but that in no way makes up for how much worse their position is overall.

To get ahead, the bad guys have to pretend to be good guys. To convince others of this - in the face of the innate human lie-detector abilities - they may even need to convince themselves they are good guys...

Comment author: jimrandomh 05 May 2011 10:51:57PM *  -1 points [-]

You never did address the issue I raised in the linked comment. As far as I can tell, it's a showstopper for open-access development models of AI.

Comment author: timtyler 06 May 2011 09:00:21PM *  2 points [-]

You gave some disadvantages of openness - I responded with a list of advantages of openness. Why you concluded this was not responsive is not clear.

Conventional wisdom about open source and security is that it helps - e.g. see Bruce Schneier on the topic.

Personally, I think the benefits of openness win out in this case too.

That is especially true for the "inductive inference" side of things - which I estimate to be about 80% of the technical problem of machine intelligence. Keeping that secret is just a fantasy. Versions of that are going to be embedded in every library in every mobile computing device on the planet - doing input prediction, compression, and pattern completion. It is core infrastructure. You can't hide things like that.

Essentially, you will have to learn to live with the possibility of bad guys using machine intelligence to help themselves. You can't really stop that - so, don't think that you can - and instead look into affecting what you can change - for example, reducing the opportunities for them to win, limiting the resulting damage, etc.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 15 May 2011 04:41:12AM 0 points [-]

What linked comment?

Comment author: timtyler 15 May 2011 02:15:00PM 0 points [-]

The first comment here, I believe.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 15 May 2011 04:38:55AM *  3 points [-]

In this case, I'm less afraid of "bad guys" than I am of "good guys" who make mistakes. The bad guys just want to rule the Earth for a little while. The good guys want to define the Universe's utility function.

Comment author: timtyler 15 May 2011 06:53:40PM *  0 points [-]

I'm less afraid of "bad guys" than I am of "good guys" who make mistakes.

Looking at history of accidents with machines, they seem to be mostly automobile accidents. Medical accidents are number two, I think.

In both cases, technology that proved dangerous was used deliberately - before the relevant safety features could be added - due to the benefits it gave in the mean time. It seems likely that we will see more of that - in conjunction with the overall trend towards increased safety.

My position on this is the opposite of yours. I think there are probably greater individual risks from a machine intelligence working properly for someone else than there are from an accident. Both positions are players, though.

Comment author: hairyfigment 15 May 2011 07:06:00PM 0 points [-]

Now I'm confused again. Who do you worry about if not the NSA?