ai futures view markdown

🤖 AGI thoughts

  • nice AGI definition: AI systems are fully substitutable for human labor (or have a comparably large impact)
  • AI risk by deliberate human actors (i.e. concentrating power) is a greater risk than unintended use (i.e. loss of control)
  • Caveat: AGI risk is probably still underrated - nefarious use is likely worse than accidental misuse
    • alignment research is technically more interesting than safety research…
  • Data limitations (e.g. in medicine) will limit rapid general advancements

human compatible

A set of notes based on the book human compatible, by Stuart Russell 2019

what if we succeed?

  • candidates for biggest event in the future of humanity
    • we all die
    • we all live forever
    • we conquer the universe
    • we are visited by a superior alien civilization
    • we invent superintelligent AI
  • defn: humans are intelligent to the extent that our actions can be expected to achieve our objectives (given what we perceive)
    • machines are beneficial to the extent that their actions can be expected to achieve our objectives
  • Baldwin effect - learning can make evolution easier
  • utility for things like money is diminishing
    • rational agents maximize expected utility
  • McCarthy helped usher in knowledge-based systems, which use first-order logic
    • however, these didn’t incorporate uncertainty
    • modern AI uses utilities and probabilities instead of goals and logic
    • bayesian networks are like probabilistic propositional logic, along with bayesian logic, probabilistic programming languages
  • language already encodes a great deal about what we know
  • inductive logic programming - propose new concepts and definitions in order to identify theories that are both accurate and concise
  • want to be able to learn many useful abstractions
  • a superhuman ai could do a lot
    • e.g. help with evacuating by individually guiding every person/vehicle
    • carry out experiments and compare against all existing results easily
    • high-level goal: raise the standard of living for everyone everywhere?
    • AI tutoring
  • EU GDPR’s “right to an explanation” wording is actually much weaker: “meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences of such processing for the data subject.”
  • whataboutery - a method for deflecting questions where one always asks “what about X?” rather than engaging

harms of ai

  • ex. surveillance, persuasion, and control
  • ex. lethal autonomous weapons (these are scalable)
  • ex. automated blackmail
  • ex. deepfakes / fake media
  • ex. automation - how to solve this? Universal basic income?

value alignment

  • ex. king midas
  • ex. driving dangerously
  • ex. in optimizing sea oxygen levels, takes them out of the air
  • ex. in curing cancer, gives everyone tumors
  • note: for an AI, it might be easier to convince of a different objective than actually solve the objective
  • basically any optimization objective will lead AI to disable its own off-switch

possible solns

  • Oracle AI - can only answer yes/no/probabilistic questions, otherwise no output to the real world
  • inverse RL
    • ai should be uncertain about utitilies
    • utilties should be inferred from human preferences
    • in systems that interact, need to express preferences in terms of game theory
  • complications
    • can be difficult to parse human instruction into preferences
    • people are different
    • AI loyal to one person might harm others
    • ai ethics
      • consequentalism - choices should be judged according to expected consequences
      • deontological ethics, vritue ethics - concerned with the moral character of actions + individuals
      • hard to compare utilties across people
      • utilitarianism has issues when there is negative utility
    • preferences can change
  • AI should be regulated
  • deep learning is a lot like our sensory systems - logic is still need to act on these abstractions

possible minds

edited by John Brockman, 2019

intro (brockman)

  • new technologies = new perceptions
  • we create tools and we mold ourselves through our use of them
  • Wiener: “We must cease to kiss the whip that lashes us”
    • initial book The human use of human beings
    • he was mostly analog, fell out of fashion
    • initially inspired the field
  • ai has gone down and up for a while
  • gofai - good old-fashioned ai
  • things people thought would be hard, like chess, were easy
  • lots of physicists in this book…

wrong but more relevant than ever (seth lloyd)

  • current AI is way worse than people think it is
  • wiener was very pessimistic - wwII / cold war
  • singularity is not coming…

the limitations of opaque learning machines (judea pearl)

  • 3 levels of reasoning
    • statistical
    • causal
    • counterfactual - lots of counterfactuals but language is good and providing lots of them
  • “explaining away” = “backwards blocking” in the conditioning literature
  • starts causal inference, but doesn’t work for large systems
  • dl is more about speed than learning
  • dl is not interpretable
  • example: ask someone why they are divorced?
    • income, age, etc…
    • something about relationship…
  • correlations, causes, explanations (moral/rational) - biologically biased towards this?
    • beliefs + desires cause actions
  • randomly picking grants above some cutoff…
  • pretty cool that different people do things because of norms (e.g. come to class at 4pm)
    • could you do this with ai?
  • facebook chatbot ex.
  • paperclip machine, ads on social media
  • states/companies are like ais
  • equifinality - perturb behavior (like use grayscale images instead of color) and they can still do it (like stability)

the purpose put into the machine (stuart russell)

  • want safety in ai - need to specify right objective with no uncertainty
  • value alignment - putting in the right purpose
  • ai research studies the ability to achieve objectives, not the design of those objectives
    • “better at making decisions - not making better decisions”
  • want provable beneficial ai
  • can’t just maximize rewards - optimal solution is to control human to give more rewards
  • cooperative inverse-rl - robot learns reward function from human
    • this way, uncertainty about rewards lets robot preserve its off-switch
    • human actions don’t always reflect their true preferences

the third law (george dyson)

  • 2 eras: before/after digital computers
    • before: thomas hobbes, gottfried wilhelm leibniz
    • after:
      • alan turing - intelligent machines
      • john von neumann - reproducing machines
      • claude shannon - communicate reliably
      • norbert weiner - when would machines take control
  • analog computing - all about error corrections
  • nature uses digitial coding for proteins but analog for brain
  • social graphs can use digital code for analog computing
    • analog systems seem to control what they are mapping (e.g. decentralized traffic map)
  • 3 laws of ai
    • ashby’s law - any effective control system must be as complex as the system it controls
    • von neumman’s law - defining characteristic of a complex system is that it constitutes its own simplest behavioral description
    • 3rd law - any system simple enough to be understandable will not be complicated enough to behave intelligently and vice versa

what can we do? (daniel dennett)

  • dennett wrote from bacteria to bach & back
  • praise: willingness to admit he is wrong / stay levelheaded
  • rereading stuff opens new doors
  • import to treat AI as tools - real danger is humans being slaves to the AI coming about naturally
    • analogy to our dependence on fruit for vitamin C whereas other animals synthesize it
    • tech has made it easy to tamper with evidence etc.
    • Wiener: “In the long run, there is no distinction between arming ourselves and arming our enemies.”
  • current AI is parasitic on human intelligence
  • we are robots made of robots made of robots…with no magical ingredients thrown in along the way
  • current humanoid embellishments are false advertising
  • need a way to test safety/interpretability of systems, maybe with human judges
  • people automatically personify things
  • we need intelligent tools, not conscious ones - more like oracles
  • very hard to build in morality into ais - even death might not seem bad

the unity of intelligence (frank wilczek)

  • can an ai be conscious/creative/evil?
  • mind is emergent property of matter $\implies$ all intelligence is machine intelligence
  • david hume: ‘reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions’
  • no sharp divide between natural and artificial intelligence: seem to work on the same physics
  • intelligence seems to be an emergent behavior
  • key differences between brains and computers: brains can self-repair, have higher connectivity, but lower efficiency overall
  • most profound advantage of brain: connectivity and interactive development
  • ais will be good at exploring
  • defining general intelligence - maybe using language?
  • earth’s environment not great for ais
  • ai could control world w/ just info, not just physical means
  • affective economy - sale of emotions (like talking to starbucks barista)
  • people seem to like to live in human world
    • ex. work in cafes, libraries, etc.
  • future life institute - funded by elon…maybe just trying to make money

lets aspire to more than making ourselves obsolete (max tegmark)

  • sometimes listed as scaremonger
  • maybe consciousness could be much more hype - like waking up from being drowsy
  • survey of AI experts said 50% chance of general ai surpassing human intelligence by 2040-2050
  • finding purpose if we aren’t needed for anything?
  • importance of keeping ai beneficial
  • possible AIs will replace all jobs
  • curiosity is dangerous
  • 3 reasons ai danger is downplayed
    1. people downplay danger because it makes their research seem good - “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” - Upton Sinclair - luddite - person opposoed to new technology or ways of working - stems from secret organization of english textile workers who protested
    2. it’s an abstract threat
    3. it feels hopeless to think about
  • AI safety research must precede AI developments
  • the real risk with AGI isn’t malice but competence
  • intelligence = ability to accomplish complex goals
  • how good are people at predicting the future of technology?
  • joseph weizenbbam wrote psychotherapist bot that was pretty bad but scared him

dissident messages (jaan taliin)

  • voices that stand up slowly end up convincing people
  • ai is different than tech that has come before - it can self-multiply
  • human brain has caused lots of changes in the world - ai will be similar
  • people seem to be tipping more towards the fact that the risk is large
  • short-term risks: automation + bias
  • one big risk: AI environmental risk: how to constrain ai to not render our environment uninhabitable for biological forms
  • need to stop thinking of the world as a zero-sum game
  • famous survery: katja grace at the future of humanity institute

tech prophecy and the underappreciated causal power of ideas (steven pinker)

  • “just as darwin made it possible for a thoughtful observer of the natural world to do without creationism, Turing and others made it possible for a thoughtful observer of the cognitive world to do without spiritualism”
  • entropy view: ais is trying to stave off entropy by following specific goals
  • ideas drive human history
  • 2 possible demises
    • surveillance state
      • automatic speech recognition
      • pinker thinks this isn’t a big deal because freedom of thought is driven by norms and institutions not tech
      • tech’s biggest threat seems to be amplifying dubious voices not surpressing enlightened ones
      • more tech has correlated w/ more democracy
    • ai takes over
      • seems too much like technological determinism
      • intelligence is the ability to deploy novel means to attain a goal - doesn’t specify what the goal is
      • knowledge are things we know - ours are mostly find food, mates, etc. machines will have other ones
  • if humans are smart enough to make ai, they are smart enough to test it
  • “threat isn’t machine but what can be made of it”

beyond reward and punishment (david deutsch)

  • david deutsch - founder of quantum computing
  • thinking - involves coming up w/ new hypotheses, not just being bayesian
  • knowledge itself wasn’t hugely evolutionarily beneficial in the beginning, but retaining cultural knowledge was
    • in the beginning, people didn’t really learn - just remembered cultural norms
    • no one aspired to anything new
  • so far, the way ais have been developed (e.g. chess-playing) is restricting a search space, but AGI wants them to come up with a new search space
  • we usually don’t follow laws because of punishments - neither will AGIs
  • open society is the only stable kind
  • will be hard to test / optimize for directly
  • AGI could still be deterministic
  • tension between imitation and learning? (immitation/innovation)
  • people falsely believe AGI should be able to learn on its own, like Nietzche’s causa sui, buy humans don’t do this
  • culture might make you more model-free

the artificial use of human beings (tom griffiths)

  • believes key to ml is human learning

  • we now have good models of images/text, but not of

  • value alignment

  • inverse rl: look at actions of intelligent agent, learn reward

  • accuracy (heuristics) vs generalizability (often assumes rationality)
    • however, people are often not rational - people follow simple heuristics
    • ex. don’t calculate probabilities, just try to remember examples
  • people usually tradeoff time with how important a decision is - bounded optimality

  • could ai actually produce more leisure?

making the invisible visible (hans ulrich obrist)

  • need to use art to better interpret visualizations, like deepdream
  • ai as a tool, like photoshop
  • tweaking simulations is art (again in a deep-dream like way)
  • meta-objectives are important
  • art - an early alarm system to think about the future, evocative
  • design - has a clearer purpose, invisible
    • fluxist movement - do it yourself, like flash mob, spontanous, not snobby
  • this progress exhibit - guggenheim where they hand you off to people getting older
  • art - tracks what people appreciate over time
  • everything except museums + pixels are pixels
  • marcel duchamp 1917 - urinal in art museum was worth a ton

algorists dream of objectivity (peter galison)

  • science historian
  • stories of dangerous technologies have been repeated (e.g. nanoscience, recombinant DNA)
  • review in psychology found objective models outperformed groups of human clinicians (“prediction procedures: the clinical-statistical controversy”)
  • people initially started w/ drawing things
    • then shifted to more objective measures (e.g. microscope)
    • then slight shift away (e.g. humans outperformed algorithms at things)
  • objectivity is not everything
  • art w/ a nervous system
  • animations with charcters that have goals

the rights of machines (george church)

  • machines should increasingly get rights as those of humans
  • potential for AI to make humans smarter as well

the artistic use of cybernetic beings (caroline jones)

  • how to strech people beyond our simple, selfish parameters
  • cybernetics seance art
  • more grounded in hardware
  • culture-based evolution
  • uncanny valley - if things look too humanlike, we find them creepy
    • this doesn’t happen for kids (until ~10 years)
  • neil mendoza animal-based aft reflections
  • is current ai more advanced than game of life?

David Kaiser: Information for wiener, Shannon, and for Us

  • wiener: society can only be understood based on analyzing messages
    • information = semantic information
    • shannon: information = entropy (not reduction in entropy?)
    • predictions
      • information can not be conserved (effective level of info will be perpetually advancing)
      • information is unsuited to being commodities
        • can easily be replicated
        • science started having citations in 17th century because before that people didn’t want to publish
          • turned info into currency
        • art world has struggled w/ this
          • 80s: appropration art - only changed title
        • literature for a long time had no copyrights
        • algorithms hard to patent
    • wiener’s warning: machines would dominate us only when individuals are the same
      • style and such become more similar as we are more connected
        • twitter would be the opposite of that
        • amazon could make things more homogenous
      • fashion changes consistently
        • maybe arbitrary way to identify in/out groups
      • comparison to markets
      • cities seem to increase diversity - more people to interact with
  • dl should seek more semantic info not statistical info

Neil Gershenfield: Scaling

  • ai is more about scaling laws rathern that fashions
  • mania: success to limited domains
  • depression: failure to ill-posed problems
  • knowledge vs information: which is in the world, which is in your head?
  • problem 1: communication - important that knowledge can be replicated w/ no loss (shannon)
  • problem 2: computation - import knowledge can be stored (von Neumann)
  • problem 3: generalization - how to come up w/ rules for reasoning?
  • next: fabrication - how to make things?
    • ex. body uses only 20 amino acids