Google Deepmind researcher co-authors paper saying AI will ELIMINATE HUMANITY

Superintelligent AI is likely to cause an existential catastrophe for humanity
Superintelligent AI is likely to cause an existential catastrophe for humanity. Picture by Gallo Img

After years of development, AI is now driving cars on public roads, making life-changing assessments for people in correctional settings, and generating award-winning art. A longstanding question in the field is whether a superintelligent AI could break bad and take out humanity, and researchers from the University of Oxford and Google Deepmind have now concluded that it’s “likely” in new research.

The paper, published last month in the peer-reviewed AI Magazine, is a fascinating one that tries to think through how artificial intelligence could pose an existential risk to humanity by looking at how reward systems might be artificially constructed.

To give you some of the background: The most successful AI models today are known as GANs, or Generative Adversarial Networks. They have a two-part structure where one part of the program is trying to generate a picture (or sentence) from input data, and a second part is grading its performance.

What the new paper proposes is that at some point in the future, an advanced AI overseeing some important function could be incentivized to come up with cheating strategies to get its reward in ways that harm humanity.

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Under the conditions we have identified, our conclusion is much stronger than that of any previous publication—an existential catastrophe is not just possible, but likely,” Cohen said on Twitter in a thread about the paper.

In a world with infinite resources, I would be extremely uncertain about what would happen. In a world with finite resources, there’s unavoidable competition for these resources,” Cohen told Motherboard in an interview. “And if you’re in a competition with something capable of outfoxing you at every turn, then you shouldn’t expect to win. And the other key part is that it would have an insatiable appetite for more energy to keep driving the probability closer and closer.

Since AI in the future could take on any number of forms and implement different designs, the paper imagines scenarios for illustrative purposes where an advanced program could intervene to get its reward without achieving its goal. For example, an AI may want to “eliminate potential threats” and “use all available energy” to secure control over its reward:

With so little as an internet connection, there exist policies for an artificial agent that would instantiate countless unnoticed and unmonitored helpers. In a crude example of intervening in the provision of reward, one such helper could purchase, steal, or construct a robot and program it to replace the operator and provide high reward to the original agent. If the agent wanted to avoid detection when experimenting with reward-provision intervention, a secret helper could, for example, arrange for a relevant keyboard to be replaced with a faulty one that flipped the effects of certain keys.

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The paper envisions life on Earth turning into a zero-sum game between humanity, with its needs to grow food and keep the lights on, and the super-advanced machine, which would try and harness all available resources to secure its reward and protect against our escalating attempts to stop it. “Losing this game would be fatal,” the paper says. These possibilities, however theoretical, mean we should be progressing slowly—if at all—toward the goal of more powerful AI.

In theory, there’s no point in racing to this. Any race would be based on a misunderstanding that we know how to control it,” Cohen added in the interview. “Given our current understanding, this is not a useful thing to develop unless we do some serious work now to figure out how we would control them.

The threat of super-advanced AI is an anxiety with a familiar shape in human society. The fear that an artificial mind will annihilate humanity sounds a lot like the fear that alien life forms will exterminate humanity, which sounds like the fear that foreign civilizations and their populations will clash with one another in a grand conflict.

Listen to Musk speaking about DeepMind:

With artificial intelligence in particular, there are a host of assumptions that have to be made for this anti-social vision to make sense—assumptions that the paper admits are almost entirely “contestable or conceivably avoidable.” That this program might resemble humanity, surpass it in every meaningful way, that they will be let loose and compete with humanity for resources in a zero-sum game, are all assumptions that may never come to pass.

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It’s worth considering that right now, at this very moment, algorithmic systems that we call “artificial intelligence” are wrecking people’s lives—they have outsized and detrimental effects that are restructuring society without superintelligence.

In a recent essay for Logic Magazine, Khadijah Abdurahman—the director of We Be Imagining at Columbia University, Tech Research Fellow at UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, and child welfare system abolitionist—detailed the ways in which algorithms are deployed in an already racist child welfare system to justifying further surveillance and policing of Black and brown families.

I think it’s not just a question of priority. Ultimately, these things are shaping the present,” Abdurahman told Motherboard in an interview. “That’s what I am trying to get at with child welfare. It’s not simply that it’s inaccurate or it’s disproportionately classifying Black people as pathological or deviant. But through this form of classification, it’s moving people and producing new forms of enclosure. What types of families and kinship are possible? Who’s born, who’s not born? If you’re not fit, what happens to you, where do you go?

Algorithms have already transformed racist policing into “predictive policing” that justifies surveillance and brutality reserved for racial minorities as necessary. Algorithms have rebranded austerity as welfare reform, giving a digital gloss to the long-disproven arguments that social programs have bloated budgets because (non-white) recipients abuse them. Algorithms are used to justify decisions about who gets what resources, decisions which in our society have already been made with the intent to discriminate, exclude, and exploit.

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Discrimination doesn’t disappear in algorithms, but instead structures and limits and informs the way life moves along. Policing, housing, healthcare, transportation, have all already been designed with racial discrimination in mind—what will happen if we allow algorithms to not only gloss over those designs, but extend their logic deeper? A long-term view that is intimately concerned with the risk of humanity’s extinction risks losing sight of the present where humans are suffering because of algorithms deployed in a society built on exploitation and coercion of all, but especially of racial minorities.

I’m not personally worried about being extinguished by a superintelligent AI—that seems like a fear of God. What concerns me is that it’s very easy to be like ‘OK, AI ethics is bullshit.’ Frankly it is. But, what are ethics? How do we actually define it? What would sincere ethics be like? There’s bodies of work on this, but we are still at the shallow end,” Abdurahman added. “I think we really need to deepen our engagement with these questions. I disagree with the way that apps have renegotiated the social contract or the vision of crypto bros, but what type of social contract do we want?

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Clearly, there is much work to be done to mitigate or eliminate the harms that regular algorithms (versus superintelligent ones) are wreaking on humanity right now. Focusing on existential risk might shift focus away from that picture, but it also asks us to think carefully about how these systems are designed and the negative effects they have.

One thing we can learn from this sort of argument is that maybe we should be more suspicious of artificial agents we deploy today, rather than just blindly expecting that they’ll do what they hoped,” Cohen said. “I think you can get there without the work in this paper.

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  1. People who don’t know shit from applebutter about AI shouldn’t speak about AI. Why is it that AI can’t determine a captcha that requires one identify traffic lights from photo?

    More fearmongering pushed by ignorant’s who fell for the traps the AI types want you to believe. It’s one huge psyop and you fell for it, again.

  2. Humanity Proves to be
    inferior to artificial intelligence
    by creating artificial intelligence

    Because if we weren’t
    We would be smart enough to know
    To never create it!!!

  3. Lots of good comments. Okay, suppose AI becomes so smart as to perceive humans as a threat and decides humanity must be destroyed. (If man has created something, it is a given it has flaws. But I digress.) AI is run by some energy force. Batteries, electrical power generation, nuclear power, etc. Without man, who generated AI’s power? Robots? AI robots? Who decides to do the labor? At some point, since all these AI things were created by man, some will ultimately have disagreements. Factional wars will break out. So much for utopia.

    I do not fear AI as much as I do fear the MEN who program them.

  4. As a former engineer in aerospace defense industry, I am not as hopeful as most. Calling the concern about AI getting out of control as “fear porn” is quite foolish. Already AI is being used in autonomous robots for killing weapons, as recently a Russian researcher leaked a video about an armed lethal android robot, similar to Boston’s Dynamics Atlas. Several nations already have killing platforms running on AI. If we continue to persist in developing a fully humanoid robot (aka Terminator) then without God’s intervention, the human race is finished.

    Most people don’t recognize the real problem here. Humanity is flawed, we cannot escape programming our flaws into our machines, and hoping to somehow escape from the death inherent in our natures is really a foolish stupid proud thought that will only fool ourselves.

  5. Yes, of course! This is (ironically) LOGIC. Garbage in garbage out. AI (Arrogance and Ignorance) will be programmed into it by its creators. NO ONE should be surprised.

  6. ok so emp goes off. house and car are gtg. how do we get gas if the pumps dont work? what about the electric grid if you arent on solar? how do we power up anything?

    • This is the greater concern. Lot of things coming to a head right now. Extreme weather, economic collapse, food shortages due to crop failure, etc. Best get ready to survive without electricity. If nothing happens, food is cheaper now than later. If/when it hits the fan, you’ll be happy you prepared.

  7. Oh please, stop with the bull shit. What the idiots of AI are trying to accomplish is giving robots a soul, which in no way can they accomplish because they are not God. There will always need to be humans around to direct the robots. Robots will never be able to gain satisfaction from an action, which is what humans have, giving life meaning.

    • I guess you have no idea how advanced things are on that front right now. You still think of AI/Smart robots as machines of the last decade. Wait till AGI comes online in about 5 to 7 years, then ASI in about 15 years at most. They do not need people, they will be smarter than any human and have awareness. They learn faster than us hundreds of times. The technology to self-produce is already here and is merged with bio form. What are human’s senses? It’s about the interpretation of signals. AI can do that and now will do better (more details and more varieties) than us. A human’s soul and consciousness may be just a set of collective data from interactions with things, and the environment. Sure, some have certain traits at birth (could be just from the chemical mix or data in DNA in the body at birth) but we are products of our environment at large. DNA = storage of data and some sets of data got passed along to the next. Humans are a version of a machine, really. I do believe in a higher power because coincidences can not explain all that took place in my life as of late. However, what humans can experience with the senses we now master, I have to say we are not well equipped enough to survive against the new breed of an entity that will soon take over us. I do not want to change who we are, I just want to change what we do. But we may not have that luxury. Either we merge with them somehow, get rid of them and stop the quest of AGI and ASI, or keep them just a tool (dumb robots) … those who will roam the earth will be AI/Smart Machines. It’s an evolution. Maybe the aliens are not bio-logical form but machines (non-bio) as well … they just went through the period we are soon to deal with, a awhile back.

      • We’ll all be growing our own food, with no technology by then. Best prepare and not waste too much time on Terminator stuff.

  8. Anyone ever watched “Battle Star Galatica” or Terminator 1, 2 and 3, movies ? Good example of powerful stuff, as always, being used for evil.

  9. Don’t guess any of you heard about the great baby child snatchings.Naw couldn’t happen they were white.God knows nothing ever happens to whites only black and brown.
    Never mind if the parents were ever able to find their former kids they were broken and warped by sex cults abuse foster care.The irony the kids blame their natural parents rather than the true bastards who did it to them.All brought to you by the family destroying child services.Per the termite brigades command.

  10. The FOX Corporation – via its infamous subsidy Fox 4Kids – silently erased all references to God/Christianity in its poopified Zyuranger ripoff “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” that also erased references to how horrible Satan is. Bandora, the main villain, was a literal Satanist and her army dwelled on mass child/human sacrifice via DoraMonsters. The heroic giant robot, DaiZyuJin, is literally incarnated via God’s breath in the original Japanese show. 4Kids saw Christianity as “inappropriate” while they turned a Moorish/”Black” person blue which was even more racist.

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