Every day brings considerable AI news, from breakthrough capabilities to dire warnings. A quick read of recent headlines shows both: an AI system that claims to predict dengue fever outbreaks up to three months in advance, and an opinion piece from Henry Kissinger that AI will end the Age of Enlightenment. Then there's the father of AI who doesn't believe there's anything to worry about. Meanwhile, Robert Downey, Jr. is in the midst of developing an eight-part documentary series about AI to air on Netflix. AI is more than just "hot," it's everywhere.
Here are the slides from my York Festival of Ideas keynote yesterday, which introduced the festival focus day Artificial Intelligence: Promises and Perils. I start the keynote with Alan Turing's famous question: Can a Machine Think? and explain that thinking is not just the conscious reflection of Rodin's Thinker but also the largely unconscious thinking required to make a pot of tea. I note that at the dawn of AI 60 years ago we believed the former kind of thinking would be really difficult to emulate artificially and the latter easy. In fact it has turned out to be the other way round: we've had computers that can expertly play chess for 20 years, but we can't yet build a robot that could go into your kitchen and make you a cup of tea. In slides 5 and 6 I suggest that we all assume a cat is smarter than a crocodile, which is smarter than a cockroach, on a linear scale of intelligence from not very intelligent to human intelligence.
Ethics and safety research in artificial intelligence is increasingly framed in terms of "alignment" with human values and interests. I argue that Turing's call for "fair play for machines" is an early and often overlooked contribution to the alignment literature. Turing's appeal to fair play suggests a need to correct human behavior to accommodate our machines, a surprising inversion of how value alignment is treated today. Reflections on "fair play" motivate a novel interpretation of Turing's notorious "imitation game" as a condition not of intelligence but instead of value alignment: a machine demonstrates a minimal degree of alignment (with the norms of conversation, for instance) when it can go undetected when interrogated by a human. I carefully distinguish this interpretation from the Moral Turing Test, which is not motivated by a principle of fair play, but instead depends on imitation of human moral behavior. Finally, I consider how the framework of fair play can be used to situate the debate over robot rights within the alignment literature. I argue that extending rights to service robots operating in public spaces is "fair" in precisely the sense that it encourages an alignment of interests between humans and machines.
This paper considers ethical, philosophical, and technical topics related to achieving beneficial human-level AI and superintelligence. Human-level AI need not be human-identical: The concept of self-preservation could be quite different for a human-level AI, and an AI system could be willing to sacrifice itself to save human life. Artificial consciousness need not be equivalent to human consciousness, and there need not be an ethical problem in switching off a purely symbolic artificial consciousness. The possibility of achieving superintelligence is discussed, including potential for ‘conceptual gulfs’ with humans, which may be bridged. Completeness conjectures are given for the ‘TalaMind’ approach to emulate human intelligence, and for the ability of human intelligence to understand the universe. The possibility and nature of strong vs. weak superintelligence are discussed. Two paths to superintelligence are described: The first path could be catastrophically harmful to humanity and life in general, perhaps leading to extinction events. The second path should improve our ability to achieve beneficial superintelligence. Human-level AI and superintelligence may be necessary for the survival and prosperity of humanity.