Google, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Baidu, Foxconn, and others have recently made multi-billion dollar investments in artificial intelligence and robotics. Some of these investments are aimed at increasing productivity and enhancing coordination and cooperation. Others are aimed at creating strategic gains in competitive interactions. This is creating “arms races” in high-frequency trading, cyber warfare, drone warfare, stealth technology, surveillance systems, and missile warfare. Recently, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and others have issued strong cautionary statements about the safety of intelligent technologies. We describe the potentially antisocial “rational drives” of self-preservation, resource acquisition, replication, and self-improvement that uncontrolled autonomous systems naturally exhibit. We describe the “Safe-AI Scaffolding Strategy” for developing these systems with a high confidence of safety based on the insight that even superintelligences are constrained by the laws of physics, mathematical proof, and cryptographic complexity. “Smart contracts” are a promising decentralized cryptographic technology used in Ethereum and other second-generation cryptocurrencies. They can express economic, legal, and political rules and will be a key component in governing autonomous technologies. If we are able to meet the challenges, AI and robotics have the potential to dramatically improve every aspect of human life.
Bio for Steve Omohundro
Steve Omohundro has been a scientist, professor, author, software architect, and entrepreneur doing research that explores the interface between mind and matter. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and cofounded the Center for Complex Systems Research. He published the book “Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics”, designed the programming languages StarLisp and Sather, wrote the 3D graphics system for Mathematica, and built systems which learn to read lips, control robots, and induce grammars. He is president of both Possibility Research and Self-Aware Systems, a think tank working to ensure that intelligent technologies have a positive impact. His work on positive intelligent technologies was featured in James Barrat’s book “Our Final Invention” and has generated international interest. He serves on the advisory boards of the Cryptocurrency Research Group, the Institute for Blockchain Studies, and Pebble Cryptocurrency.
Note for Visitors to SRI
Please arrive at least 10 minutes early as you will need to sign in by following instructions by the lobby phone at Building E. SRI is located at 333 Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park. Visitors may park in the parking lots off Fourth Street. Detailed directions to SRI, as well as maps, are available from the Visiting AIC web page. There are two entrances to SRI International located on Ravenswood Ave. Please check the Builing E entrance signage.
On April 9, 2015, Steve Omohundro spoke to the Stanford Graduate School of Business “High Tech Club” (thank you Damien and Naamah) about “AI, Robotics, and Smart Contracts”. Here are the slides as a pdf file. Many interesting questions and issues were explored. Lots of discussion of the impact for FinTech as AI systems build better models of actual economic activity in the world and act autonomously to trade on information. Discussion on the impact for new venture creation, valuation, and assessment of the likelihood of success. Discussion of “Decentralized Autonomous Organizations” (DAOs) and their impact on the future of business. These autonomous collections of “smart contracts” can buy and sell goods and services and create contracts with other participants in an economy. Emerging blockchain-based platforms like Ethereum (which should launch in the next few months) will enable a whole range of “machine to machine” transactions making up what economist Brian Arthur calls the “second economy”. Lots of discussion of how to regulate this new economy and who should and will be the regulator. Governments tend to avoid proactive governance and to wait until problems arise to begin dealing with them. But these new technologies are being developed so rapidly that we probably need a coherent vision for them well in advance of their deployment.
We discussed a variety of technologies that are on the verge of transforming our lives: self-driving cars, 3D-printed houses, manufacturing robots, and ultimately artificial superintelligences. We talked about how to make sure these systems behave in moral and beneficial ways. We also discussed how to stay positive and constructive when thinking about challenging future possibilities. And the need for people with a wide range of backgrounds and insights to contribute towards creating a positive vision for our human future.