Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, December 18, 2017



jimf said...
I’m more afraid of Elon Musk than I am of rogue AIs

Ted Chiang cuts straight to the heart of issue: it’s not
artificial intelligence we should fear, it’s capitalism
and its smug, oblivious, excessively wealthy leaders. . .

I’ve always thought the dread of AIs was overblown and absurd
and not at all a concern. Chiang exposes it for what it is,
the fear that lies in the id of Musk, and Bezos, and Zuckerberg,
and every greedy gazillionaire who is frantically pointing
“over there!” to distract us from looking at where they’re standing:
the fear that someone else might be as rapacious as they are.
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
Ted Chiang
December 18, 2017

. . .

Musk gave an example of an artificial intelligence that’s
given the task of picking strawberries. It seems harmless enough,
but as the AI redesigns itself to be more effective, it might decide
that the best way to maximize its output would be to destroy
civilization and convert the entire surface of the Earth into strawberry
fields. Thus, in its pursuit of a seemingly innocuous goal, an AI could
bring about the extinction of humanity purely as an unintended side effect.

This scenario sounds absurd to most people, yet there are a surprising
number of technologists who think it illustrates a real danger. Why?
Perhaps it’s because they’re already accustomed to entities that operate
this way: Silicon Valley tech companies.

Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious
to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth
approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking
AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential
rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. . .
[W]hen Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up
with is no-holds-barred capitalism. . .

It’s assumed that the AI’s approach will be “the question isn’t who
is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me,” i.e., the mantra
of Ayn Randian libertarianism that is so popular in Silicon Valley. . .

Dale Carrico said...

It's nice to see such high profile critiques making these connections these days -- one wishes warnings were heeded in advance but I suppose it is something that more people seem to be clear about how futurological fraudsters are killing them as it happens in real time. There are times when I feel I should return to my full-throated roaring on these topics -- but in Trump's America I find myself focused on my students in the classroom and the dream of actually getting a full night's sleep once in a while instead of staring saucer-eyed at the ceiling at all hours.