[extropy-chat] SI morality

Paul Bridger paul.bridger at paradise.net.nz
Sun Apr 18 00:07:03 UTC 2004

 > Fear of singularity cannot be put down to simple irrationality.
Yes, you're quite right. I think this was what Eugen was getting at as well.
I expect the public to fear Singularity less because they've thought it 
through (irrationally or otherwise), and more because of the culture 
they've been fed.

>> Like you, I strongly believe a purely rational artificial 
>> intelligence would be a benevolent one, but I wouldn't expect most 
>> people to agree (simply because most people don't explore issues 
>> beyond what they see at the movie theater). There's a fantastic quote 
>> on a related issue from Greg Egan's Diaspora: "Conquering the 
>> universe is what bacteria with spaceships would do." In other words, 
>> any culture sufficiently technologically advanced to travel 
>> interstellar distances would also likely be sufficiently rationally 
>> advanced to not want to annihilate us. I think a similar argument 
>> applies to any purely rational artificial intelligence we manage to 
>> create.
> Your expectation re a SAI being benevolent or even rational in the 
> sense you conceive of the word is hardly compelling enough to be the 
> only reasonable possibility to right-thinking folks.  If you believe 
> it is simply rational to not only not annihilate alien and/or inferior 
> intelligences but to go out of one's way to not incidentally harm them 
> then please make your rational air-tight case.   It would be a great 
> relief to many.

After reading some of "Creating Friendly AI" I realise that I need to do 
a lot more thinking (and reading) before I can "strongly believe" 
anything about rational morality again.

>> I'm interested: have people on this list speculated much about the 
>> morality of a purely rational intelligence? If you value rationality, 
>> as extropians do, then surely the morality of this putative rational 
>> artificial intelligence would be of great interest - it should be the 
>> code we all live by. Rationality means slicing away all arbitrary 
>> customs, and reducing decisions to a cost-benefit analysis of 
>> forseeable consequences. This is at once no morality, and a perfect 
>> morality. Hmm...Zen-like truth, or vacuous pseudo-profundity - you 
>> decide. :)
> It certainly is of great interest.  Since you claim to know what fully 
> rational morality would be like and lead to, why don't you lead off?  
> I think there is rather more to it than reducing everything to a 
> cost-benefit analysis.    In a purely cost-benefit analysis, what 
> benefit would an SAI derive from the preservation of humanity if 
> humanity seems to be inhabiting and laying claim to resources it 
> requires for its own goals?

Maybe later, after I get my hubris back. :)

I guess my one argument for the likely outcome of friendly AI is this:
As the programmers, unless we create AI by mistake we get to specify 
what core goals the AI has. Primary goals are self-perpetuating and 
cannot be changed by goal-directed behaviour.
An obvious rebuttal to this sunny scenario is that a putative AI may 
require non-goal-directed behaviour (such as some random source-code 
shuffling - or some more plausible analogue of random mutation) in order 
to improve itself in creative new ways.


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