[ExI] DARPA killer AI robots to 'participate in own construction'

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Tue Jun 2 20:33:34 UTC 2009

2009/6/2 Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>:
> You've got your robots which can make copies of themselves, of course.
> That's pretty scary - a runaway exponentially-multiplying machine horde,
> potentially able to overrun the human race in an eyeblink. But how much more
> scary would it be if you had a machine which could not only make copies of
> itself once complete, but could also participate in its own construction
> while it was still being built?

Not at all. I don't see the threat.

> DARPA seeks to construct systems that can participate in their own
> construction... The system might know the requirements for various tasks in
> its repertoire, and it may try to perform those tasks to verify
> functionality.

Key word being "may".

> "Tasks in its repertoire", then, might include "destroy all moving objects
> within 100 miles not designated as 'friendly'" or "mount an immediate
> armoured assault on Beijing, regardless of nuclear response". The prospect
> of the software unilaterally "trying to perform those tasks to verify
> functionality" doesn't seem reassuring.

The people designing these things aren't idiots, unlike some alarmist
reporters who've watched one too many Terminator movie.

> In any case, it seems plain that building a system focused on "high-level
> cognition" which can "participate in its own construction" will be fraught
> with difficulty. You might have a notion of what you'd like it to be, but it
> will have its own ideas. By definition, one would have no firm picture of
> just what would be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world at the end of the
> construction process - but you would know that it'd be potentially able to
> make more of itself, or indeed repair itself if it got damaged.

No. "Construction" is not "design". These aren't intelligent robots
designing themselves, they're appliances that can help bootstrap their


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