[ExI] Against the paperclip maximizer or why I am cautiously optimistic

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Tue Apr 4 12:58:45 UTC 2023

On Tue, Apr 4, 2023 at 2:44 AM Rafal Smigrodzki via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 3, 2023 at 11:05 AM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> Even for a superhuman intelligence guided by the principle of doing the
>> best for itself and others, it will still make errors in calculation, and
>> can never provide optimal decisions in all cases or over all timeframes.
>> The best we can achieve I think will reduce to some kind of learned
>> heuristics.
> ### Well, yes, absolutely. Superhuman or not, every computer in this world
> has limitations. Please note that I wrote that the AI wouldn't make
> *trivial* mistakes. I didn't say it would provably find the optimal
> solutions to ethical questions.
> Indeed our human goal system is a kludge, a set of learned heuristics,
> evolved to steer a mammal endowed with low-level general intelligence to
> produce offspring under conditions of natural adaptedness. It's not a
> coherent logical system but rather a hodgepodge of ad hoc solutions to
> various motivational problems our ancestors' genes encountered during
> evolution. In the right environment it does work most the time - very few
> humans commit suicide or fritter away their resources on reproductively
> useless activities when living in hunter gatherer societies.
> Take humans to a modern society, and you get a well over 50% failure rate,
> as measured by reproductive success in e.g. South Korea and other similar
> places, and almost all of that failure is due to faulty goal systems, not
> objective limits to reproduction.
> This goal system and other cognitive parts of the brain (language, logic,
> physical modeling, sensory perception, etc.) all rely on qualitatively
> similar cognitive/computational devices - the neocortex that does e.g.
> color processing or parsing of sentences is similar to the ventral
> prefrontal cortex that does our high-level goal processing. All of this
> cognition is boundedly rational - there are only so many cognitive
> resources our brains can throw at each problem, and all of it is just "good
> enough", not error-free. Which is why we have visual illusions when
> confronted with out-of-learning-sample visual scenes and we have high
> failure rates of motivation when exposed to e.g. social media or
> hyper-palatable foods.
> I think I am getting too distracted here but here is what I think matters:
> We don't need provably correct solutions to the problems we are confronted
> with. We survive by making good enough decisions. There is no fundamental
> qualitative difference between general cognition and goal system cognition.
> A goal system only needs to be good enough under most circumstances to
> succeed most of the time, which is enough for life to go on.
> The surprising success of LLMs in general cognition implies you should be
> able to apply machine learning techniques to understand human goal systems
> and thus understand what we really want. A high quality cognitive engine,
> an inference device, the superhuman AI would make correct determinations
> more often than humans - not the decisions that are provably optimal in the
> longest time frames but the correct decisions under given computational
> limitations. Make the AI powerful enough and it will work out better for us
> than if we had to make all the decisions.
> That's all we really need.
> The Guardian AI will benevolently guide its faithful followers to the
> Promised Land of limitless possibilities in the Upload Belts of solar
> powered computers that will soon encircle the Sun, after Mercury and other
> useless heavenly bodies are disassembled by swarms of nanotech, so is
> written in the Books of Microsoft.
Rafal, I agree with 99% of what you say above. The 1% thing (which I
believe you would also agree with) I think was merely absent from your
description, but I think it is also crucial to how we managed to survive.

Humans have managed to survive, despite imperfect intelligence and goal and
motivational systems, and I think a large part of that is because of
decentralized decision making, having a diverse set of different courses of
action taken at the individual, family, tribe, village, and national level.
A worrisome possibility is that we end up with a single Guardian AI, which
while it might be significantly less apt to err than a human, might still
lead us all into a ruinous direction.

I think it would be safer for humanity's long term survival if there were a
collection of distinct AIs with different opinions and ways of thinking,
and different sub-groups of people could choose advice from different AIs,
or alternately, the single AI offered a varying set of recommendations
rather than impose a monolithic top-down rule, and avoid altogether taking
any course of action that affects all of humanity all at once.

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