How Smart Should Artificial Intelligences Get?

In an article in Space Daily, Kevin LaGrandeur, professor at New York Institute of Technology, speculates on the need to rein in the development of artificial intelligences:

As reported in The New York Times in 2009, a group of computer scientists from around the world met to discuss whether restrictions should be made on development of Artificial Intelligence. Their worry was that human control over AI could soon be compromised, given the acceleration of its capability to operate independently.

Their concerns were, in part, driven by the fact that the most rapid advances in AI are being made by the military in the form of automated weapons, such as Predator drones.

Even optimists in the technology community do not deny the possibility that our machinery may overtake us; many of them, such as Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, and Kevin Warwick, simply think that we won't mind being eclipsed by our digital servants because we will have already incorporated so much of them into our lives.

So would limits on the development of AI help mitigate the dangers of our ingenious devices? Probably not. Rogue groups and nations would just find detours around any roadblocks that a regulatory body may try to set up.

But there are alternative forms of regulation that may work. Scientists and governmental bodies could develop protocols for the way AI is built and tested, guidelines for the kinds of fail-safe controls built into AI, conventions for testing it. And, most importantly, governments could devote more money to research into non-military forms of AI, so that benevolent advances could balance out the more dangerous ones.

SF writers have been exploring the idea of limits on artificial intelligences for decades. In his 1985 novel Neuromancer, William Gibson created the idea of "Turing registry agents" that checked up on AI developments like Wintermute:

"How smart's an AI, case?"

"Depends. Some aren't much smarter than dogs. Pets. Cost a fortune anyway. The real smart ones are as smart as the Turing heat lets them get..."

"...but the minute, I mean the nanosecond, one starts figuring out ways to make itself smarter, Turing'll wipe it. Nobody trusts [them]..."

LaGrandeur's latest book, Androids and Intelligent Networks in Early Modern Literature and Culture, will come out later this year.

Via Space Daily.

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