Autonomous Technology and the Greater Human Good

Self-Aware Systems

Here is a preprint of:

Omohundro, Steve (forthcoming 2013) “Autonomous Technology and the Greater Human Good”, Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence (special volume “Impacts and Risks of Artificial General Intelligence”, ed. Vincent C. Müller).


Military and economic pressures are driving the rapid development of autonomous systems.  We show that these systems are likely to behave in anti-social and harmful ways unless they are very carefully designed. Designers will be motivated to create systems that act approximately rationally and rational systems exhibit universal drives toward self-protection, resource acquisition, replication, and efficiency. The current computing infrastructure would be vulnerable to unconstrained systems with these drives. We describe the use of formal methods to create provably safe but limited autonomous systems. We then discuss harmful systems and how to stop them. We conclude with a description of  the “Safe-AI Scaffolding Strategy” for creating powerful safe systems with a high confidence of…

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Formal Methods for AI Safety

Self-Aware Systems

Future intelligent systems could cause great harm to humanity. Because of the large risks, if we are to responsibly build intelligent systems, they must not only be safe but we must be very convinced that they are safe. For example, an AI which is taught human morality by reinforcement learning might be safe, but it’s hard to see how we could become sufficiently convinced to responsibly deploy it.

Before deploying an advanced intelligent system, we should have a very convincing argument for its safety. If that argument is rigorously correct, then it is a mathematical proof. This is not a trivial endeavor! It’s just the only path that appears to be open to us.

The mathematical foundations of computing have been known since Church and Turing‘s work in 1936. Both created computational models which were simultaneously logical models about which theorems could be proved. Church created the lambda calculus

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