Are selfish AIs a good thing?

Could it be true that Google Deep Mind has discovered that AIs are more likely to choose a course of action that tests their ability than one that might lead to the outcome they’ve been programmed to achieve?

This article on Outerplaces suggests just that, based on their understanding of this Deep Mind study.

Should this worry us?

Well, maybe.

Or, maybe not.

Of course it’s unnerving and possibly dangerous for an artificial intelligence to take the road of least boredom rather than the road to achieve its goals.

But, stop for a moment.

Let’s take this a step further and assume it’s true that at times of scarcity humans struggle to know which co-operation is positive and which is naively foolish and so they tend towards domination. Then imagine a bunch of AIs that prefer working out when it’s better to co-operate and compromise. Now, presuming we put AIs in charge, we have the possibility that the deep down driving force of those that run the world is orientated towards mutual benefit.

Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

photo credit: mikecogh Sculpture: ‘The Foundation’ via photopin (license)

2 responses on “Are selfish AIs a good thing?

    1. Stephen Oram Post author

      Thank you for pointing me towards this – it made me want to revisit the culture series. And anything that talks about anarchy and technology gets my vote.
      More importantly it made me think about my own writing because I’ve been pondering the tension between writing utopias and dystopias and currently I don’t believe in either. I think the world is much messier in the way it stumbles along and evolves. Even with dramatic and sudden advancements in technology.
      I really do agree that science fiction can be massively important in helping us think about what future we want which is why I’ve been collaborating on short stories with scientists and future-tech folk. However, I’d like to think it’s possible to write in a way that’s a bit more accessible to non scifi fans than the culture series so everyone can join in the debate. (Is this the point where lots of culture fans disagree loudly and persuasively?)
      Please don’t get me wrong though, I think Iain M Banks was a genius and very important.
      Once again, thanks for pointing me in its direction.

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