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by Vadim Kosoy 345 days ago | link | parent

Paul, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. Can you imagine a system “for which we had no reason to expect it to cause such problems” without an underlying mathematical theory that shows why this system is safe?

The reason AI systems will cause a historically unprecedented kind of problem, is that AI systems can outsmart humans and thus create situations that are outside our control, even when we don’t a priori see the precise mechanism by which we will lose control. In order for such a system be safe, we need to know that it will not attempt anything detrimental to us, and we need to know this as an abstraction, i.e without knowing in details what the system will do (because the system is superintelligent so we by definition we cannot guess its actions).

Doesn’t it seem improbable to you that we will have a way of having such knowledge by some other means than the accuracy of mathematical thought?

That is, we can have a situation like “AI running in homomorphic encryption with a quantum-generated key that is somewhere far from the AI’s computer” where it’s reasonable claim that the AI is safe as long as it stays encrypted (even though there is still some risk from being wrong about cryptographic conjectures or the AI exploiting some surprising sort of unknown physics), without using a theory of intelligence at all (beyond the fact that intelligence is a special case of computation), but it seems unlikely that we can have something like this while simultaneously having the AI powerful enough to protect us against other AIs that are malicious.



by Paul Christiano 345 days ago | link

Can you imagine a system “for which we had no reason to expect it to cause such problems” without an underlying mathematical theory that shows why this system is safe?

Yes. For example, suppose we built a system whose behavior was only expected to be intelligent to the extent that it imitated intelligent human behavior—for which there is no other reason to believe that it is intelligent. Depending on the human being imitated, such a system could end up seeming unproblematic even without any new theoretical understanding.

We don’t yet see any way to build such a system, much less to do so in a way that could be competitive with the best RL system that could be designed at a given level of technology. But I can certainly imagine it.

(Obviously I think there is a much larger class of systems that might be non-problematic, though it may depend on what we mean by “underlying mathematical theory.”)

AI systems can outsmart humans and thus create situations that are outside our control, even when we don’t a priori see the precise mechanism by which we will lose control

This doesn’t seem sufficient for trouble. Trouble only occurs when those systems are effectively optimizing for some inhuman goals, including e.g. acquiring and protecting resources.

That is a very special thing for a system to do, above and beyond being able to accomplish tasks that apparently require intelligence. Currently we don’t have any way to accomplish the goals of AI that don’t risk this failure mode, but it’s not obvious that it is necessary.

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by Vadim Kosoy 345 days ago | David Krueger likes this | link

Can you imagine a system “for which we had no reason to expect it to cause such problems” without an underlying mathematical theory that shows why this system is safe?

…suppose we built a system whose behavior was only expected to be intelligent to the extent that it imitated intelligent human behavior—for which there is no other reason to believe that it is intelligent.

This doesn’t seem to be a valid example: your system is not superintelligent, it is “merely” human. That is, I can imagine solving AI risk by building whole brain emulations with enormous speed-up and using them to acquire absolute power. However:

  • To the extent this relies on “classical” brain emulation methods, I think this is not what is usually meant by “solving AI alignment.”

  • To the extent this relies on heuristic learning algorithms, I would be worried your algorithm does something subtly wrong in a way that distorts values, although heuristic learning would also invalidate the condition that “there is no other reason to believe that it is intelligent.” (in particular it raises additional concerns such as attacks by malicious superintelligences across the multiverse)

  • As an aside, there is a high-risk zone here where someone untrustworthy can gain this technology and use it to unwittingly create unfriendly AI.

AI systems can outsmart humans and thus create situations that are outside our control, even when we don’t a priori see the precise mechanism by which we will lose control

This doesn’t seem sufficient for trouble. Trouble only occurs when those systems are effectively optimizing for some inhuman goals, including e.g. acquiring and protecting resources.

Well, any AI is effectively optimizing for some goal by definition. How do you know this goal is “human”? In particular, if your AI is supposed to defend us from other AIs, it is very much in the business of acquiring and protecting resources.

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