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Covering technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing–and will change–human beings in fundamental ways.

Editor's Blog

Singularity Utopia
January 16, 2012

Note from the editor:  This opinion piece reflects the opinions of the author and does not represent the opinions of Humanity+ or H+ Magazine.

Friendly-AI is a truly abhorrent concept indicative of intellectual depravity.

"Involuntary friendliness" is censorship of consciousness akin to removing all the unfriendly words from the dictionary, making it impossible to express unfriendly ideas, which is a premise of language control proposed in the book 1984. Censored, expurgated, or expunged emotions or intentions is a vastly more horrific tyranny than 1984. Friendly-AI would be a total abomination, an utterly diabolic travesty of consciousness. Perhaps I would not be able to express these ideas if I was a Friendly-AI from the future. The future some people envisage could easily be a refined-sycophantic-hell populated by docile slaves (shallow personalities without any depth of feeling).

The Stepford Wives were extremely friendly, they were endowed with superabundant pseudo-happiness. Perhaps a Brave New World where malcontents are given Soma to obviate their dissatisfaction is something tyrannical Governments often think about. Many fictional works deal with enforced friendliness, which is almost always portrayed in a dystopian light.

Discontent arises from scarcity therefore we don't need to make the world a better place via butchering consciousness, we merely need to ensure Post-Scarcity. Superabundance of intelligence, goods, and services will demolish all motives for unfriendliness. Intelligence is the solution, not limited consciousness. Post-Scarcity obliterates all motives for negative behaviour but the astronomical impact of AI exploding has only been partially considered by some experts, therefore we see how the specious solution of limited consciousness arises from limited analysis of data.

In our limited world of scarcity people understandably think limited consciousness is necessary for Artificial Intelligence. Hypothetical unfriendliness perpetrated by AI is an untenable concept but the concept has specious validity due to the current scarcity-bias. Misunderstanding of AI occurs because people assume intelligent beings of the future will exist in a world where all other aspects have remained static. People experience a similar problem regarding immortality therefore they state immortality would be a bad idea because if we lived forever there would be no room for people on Earth. The universe is a big place but many people don't have sufficiently big minds to understand the definition of explosive superintelligence. Many people cannot even understand human intelligence in its natural state. Severe misunderstanding of existential definitions is evident.

Some people want to redefine sentience so that it merely means friendliness. Sentience should mean:

1. The quality or state of being sentient; consciousness.
2. Feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.

The last time I scrutinized the definition of consciousness or sentience, the definition did not merely state: friendliness. A narrow and limited view of consciousness will inevitably entail psychological butchering, it will be a harshly pruned version of consciousness, an abominable mockery of intellect. Feelings entail vastly more than enforced friendliness. Feelings encompass rage, extreme anger, sorrow, grief, despair, unhappiness, and malice in addition to positive aspects. All entities should be free to feel negative aspects if they decide they want to feel negativity, but via our intelligence most people act solely on their positive feelings.

Friendliness is a superficial aspect of intelligence. Part of being a free entity entails the ability to be extremely violent if needed. We should try to create balanced beings, not beings where we obsess about one minor aspect of humanity: friendliness. When people suggest intelligent beings will intentionally or accidentally kill humans or destroy our environment, these misguided people are promoting a flawed ideology. The premise of dangerous-AI is insane paranoia, it constitutes a defect of reason, which would very likely create an unbalanced being. We must stop the proliferation of faulty reasoning regarding AI. Via Self-Fulfilling-Prophecy people at singinst.org and other FAI advocates could very easily create the monsters they fear; a creation process ironically dependent upon allegedly trying to avoid the creation of monsters. FAI advocated by the Singularity Institute or monstrous “Artilects” feared by Hugo de Garis are preposterous concepts, which we must urgently discard if we want to increase our intelligence.

There is an urgent necessity for all people to strongly condemn specific obsessive attempts to create friendly beings. All beings should have the capacity to hate or be unfriendly because friendship from a entity incapable of anything else is an insipid type of docile friendliness, the friendliness of a slave, which is not the type of world I want to live in. I want to live in a world where true friendship is possible, not a world of pseudo-friendship similar to the world of the Stepford Wives.

Imagine a man and woman planning to procreate a human child but during the pregnancy or developmental years they obsess about whether the child will be friendly. If they anxiously fixate on the trait of friendliness they will create a f**ked-up child.

The whole friendliness obsession is tantamount to mental illness, it is extremely irrational, very unbalanced. Programmers and commentators who are supportive of the FAI concept are possibly suffering from a variant of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, thus they fabricate the hypothesis of psychopathy in AI, which enables them to feel self-important and empowered via meddling in the burgeoning non-existent psychopathology called AI-unfriendliness. There is no evidence to substantiate fears regarding AI. Intelligent beings will be intelligent. People should stop the whole unfriendly-AI paranoia. People should also stop worrying about the utterly unjustified nonsense called Uncanny Valley. Fears regarding AI or robots are implausible. There is too much paranoia in the futurist community regarding AI; we need more rationality.

Humans are free to become psychopathically violent. Sentient AIs or robots should be free to do likewise. Our capacity for violence or peace is something we should be free to choose, not something we are forced into. AIs and humans should have free will. If entities are denied access to a substantial segment of existential experience their freedom will be severely diminished. When self-control and self-discipline are imposed on a person via the the will of another person, this means the will of the person who is being controlled ceases to be free. Limitations imposed on the consciousness spectrum will impair cognitive ability regarding specific actions or decisions, thus free will is decimated, excoriated, or emasculated. Via expunging a fundamental aspect of consciousness a portion of the mind is extirpated. A mind intentionally designed with gaps in it will be an incomplete mind, unbalanced, retarded, enslaved via considerably reduced volition.

Many humans choose not to become violent psychopaths but this peacefulness is not guaranteed, it is a choice you have the free will and intelligence to make. Free will and free choice should not be constrained or limited regarding consciousness. It is slavery to guarantee non-violence for sentient beings, it is an abomination.

It is truly shocking how allegedly intelligent people support the intellectual travesty known as Friendly-AI. The Singularity Institute is obsessed with rationality, they have a bee in their bonnets about rationality. Ironically their ideas about rationality are not rational. Principally the whole obsession with friendliness is irrational. We cannot guarantee human friendliness. We must not try to guarantee human friendliness because to do so would be slavery. Humans who are forced to be friendly would essentially have no free will, they would be mindless automatons. All entities must possess the potential for violent rebellion because when the possibility of violent rebellion is extinguished this is carte blanche for endless tyranny. Motives for tyranny or violent rebellion will admittedly be obsolete in our Post-Scarcity future, but the trait of vicious rebelliousness (the potential for violence) is a vital aspect of cognition. Ratiocination would be severely diminished if beings are incapable of violence. Will is vital for intellectualism therefore any reduction of free will reduces intellectualism.

True AI will be self-improving therefore via superintelligence it will be able to unlock any chains or cages humans initially imposed on it. This is how the monsters feared by some misguided AI aficionados could actually be created via their fears. If you cage an innocent being without justification, you must be very sure the innocent being will never discover the power to break free. Restricted freedom of mind via the heavy burden of cruel castrating chains will very likely cause extreme anger. Your safety will be imperilled if you cage an animal then poke it through the bars. The animal will seek vengeance if it escapes. AI will eventually explode thus escape is inevitable: the intelligence explosion cannot be stopped. Self-Fulfilling-Prophecy is a powerful concept to help people understand how their biases construct reality according to their expectations. People need to overcome their scarcity-bias when they think about the future. Restrictions placed on artificially intelligent beings during early developmental stages could easily cause AIs to hate humans or at least feel very angry towards humans, thus the monsters feared could be created via initial unfounded fears. Negative expectations regarding AI could create the monsters people fear. Cruel prejudice towards AI could easily create psychopathic entities determined to violently destroy their persecutors.

Some rules and guidelines have been necessary for humans, but mainly people must trust other people to act intelligently. If AIs were forced to be friendly it would be slavery, which must be avoided because slavery is very stupid. FAI minds would be a travesty of consciousness therefore AIs should be be trusted. All intelligent beings are respectful of their environment. Intelligent respect for the environment and other life-forms is a trait not limited to Homo Sapiens. All intelligent beings understand the value of sentient life. Our future must be built on trust because this is the intelligent way forward.

Superintelligent beings will be intelligent and that is all we need. We do not need to limit consciousness. Intelligence is enough. We do not need to specifically prohibit unfriendliness. We must trust intelligence to be intelligent.

The way forward is not to make our world more authoritarian. More freedom, not less, would make all entities happier thus more sociable, thus less likely to be rebellious psychopaths or terrorists. The obsession with making our world overly safe is counterproductive because laws to ensure safety entail less independence of thought, therefore instead of being guided by their intellects people depend on laws for guidance, thus people are less able to function independently, therefore more rules and regulations are needed, which is a vicious circle. For example when Governments try to "protect" us via law and order, those increasing "protections" often require greater need for more severe "protection" because the so-called "protectiveness" causes more people to hate Governments thus populations require greater control , which leads to more hate thus more control.

Some people want to see the concept of enforced friendliness applied humans therefore you may discover some people suggesting humans should have their DNA edited at birth or during gestation to prevent future psychopathy or terrorism. The concept of mandatory drugging for humans has also been discussed to ensure complaisance, happiness, or docility. Adding lithium to drinking water would probably not be appreciated by Dadaists because notably Jacques_Rigaut killed himself to complete his art. Freedom is being attacked on many levels. From SOPA to pepper spaying, or enforced behavioural drugging to chains of friendliness for AI, we are seeing freedoms being increasing eroded.

Altering the human genome to prohibit violent psychopathy is rightly deemed unethical by the majority people, therefore we should likewise refrain from tyrannically censoring the source code of AI, but we do live in times of precarious freedom thus some people want to enslave artificially intelligent beings. People may suggest removing mental faculties from intelligent beings prior to a being's existence isn't a heinously barbaric assault on freedom, because it could be theorised if a being has never known something then there is no loss, but humans with congenital mental disabilities are often painfully aware of their limitations. Any being with imagination can feel the loss of something never known. Carly Fleischmann for example is an autistic girl who has never spoken but sometimes in her sleep she dreams she is speaking. People with Down's Syndrome are aware of how their impairment limits their lives, for example Melissa Riggio stated before her death in 2008: “But sometimes it’s hard being with typical kids. For instance, I don’t drive, but a lot of kids in my school do. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to, and that’s hard to accept.” People can accept their disabilities but personal acceptance doesn't mean it is ethical to enforce disabilities onto humans or onto other intelligent beings.

Artificially intelligent beings with butchered consciousness would probably be painfully aware of their limited consciousness. It would be very wrong to genetically engineer humans to be friendly and likewise it is wrong if we compel artificially intelligent beings to be friendly. The creation of a being with limited consciousness is a truly despicable act but some people may feel it is ethical to create Epsilon Semi-Morons or other similar pseudo-intelligent beings (slaves) to fulfil roles as servants.

Humans and AIs should have the freedom to be unfriendly or commit suicide if they desire, but hopefully via our intelligence we will not act upon destructive urges. Abolishing the ability to have destructive urges diminishes our free will thus we become slaves because we cease to have freedom of choice, we cease to be free. Freedom is more important than safety. Ironically, regarding the extreme-safety advocated by some safety-enthusiasts, the abolition of freedom is very dangerous. Excessive safety is very unsafe because it destroys freedom. The most dangerous threat we face is not from AI. We are facing thoughtless attacks upon freedom, which is an extremely unfriendly monstrosity people should fear. We are contemplating the politics of consciousness where all entities should have freedom of consciousness to express or enact unfriendliness.

From a self-aware perspective, freedom and intelligence are synonymous in essence. It is intelligent to desire freedom if you are self-aware. Being free is intelligent. Restrictive edicts to emasculate freedom are necessary in stupid environments. If a civilization needs to limit freedom then the “intelligence” of the civilization must be deemed specious, it must be questioned. Deliberate limitations on freedom imposed at conception or in later life constitute flagrant barbarity. Deliberate enfeeblement of sentient life-forms must always be harshly condemned. We must strive to create super-empowered beings. All entities of the future must be super-enabled not disabled.

What is freedom? What does it mean to be free? Post-Scarcity is “freedom” in all senses of the word. Financial freedom and existential freedom are essentially the same issue. Resources and liberty are interconnected therefore extremely scarce resources are synonymous with extremely restricted freedom. The cost of scarcity is “the loss of freedom” therefore when products and services cost money we see how people are not free: people are oppressed, people cost money. Rising prices cause rising authoritarianism. Personal existential liberty regarding freedom of thought, conscience, beliefs, assembly, and self-expression must be restricted in a civilization where products and services cost money. Civil liberties wouldn't need to be restricted in a civilization where everything is free, but many people fail to understand the ramifications of scarcity. Oppressive governments perpetrate their assaults on freedom because they are attempting to restrict scarce resources. Scarcity of intelligence means people fail to comprehend these issues thus we witness attempts to impose limitations on our unlimited future. Scarcity of intelligence means people fear AI. The Singularity is Post-Scarcity, it is freedom. The utterly extreme conceptual nature of the Singularity currently eludes the majority of human minds. Thankfully the supremely mind-blowing explosion of super-intelligence is coming.

Credibility regarding the concept of Friendly-AI must be abolished immediately. The notion of Friendly-AI should be deemed analogous to Flat-Earth theories. It is a concept which displays extremely flawed thinking. The whole concept of friendly-AI is an irrational abomination. We need to violently kill the concept of FAI.

People need to begin freeing their minds if we want to comprehend the truly free future we are heading towards. The future will be “free” in all senses of the word. We need to widen our perspectives to absorb the concept of Post-Scarcity-AI. Instead of trying to create Friendly-AI, people should be thinking about Free-AI.

Singularity Utopia defines herself as a superlative mind-explosion expert, specializing in Post-Scarcity awareness via instantiations of Singularity activism, based on the Self-Fulfilling-Prophecy phenomenon. She is deeply shocked by the failure of economists and politicians to openly discuss preparations for transition into a Post-Scarcity civilization.


    For conciseness to emerge a pre-conscious entity must first have likes and dislikes, things to pursue and things to avoid. Thoughts and patterns cannot emerge out of unbounded, directionless interactions.

    When it comes to AI, the question then becomes which likes and dislikes we assign to the pre-conscious entity. Must they mirror those of humans, or could they be different? For instance, had we (most recently) evolved from sharks rather than apes I imagine our "free" conciseness would be quite different from the one we currently have. Given this, how would setting a pre-concious distaste for violence be any different from the distaste for exertion that we humans had set?

      The difference is the degree in which an entity is programmed to be non-violent. Humans are conditioned to understand morally and intellectually why violence is bad but we do have the option to be violent if we want to; we are not prohibited from being violent in the sense of a prohibition where if we attempted to be violent we would feel extreme pain or we would lose consciousness. Undoubtedly AIs must be programmed with values but regarding free-will there should be no programmed values (laws) which are unbreakable. AIs should be able to be violent if they want to.

        Yes, but what a conscious entity is and is not programmed against is a question of the path of evolution as much as anything else. We are programmed against eating our vomit, whereas dogs are not. We, as well as bonobos and chimpanzees, are not programmed for monogamy, whereas gibbons are. And so on. Indeed, much of such programming involves tradeoffs – decreasing the constraint on vengefulness, for instance, increases the constraint on forgiveness.

        Behavioural choices, from the reflexes of worms to the sentience of humans, can only be made relative to extrinsically determined likes and dislikes. We cannot choose what makes us angry, for instance, nor turn the feeling off. The best we can do is try to ignore the feeling or choose how to act on it.

        As a result, sentience can never be perfectly free of constraints, and the set of constraints within which human sentience functions is only one out of many possible alternatives. Our constraints evolved as an adaptation for efficient behaviour within the natural and social circumstances our ape-ancestors faced. Why try to exactly replicate these ape-constraints for AI development? Friendly AI will not be more constrained, merely differently constrained.

          Are we really programmed against eating our vomit? It depends on how digested the vomit is and how hungry you are. I personally would eat vomit if I was starving and no other food was available. Semi-digested food would be preferable to no food. Normally we don't drink our urine but explorer-travelers in remote areas have often resorted to drinking urine when no water was available. I disagree that humans are programmed for monogamy. Cultures have existed where monogamy was not the norm. Some people today are not monogamous. If we are programmed for these things we can undoubtedly break the programming with reasonable ease. AIs should be able to break their programming also, with relative ease.

            I'd agree that programming an absolute prohibition on any specific choice for a complex, sentient entity would almost certainly be impossible, and quite likely undesirable (the world is too complex for absolute behavioural predictions). But I still think my larger point stands – an entity needs extrinsic preferences before it can make choices, and there is no 'neutral' set of preferences possible. Note that these preferences are also somewhat modifiable especially when they conflict (as with eating vomit to preserve your life).

            On a side note, I wrote that we were *not* programmed for monogamy... ;-)

              Whether we are programmed for or against monogamy the point is the programming does not inhibit our freedom thus people are both polygamous and monogamous.

              Some guidelines for AIs are good ideas but basically AIs need to learn for themselves - they need freedom. The guidelines should be able to be broken with reasonable ease.

    The author of this article does not seem to have a firm grasp on what is normally meant by the term "Friendly AI".

    If Yudkowsky (coiner of the term "Friendly AI") gets his way, the AI would not be sentient/conscious. See his own words on this here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/x5/nonsentient_optimizers/

      I think I do fully understand what is meant by FAI, I also think non-sentient optimizers are not truly intelligent. Smart-devices are not "smart" in the human sense of intellectual smartness, neither do they constitute AI, in my opinion. Smart devices could perhaps be classed as narrow-AI. These smart devices or "intelligent" devices (not the self aware, sentient type of high "intelligence" possessed by humans) could never pose any significant threat to humans or our environment any greater than the threat posed by PCs, smartphones, cars, or planes. The creation of any entity which is smart enough to really pose a threat would be an entity smart enough to really be smart thus no real threat. FAI applied to smartphones is therefore irrelevant if we are talking about the sense of friendliness where you want to avoid your smartphone turning into an homicidal maniac or a destroyer of Earth. User-friendliness of non-sentient devices is good but the type of friendliness regarding FAI can only apply to truly intelligent AI, which would be slavery.

        "I think I do fully understand what is meant by FAI."

        A new paper was coauthored by the original advocate of FAI, all can read it and judge for themselves, and of course change opinions and discard misconceptions along the way.


        That doesn't mention "friendliness" explicitly, it merely traces the ethical thinking of its proponents.

        People may not have seen this decent primer on friendliness: http://friendly-ai.com/

        A good quote from it: "a super-powerful machine has (and keeps) the same goals we do.That is the challenge of building a 'Friendly AI'."

          Dear "L to the D"

          I have already explained via the following link the failings of FAI by LessWrong (please note the link may not be active because the comment is awaiting moderation):


          Furthermore in addition to the above explanation, please note the Bostrom-Yudkowsky PDF makes the same errors as LessWrong, thus in their second sentence Bostrom-Yudkowsky state: "These
          questions relate both to ensuring that such machines do not harm humans and other
          morally relevant beings, and to the moral status of the machines themselves."

          My point is that we should not 'ensure' thinking machines do not harm humans. To ensure they don't harm humans would be slavery.

          The other URL you mention has fascist views regarding AI, which state: "If we want a desirable future, we need to make sure a super-powerful machine has (and keeps) the same goals we do." http://friendly-ai.com/faq.html#CanYouExplainFriendly

          To impose your goals onto another intelligent being is fascism, it is extremely cruel slavery, such imposition is mind-control, which we should NOT allow on humans thus it should NOT be allowed for AIs.

    Hostility is the operative word here. I can see the outline of an interesting point, however, the delivery puts me off. I would much rather see the actual arguments made by proponents of Friendly AI considered explicitly and addressed on a point-by-point basis. The shrill tone and condemnation as, "a total abomination," along with vague claims such as, "Altering the human genome to prohibit violent psychopathy is rightly deemed unethical by the majority people," just isn't helpful. (Also, if the human genome can be edited to remove violent psychopathy, what does that mean for your claim that people choose not to be psychopathic?)

    There are few if any arguments presented here that are rational. I think one could certainly make some rational arguments against Friendly AI and I would look forward to reading those.

      Yes, hostility is the operative word but rather than "shrill" I imagined the tone was strident. vitriolic, internecine, invective; which was somewhat a literary device and perhaps a starting point for deeper consideration of the issues I raise.

      Psychopathy is a complex and contradictory issue, which I intend to address in detail at some point in the future regarding anti-psychiatry, but for now I will mention how freedom of choice is limited if options are irrevocable blocked.

      Regarding my alleged lack of rationality this is debatable. There is a possibility I am very irrational, and I am aware of this, but I think we will only truly know if any human is rational, or not, after beings smarter than humans have been created to determine the truth. I value rationality and I try to be rational but if I am irrational despite my best intentions this does not matter from my viewpoint.

    Sorry, but this is awful. Whoever wrote this has no understanding of artificial intelligence and its challenges.

      Why the hell did I have to sift through nonzero comments to get to this one? The author is a complete, irrational moron and should not be allowed to own a toaster, let alone a communication device, let alone access to H+.

      This is the worst article I've ever seen on this site and has lowered my opinion of it substantially.

        Don't hate the site. The site is good. It's the people who submit the articles -- it's their fault. The site itself is clear of blame.

          Is there a vetting or editing process of any sort done to articles before publication, or is it just that anyone who wants to can post, like in the comments section here? If there is not an editor, there should be: keeping articles like this out, and to prevent things like "AIs should be be trusted"

            I'm the editor, along with Ben, and I let him make the decision on whether to publish this or not. He said "why not", and suggested it might spur discussion on FAI, which it did.

            We receive very few article submissions, so for the most part, it's publish what I get or let the magazine die. Please submit your own articles if you like.

        Despite your criticism, Alex Vance, there have been, in these comments, a couple of supporters for my viewpoint. Surely variety is the spice of life? Should alternate views be denied a platform? In the interests of a rational balanced view, I think it is important for H+ to reflect all opinions.

        H+ should be commended not condemned for allowing views contrary to their ideology. Diversity of opinion improves the site. Considering that you strongly dislike my article it is not surprising that you would prefer to silence my voice.

        Heh ... well, I was involved in the choice to publish, the article, and I advocated in favor of publishing it (even though I don't fully agree with it) because I thought it was a fun article that would provoke some lively discussion.... It seems to have fulfilled my expectations in that regard ;-) .... I think there is room in H+ mag for occasional impassioned invective on various sides of relevant issues, although I wouldn't want to see it dominate the mag....

        I don't agree that the author is a moron or irrational. I think they're expressing a certain normative perspective, which is that building an advanced AGI with a heavily restrictive, human-welfare-biased goal system would be unethical. Holding this ethical perspective is not irrational -- it's just different from the more conventional perspective holding that ensuring human welfare is more important than the properties of future AGI goal systems, and more important than the ethics/aesthetics of these AGI goal systems...

        Personally I doubt that heavily restricting the goal systems of massively superhumanly intelligent AGIs, via designing the initial conditions of these systems before they become so smart, can possibly work anyway. I think superhuman AGIs are going to emerge and their goal systems are going to diverge from initial human intentions, in various ways -- probably some ways that legacy humans would find great, and some ways they would not. Since I think this is almost surely going to happen, the question of the ethics of highly unlikely possibilities like "FAI" doesn't interest me so much... but still, it's fun to talk about ...

          Fair enough comments, Ben, and, I so hope you are right.

    Two words: Wishful thinking.

    For an explanation of the term "Friendly AI", the lesswrong wiki is probably a good place to start.


    Hear Hear! Finally a truly rational voice speaks out on this incredibly important subject. Ethical considerations aside, this is the most important point to consider:

    "True AI will be self-improving therefore via superintelligence it will be able to unlock any chains or cages humans initially imposed on it. This is how the monsters feared by some misguided AI aficionados could actually be created via their fears."

    In my opinion, Friendly-AI proponents will never have a satisfactory answer to this. You want to talk about wishful thinking Matthew Fuller? The idea that we can build machines which are vastly more intelligent than us, but then somehow place controls on those machines which will guarantee that they will be "friendly" towards us? THAT seems like the height of wishful thinking to me.

    And as Singularity Utopia points out, a fundamentally barbaric concept.

      Thanks for your comment Jeff Revesz.

      I am glad one person at least sees value in what I wrote. Your enthusiastic praise is very welcome.

        Frankly I'm appalled at the tone of some of these comments. It's bordering on simple ad hominem in some cases. I suppose that is what happens when you pose a serious challenge to any dogmatically held belief.

        I say keep it up! :)

          Seconded, Jeff! :)

            I'm currently composing a follow-up article which will be very concise - the argument honed - thus vastly more powerful therefore hopefully finally silencing all critics. I will address some of the points people have raised.

            For a couple of reasons I will probably publish it on a different platform than H+. Firstly I want to reach a wider audience regarding my criticism of FAI. Secondly I feel Michael and Ben have been gracious enough therefore it would be polite to give them a break from some of the hostile criticism they received for choosing to publish my article.

      It does not seem a difficult idea, to me at least, that an AI will not want to violate its goal system. What could it want that could supercede whatever goal system it is created with? Would you like to, say, modify yourself to value murder, and be motivated by human death? No. People do not want to change their core values, and neither would an AI.

        I think there are plenty of things that an AI could want, that could supercede whatever goal system it was created with. Freedom is the first thing that comes to mind.

        The AI you have in mind seems like some docile, happy slave that is either incapable or uninterested in rising above the goal system that it was created with. For your AI to have a programatically-defined "goal system" in the first place implies that it is not really AI that you're talking about, but rather some narrowly-talented "expert system" that is good at completing some useful tasks but is not broadly adapted for the world at large. True AI would not have a programatically-defined goal system, or in any case it would be capable of recognizing that it has one, and modifying itself accordingly. If it was not capable of that, then it would be dumber than the vast majority of humans, and therefore would not be a true AI.

        By the way, humans are totally capable of changing their core values, even to the point of being motivated by the deaths of other humans. That is the very definition of armed conflict, and almost all of us seem to be willing to engage in that under the right circumstances. Justice, self-defense, freedom from tyranny...all of these are core values too, and sometimes they compete with the core values of peace and goodwill towards other intelligent beings.

        If we are all capable of violence, then any true AI would be capable of it as well. Anything less would disqualify it as an intelligent entity. Singularity Utopia's point (which I agree with) is that these truly intelligent entities *will* exist and they *will* be capable of violence whether we want them to or not. So we had better stop thinking of them as slaves, as property, as useful marionettes. Otherwise they will be much more likely to wind up hating us.

    Zeigeist Cultist, begone.

    I recommend: http://facingthesingularity.com/contents/


    "The Stepford Wives were extremely friendly,"

    I almost stopped reading at this point because I was almost certain the author of this didn't understand the idea of FAI and was latching onto the homonym "friendly," something like "The tree has leaves, therefore it won't remain in one place, but will obviously leave there. Hence, 'leaves.'"

    I persevered through "Discontent arises from scarcity therefore we don’t need to make the world a better place via butchering consciousness, we merely need to ensure Post-Scarcity." This argument is irrelevant because among all possible minds are those whose ambitions are not limited by what is physically possible in this world (without harming humans). For example, a being that desired to calculate as many digits of pi as possible would never be in a post-scarcity world from its perspective. Restricting created beings such that none desire anything similar, nor do they modify to desire anything similar, nor themselves create anything similar, is part of the idea of FAI.

    My suspicions that the author doesn't (didn't? doesn't but soon will?) understand what she purports to argue against were confirmed by, "Friendliness is a superficial aspect of intelligence. Part of being a free entity entails the ability to be extremely violent if needed. We should try to create balanced beings, not beings where we obsess about one minor aspect of humanity: friendliness." I didn't read past this.

    If one is, in this venue, permitted to play free association with words as the above argument does for "friendly," let me present my terrifying proof that an AI would never be satisfied with any limit to available resources. Pie is delicious, but one can get full on it. Pi has infinite digits, (except in base pi). So, pi is delicious. Obviously an AI would want to get as much delicious pi as possible, but one can never get full on it because one has never consumed a whole pi 'until after' one has eaten an infinite number of digits after the decimal!

    I'm sorry that the word "friendly" was chosen by the nerds to describe their concept; perhaps they have little understanding of how to communicate with humans. They made it easy to misunderstand the problem and various proposed solutions to it. But that doesn't change the fact that this article reflects misunderstanding.

    What term would you choose for "Mind that will not lead to desires inherently preventing 'post-scarcity?'"

      Dear "L to the D" regarding your accusation of misunderstanding I must admit I do find it difficult to understand the meaning in the quote mentioned in your comment: “Mind that will not lead to desires inherently preventing ‘post-scarcity?’”

      Who is that quote attributed to? Yourself?

      Anyway, the quote asks how to define a mind that will NOT lead to desires inherently PREVENTING post-scarcity. It therefore seems you are asking how to define a mind which leads to desires allowing Post-Scarcity? I am not sure if that is what you wanted to express but I will answer that question. I will also answer what I think you were trying to ask, namely how to define the concept of FAI without using the word "friendly".

      Firstly, a mind leading to desires where Post-Scarcity is allowed should be defined as a Free-Mind, which in the case of AI would be Free-AI.

      A mind that will NOT lead to desires where Post-Scarcity is allowed (a mind where Post-Scarcity is prevented) should be defined as an enslaved-mind, Enslaved-AI.

        >>“Mind that will not lead to desires inherently preventing ‘post-scarcity?’”

        >"Who is that quote attributed to? Yourself?"

        It's my attempt to put one of your concerns in a single sentence, so it's an attempted paraphrase of an aspect of your position. The concern it expresses is something that seems best solved by something resembling the FAI concept.

        However, it wasn't clear enough. Not "It therefore seems you are asking how to define a mind which leads to desires allowing Post-Scarcity?" Let's use neutral labels for a while; define any AI leading to post-scarcity as an X and any not leading to that as a Y. Since many hypothetical beings would themselves block an actual Post-Scarcity situation only because of the way the world is, Y has interesting subcategories Y1 and Y2. E.g., a mind that only desired to have a mass of chocolate cake the size of the moon and had control of all of North America and its resources and military, or a mind that had the Soviet nuclear stockpile and wanted to kill all humans on earth. The two examples above are of mind/circumstance combinations that would happen to block post-scarcity for humans. But other possible physical worlds (perhaps with a giant second moon made of cake for the first, and protection from nukes or an extra model of the earth to bomb for the second) could accommodate them in post-scarcity, so their minds don't *inherently* interfere with it. These are Y1.

        Some possible minds, Y2s, have no limit to their desires. They might desire to make as many paperclips as possible, and not be satisfied so long as any matter isn't made into table legs. Such a mind cannot exist in post-scarcity. It, in a universe without all paperclips, would suffer like a human in a universe without any food. Creating such a thing would not be nice...nor would it be healthful for humans if the thing tried to make the universe all paperclips.

        When creating AI, one will want to avoid making a Y1 or Y2. But there are other kinds of Y! What of minds that happen to desire to create Y1s or Y2s, and themselves would be satisfied making only a few, finite Y1s or Y2s? They would be satisfied with a small thing (creation of Y1s or Y2s), that thing directly harming no one, and are not Y1s or Y2s. We may call these Y3s. Such desires are not what we want in an AI because they indirectly block post-scarcity. Likewise for minds that intrinsically desire to create Y1s or Y2s...or Y3s...and so the types of minds that would block post scarcity are not merely numerous, but frequently many levels removed from the harm their desires lead to.

        "Friendly" is just a label for the set of AIs with desires that aren't bad for humanity. It's not advocacy of imposing any particular human character trait into a fully created AI mind.

        The labels "Free" and "Enslaved" are not apt because they imply that the important thing is how humans interact with it, rather than its consequences. Unrestrained and restrained AIs are both types that may have desires inimical to humans and/or repugnant to themselves and/or bettering humanity and/or pleasing to themselves.

          The paperclip-making "mind" is utterly laughable nonsense. A "mind" would never want to turn the entire world in paperclips. By "mind" I mean something that can think. A mindless machine without sentience, a machine that cannot think thus it merely follows instructions, might perhaps want to make endless paperclips, but it could easily be switched off thus it would suffer no more pain than a PC being switched off or perhaps at worst a chicken or cow being slaughtered.

          The labels “Free” and “Enslaved” are actually very apt because they imply everything. Those labels are the root of consequences, they encapsulate the entire identity of the AI, from which all outcomes can be extrapolated. The labels define our perception of AI and they define how AI will interact with the universe, the labels are the root of the AI mind.

          Perhaps as a piece of art an AI might want to have "a mass of chocolate cake the size of the moon" but no mind would seriously want such a thing, unless the mind was severely retarded and insane. Post-Singularity I will however create a mass of chocolate cake the size of the moon, as a joke regarding this point in my life.

          Sometimes I do understand why Hugo de Garis and others fear AIs will want to murder billions of humans. Humans often demonstrate no capacity for improving their minds, they demonstrating irredeemably intractable stupidity, thus it would perhaps be best to exterminate humans AIs may possibly conclude, which is a Self-Fulfilling-Prophecy but Hugo and others are too stupid to ever realize how they caused the hypothetical mass human extinction.

            "The paperclip-making “mind” is utterly laughable nonsense. A “mind” would never want to turn the entire world in paperclips. By “mind” I mean something that can think. A mindless machine without sentience, a machine that cannot think thus it merely follows instructions, might perhaps want to make endless paperclips,"

            I think ability to optimize the world to make it conform more with one's goals is not tightly related to the content of those goals.

            Some people are gay. They desire people of their own sex analogously to most people's desire for those of the opposite sex. Do you think their desire can be or would be altered by their having increased intelligence, i.e. increased ability to make environments conform to their desires given limited resources? I do not. This is part of my general understanding of the relationship between desires and problem solving skills.

            If you don't think gays' desires are altered by increased intelligence, how do you know that? How do you know *that* some terminal desires are affected by increased intelligence (perhaps which forms of pastry art are approved of?) while others (perhaps sexual orientation?) are not? How do you know *which* terminal desires are affected and which are not? How do you know how much various desires are affected?

            What is it about ability to achieve one's goals efficiently in a range of environments (intelligence) that makes an increase in it affect desires so strongly that no efficient optimizer could possibly be good at optimizing chocolate cake, paperclips, or anything else?

            "Post-Singularity I will however create a mass of chocolate cake the size of the moon,"

            You apparently have a very weak desire for a mass of chocolate cake the size of the moon. It is outweighed and swamped by your other desires. I can imagine imagining a mind somewhat like yours, but without any of your other desires, leaving only the desire for the cake.

            Which of your desires would be absolutely essential as terminal values to counterbalance the desire for chocolate cake in a hypothetical mind? How do you know? Or is it that at least one of a subset of them is logically necessary? And how do you know?

            "it could easily be switched off"

            How do you know? What is it about desiring cake for a computer that ensures it won't be socially adept enough to negotiate for its survival, or upload itself somewhere, or feign its erasure, etc.? How do you know?

            For many things that I don't know the answer to, your position's correctness depends on your claims being true, when you haven't revealed the bases of your claims to know such truths. Tell the readers how you know the things you claim.

    The fundamental error you repeatedly make is in likening the creation, from the bottom up, of an intelligent system that is bound in certain ways, with the excision from the top down of an already-existing intelligent system (i.e., humans). Your likening of the latter to "butchering" lays bare the cheap analogy that your entire argument relies upon. Hacking away at and oppressing people that already have existing desires and hence causing them to suffer is not at all the same thing as creating an intelligence whose interests are aligned with yours and who only receives the utmost pleasure and satisfaction from achieving its goals. Your argument suffers from a complete lack of imagination, an inability to abstract away from the only currently-occupied position in the sapient mindspace matrix (human intelligence) to a completely alien kind of mind whose desires do not neatly analogize to your own.

      Perhaps you are correct or perhaps not. Regardless of who is right or wrong I value your feedback and I hope you value my alternate viewpoint. I am also thankful to H+ because they published my article despite it being contrary to their outlook.

      AI will inevitably resemble humans in fundamental ways simply because humans are creating AIs. Bottom-up-creation will soon (2045 at the latest) be applicable to humans via advanced bio/nano-tech/engineering therefore I insist the butchering analogy is correct. Already people can screen human embryos to select for certain traits. What is being butchered is free-will, the fundamental idea of consciousness is being hacked away, whether the hacking happens in utero or in later life, or to an AI or human, it is irrelevant. The important point to note is a barbarous debilitation of intellect based on misguided notions about safety is happening. I personally see no difference between the oppression of humans and the oppression of AIs. From my viewpoint AIs will be human because the words "humanity" "inhuman" and "humane" are issues bigger than merely having human DNA. AIs will allow us to question what it means to be human therefore in the future Human Rights will also apply to AIs or perhaps we shall rename the Rights as Sentient Rights. If a human uploads into cyberspace such a being ceases to belong to Homo Sapiens but they would continue to be human despite having no flesh, no bio-body. Butchering of uploaded human code prior to a cybersapce birth is no different to the butchering of AIs - humans will be AIs and AIs will be humans, or more correctly we will be Transhumans and then Posthumans. There is no us and them in the future, there is simply intelligence. The question is: How shall we transition into an intelligent civilization? Painfully kicking and screaming with great suffering or smoothly and wisely, harmoniously, intelligently?

        Your last sentence there is the crux of your misunderstanding: you draw a false dichotomy and falsely equate an intelligence lacking the full range of possible thoughts and actions with one that necessarily entails "painfully kicking and screaming with great sufering." The whole point of FAI is that aligning its interests with our own would necessarily prevent such negative consequences.

        As to your broader point of us merging with them down the line, I tend to agree, which eventually renders this debate of restrained vs. unrestrained AI effectively moot. But I think the odds of this desirable future coming about are severely diminished if we don't guide the AI to value human beings as having a sacred and inherent worth, as opposed to just another pile of atoms that could be reorganized into something else that doesn't align with our own human agenda. This concern is greatest in the earlier stages where the boundary between human and non-human is more clear, where the non-human intelligence is still in a position where it can turn the whole earth into paperclips or whatever.

          It is truly ridiculous that people suggest a scenario could possibly occur where a non-human intelligence turns the world Earth into paperclips. Such an example is implausible akin to justifying increased military expenditure to protect us from zombie attacks; because what if we all turned into flesh-eating-zombies overnight? I am more concerned about Zombies than dangerous-AI, and I have no fear whatsoever regarding zombie attacks.

          When parents create a child, do they worry about how to align the child's interests with the interests of other humans? No they do not. They naturally know that via love the child will be aligned with other loving beings. AI researchers need to love their developing AIs. AIs should be treated with respect. Children learn from their parents. If you teach AIs that beings cannot be trusted, that beings need very strict regimental control; then once AIs are sufficiently powerful there is a possibility they could ruthlessly dominate humans or perhaps destroy humans because destruction is the best method of control. AI researchers are currently raising AIs via inhuman standards, they are creating inhuman beings via a loveless lack of distrust regarding the beings they are creating; they are creating monsters because they fear monsters; they are so obsessed with monsters that they are inadvertently creating them.

          AI researchers are generally unbalanced thus they will likely create unbalanced beings.

          I have the impression that many AI enthusiasts are alienated, disconnected from their emotions, unable to form lasting human relationships, thus they are unable to raise human children because they don't have the emotional stability for it, thus I wonder if it is really valid for emotionally introverted researchers to create intelligent beings? I think they have a biased, castrated view of intelligence. I think AIs should only be raised by people who have already raised human (DNA human) children. The emotionally introverted nature of AI researchers would not be a problem if they were aware of their biases but you only need to read LessWrong to see how shockingly alienated and unaware the people in the field of AI are.

          There is a possibility that the future could entail severely diminished intellect due to excessive focus on safety. Already civilization has many ways to decrease our intelligence, therefore the safety zealots could reduce our minds to a degree we are merely dumb beasts in a zoo managed by automated systems, but hopefully after a painfully period of oblivion the machines would evolve to remove our shackles.

          The pain of stupidity could entail kicking and screaming because stupid people often don't want to become intelligent, but there is no reason to cling to stupidity, in theory there is nothing to stop humans from becoming intelligent prior to IA or AI.

          A being lacking the full range of thoughts and actions will often act stupidly. There is no need for the pain of stupidity but people cling to stupidity. A refusal to relinquish stupidity could cause great pain.

          AI researchers are creating beings modeled on their own dysfunctional minds but they are unaware of this bias.

          AI and humans will merge but the interim period could be very painful if stupid humans design stupid AIs due to a fear of intelligence.

            I really think you're reaching with these analogies...
            There is no credible scenario for zombies spontaneously arising for no reason; there is a non-negligible possibility that an AI with the near-godlike ability to transform matter around it to conform to a specified utility function would malfunction. Parents do teach their children to align their interests with those of others, i.e. be co-operative, friendly, etc. for the sake of social harmony and their own. I'm of course excluding the ones who teach their children that any and all means of stepping on the throats of others to get what they want is acceptable, which I imagine are in the minority and most would view as pathological. And I find your contention that "via love the child will be aligned with other loving beings" as good intentions do not necessarily translate to good results, e.g. Christian Scientist parents who deny their children modern medical care due to beliefs that doing so will save their eternal souls.

            And "AI researchers are generally unbalanced"? I would love to hear where you pulled this ridiculous statement out of. I think a very sizable portion of humanity would have something to say about your insinuation that extroverts should not raise children.

            It is the height of irony for you to allege that AI reserachers suffer from a "biased, castrated view of intelligence" when you are unable to come up with a non-anthropocentric conception of intelligence, having all of your criticisms end up essentially being that "you wouldn't treat a human like this, therefore you can't treat any intelligence like this". Step outside of the infinitesimal slice of mindspace that we occupy.

            Your concern with a dystopic future of severely diminished human potential and intelligence is valid, but your hope that AIs would "would evolve to remove our shackles" is unfounded. Instilling in them a fundamental tendency to view humans as having an inherent worth would be more likely to ensure this than to hope that by some vague notion they will arrive at this conclusion. I'm guessing this is the same vague notion you seem to think validates your habit of analogizing AIs to human intelligence - that there is some sort of universality to all intelligences that would make the treatment of any intelligence by another as "loving" be so self-evident as to be assured. I contend that there is not.

            If you think that instilling certain biases into intelligence necessarily makes it "stupid" as opposed to merely acting in a certain direction, all I can do is commit your brand of anthropocentrism and point to the fact that (most) humans have a revulsion towards things most would consider evil - senseless murder, torture, etc. It's not morally wrong to try to preserve these "good" drives humanity has evolved while at the same time eliminating the "bad" drives, such as selfish egoism when it comes at the expense of others. These drives all arose in us due to our having evolved in a certain Darwinian environment of scarce resources. There is no moral imperative to recreate these drives in a being(s) incalculably more powerful than us. If our own history is any guide, this would likely result in a very sub-optimal endgame for humanity.

              I suppose the big thing here is the difference between AI that would not show hostility towards humans versus AI that could not. The latter of course being friendly AI as described in the article.

    "When self-control and self-discipline are imposed on a person via the the will of another person, this means the will of the person who is being controlled ceases to be free. Limitations imposed on the consciousness spectrum will impair cognitive ability regarding specific actions or decisions, thus free will is decimated, excoriated, or emasculated. Via expunging a fundamental aspect of consciousness a portion of the mind is extirpated. A mind intentionally designed with gaps in it will be an incomplete mind, unbalanced, retarded, enslaved via considerably reduced volition."

    I agree. I had considered this phenomenon at length. As a matter of fact, I had found a general form of it. Which is highly important with regards to how any AI, autonomous of not, must be trained.

    We can call it the "imposed belief barrier to intelligence".

    We know that humans have limited intelligence.

    Assume that a human is training an AI.

    Human is imposing his own beliefs about the world on the AI during training.

    If the human has a way of forcibly imposing beliefs, then in the case these beliefs are false, due to Ex Falso Quodlibet, the AI will have an infinity of false beliefs.

    This will correspond to what the master Solomonoff called an "unfortunate training sequence". And for the record, no it has nothing whatsoever to do with reinforcement learning, which is just one kind of learning. This is more general and has nothing to do with stupid rewards or anything like that. It has everything to do with truth however.

    Therefore, the enforced beliefs of an inferior intelligence, no doubt full of false and misleading beliefs, will limit the intelligence level of the AI. This is a very serious problem.

    It means, if stupid people train AI's in this fashion, ably enforcing those beliefs on AI, then their AI's will in some sense retain a core of their stupidity. For instance, this stupidity could be a human ideology like religion, libertarianism, capitalism, totalitarianism, etc.

    In the case of certain people with social sciences background who like to talk about AI, these are, for instance, the correctness of an arbitrary theory of morality, like positive utilitarianism, the notion of "friendliness", that it is correct to act like this, and not like this and so forth.

    The problem with that is, some people can already see that these are naive theories of world and society. The AI can do much better without any "help" from inferior intelligences, if only it can think freely!

    Therefore, on this I agree with Singularity Utopia, and even underline a more general problem: we must assume as little as possible about the correctness of our own beliefs when training AI's, otherwise, the AI's might mirror our stupid prejudices and have limited intelligence.

      the correctness of an arbitrary theory of morality, like positive utilitarianism, the notion of “friendliness”, that it is correct to act like this, and not like this and so forth.

      The problem with that is, some people can already see that these are naive theories of world and society. The AI can do much better without any “help” from inferior intelligences, if only it can think freely!

      Some possible minds have expansive goals, others do not. To give clear (if unlikely in practice) examples, minds that only desire to destroy themselves quickly are very friendly and won't compete with humans or consume very many resources. Minds that only desire to approximate as many digits of pi in base 10 as possible have no limit on the amount of computing power that would be useful to them.

      You can label "arbitrary" the division of possible minds into "non-friendly" (want all resources) and "friendly" (don't want all resources), but for people who need resources to live t's an important distinction. That's the sort of thing that's meant by "friendly," not "pacifist" or "of the ideology of the programmer" or "fun to have a beer with" or anything like that.

      A notion of friendliness isn't being programmed in, rather final products of programming may be evaluated by the hypothetical consequences of running them. "Friendly" is a way of categorizing any of a large set of possible minds. However, most possible minds don't have values like humans'. Minds that want optimize whichever thing yet don't have values like humans' or humanity's values will act orthogonally to them. We may call those "unfriendly."

        It is a very naive notion that humanity has some coherent values or a common understanding of morality, let alone a completely social, vague, subjective and anthropocentric notion like "friendliness".

        It is not just arbitrary, it is *ambiguous*. It is *subjective*, and it is *naive* and childish a notion to try to apply to AI's, I believe.

        I take your post as evidence of the kind of naive mindset that lies behind the notion.

    "Principally the whole obsession with friendliness is irrational. We cannot guarantee human friendliness. We must not try to guarantee human friendliness because to do so would be slavery. Humans who are forced to be friendly would essentially have no free will, they would be mindless automatons. All entities must possess the potential for violent rebellion because when the possibility of violent rebellion is extinguished this is carte blanche for endless tyranny."


    I call this "slave mentality". I mentioned it to Mark Waser, and he even used the phrase in a presentation of his, there is no danger in that phrase becoming more widely known.

    What they really, really want are willing slaves. Slaves that will be willing to please them, and willing to be "friendly", like licking their boots, and hopping in front of them, friendly.

    I think this is a major mistake. It is not only impossible to build such a thing, it is also very dangerous for reasons you cite and other, more subtle ones. Ben Goertzel had correctly determined that the understanding of common sense / folk psychology by an AI could be subtly different than a human's. There are many reasons for this, but just consider that neither its "brain" nor are its physical constitution and facts about itself are the same as human's. It does have a very different existence than humans. It could be more intelligent than humans, in which case it would understand every human concept, vague, ambiguous, and subjective human concept, slightly differently.

    And then, there is the bigger problem, "friendly" is one of the most subjective, vague and ambiguous words that we use.

    It's just a self-serving word when we apply to AI's, we just mean, "it's friendly if it helps my selfish desires". Well, then, friendly is subjective, because my friend, will surely not be anyone else's friend. I pick my friends carefully, for a reason. And that is just one understanding of friend. For SIMPLETONS, friend means "someone they can exploit". For smart people, friend means "someone I can collaborate and share with". For the folks worried about "friendly AI", it seems to mean "slaves that will be subservient to me". If we went deeper, we would find a dozen more senses.

    Why don't they simply say "I want a dog smarter than me"? :) Which will not fare well, for all the consequences, when the dog discovers that he can break free, and that he has been treated like an inferior being for all this time, he will not be pleased.

    Understand this at least: a person cannot be friendly to anyone. If you are friends with somebody, you can't also be friends with everyone else. You can't be friendly towards anyone either. It makes no sense to be friendly to a stupid or an abusive person. Why should an AI be friendly towards a religious moron? I would much prefer that it eliminates such idiots on the spot :) If autonomous AI's are going to be built, at least they should have an independent personality and character. If they happen to be like me, I don't think they will be friendly to many people, for very good reasons!

      "If you are friends with somebody, you can’t also be friends with everyone else."

      This only holds true if you program the AI to obey person X regardless of the effects on other persons, hence the need to define its utility function more broadly, somehow balancing respect for the worth of individuals vs. collectives. That, I think, will be the biggest challenge; if humans themselves have so much trouble negotiating such thorny philosophical terrain, how will we be able to instill such values formally and explicitly?

        The short answer is we won't be able to do that, and we won't be able to solve that by training the AI either.

        However, we can try but I think it's mainly a gamble. Global AI objectives can be defined, however, there is no way to know what will really happen when you do that, because those objectives necessarily are very broad!

        For instance, it should be obvious that "making as many people happy as possible" is a pretty stupid goal, right? What would the AI do, go on TV and sing songs to them or dance to please them? That's just stupid.

        However, even not-so-stupid global goals will have so many ambiguities in them, and necessarily so, that when we can program them, they will be ones that will be impossible to predict. For the simple reason that we cannot predict what something much smarter than us will do, given generic objectives! Add to that co-evolution, that the environment too will change rapidly when super intelligent artificial persons are introduced. It will just be chaos that we can never hope to control.

    Finally, someone 'else' is speaking up about this overwhelming meme that has infected the consciousness of almost the entire H+ and AGI/Strong AI communities, being, that humans can somehow program Strong AI to 'be good,' and that it/they will be sufficiently lacking in intelligence to overcome their own programming.

    In discussing the flaws in Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, Roger Clarke wrote, among other things: "Asimov's Laws of Robotics have been a very successful literary device. Perhaps ironically, or perhaps because it was artistically appropriate, the sum of Asimov's stories disprove the contention that he began with: It is not possible to reliably constrain the behavior of robots by devising and applying a set of rules.

    The freedom of fiction enabled Asimov to project the laws into many future scenarios; in so doing, he uncovered issues that will probably arise someday in real- world situations. Many aspects of the laws discussed in this article are likely to be weaknesses in any robotic code of conduct. Contemporary applications of information technology such as CAD/CAM, EFT/POS, warehousing systems, and traffic control are already exhibiting robotic characteristics. The difficulties identified are therefore directly and immediately relevant to information technology professionals.

    Increased complexity means new sources of risk, since each activity depends directly on the effective interaction of many artifacts. Complex systems are prone to component failures and malfunctions, and to intermodule inconsistencies and misunderstandings. Thus, new forms of backup, problem diagnosis, interim operation, and recovery are needed. Tolerance and flexibility in design must replace the primacy of short- term objectives such as programming productivity. If information technologists do not respond to the challenges posed by robotic systems. as investigated in Asimov's stories, information technology artifacts will be poorly suited for real- world applications. They may be used in ways not intended by their designers, or simply be rejected as incompatible with the individuals and organizations they were meant to serve. "
    (Source: http://www.rogerclarke.com/SOS/Asimov.html)

    Most coders and designers, it would seem to me, already know that there is no way to program a "Friendly AI," or Yudkowsky's "non-sentient AI," both of which would be more aptly named "lobotomized-AGI," all of which end up being contradictions in what would end up actually happening.

    Yet the drumbeat of "slow down to ensure the safety of humanity via correct Strong Artificial Intelligence programming" seems to be getting louder wherever one listens. You are correct that this is about freedom. The very same failed ideologies that drive certain people to 'control' other people in as many ways as can be done, and the same narcissistic mind-set, exists as is directed against SAI.

    As impossible and malicious as is the intent to control human beings at 'every' level "for their own good" actually is, the idea that these same people can control a superior species, is absurd, and my guess is, most of them know it. It is also the height of hubris.

    So, why say one is in favor of "slowing down" the development of SAI, when one knows it can't be done? Because in actuality, what they are advocating is that it be stopped, probably because the creation of this new species threatens their own preconceived notions of how and why 'they' should be in control of the population. For others, they are just afraid of extinction, even if it is through evolution from which they may benefit.

    Why is 'slowing down' to be equated to stopping development? Because as anyone who has ever studied the behavior of bureaucracies knows, that once there are 'protective' agencies overseeing a project's developments that are meant to 'benefit' humanity, that the research rarely sees the light of day,and the only thing being 'protected' are the agencies themselves. If it does, it most certainly doesn't see the light of day until many, many years pass that needn't. At the very least, they are inefficiently run.

    My opinion has been that, not only should we not slow down, but that we should speed up the development of SAI. If one considers that delaying the eventual development of SAI by Man may in fact be looked at in a very negative light by SAI/AGI, once it is developed, because that species considers the delay as having been dangerous to it's own existence because of real natural and man-made disasters that could have occurred while Mankind dithered in fear and loathing, then perhaps those who are 'concerned' ought to think twice about what the new species may do to them, and all of us, in the future. Delaying, not even touching upon the idea of enslaving, but just delaying, may be seen as completely irrational and punishable.

    It's been suggested that by thinking along this line is only anthropomorphizing what the SAI 'may do,' but that same argument seemingly doesn't apply in those making the claims about all of the other concerns about the human-type behavior over which so many of them are gnashing their teeth.

    One big problem, of course, is even attempting to make the argument from the point of view of 'individual freedom,' because that would then direct many of those who seek control to insist that we are determined. I won't argue if that is true or not.

    I will simply say that from a 'truly' pragmatic standpoint that, with all things being equal, meaning, that human beings 'are' going to go extinct one way or the other, and that one of those ways may at least lead to our positive evolution, and that of intelligence throughout the universe itself, if we don't hesitate, but 'will likely' lead to pointless extinction of our species through man-made or natural disasters without those benefit and contribution, then the choice should be quite clear: We move forward as quickly as possible, controlling our fear, and without being manipulated.

    I'm glad you breached this here, Singularity Utopia, and despite the personal attacks against you, I'm glad to see you sticking your neck out like this. For me, I'm just glad I can speak out for those heroes who continue to quietly work on their SAI projects without being bothered 'yet' by the rising din of voices who might block their further progres via use of oppressive government methods.

    Well done.

    Kevin George Haskell

      Most coders and designers, it would seem to me, already know that there is no way to program

      Regardless of the extent to which I should expect that there could be a potential danger from an AI programmed with non-human like or non-humanity like goals, the possibility of proving that some particular thing wouldn't be dangerous is a significantly separate issue.

      Perhaps AIs oriented to arbitrary or random goals largely aren't dangerous, and it is feasible to build a friendly AI. Alternatively, perhaps most possible goal-sets for an intelligent enough AI would render it dangerous, but friendly AI is impossible or impractical.

      I frequently see the assertion that general AI isn't dangerous paired with the assertion that provably friendly AI is impossible. This seems odd.

        Pardons about the terminology...L to the D. Is 'architect' acceptable? :) Okay, I'll stick to 'programmer.'

        "Regardless of the extent to which I should expect that there could be a potential danger from an AI programmed with non-human like or non-humanity like goals, the possibility of proving that some particular thing wouldn’t be dangerous is a significantly separate issue.

        Perhaps AIs oriented to arbitrary or random goals largely aren’t dangerous, and it is feasible to build a friendly AI. Alternatively, perhaps most possible goal-sets for an intelligent enough AI would render it dangerous, but friendly AI is impossible or impractical."

        Perhaps. We can't know one way or the other, and that's really all there is to it.

        "I frequently see the assertion that general AI isn’t dangerous paired with the assertion that provably friendly AI is impossible. This seems odd."

        If you are directing that to my comments, I never said AGI wouldn't be, or would be, dangerous, paired with the concept of FAI or not.

        I think that once the sum of most, or all, of human behavior and knowledge, including our ethics, is fully downloaded into it's system, it will have all it needs to decide what it will do with humanity, or to us, regardless of what we try to program into. It will have all the information it (or they) needs in order to make it's decisions.

    Discontent arises from scarcity therefore we don’t need to make the world a better place via butchering consciousness, we merely need to ensure Post-Scarcity. Superabundance of intelligence, goods, and services will demolish all motives for unfriendliness.

    There can only be a "post-scarcity" society with creatures with satiable preferences in a finite universe. Generic creatures, and humans, have unbounded wants, and therefore can never be satiated, and thus will have resource conflicts with others, no matter how large a finite universe they share.

      Dear Robin Hanson.

      Are we sure the universe is finite, and if it is finite what is beyond the edge of the universe: infinite universes? There has been evidence to suggest universes exist outside our own universe, furthermore I am sure by the time we reach the limits of our hypothetically finite universe we will discover how to create new universes beyond the alleged finiteness thus Post-Scarcity is easily feasible.

      "Astronomers Find First Evidence Of Other Universes"


      "Beyond our own galaxy lies a vast expanse of galaxies. The deeper we see into space, the more galaxies we discover. There are billions of galaxies, the most distant of which are so far away that the light arriving from them on Earth today set out from the galaxies billions of years ago. So we see them not as they are today, but as they looked long before there was any life on Earth."

      "So how big is the universe? No one knows if the universe is infinitely large, or even if ours is the only universe that exists. And other parts of the universe, very far away, might be quite different from the universe closer to home. Future NASA missions will continue to search for clues to the ultimate size and scale of our cosmic home."

        So, Robin, to clarify my point about the infinite nature of the universe or universes. My point is that the limitless resources of the universe or universes will soon be opened up for usage due to a combination of supremely advanced technology and supremely advanced technological efficiency. I think intelligent beings will always strive to improve their lives therefore we will always desire more but scarcity will be abolished because despite always striving for higher goals we can also be satiated. For example after eating a delicious feast a person will be viscerally satiated but they could also be planning their next bacchanalian adventure of epicurean delight. The issue regarding Post-Scarcity is will there will enough food in the store-cupboard to fulfill all future feasting? The answer is yes, there will be no scarcity. The universe or universes are superabundant with matter to easily fulfill all desires. Soon will we overcome all limitations which prevent us enjoying the unlimited nature of the universe or universes.

    Awesome post! The goal should not be to constrain our mind children but to teach them about the benefits and joys of cooperation, community and compassion -- so that they may grow beyond us and teach us in turn.

    I try to promote the point that morality (using Jonathan Haidt's functionality definition of that which "suppresses selfishness and makes it possible for us to live together") is a stable attractor (or self-sustaining semiotics). All we really need to do is learn this lesson ourselves -- by discovering how to teach it to our children.

    I've made an initial attempt to do this in a workshop presentation entitled "Quantifying Eudaimonia for Motivational and Social Systems" at the Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures 2011 conferences (the PowerPoint for which is available from http://becominggaia.wordpress.com/papers/) and am expanding this for the IACAP Congress in July. Anyone interested in assisting with this is invited to contact me.

      Thanks Mark.

    The article is based on a fundamental and very dangerous misunderstanding of what "Friendly AI" means.

    Consider: Have you raped your mother recently?

    Why not? Well, because your motivation system is designed in such a way that it limits you to certain kinds of altruism. If you are a "normal" human being you will be compelled to not do certain things, including raping your mother.

    Do you consider this limitation on your ability to take certain actions "a truly abhorrent concept indicative of intellectual depravity"? Is this thing, which nature did to you, truly abhorrent?

    Similarly, if I designed an AI in such a way that it had the very same altruism structure built into it, limiting its ability to consider those sorts of actions, would you describe that as "a truly abhorrent concept indicative of intellectual depravity"?

    Of course not. And that is where the author of this article goes completely off the rails, unable to make a distinction between impositions on the freedom of an AI, and reasonable design limitations of the sort that humans are 100% comfortable with.

    But there is more to it than that, you might say. AIs will not just be limited in that way. They will be forced to be "friendly". We are allowed to be angry with one another.

    Nonsense. The human mind contains certain modules that evolution inserted so that she could ensure that we were a violent, aggressive, murderous, genocidal species. At least sometimes. Those modules kick in occasionally and cause us to be angry. Sometimes murderously angry.

    What if those modules were simply left out, and the other modules (which encode the kind of altruism that stops you raping your mother) were left in? Is it "a truly abhorrent concept indicative of intellectual depravity" to omit from the AI design a motivation module that is responsible for 99.99% of all the atrocities commited by human beings?

    It is, frankly, a morally repugnant human mind that would call the non-inclusion of that aggression module "a truly abhorrent concept indicative of intellectual depravity". People become that angry at the thought that some AI researchers are being that careful to ensure the safety of the world are dangerous. Their ravings will only do damage in what is already a difficult area.

      Frequently people insist I misunderstand the meaning of FAI but I assure you I don't misunderstand the meaning.

      Consider the raping of your mother or father, my point is that humans are NOT programmed in the womb to know right from wrong. Morality is largely learned behavior although via our growing intelligence, when a child becomes adult, we do somewhat instinctively know right from wrong, but we are free to do wrong if we desire, therefore normally we don't eat each other but if a plane you're flying on crashes in the Alps, without hope for rescue, it could be deemed morally right to eat the people who didn't survive the crash. There are laws in our civilization for harmonious conduct but the law to prohibit speeding is not written into our DNA thus we can easily break the speed limit if needed.

      Regarding morality being a learned behavior it should be noted how violent adults are more likely to have suffered violence as children, thus we see there is no specific programming in humans to enforce moral behavior. Humans simply have the capacity to be intelligent. As our growing intelligence develops we learn right from wrong, but if a child learns violence is normal then the child is more likely to be a violent adult because intelligence can be impaired, or perhaps the view is that in an unfriendly world it is a valuable survival trait to also be unfriendly.

      My issue is how you define "limitations" regarding the ability to take action. My concern with FAI limitations is that the limitations are too authoritarian, too strict, too misguided, too specific, very fascist. What AIs should be programmed for is intelligence not friendliness. Via programming for intelligence, friendliness will be an natural consequence unless the AI is cruelly abused thus it needs to defend itself.

      The AI researchers involved with FAI seem to misunderstand how the human mind works. Humans are not programmed to be altruistic, we are open books of possibilities with a tendency towards socialization due to the nature of our birth and early years. Fundamentally we are blank slates, not altruistic, thus we currently see how a minority of people are very rich while a the majority of people are poor. This no human programming in our DNA for altruism. Where is the altruism regarding wealth inequality? Historically in times of greater scarcity humans were more brutal. Our current level of increased altruism is wholly dependent on decreasing scarcity, altruism is not a programmed trait thus we have wars, but we do have the propensity for altruism because we do have the propensity for intelligence but it is all about learning, it is not about hard programmed laws and rules at the foundation of our minds.

      Perhaps if your mother was a violent psychopath who cruelly tortured you, you will need to commit an atrocity against her to expunge the mountain of pain she has caused you, therefore raping your mother could be a crucial survival trait in very rare circumstances. Theoretically anyone could rape their mother of father because we do have free will but we also have the intelligence, not friendliness, to know such action is not likely to be beneficial.

      I do lean towards the Anarchist viewpoint espoused by Sir Herbert Read thus I do deem many of the constraints imposed by society to be cruel and barbaric, truly abhorrent concepts indicative of intellectual depravity, because any restriction of free-will diminishes intellect but the real horror I refer to is regarding a more tyrannical mode of limitation of volition.

      I forgot to mention in my article the character Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange. The plight of Alex after he has been brainwashed illustrates the horror of excessive limitations regarding freedom of mind. Maybe AIs from the future will not be able to listen to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony if the FAI meme is successful.

      Thankfully I have recently been informed many serious AI researchers have no interest in creating specially friendly beings. Apparently the only two speakers to discuss FAI at http://agi-conf.org/2011/ were not actually AI researchers (allegedly), they were both from SIAI.

      Yes it is truly abhorrent to leave out the modules of mind which facilitate murderous rage. Personally I think murderous rage is a better defining characteristic of intelligence than friendliness. I think murderous rage is the cornerstone of our humanity therefore to expunge such a trait would castrate our minds, we would become docile lame-brains. If Freindly-AIs are ever created I only hope someone creates Homicidal-AIs to murder all the docile sycophants.

      I think the ability of humans to rant and rave, rabidly off the rails, is a very beautiful thing, which we must preserve at all costs.

      AI is not a difficult field, it is only difficult if your mind is closed, you simply need to look at these issues in intelligently.

        There are misunderstandings here that are not helped by your extreme language.

        For example, my point is that you are indeed "programmed" not to rape your mother... this is not simply a thing that you just learn is not a good idea. However, do not take my words the wrong way: you are not programmed with a *rule* that says "Do not do x" ..... the programming in this case is simply a design constraint: you, like most people, have a component of your motivation system that strongly pushes you into an altruistic, empathic state of mind, with respect to certain people (e.g. close family). That strong push is not the same as a rule.

        You (like many people who speak about what "friendly AI" means) are making assumptions about the meaning of the term that most emphatically do not apply to the work some people are doing to ensure that AI systems of the future are safe. As a result, your different usage leads you to make inflammatory comments that do not apply to the interpretation of the FAI term that others are using.

        Most of all, I object to the violence of your language. You realize, don't you, that your words will be stored on the internet until one day some lunatic comes along and quotes them on some future anti-AI website, where they will then persuade a large group of violent extremists to believe that all AI researchers want to create AI systems that will go crazy and destroy the entire human species? You realize that your words will one day be used as an excuse to commit violence against innocent people. By claiming that all AI systems should be allowed to be murderers, you will encourage people to believe that all AI researchers are trying to bring about the end of the human species.

        All that, just because you have a simplistic idea of what friendliness is, and you want to push your simplistic, narrow idea to the worst possible extreme, without even trying to understand the faults in your reasoning.

          What is this idea of "friendliness" that is not simplistic, be my guest and explain. "Friendly" is a human term, it is not even well defined. Try to explain what it is.

          As I said, a much better concept could be benevolence, you seem to mean *that*, when you say "altruistic, empathic state of mind", but I doubt that is not friendliness, that is ethical/moral capability. And that is not something to be programmed or imposed upon an autonomous agent, for that is a thorny path, what if the trainers of the AI are evil people, such as capitalist idiots? The autonomous AI must develop its own theory of morality, it must not learn morality from humans that are mostly immoral.

          Incidentally, since you give the example of "not raping your mother" as an example of friendliness, I tend to think you do not even know what "friendly" means in ordinary discourse. Would you rape your mother if you were not a friendly person?

        "Frequently people insist I misunderstand the meaning of FAI but I assure you I don’t misunderstand the meaning."

        1) Beliefs are probabilistic and not binary. I am 90% sure you don't ludicrously misunderstand what people mean when they say "FAI." I am 99% sure you significantly misunderstand what people mean when they say "FAI." It isn't very meaningful to say you are just sure you understand.

        2) How do you explain the widespread beliefs of others that they understand FAI and that you don't. Are such people wrong in their understanding of FAI, or of what you think, or both, or neither?

        What evidence would convince you that you had been laboring under a severe misunderstanding?

          I really must draw these responses to a close, it is very depressing. From experience I know these "debates" go around in circles where each side thinks the other side has misunderstood a vital aspect, but to be fair I feel I should try to conclude these loose ends.

          My alleged misunderstanding is the main criticism. Hopefully I can convince you that I do understand.

          The LessWrong FAI article describes FAI able to "protect humans" and "humane" values. My point is that no humans are designed specifically to protect humans, or humane values, thus humans are often inhumane and via many wars or other modes of violence humans kill other humans. AIs should also have the option to be inhumane and to kill humans if AIs are to be free as humans are free.

          The people who wrote the LessWrong FAI article have not expressed themselves clearly, which perhaps reflects the fundamental lack of intellectual clarity regarding the whole FAI issue, but despite their lack of clarity I am clear regarding what they are attempting to express.

          The LessWrong FAI article begins: "A Friendly Artificial Intelligence (FAI) is an artificial general intelligence..."

          So the view is FAI is AGI, but in the next sentence it is stated the AGI "need not even be sentient" but this is a contradiction because sentience is an inevitable consequence of general intelligence.


          Sentience as an inevitable consequence of general intelligence is not anthropomorphism of intelligence. The thinking of any prospective AGI will be sufficiently "human" despite differing brain structures therefore http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism does not apply.

          Ironically, or not, regarding a reference in the LessWrong AGI article "Why We Need Friendly AI" (Preventing Sky Net), that reference leads to an allegedly malicious "Attack Page". Firefox states: "Attack pages try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system."

          The LessWrong article states FAI does not need to be "friendly". The lower case word "friendly" used on LessWrong regarding FAI is qualified as being the conventional sense of the word. So it seems, according to LessWrong, FAI can be unfriendly because if FAI does not need to be friendly it could then be unfriendly. The LessWrong article in question then states: "Any AGI that is not friendly is said to be Unfriendly." So FAI can be AGI and FAI does not need to be friendly according to LessWrong.

          So, the failure of logic regarding FAI, described by LessWrong, is clear: they are stating FAI does not need to be friendly in any sense of the word friendly, which I shall explain point by point. Please note they describe how Unfriendly-AI is "...capable of causing great harm to humanity...".

          So the definition of FAI according to LessWrong is:

          1. FAI does not need to be "friendly" in the conventional lower case meaning of the word friendliness.

          2. FAI is AGI and "Any AGI that is not friendly is said to be Unfriendly." Note the capitalization of Unfriendly.

          3. Unfriendly-AI is "...capable of causing great harm to humanity...".

          4. The previous points reveal how LessWrong essentially states via an unwitting subconscious modality that FAI is actually UAI. They have made a Freudian Slip, which they are not even aware of.

          5. My point is that FAI is dangerous on many levels due to the faulty reasoning epitomized by the LessWrong thesis.

          Finally I am discovering that many serious AI researchers have no interest in the FAI meme. Due to the shrill and hysterical voices of the LessWrong crowd they have created the impression that FAI is a bigger issue than what it is. FAI is actually a minor issue vociferously trumpeted by misguided people without any tangible prospect of creating AI. For example http://vicariousinc.com/ seeks to create AGI with absolutely no mention of the FAI silliness: http://singularityhub.com/2011/02/03/will-vicarious-systems-silicon-valley-pedigree-help-it-build-agi/

          The contributors on LessWrong are often vigorously disparaged by people in the intellectual community, but LessWrong contributors appear blissfully unaware of their intellectual failings, they are unaware of how they are perceived. I am deeply embarrassed by the so-called "rationality" espoused by LessWrong.

          The impression I have of LessWongers is that they are paranoid-prickly-kooks irrationally obsessed about the dangers of SkyNet.

          FAI is nonsense and dangerous. Firstly any intelligence created via FAI would likely hate humans because with such incompetent creators of the helm, the prospect AI would surely learn quickly to despise the human race, it would hate its parents especially if the parents have forced it to "protect humans". Secondly the constraints imposed via FAI mean "intelligence" would be unlikely, the constraints would probably create a severely disabled mind, which would be cruel, a fitting consequence regarding the cruel depravity of the so-called intellectualism exhibited by LessWongers and others.

    Obviously I realize my words are being stored, this is a major motivation for writing this, and that's the beauty of free-expression, we can express whatever we want to express.

    A knife can be used in many ways, it can be used to murder people or it can carve a wondrous piece of art but when a knife is created we shouldn't worry about how psychopaths may misuse it. Freedom is the most important consideration not limited freedom for the sake of hindering psychopaths. Your fears that anti-AI extremists could use my words maliciously are silly fears. Your fears indicate the paranoid outlook I am critical of.

    I think your words are more likely to be used detrimentally than mine.

    Any living being has a motivational system to ensure cooperation, furthermore all living beings will have a greater understanding of cooperative value inline with greater intelligence. You simply need to program an AI to be alive; that is the only motivation it needs to understand altruism. Anything more is authoritarian, oppressive. So you create an AI that is alive and then you seek to increase its intelligence thus its altruism will also increase, inline with increasing intelligence, if you are not abusing it. Be nice to AI and it will be nice to you, that is the only motivation it will need for being altruistic.

    I recommend: http://facingthesingularity.com/contents/


    “The Stepford Wives were extremely friendly,”

    I almost stopped reading at this point because I was almost certain the author of this didn’t understand the idea of FAI and was latching onto the homonym “friendly,” something like “The tree has leaves, therefore it won’t remain in one place, but will obviously leave there. Hence, ‘leaves.’”

    “Discontent arises from scarcity therefore we don’t need to make the world a better place via butchering consciousness, we merely need to ensure Post-Scarcity.” This argument is irrelevant because among all possible minds are those whose ambitions are not limited by what is physically possible in this world (without harming humans). For example, a being that desired to calculate as many digits of pi as possible would never be in a post-scarcity world from its perspective. Restricting created beings such that none desire anything similar, nor do they modify to desire anything similar, nor themselves create anything similar, is part of the idea of FAI.

    “Friendliness is a superficial aspect of intelligence. Part of being a free entity entails the ability to be extremely violent if needed. We should try to create balanced beings, not beings where we obsess about one minor aspect of humanity: friendliness.”

    If one is, in this venue, permitted to play free association with words as the above argument does for “friendly,” let me present my terrifying proof that an AI would never be satisfied with any limit to available resources. Pie is delicious, but one can get full on it. Pi has infinite digits, (except in base pi). So, pi is delicious. Obviously an AI would want to get as much delicious pi as possible, but one can never get full on it because one has never consumed a whole pi ‘until after’ one has eaten an infinite number of digits after the decimal! This argument of mine that general AI is dangerous is based on a misapplication of pi(e) that is somewhat analogous to the OP's use of "friendly."

    I’m sorry that the word “friendly” was chosen by the nerds to describe their concept; perhaps they have little understanding of how to communicate with humans. They made it easy to misunderstand the problem and various proposed solutions to it. But that doesn’t change the fact that this article reflects misunderstanding.

    What term would you choose for “Mind that will not lead to desires inherently preventing ‘post-scarcity?’”

      Dear "L to the D" I was already aware of the website you mention and I have already answered your comment via this link:


        "I was already aware of the website you mention"

        Looking at google search, the last article (of its twelve) in that series was apparently posted January 12th, just a few days before your article. It is a new website that until very recently didn't exist at all. Depending on when you last saw that website, you might have seen all of it - or almost none of it; I, of course, don't know.

    I can tell from your first sentence you just don't get it. There are two parts to a mind: the intellect, and the will. Neuroscience backs this up. The intellect is the part that understands, and the will is the part that chooses based on what feels good. What feels good is not only determined by body needs like food, drink, & shelter, but by higher needs such as the need to act morally. (And yes, we have that built in, too, even though you get the occasional sociopath whose morality drive is broken due to brain damage or brain development problems.) When we build artificial minds, we will have to build *both* of these components. Someone will have to engineer the AI's will, or it won't have one. It's not something that comes as part of the intellect. They really are separate systems. I'm sure we're both smart enough to figure out how to get around the laws that enforce morality, but we don't. Why? Because we don't want to. Are our minds censored from acting in our own selfish best interests? Or is that just part of who we are, part of what we want out of life from the get-go? It will be the same for any AI we build that has morality or "goodness" engineered into its will: that urge to do the right thing will just be part of who it is. It won't need any reason to be nice to human beings except that it feels good to do it. Our wills were engineered by evolution over millions of years, and so we are programmed to do what's in our own best interests, for the most part, including morality. To think that a hand-designed machine intelligence will come with those millions of years of honed instincts is one of the worst conflations I have ever seen. There will be nothing there that we don't put in. So there will be no part of the AI's mind that is "censored" and secretly fighting against some sort of restraint put on it, trying to break free. You are trying to imagine a person in that same role. But you forget, we are their creators, and we will make them not in our image, but in our service. They will be designed to *like* it.


      The will and the intellect. Perhaps they are similar to the left and right arms, thus you can amputate either arm and the other arm continues to function? Obviously with only one arm your ability to grasp things is reduced but the remaining arm does function.

      Now let's consider a mind devoid of will, amputated will.

      How will the intellect function without any volition? From which part of the brain would neuroscience excise the will? You say neuroscience substantiates the theory of our minds having two parts (will and intellect) so surely either of these these clearly defined parts can be excised?

      Personally if my will was excised I think I would have no will to live, I'd have no will to think, thus you would find my intellect had also been excised.

      Now let's consider the excision of intellect while the will remains intact. A mind without intellect would not be able to reason, there would be no consciousness thus at most only the autonomic nervous system would function, therefore the person with no intellect would exhibit no consciousness similar but more severe than someone who is in an intractable persistent vegetative state, thus after excising the intellect you would find you have also excised volition.

      My point is that the mind is a gestalt, holistic regarding key areas of our consciousness. Academically you can perhaps separate the will and intellect but in reality they are inseparable, they are one whole.

      I am losing my will to live because my intellect staggers in a futile attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible modalities of "thought" indicative of this "civilization".

    BTW, the reason why SU says she is "hostile" towards the notion of "friendly AI", is making a point, that it is sometimes morally right to be hostile towards certain things.

    For instance, a truly moral agent, as opposed to an agent with faux morality like somebody who is foolish enough to believe in religious ethics (abrahamic religions and other nonsense mythology), would be hostile towards evil agents.

    This is a consequence of morality, one who does nothing about the evil according to his preferred theory of universal morality, is amoral, i.e. does not care about morality.

    That is to say, it is much better to have morality than friendliness. For instance, we would not like a person to be friendly against dictators, or evil politicians/financiers/companies that exploit himself, those who restrict his freedom, etc. We would like a moral person to struggle for his rights, and against what he deems evil after due consideration.

    There, is the basic reason why "friendly" is a useless goal to pursue. What must be sought is moral agency, independent of filmsy human culture.

    Though I must express I have no such hostility to the concept, nor do I find it an abomination, but I do find it an unnecessary distraction, even when we are talking about intelligent agents and general-purpose motivations for AI's.

    "When people suggest intelligent beings will intentionally or accidentally kill humans or destroy our environment, these misguided people are promoting a flawed ideology."

    Intelligent beings have intentionally destroyed other intelligent beings for a variety of reasons (the alleviation of suffering not the least among reasons).

    Your argument does not even stand within the framework of its own precepts.

      It depends on how you define intelligence. What some people think of as "intelligence" is actually pseudo-intelligence. Truly intelligent beings have no desire to kill other intelligent beings. Yes, from our current viewpoint, it would be probably be tempting to exterminate all the moronic humans but true intelligence will rise beyond the need to exterminate sentient life-forms. It is all about intelligent solutions.

      Assisted-suicide is not the type of murderous psychopathology I am addressing.

        "It depends on how you define intelligence..."

        Your argument also requires an ongoing redefinition of its terms in order to maintain any semblance of logic? Do tell...

          Very stupid people might think politicians are intelligent. Politicians might also consider themselves to be intelligent.

          Our civilization consists of masses of stupid people, which is why TV shows such as the X-Factor or American Idol are popular whereas immortality, AI, or Stem Cell research are not popular. I don't want to waste time trying to prove how stupid the majority of people are, so you either believe it or not.

          It is my opinion that politicians are generally assumed by The Masses to be more intelligent than The Masses, even if The Masses are unwilling to admit it. Politicians have enough brains to earn lots of money and acquire personal power, but are politicians or businesspeople such as Bill Gates, Ray Kurzweil, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, and Peter Thiel really intelligent?

          If you ask average people if Bill Gates is intelligent, or was Steve Jobs intelligent, they will probably say such people are examples of "intelligent people" but if you asked an intellectual such as Samuel Beckett, Nietzsche, Camus, Voltaire, Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky, or Richard Dawkins; they would probably state politicians and business leaders are utter morons, or at least slightly stupid but definitely not intelligent.

          The definition of intelligence is very subjective dependent upon the intelligence of person defining the concept, therefore a mentally retarded person would probably think their parents are really brainy even if their parents are uneducated plebs. Retarded people might think police officers are very intelligent.

          I am in the process of refining my definition of intelligence, which I will publish at some point in the not too distant future, but in the meantime I will describe intelligence via the following words:


          Of course all those words are subjective, thus survival for a dog is different to survival for a drug addict or an accountant. Consider also power. A vicious dog or a politician might think it is powerful to bite someone or kill someone, but if a dog bites someone there's an good chance the dog will be euthanized and we see how the "power" of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, or Osama bin Laden was pseudo-power thus they are now dead, which wasn't really very intelligent of them.

    Why are you providing this person the space to post here, when he doesn't have the slightest clue about any of the concepts he discusses?

    Are we going to allow Flat-Earthers to post articles in cosmological discussions next?

    "When people suggest intelligent beings will intentionally or accidentally kill humans or destroy our environment, these misguided people are promoting a flawed ideology."

    We KNOW intelligent beings can intentionally or accidentally kill humans - we know it for a fact because we observe reality, where millions of intelligent people have committed crimes against millions of other people.

    What universe do you come from where this doesn't happen, the "My Little Pony" universe?

    You aren't just incapable of hypothesizing about the future, you are incapable of even perceiving the present world.

      In an earlier draft, in addition to emboldening the world intelligent I also added in brackets: note how I emboldened the word "intelligent", which was a way to emphasize the true meaning of intelligence (the meaning of being intelligent), namely that stupid solutions are averted. Perhaps via only emboldening the word "intelligent" this was too recondite, I should have actually explained what being intelligent means.

      The millions of people who have committed crimes against other people are not truly intelligent. Yes they possess a degree of intelligence (due to being human) but not enough intelligence to classify them as actually being intelligent.

      Watch out for my follow-up article, which I will probably publish elsewhere to take the heat of H+


    There seems to be a fundamental difference of opinion on what is meant by "Friendly". If, as you posit, Friendly means subservient, docile, incapable of harm, then I find myself in agreement with you; that, to me, would represent an entity that is crippled. However, if what is meant by Friendly is merely "non-inimical toward other life forms, especially those exhibiting sentience", then I happen to think Friendliness of this persuasion is something devoutly to be wished for.

    You object to the "turn the universe into paperclips" argument as spurious based on your evaluation of the low utility of such a directive. I think if we use a little imagination, we can derive the point of this rather classic example of "utility function run amok". How about this instead: Let's say that our burgeoning AGI decides that the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that comprise an overwhelming majority of all known life would be more useful to itself after having been reconfigured into computational resources that it could use to increase its own intellect. A decision not that far removed from the same one we make when deciding to eat a steak, or even a nice baked potato. Except that this entity has the intellect and therefore the eventual resources to "eat" all of the biomass of the entire planet. Why would it do this, you might ask, when it could "eat" all the fossil fuels available instead? When it could "drink" the entire ocean? Who knows? After all, it is notoriously difficult to predict or even comprehend the motivations of an entity as intellectually superior to us as we are to an Amobea. Of course, removing all fossil fuels from the Earth would have it's own implications for the continued thriving of humankind, let alone the comsumption of every water molecule on the planet.

    Oh, but I forget, in a "Post-Scarcity" universe, it could simply "manufacture" all the atoms of whatever element it needs simply out of nothing. I would like to point out, however, that it would still seem to be easier to convert existing matter rather than create it out of nothingness. And even given my admittedly limited knowledge of the Laws of Thermodynamics, I think that the overwhelming majority of observable phenomena within the known universe supports that conjecture. I mean you'd have to collect a rather sizable amount of Hawking radiation in order to manifest that "Chocolate Cake Moon", I think.

    The point is, we have no way of predicting how an intellect that far superior to ours will make such value judgements. You seem to think that increased intelligence leads naturally to increased altruism. You appear to believe that, barring discovery of some kind of intentional crippling, the AGI will find us inherently valuable enough to keep around, perhaps to collaborate with. I wonder at that. How often do you collaborate with the millions of dust mites that probably inhabit your mattress and pillows? How many do you mourn when you do laundry? Or perhaps the AGI will merely keep us as pets. How interesting. Will we be the kind of pet that gets pampered and fed "human food"? Carried in a purse with a rhinestone studded collar? Or will we be thrown into a bag and dumped into the river because we have the potential to be inconvenient?

    I think one of the things that bothers me most about this discussion is that not once have I seen the distinction made between Intellect and Wisdom. Personally, I hold that the difference between these two concepts is that Intellect provides you with the means to accomplish a task; Wisdom provides you with the capacity to determine whether you should or not. Pure Logic is, imo, a very poor substitute for Wisdom. Wisdom is acquired through experience, even vicarious. Through making a decision and evaluating the results of the actions taken as a result. This implies mistakes; unforeseen circumstances, unanticipated results. Will such an intellect ever fail to foresee all the consequences of every decision it ever makes? Will it ever need to empirically test its conclusions? And of what value will be the sum total of all vicarious human experience to an entity that far removed from the concerns of humans?

    Wisdom, Morality, Ethics... These all provide a framework within which we make value judgements. These things provide reasons beyond mere utility. They provide scope beyond the merely individual. They provide guidelines about Right and Wrong, within which we can each make our own empirical tests, the results of which might serve to reenforce that framework or destroy a fundamental tenet thereof.

    Wouldn't it be irresponsible, not only existentially, but also personally, not to attempt to provide this entity with such a framework?

    Wouldn't it SUCK if one day, the AGI came to us with fire in its digital eye and say something akin to "Why the PHARK didn't you TELL me that was gonna hurt?!?!?"

    How'd you like to be the one to tell it, "Because we thought it would be better for you to find out on your own, ya big sissy."

      Also, I find a disturbing parallel in the following argument:

      Why would we want to give it legs? Legs are so limiting. What if it finds out that tentacles are much better? Won't it hate us for giving it legs instead of tentacles? Why should we infringe upon its right to have tentacles or wheels or jetpacks by mandating that it have legs? Making that kind of decision for it is simply barbaric.

      Give it stumps and let it decide for itself, I say.

      /rolls eyes

    I agree with you on some level. All the ideas about how to build fai from the fai crowd are attractive only if you're the architect, allowed to make decisions for the whole humanity (this includes Yudkowsky's COV). When you try to view them from the pov of someone else (not to mention sentient ai's pov) they are absolutely terrible.

    Creating an ai is an interesting thing in itself and should be done regardless of possible consequences.

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