Basics of Friendly AI

What is Friendly AI? From the glossary of Creating Friendly AI:

Friendly AI: 1: The field of study concerned with the production of human-benefiting, non-human-harming actions in Artificial Intelligence systems that have advanced to the point of making real-world plans in pursuit of goals. The term “Friendly AI” was chosen not to imply a particular internal solution, such as duplicating the human friendship instincts, but rather to embrace any set of external behaviors that a human would call “friendly”. In this sense, “Friendly AI” can be used as an umbrella term for multiple design methodologies. Usage: “The field of Friendly AI.”

2: An AI which was designed to be Friendly. Within the context of Creating Friendly AI, an AI having the architectural features and content described in this document. Usage: “A Friendly AI would have probabilistic supergoals.”

3: Friendly AI: An AI which is currently Friendly. See Friendliness. Usage: “The first AI to undergo a hard takeoff had better be a Friendly AI.”

And what, …

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Universcale, Dark Energy, and AI Ethics

This Universcale flash app is really impressive. I found the most interesting part around the micro/nanoscale. It includes data points on the very smallest electronics as well as organic molecules.

It was proposed recently that dark energy is just an illusion, caused by the relative difference in collapse speed of matter-dense areas of space relative to the voids. If this is true then it would be quite a fascinating discovery, letting us say that we actually understand 70% of the mass-energy of the universe. The remaining portion to explain would be dark matter. Despite their misleadingly similar names, the only thing that dark matter and dark energy have in common is that we don’t know where they come from. Both could be mere artifacts of our interpretations.

On Digg, every few days there is usually some article that hints about human-level artificial intelligence or robotics. The reactions are always twofold. Let me simply paste for a recent …

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Artificial Intelligence Within our Lifetime?

Kaj Sotala is a great guy who has done a lot for transhumanism. He sets an excellent example by donating $10 a month to CRN, Lifeboat, and SIAI, something you all should be doing. Now he steps up to the plate by writing an actual paper about AI, entitled, “Artificial intelligence within our lifetime? No idle speculation”. Here is the intro:

In recent years, some thinkers have raised the issue of a so-called “superintelligence” being developed within our lifetimes and radically revolutionizing society. A case has been made that once we have a human-equivalent artificial intelligence, it will soon develop to become much more intelligent than humans – with unpredictable results.

Often, people seem to have less trouble with the idea of machine superiority than with the idea of us actually developing an artificial intelligence within our lifetimes – to most people, true machine intelligence currently seems very remote. This text will attempt to argue that there are several different ways by which artificial intelligence may be …

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Can-Crushing Bionic Hand of Doom

A team of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT) claim to have developed the world’s first electromechanical prosthetic hand with a grip strong enough to crush an empty beverage can.

This bionic hand weighs a little more than 300 grams and has a grip strength of around 15 kg (33 lbs), which is about half that of the average adult male. The hand also features four quick, nimble fingers that take as little as 1 second to flex and extend. When used in combination with the hand’s opposable thumb, each finger can deftly pinch and pick up small objects of various shapes.

Researchers have long considered it a great challenge to design an electric prosthetic hand with a strong grip. Toru Omata, a graduate school professor at TIT, explains that until now, electromechanical hands have relied solely on motors for their grip. The secret to this bionic hand’s strong grip, he explains, is the system of pulleyed cables that run through the fingers and attach at the fingertips.

One day in the future, the proud owner of …

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Friendly AI Critical Failure Table

For those who haven’t seen it… the Friendly AI Critical Failure Table. Yes, it’s humor. Here’s a few for a taste:

6: Any spoken request is interpreted (literally) as a wish and granted, whether or not it was intended as one.

7: The entire human species is transported to a virtual world based on a random fantasy novel, TV show, or video game.

8: Subsequent events are determined by the “will of the majority”. The AI regards all animals, plants, and complex machines, in their current forms, as voting citizens.

9: The AI discovers that our universe is really an online webcomic in a higher dimension. The fourth wall is broken.

10: The AI behaves toward each person, not as that person wants the AI to behave, but in exactly the way that person expects the AI to behave.


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“Evolution by Choice”, by Mitchell Howe

Across every continent and throughout every ocean, evolution has woven living tapestries of awesome complexity and beauty. In perhaps the most exquisite motif of all, evolution has even given rise to minds able to recognize and appreciate this beauty. But the artistry we observe should not be confused with determined craftsmanship, for evolution does not create any blueprints or write any recipes before laboring. It sounds like an incorrect answer given by a sassy teenager on a test, but evolution by natural selection is, in reality, just a bunch of stuff that happens.

Because it is a non-intelligent process – the unavoidable reality that conditions will always favor some designs over others – evolution by natural selection has to break many, many eggs in order to make an omelet. When we marvel at the swiftness of the cheetah, we do not see the billions of ancestral cousins that weren’t quite fast enough. When we delight in the vibrant plumage of many birds, we do not see the loveless flocks of bachelors that weren’t quite attractive enough.

Modern humans share a …

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Relative Advantages of AI and Human Brains

Advantages of computer programs over humans, which some might call, “why we use computers at all”:

More design freedom, including ease of modification and duplication; the capability to debug, re-boot, backup and attempt numerous designs. The ability to perform complex tasks without making human-type mistakes, such as mistakes caused by lack of focus, energy, attention or memory. The ability to perform extended tasks at greater serial speeds than conscious human thought or neurons, which perform approx. 200 calculations per second. Computing chips (~2 GHz) presently have a 10 million to one speed advantage over our neurons. The in principle capacity to function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The human brain cannot be duplicated or “re-booted,” and has already achieved “optimization” through design by evolution, making it difficult to further improve. The human brain does not physically integrate well, externally or internally, with contemporary hardware and software. The non-existence of “boredom” when performing repetitive tasks.

Advantages of human brains over hypothetical AIs:

Present AIs lack human general intelligence and multiple years of real-world …

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Hijacking Nanotechnology Terminology Again?

In the early 80s, and the great scientist and engineer Eric Drexler came up with the term “nanotechnology” to describe a manufacturing technology that builds products from the atoms up. Around the turn of the century, the term was hijacked to mean anything involving nanometer-scale features, like modern computer chips. Technically, this means you could use the word “nanotechnology” to mean anything, because practically everything has nanoscale features that play a role in its overall properties. The result is that the original meaning of the word “nanotechnology” went kaput, and nanotech enthusiasts had to start saying “molecular nanotechnology” or “molecular manufacturing” to refer to what they were talking about.

Around 2001 or so, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology started using the term “nanofactories” to describe desktop molecular manufacturing units. Now it seems like a group of researchers is attempting to hijack this word too, even though I’m sure they well know that the word already has an established meaning. From

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Nifty Nuclear Blast Maps

That’s what the radius of destruction would look like if a 10 kT nuke were detonated on top of my house! Put in your own zip code, and see how bad it would be for you.

I found this page by following a link from NTI, the global security organization founded by Ted Turner. Warren Buffet is another billionaire who supports NTI and encourages his shareholders to read books and watch films about the threat of nuclear terrorism.

You can order a free DVD of Last Best Chance, a film warning against nuclear terrorism, by visiting here.

Another blast calculator can be found at this URL.

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Toroidal Colony

The pictured colony is certainly a big one. Kalpana One is currently my favorite space colony design, in terms of relative feasibility and usefulness. One might ask, “what’s the point of spending tons of money on building a space colony when Friendly AI could build us one for free, and when unFriendly AI could easily take down such a colony?” The reasons are, 1) governments will spend money on space colonization whether we want them to or not, so we might as well keep an eye on the field, 2) space colonies are an insurance policy against pre-AI disasters, 3) the prospect is inspiring in general, and even if such colonies are never produced en masse in the real world, they’ll still be featured in the fictional worlds we choose to inhabit.

The pictured colony looks really, really huge. Probably would weigh trillions of tons. Seems to be about 50km across at the torus, maybe 1000km across total.

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