This past weekend, I had the honor of presenting at a conference hosted by the Brighter Brains Institute and AGI Innovations, in Piedmont, California. The topic was Artificial Intelligence and the Singularity. There were many great speakers, and of course the panel discussions were lively and intelligent. The focus of my part in the day was to discuss how we might influence the morality of Artificial Intelligence.
The answer here seems very clear to me. The only way to influence the morality of anything is to be very clear about your own morality as a creator.
There are many ways to think, but all decisions, programs, and intelligence seem to come down to two very basic algorithms: Threat assessment and connection.
In the case of threat assessment, the thinker sees others in the world as a threat. What constitutes a threat varies from person to person, as it will also vary in computer applications. If you see the need to kill others in order to maintain the life you think you deserve, then kill you will. You’ll also probably invest in or create artificial intelligence to do the deed for you.
Needing to control others also falls in this algorithm of threat assessment. The other is seen as something to be manipulated for various reasons—perhaps to buy something, to believe something, or to vote for something. Again, why you need to control the other may vary, but you can be sure if you think in terms of control and manipulation, you’ll also invest in and create technologies to do it for you.
Regardless of how logically the machine thinks, it will be up to the designers, engineers and customers to give it a morality, which in this case is simply the way it’s used. Will you set it to help find the cure for cancer, or will you set it in a drone and have it hunt out your enemies?
The artificial intelligence, or technology, isn’t destructive. It’s the humans who design it use it that are destructive.
And what about connection? This is also an algorithm of thinking. In this paradigm, we seek to share resources and connect with others in order to be greater. Here’s where the AI in the cancer research lab joins forces sifting through data to help us find the solution. In this sphere AI can help a homemaker run his/her household, or organize data when planning a big event. It could even help guard against fraud in elections. It’s in the realm of connection that the Internet was born, bringing us closer than ever before in ways that were unimaginable just decades ago.
Let's hope that artificial intelligence is also born within the algorithm of connection, because I’m not sure humanity can withstand the technologies of threat assessment for much longer.