RE: Major Public AI Backlash Inevitable.

Rob Harris Cen-IT (
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 13:33:17 +0100

> I hate relying on human stupidity, but in this case I think we're fairly
> safe. Unless AI starts depriving people of jobs, or becomes available
> at the local supermarket, there isn't going to be a GM-type scare.
You say this as if the GM scare has foundation. It's technophobes, plain and simple, focussing their puny minds upon one emotionally-charged word "cloning" or maybe the conjunction of "genetic" and "modification". "Tinkering with life", the popular meaningless reaction to such a term. The same moronic zombies have shat it at every new tech leap, so they certainly won't stop at AI - it'll be "they'll take over the world" and shit. In fact, I've heard this sentiment expressed by many otherwise intelligent people in the past. "we'll have to implant morals/a prime directive" or whatever. They can't seem to grasp the fact that you have to build systems to have goals. The reason that humans are seemingly unstable and often malevolent is due to the way we work. Our goals are not in line with many of the tasks we allocate to others, or ourselves. Our prime directive is to survive and reproduce. If you task someone with a job, and they instead turn against you, and do something else, it's not because they've gone wrong, or are "evil" or some shit, they've just found a closer to optimal solution to their driving goals, and it doesn't include you benefitting at all. Of course, people love to glorify themselves, and the species - "we've got FREE WILL" or some other awful dross, which of course implies either no goals, which would result in an inactive non-system, or infinite goals and possibilities, which we ourselves select - which clearly is not the case, since this is a paradox - what criteria do we use to select these goals ? After all, when have any of you been able to decide what impulses you will have next, or whether or not you'll make a pin prick hurt. You don't. They come to you, and you act accordingly. All we have to do to avoid "Terminator 2" style scenarios is not build systems with goals like "survive at ALL costs", or "accumulate as many resources as possible, at any cost" - like genetic beings. They won't spontaneously decide to do something else, unless this something else is in line with their goals. So make their goals specific - as we will - you can't make a functioning AI any other way - if there're no goals for the system, what constitutes "functioning"?

> It's actually a lot harder to get people excited over the end of the world
> then it is to get them excited about an evil hamburger.
That's because end-of-the-world prophecies are just that - superstitious prophecies. Salmonella or something in MacD's burgers is a real threat - mundane, but real all the same.

> Or at least, I *would* suggest that, if it weren't lying. From an
> ethical standpoint, I would feel better if people took an interest in
> their own destiny, even if it was the wrong interest. It's your world
> too, humanity! If you believe AI is wrong, then stand up and fight!
> I'm tired of being the only one who cares!
The last thing we want is more fulfilment of irrational primal urges to rant and rave about some pointless cause or another, just to seem "passionate" or something (a trait that is sexually and socially desirable) AI is "wrong?". You forget that this absolute "right" and "wrong" thing is an almost exclusively American authoritarian control paradigm designed for deeply stupid people that need to see everything in black and white. It also gives such people the opportunity to be argumentative and self-righteous without any effort given to thought. I point to those "I'm right and you're wrong" battle shows to back me up.

> In the end, humanity's strength of will and mind may be more important
> than whose side anyone is on. If there are going to be anti-AI
> arguments, then let's do everything we can to supply them with the
> factual information they need to develop those arguments; raise the
> level of debate so that facts win out.
I think the prospect of Joe Public bothering to actually THINK about the "opinions" they express for once is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. They'll cling to some single, logically meaningless statement like "AI is unethical" and repeat it and repeat it, until rational people get pissed off with it, go away, and from a primal dominance perspective, Joe would have "won", reaping the reward they were after in the first place, a feeling of superiority. They're really not interested in the facts, or arriving at solutions to problems - just winning "I'm right, you're wrong" battles, on the whole. This is the point of failure to democracy as it is currently implemented, and why mass advertising as such a dramatic effect upon results.

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