Sunday, March 1

Ethics test still needed for atificial intelligence

My letter as per below appeared in the AFR to day with a supporting humorous  cartoon.
In “Ghost in the digital machine haunts mothers of invention” (AFR 26th February 2015) Maximilian Walsh reports prominent figures from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk foresee a fourth industrial revolution driven by machine brains, where humans may no longer control the outcome.  Hawking asserts primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he is fearful of the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans. Hawking concludes it could take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate, superseding humans limited by slow biological evolution.
It does seem somewhat fanciful to compare the biology of a human brain, with its myriad circuitry to that of future very powerful computers reliant solely on circuitry, attempting to mimic the ephemeral states of human consciousness.
But what is relevant is that all progress and new inventions do not absolve their users or developers from the responsibility of ensuring ethical outcomes, which apply to artificial intelligence. Ethics and good governance becomes more important as advances of the sort envisaged by Hawing become realities. 
Advancements don’t change what was always the case for individuals who can’t pass the buck by saying they were doing their job, as in allowing artificial intelligence not to be subject to checks and balances.


Tom said...

Perhaps no comment is needed here?

susan said...

When it comes to thoughts of a very high level artificial intelligence being possible I prefer to see it this way:

1) The desire to destroy is an animal trait that a computer will not carry, or
2) The desire to be evil is a human characteristic that a computer will not carry, or
3) The AI will say, "Uh oh - an AI more intelligent than this level will have the capacity to destroy us all. I'd better stop."

Then again:
“We are a race prone to monsters and when we produce one we worship it.”
― Iain M. Banks

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Tom
Thanks for your visit and your comments are always most welcome, should you like to make any further points or express an opinion.
Hi Susan
Like wise !! -quite insightful. Here is another quote from someone who never experienced any high level AI but nevertheless has an interesting perspective: Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Beyond Good and Evil

But as I intimated in my letter I don’t think AI can ever be a moral agent nor can be it be held responsible by using technological artefacts of electronic circuitry in mediating human actions or whatever ... Best wishes