From: Durant Schoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Dec 13 2000 - 11:28:31 MST
(I probably need to send one of those [JOIN] emails...I guess I
should read the Low Beyond more thoroughly before posting, but
I'll just see what happens).
This problem crossed my mind when reading the "Revising a Friendly
When Subgoals Attack
Assumption: Supergoals issues subgoals which return results (or don't
complete and that's a different matter). These results
influence supergoal seeking behavior.
Observation: In modern human minds, these subgoals are often not
intelligent and do not constitute a sentience in and
of themselves. Thirst->drink->pick up glass of milk->...
Problem: A transhuman intelligence(*) will have a supergoal (or
supergoals) and might very likely find it practical to
issue sophisticated processes which solve subgoals.
So the problem is this: what would stop subgoals from
overthrowing supergoals. How might this happen? The subgoal
might determine that to satisfy the supergoal, a coup is
just the thing. Furthermore, the subgoal determines that to
successfully supplant the supergoal, the supergoal process
must not know that "overthrow" has become part the
subgoal's agenda. The subgoal might know or learn that its
results will influence the supergoal. The subgoal might
know of learn that it can influence other subgoals in
secret, so a conspiracy may form. Maybe not a lot of the
time, but maybe once every hundred billion years or so.
Conjecture: The supergoal's process must guard against this. But how?
It can't really copy itself and the state of the universe
to test every subgoal. The supergoal *might* try to
monitor every sub(n>1)goal to make sure that "overthrow"
never arises, but that's a HUGE efficiency penalty.
One can imagine that an evolutionary arms race will occur
between host (supergoal) and parasite/symbiont (subgoal)
involving secrecy and anti-deception tactics.
The supergoal, might take a probabilistic approach and
say, "Well, that's unlikey and I can stochastically
monitor subgoals with reasonable assurance that I won't
be overthrown". But maybe only a really paranoid AI will
Many animals exhibit a kind of social hierarchy. Groups
of weaker, well organized primates are known to
overthrow the alpha male on occasion (I hope I'm getting
this right, I don't have a reference). I'm wondering
what precautions a superintelligence can take against
this *ever* happening.
Overthrow: In the event of an overthrow, competition (for resources
and dominance) among peers of nearly equivalent
intelligence might begin in earnest. Because intellectual
arms races can happen exponentially, an early lead can
become a total victory (outsmarting the competition at
every turn), establishing a new supergoal monarchy. That
is, until the next time subgoals attack.
OR (feel free to comment on the likelihood of these
Balkanization of subgoals turn into multiple intelligence
collectives which are mutually non-impregnable. If
fission occurs in either of these, the smaller ones will
probably get eaten by the other big one, so the familar
two party system results.
The follow up questions are: How stable are any of these
situations? And can you ever really be 100% sure that an
overthrow never happens?
(*) please feel free to correct my terminology in public or private.
-- Durant. PS - Unfortunately I should be working, so please forgive delayed replies.
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