RE: Ben vs. Ben

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Jun 29 2002 - 18:22:49 MDT

Eli, I think if we were both looking at the same codebase, we'd have no
substantial disagreements here

But I am burnt out on this particular argument for the moment!

Given that all this stuff is bouncing around in my head now, I'll probably
write a new version of "Thoughts on Ai Morality" later this summer, and you
can beat the poop out of it then ;)

ben g

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2002 6:03 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Ben vs. Ben
> Ben Goertzel wrote:
> >
> > The difference of opinion between us seems to be that I think
> there will be
> > a moderately long phase in which we have an AGI system that:
> >
> > a) has an interesting degree of general intelligence, suitable for
> > experimenting with and learning about AGI
> >
> > b) has no chance of undergoing a hard takeoff
> >
> > You and Eliezer seem to assume that as soon as a system has an
> > at-all-significant degree of general intelligence, it's a
> nontrivial hard
> > takeoff risk. As if, say, a "digital dog" is going to solve the hard
> > computer/cognitive science problems of optimizing and improving its own
> > sourcecode!
> No, we think that it is worthwhile to prevent trivial existential risks.
> > I think we have confidence about different things. You and Eli
> seem to have
> > more optimism than me that simple hard-takeoff-prevention
> mechanisms will
> > work.
> No, we think that any simple mechanism that has a chance of working
> should be implemented. Not a certainty, a chance. You don't *need* a
> certainty for the mechanism to be a good idea. All you need is a
> *chance*. If there's a *chance* it will work, then you should do it.
> If you have a small chance of preventing a small chance of a very large
> disaster, then take it. It doesn't have to be a large chance of
> preventing a small chance of a very large disaster for us to think it's
> worthwhile. small * small * very large == worth doing
> > And I seem to have more confidence than you that there will be a
> > period of infrahuman AGI in which the risk of hard takeoff is
> very very very
> > very low, in which all sorts of things to do with computer
> consciousness,
> > hard takeoff prevention, intelligence measurement and AGI in
> general can be
> > studied.
> Ben, I also think that there's a period of infrahuman AGI in which the
> chance of hard takeoff is very very very very low, and in fact, as you
> recall, I don't think the Novamente described in your manuscript will be
> capable of doing a hard takeoff, ever. That's what I *think*. There
> are always surprises.
> > It seems to me that you guys don't really accept the diversity of human
> > ethical systems.
> It seems to me that we are thinking about ethics in fundamentally
> different ways. The diversity of human ethical systems is simply not
> relevant to what I am saying, and the fact that you keep bringing it up
> shows that I am not getting across.
> > It is not possible to teach Novababy a "universal human
> morality or ethics"
> > because no such thing exists.
> It is not your job or mine to produce such an ethics.
> > While I understand the need to temper my natural entrepreneurial,
> > risk-taking streak in these matters, I think your criticism is a bit too
> > strong here. You need to understand that my estimate of the current
> > existential risk of Novamente having a hard takeoff is really
> > infinitesimally small.
> So is mine. But I don't know what surprises are embedded in the space
> of self-modifying algorithms, and we have fundamentally different
> pictures of how a hard takeoff works. I don't know how the dominoes are
> spaced and I don't know which domino knocks over all the other dominoes.
> One innocent-looking algorithm might produce an algorithm that
> produced an algorithm that produced an algorithm et cetera. You would
> need a map of the entire fitness landscape to actually *know* that a
> hard takeoff wouldn't happen. I am not saying that Novamente might
> knock over much bigger dominoes than you think; I am saying that the
> dominoes might unexpectedly turn out to be all lined up. Just because I
> visualize an actual hard takeoff as occurring when an AI learns to
> solve, using general intelligence, the problem of designing cognitive
> systems and implementing code for it, does not mean that all hard
> takeoffs are constrained to occur in this way.
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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