Re: [sl4] prove your source code

From: Rolf Nelson (
Date: Sun Oct 05 2008 - 20:07:38 MDT

A belated response to an interesting thread:

On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 3:14 PM, Wei Dai <> wrote:

> Putting aside the issue of superrationality for now, I wonder if anyone
> else finds it plausible that two dissimilar SIs can know each other's source
> code. If we assume that they start out without such knowledge, but each
> wants the other gain it, what can they do? Can one SI prove to another what
> its source code is? Or, is there some other argument for why SIs might know
> each other's source code (beyond "we don't know what SIs might be capable
> of, so we can't rule it out")?

I don't have a certain answer. You have a prover agent P who's trying to
prove to an observer agent O that P's source code has goal G. To be more
precise, O and P each start controlling their own region of space. P wants
to prove that P's region of space is controlled by an agent that wants to
achieve G.

Maybe O asks to send a set of probes into P's space that will "sample"
random regions of P's spacetime and confirm that they're occupied by mini
AGI's that are actively enforcing G. O would worry that P might rewrite the
probes with "everything checks out great" data before allowing the probes to
return to O, so O would have to somehow ensure that the probes' integrity is
maintained while outside the space that O controls. Perhaps the probes could
contain a secret key that self-destructs (is impossible to read) if the
probe is tampered with; if a probe comes back without the same secret key
then O would know P destroyed the probe and constructed a fake copy loaded
with false observations. Not sure how you could create such a probe; maybe
quantum no-cloning theorems could be of assistance in constructing it.

If there is a benefit to smuggling weaponry into your rival's space, then P
might want to audit that the probes are harmless before allowing them into
his space. That part seems easier; even if there isn't a way to scan a probe
for weaponry without threatening its secret, probably you could still use
fancy cryptographic tricks so that P can scan and blow up probes #5, 6, and
17, and then prove afterwards to O that P's decision to blow up those
particular probes was pre-determined, and therefore that those probes
weren't blown up because those particular probes stumbled upon Something
They Weren't Supposed To See.

Once O verifies that X percent of P's space is filled with G-friendly
nano-AI's, then O probably won't worry that some anti-G time-bomb is hiding
in some corner of P's space, since the rest of the G-friendly mini-AI's
wouldn't *want* such a time bomb to continue existing and would search for
and destroy such a time bomb if there was a chance of it existing.


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