Re: [sl4] Universal versus 'local' Friendliness

From: Eric Burton (
Date: Sun Mar 13 2011 - 13:23:07 MDT

Where is the Less Wrong list

On Sat, Mar 12, 2011 at 3:47 PM, Mark Waser <> wrote:

> Once again, cross-posted to my blog ( as
> well.
> In reply to Tim Freeman’s reply about Universal vs. local Friendliness,
> Amon Zero said
> I imagined a universally Friendly AI to be some kind of Buddhist (Friendly
> to everything, erring on the side of caution – which sounds crippling to
> me).
> I’d like to explain why that is not the case and why universal benevolence
> is a better choice for both an entity and anyone it encounters.
> As I explained in my second presentation at AGI-10 (Does a “Lovely” Have A
> Slave Mentality — Powerpoint here<>,
> wish they’d post the video [image: ;-)] ), showing benevolence (good will)
> does not imply pacifism. Quite the opposite, in fact. Being benevolent
> merely means practicing optimistic tit-for-tat with a wide view of self.
> Any other benevolent entity is treated as distant self (think similar to
> offspring) with all the inherent benefits, including protection. On the
> other hand, any non-benevolent entities will be met with altruistic
> punishment in order to convince them that benevolence is the only rational
> path (exactly as parents punish children). And, if push comes to shove and
> it comes down to a choice between allowing a malevolent to enslave and/or
> destroy a benevolent entity, being benevolent means destroying the
> non-benevolent.
> Benevolence is symmetrical and egalitarian and thus, can be universalized.
> Intelligent benevolence/altruism will virtually always lead to resource
> savings and increased capability for the community as a whole which will
> almost inevitably ultimately lead back to advantages for the altruist.
> Selfishness (defined as taking community-negative-sum actions that are
> positive-sum for oneself) really only works when one has a limited lifespan,
> doesn’t care about anyone else (including offspring), and cheats *
> significantly* better than everyone else. When most entities cheat
> relatively equally, its called the tragedy of the commons and everybody
> loses.
> Proponents of so-called “Friendly AI” are afraid that an unFriendly AI will
> be able to cheat significantly better and won’t care about anyone else but
> won’t take into account either the huge instrumental advantages of
> cooperation and cooperative partners or the fact that you never can be sure
> that there isn’t a more powerful benevolent entity out there that will take
> great exception to the severe abuse of other. Worse, “Friendly AI” is
> actually human-selfish AI and both its creation and its subsequent actions
> will count against us should a more powerful benevolent entity appear.
> Benevolence is not necessarily the absolute *best* path under all
> circumstances but it is more than likely to be the best path under many
> circumstances and a very good path with friends and companions in the vast
> majority of the rest. Selfishness certainly won’t be an average path. It
> will either be very successful but lonely or unsuccessful in the long run.
> Eliezer Yudkowsky and the SIAI have created their own “personal” demon by
> insisting that an AI must optimize a single unchanging goal. Humans
> certainly don’t work that way. Humans have been “designed” by evolution to
> have, *so far*, ever-increasing intrinsic preferences for social and
> benevolent actions. And, since integrity (internally, with your community,
> and within the community itself) is instrumentally useful, this is ceteris
> paribus highly unlikely to change.
> Indeed, it is only when a goal is valued above integrity with others that
> an entity becomes selfish and dangerous. I have said previously that the
> Kantian Categorical Imperative of “Cooperate!” would make a good top-level
> goal. After hearing too many SIAI advocates talking about *enforced*
> cooperation, I’m almost starting to prefer the opaque and wordier “Become
> one with all while remaining diverse”. And Yudkowsky himself has written
> excellent *fiction* <> which
> shows what might happen when universal conformity is forcibly imposed and
> makes you wonder why he proposes the things he does.
> Instead of focusing on intelligence and fulfillment of “the best” goal(s),
> we need to focus on wisdom and choosing those goals that will not cause
> strife, inefficiency, and thus unhappiness. The best is the enemy of the
> good and the good enough and is extremely subject to the question of “The
> best for what (or, more importantly, for*whom*)?” Universal benevolence
> gives everybody a chance and does not ignore the huge advantages of synergy
> and friendly diversity the way that “Friendliness” does.
> Choosing any form of selfish “Friendliness” (local or universal) over
> Benevolence is a huge mistake and could cost us *everything*.

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