Will Robots Dream of Electric Anythings?


Today Paul Waldman interviews James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era. I thought this was an interesting assertion:

Furthermore, at an advanced level, as I write in Our Final Invention, citing the work of AI-maker and theorist Steve Omohundro, artificial intelligence will have drives much like our own, including self-protection and resource acquisition. It will want to achieve its goals and marshal sufficient resources to do so. It will want to avoid being turned off. When its goals collide with ours it will have no basis for valuing our goals, and use whatever means are at its disposal for achieving its goals.

But why? Animals have these drives because we evolved them. In the biological world, these are extremely survival-adaptive traits, and species that have them will outbreed species that don’t. But they have nothing to do with intelligence or consciousness. They’re mindless drives that we possess for no reason except that all of our ancestors possessed them and then passed them down to us.

Intelligent machines might end up having these drives, but then again, they might not. There’s no special reason that an AI construct would be especially curious, or fearful of death, or expansion-minded, or any of the other things we almost automatically associate with intelligence. Intelligent machines might not care one way or the other if they’re shut off. They might not want more resources. They might not care about running the world. All of these mindless drives that so dominate biological life might be matters of no urgency at all to a machine that didn’t evolve them.

Then again, they might be. But I don’t think it’s inevitable.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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