The company lays out five unsolved challenges that need to be addressed if smart machines such as domestic robots are to be safe.
Could machines become so intelligent and powerful they pose a threat to human life, or even humanity as a whole?
It’s a question that has become fashionable in some parts of Silicon Valley in recent years, despite being more or less irreconcilable with the simple robots and glitchy virtual assistants of today (see “AI Doomsayer Says His Ideas Are Catching On”). Some experts in artificial intelligence believe speculation about the dangers of future, super-intelligent software is harming the field.
Now Google, a company heavily invested in artificial intelligence, is trying to carve out a middle way. A new paper released today describes five problems that researchers should investigate to help make future smart software safer. In a blog post on the paper, Google researcher Chris Olah says they show how the debate over AI safety can be made more concrete and productive.
“Most previous discussion has been very hypothetical and speculative,” he writes. “We believe it’s essential to ground concerns in real machine-learning research, and to start developing practical approaches for engineering AI systems that operate safely and reliably.”
The organization aims to “freely collaborate” with other institutions and researchers by making its patents and research open to the public.
The company is supported by over US$1 billion in commitments; however, only a tiny fraction of the $1 billion pledged is expected to be spent in the first few years. Many of the employees and board members are motivated by concerns about existential risk from artificial general intelligence.