When Steve Schwarzman donated a record-breaking $188M to Oxford in June 2019, I was a little surprised. The goal of steering the ethical adoption of artificial intelligence seemed vague and frankly, over the top. Fast forward 8 months - I finally get it.
At the start of his book, Stuart Russell lets us know that our current march towards superhuman intelligence is unstoppable - but success might be the undoing of the human race. People are, without even realizing it, constantly developing narrow-focused AI using broader techniques that ultimately push us closer to general-purpose AI. But for super-intelligent AI to become a reality we need more than just fast computers, we need conceptual breakthroughs. Computers need to understand language, have common sense, discover actions and more.
Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. - Alfred North Whitehead
This all sounds great, and the economic impact of super-intelligent systems could be huge. But there are a lot of issues we need to work through before that happens. These include:
In lieu of these concerns, Russell says that our goal should be to design highly intelligent machines that solve tough problems, without making them such that they make us unhappy. A little vague, I know. He lays out a few principles for these so-called "beneficial machines":
Russell also raises some really interesting points that relate to these principles and super-intelligence in general:
I love books that make me think. If you want a book that will not only help you understand why super-intelligent AI is a relevant issue, but also forces you to think - I would definitely recommend starting with Human Compatible.