How To Thwart A Robot Apocalypse: Oxford Professor Nick Bostrom on the Dangers of Superintelligent Machines


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"If we one day develop machines with general intelligence that surpasses ours, they would be in a very powerful position," says Nick Bostrom, Oxford professor and founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute.

Bostrom sat down with Reason science correspondent Ron Bailey to discuss his latest book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, in which he discusses the risks humanity will face when artificial intelligence (AI) is created. Bostorm worries that, once computer intelligence exceeds our own, machines will be beyond of our control and will seek to shape the future according to their own plan. If the AI's goals aren't properly set by designers, a superintelligent machine will see humans as a liability to completing its goals–leading to our annihilation. 

How do we avoid a robot apocalypse? Bostrom proposes two solutions: either limit the AI to only answering questions in a preset boundary or engineer the AI to include human preservation. "We have got to solve the control problem before we solve the AI problem," Bostrom explains. "The big challenge then is to reach into this huge space of possible mind decisions, motivation system designs, and try to pick out one of the very special ones that would be consistent with human survival and flourishing."

Until such time, Bostrom believes research into AI should be dramatically slowed, allowing humanity ample time to understand its own objectives. 

Shot by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. Edited by Swain.

About 8 minutes long.

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