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Autonomous technology and the greater human good

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Military and economic pressures are driving the rapid development of autonomous systems. We show that these systems are likely to behave in anti-social and harmful ways unless they are very carefully designed. Designers will be motivated to create systems that act approximately rationally and rational systems exhibit universal drives towards self-protection, resource acquisition, replication and efficiency. The current computing infrastructure would be vulnerable to unconstrained systems with these drives. We describe the use of formal methods to create provably safe but limited autonomous systems. We then discuss harmful systems and how to stop them. We conclude with a description of the ‘Safe-AI Scaffolding Strategy’ for creating powerful safe systems with a high confidence of safety at each stage of development.
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Keywords: AI safety; autonomous systems; formal methods; rational drives; rationality; utility functions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Self-Aware Systems, 252 Hawthorne Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301, USA

Publication date: July 3, 2014

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