The biggest A.I. risks: Superintelligence and the elite silos

When it comes to raising superintelligent A.I., kindness may be our best bet.

BEN GOERTZEL: We can have no guarantee that a super intelligent AI is going to do what we want. Once we're creating something ten, a hundred, a thousand, a million times more intelligent than we are it would be insane to think that we could really like rigorously control what it does. It may discover aspects of the universe that we don't even imagine at this point.

However, my best intuition and educated guess is that much like raising a human child, if we raise the young AGI in a way that's imbued with compassion, love and understanding and if we raise the young AGI to fully understand human values and human culture then we're maximizing the odds that as this AGI gets beyond our rigorous control at least it's own self-modification and evolution is imbued with human values and culture and with compassion and connection. So I would rather have an AGI that understood human values and culture become super intelligent than one that doesn't understand even what we're about. And I would rather have an AGI that was doing good works like advancing science and medicine and doing elder care and education becomes super intelligent than an AGI that was being, for example, a spy system, a killer drone coordination system or an advertising agency. So even when you don't have a full guarantee I think we can do things that commonsensically will bias the odds in a positive way.

Now, in terms of nearer-term risks regarding AI, I think we now have a somewhat unpleasant situation where much of the world's data, including personal data about all of us and our bodies and our minds and our relationships and our tastes, much of the world's data and much of the world's AI fire power are held by a few large corporations, which are acting in close concert with a few large governments. In China the connection between big tech and the government apparatus is very clear, but in the U.S. as well. I mean there was a big noise about Amazon's new office, well 25,000 Amazon employees are going in Crystal City Virginia right next-door to the Pentagon; there could be a nice big data pipe there if they want. We in the U.S. as well have very close connections between big tech and government. Anyone can Google Eric Schmidt verses NSA as well. So there's a few big companies with close government connections hoarding everyone's data, developing AI processing power, hiring most of the AI PhDs and it's not hard to see that this can bring up some ethical issues in the near-term, even before we get to superhuman super intelligences potentially turning the universe into paper clips. And decentralization of AI can serve to counteract these nearer-term risks in a pretty palpable way.

So as a very concrete example, one of our largest AI development offices for SingularityNET, and for Hanson Robotics the robotics company I'm also involved with, is in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. We have 25 AI developers and 40 or 50 interns there. I mean these young Ethiopians aren't going to get a job for Google, Facebook, Tencent or Baidu except in very rare cases when they managed to get a work visa to go to one of these countries somehow. And many of the AI applications of acute interest in those countries, say AI for analyzing agriculture and preventing agricultural disease or AI for credit scoring for the unbank to enable micro finance, AI problems of specific interest in sub-Saharan Africa don't get a heck of a lot of attention these days. AI wizardry from young developers there doesn't have a heck of a lot of market these days so you've got a both a lot of the market and a lot of the developer community that's sort of shut out by the siloing of AI inside a few large tech companies and military organizations. And this is both a humanitarian ethical problem because there's a lot of value being left on the table and a lot of value not being delivered, but it also could become a different sort of crisis because if you have a whole bunch of brilliant young hackers throughout the developing world who aren't able to fully enter into the world economy there's a lot of other less pleasant things than work for Google or Tencent that these young hackers could choose to spend their time on. So I think getting the whole world fully pulled into the AI economy in terms of developers being able to monetize their code and application developers having an easy way to apply AI to the problems of local interest to them, I mean this is ethically positive right now in terms of doing good and in terms of diverting effort away from people doing bad things out of frustration.

  • We have no guarantee that a superintelligent A.I. is going to do what we want. Once we create something many times more intelligent than we are, it may be "insane" to think we can control what it does.
  • What's the best bet to ensure superintelligent A.I. remains compliant with humans and does good works, such as advance medicine? To raise it in a way that's imbued with compassion and understanding, says Goertzel.
  • One way to limit "people doing bad things out of frustration," it may be advantageous for the entire world to be plugged into the A.I. economy so that developers, from whatever country, can monetize their codes.

China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

The science of sex, love, attraction, and obsession

The symbol for love is the heart, but the brain may be more accurate.

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  • How love makes us feel can only be defined on an individual basis, but what it does to the body, specifically the brain, is now less abstract thanks to science.
  • One of the problems with early-stage attraction, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, is that it activates parts of the brain that are linked to drive, craving, obsession, and motivation, while other regions that deal with decision-making shut down.
  • Dr. Fisher, professor Ted Fischer, and psychiatrist Gail Saltz explain the different types of love, explore the neuroscience of love and attraction, and share tips for sustaining relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
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There never was a male fertility crisis

A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.

Sex & Relationships
  • A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
  • The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
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