A cabal of over 1,000 experts in the field of computing, engineering, artificial intelligence, and even prominent officers in the US Army, have signed an open letter, hosted by the Future of Life Institute, imploring the military to deprioritise its implementation of artificial intelligence. The signatories of the letter, entitled Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence, believe that “intelligent agents,” or “systems that perceive and act in some environment,” are not yet compatible with current AI technology, and that the social benefits of AI should be examined and tested further before military use is explored.
As the letter puts it:
The progress in AI research makes it timely to focus research not only on making AI more capable, but also on maximizing the societal benefit of AI. Such considerations motivated the AAAI 2008-09 Presidential Panel on Long-Term AI Futures and other projects on AI impacts, and constitute a significant expansion of the field of AI itself, which up to now has focused largely on techniques that are neutral with respect to purpose. We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do. The attached research priorities document gives many examples of such research directions that can help maximize the societal benefit of AI. This research is by necessity interdisciplinary, because it involves both society and AI. It ranges from economics, law and philosophy to computer security, formal methods and, of course, various branches of AI itself.
Amongst the signatories are Professor Stephen Hawking, Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, all of whom have voiced concerns over artificial intelligence in recent months, plus prominent members of Google’s DeepMind team. Notably absent is Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google, who has predicted that the human brain will merge with computers by 2030.
Image courtesy of NYU.