True. It's a gradient, not entirely discrete. C was once a high-level language, now it's a portable assembler. Tools get ridiculously more sophisticated as we ride up Moore's Law, while still being creatures of computer science that instantiate discrete mathematics.

As I said over in that other thread, a necessary (though not sufficient, I think) difference between "daemon" and "independent agent" will be the optimisation of thinking up new optimisations. I would expect that compiler writers are all over this stuff already and that there's a considerable body of work on the subject.

And then there's deciding if a lossy optimisation will do the job, which is where as a sysadmin I would not be entirely comfortable with my tools doing this unsupervised. (loose analogy: I know I can't tell a 320kbps MP3 from a 24/96 FLAC, but it took ten years of A/B testing on humans for MP3 encoders not to suck.)

Hmm, in my view it is more of a goal distinction than abilities distinction.

The model popular here is that of 'expected utility maximizer', and the 'utility function' is defined on the real world. Then the agent does want to build most accurate model of the real world, to be able to maximize that function the best, and the agent tries to avoid corruption of the function, etc. It also wants it's outputs to affect the world, and if put in a box, will try to craft output to do things in the real world even if you only wanted to look at them.

This is all very ... (read more)

Tool for maximizing paperclips vs a paperclip maximizer

by private_messaging 1 min read12th May 201223 comments


To clarify some point that is being discussed in several threads here, tool vs intentional agent distinction:

A tool for maximizing paperclips would - for efficiency purposes - have a world-model which it has god's eye view of (not accessing it through embedded sensors like eyes), implementing/defining a counter of paperclips within this model. Output of this counter is what is being maximized by a problem solving portion of the tool. Not the real world paperclips

No real world intentionality exist in this tool for maximizing paperclips; the paperclip-making-problem-solver would maximize the output of the counter, not real world paperclips. Such tool can be hooked up to actuators, and to sensors, and made to affect the world without human intermediary; but it won't implement real world intentionality.

An intentional agent for maximizing paperclips is the familiar 'paperclip maximizer', that truly loves the real world paperclips and wants to maximize them, and would try to improve it's understanding of the world to know if it's paperclip making efforts are successful.

The real world intentionality is ontologically basic in human language and consequently there is very strong bias to describe the former as the latter.

The distinction: the wireheading (either direct or through manipulation of inputs) is a valid solution to the problem that is being solved by the former, but not by the latter. Of course one could rationalize and postulate tool that is not general purpose enough as to wirehead, forgetting that the issue being feared is a tool that's general purpose to design better tool or self improve. That is an incredibly frustrating feature of rationalization. The aspects of problem are forgotten when thinking backwards.

The issues with the latter: We do not know if humans actually implement real world intentionality in such a way that it is not destroyed under full ability to self modify (and we can observe that we very much like to manipulate our own inputs; see art, porn, fiction, etc). We do not have single certain example of such stable real world intentionality, and we do not know how to implement it (that may well be impossible). We also are prone to assuming that two unsolved problems in AI - general problem solving and this real world intentionality - are a single problem, or are solved necessarily together. A map compression issue.