Why AGI is extremely likely to come before FAI

by skeptical_lurker 2 min read1st Aug 201229 comments



Why AGI is extremely likely to come before FAI


I am using FAI to mean EY's definition of provably friendly AGI implementing CEV. It is possible that the AGI which comes first will not be *provably* friendly, but will never the less turn out to be friendly, although the probability that non-provably friendly AI turns out to be friendly depends on how it is programmed. But this is a subtopic for another article - Part II: what to do if FAI is unlikely to come first.

I realize much of this has been said before.

Complexity of algorithm design:

Intuitively, FAI seems orders of magnitude more complex than AGI. If I decided to start trying to program an AGI tomorrow, I would have ideas on how to start, and maybe even make a minuscule amount of progress. Ben Goertzel even has a (somewhat optimistic) [roadmap](http://opencog.org/roadmap/) for AGI in a decade. Meanwhile, afaik FAI is still stuck at the stage of lob’s theorem. 
The fact that EY seems to be focusing on promoting rationality and writing (admittedly awesome) harry potter fanfiction seems to indicate that he doesn’t currently know how to write FAI (and nor does anyone else) otherwise he would be focusing on that now, and instead is planning for the long term.

Computational complexity

CEV requires modelling (and extrapolating) every human mind on the planet, while avoiding the creation of sentient entities. While modelling might be cheaper than ~10^17 flops per human due to short cuts, I doubt it’s going to come cheap. Randomly sampling a subset of humanity to extrapolate from, at least initially, could make this problem less severe, although you will get a poorer estimate of humanities utility function. Furthermore, this can be partially circumvented by saying that the AI follows a specific utility function while bootstrapping to enough computing power to implement CEV, but then you have the problem of allowing it to bootstrap safely. Having to prove friendliness of each step in self-improvement strikes me as something that could also be costly.
Finally, I get the impression that people are considering using Solomonoff induction. It’s uncomputable, and while I realize that there exist approximations, I would imagine that these would be extremely expensive to calculate anything non-trivial. Is there any reason for using SI for FAI more than AGI, e.g. something todo with provability about the programs actions? 

Infeasibility of relinquishment.

If you can’t convince Ben Goertzel that FAI is needed, even though he is familiar with the arguments and is an adviser to SIAI, you’re not going to get anywhere near a universal consensus on the matter. Furthermore, AI is increasingly being used in financial and possibly soon military applications, and so there are strong incentives to speed the development of AI. While these uses are unlikely to be full AGI, they could provide building blocks – I can imagine a plausible situation where an advanced AI that predict the stock exchange could easily be modified to be a universal predictor.  
The most powerful incentive to speed up AI development is the sheer number of people who die every day, and the amount of negentropy lost in the case that the 2nd law of thermodynamics cannot be circumvented. Even if there could be a worldwide ban on non-provably safe AGI, work would still probably continue in secret by people who thought the benefits of an earlier singularity outweighed the risks, and/or were worried about ideologically opposed groups getting their first.

Financial bootstrapping

If you are ok with running a non-provably friendly AGI, then even in the early stages when, for example, your AI can write simple code or make reasonably accurate predictions but not speak English or make plans, you can use these to earn money, and buy more hardware/programmers.  This seems to be part of the approach Ben is taking.

Coming in Part II: is there any alternative (and doing nothing is not an alternative! even if FAI is unlikely to work its better than giving up!)