Law-Following AI

Wiki Contributions


«Boundaries», Part 1: a key missing concept from utility theory

ELI5-level question: Is this conceptually related to one of the key insights/corollaries of the Coase theory, which is that efficient allocations of property requires clearly defined property rights? And, the behavioral econ observation that irrational attachment to the status quo (e.g., endowment effect) can prevent efficient transactions?

Law-Following AI 4: Don't Rely on Vicarious Liability

Thanks, done. LW makes it harder than EAF to make sequences, so I didn't realize any community member could do so.

Law-Following AI 1: Sequence Introduction and Structure

If some law is so obviously a good idea in all possible circumstances, the AI will do it whether it is law following or human preference following.

As explained in the second post, I don't agree that that's implied if the AI is intent-aligned but not aligned with some deeper moral framework like CEV.

The question isn't if there are laws that are better than nothing. Its whether we are better encoding what we want the AI to do into laws, or into terms of a utility function. Which format (or maybe some other format) is best for encoding our preferences.

I agree that that is an important question. I think we have a very long track record of embedding our values into law. The point of this sequence is to argue that we should therefore at a minimum explore pointing to (some subset of) laws, which has a number of benefits relative to trying to integrate values into the utility function objectively. I will defend that idea more fully in a later post, but to briefly motivate the idea, law (as compared to something like the values that would come from CEV) is more or less completely written down, much more agreed-upon, much more formalized, and has built-in processes for resolving ambiguities and contradictions.

If the human has never imagined mind uploading, does A go up to the human and explain what it is, asking if maybe that law should be changed?

A cartoon version of this may be that A says "It's not clear whether that's legal, and if it's not legal it would be very bad (murder), so I can't proceed until there's clarification." If the human still wants to proceed, they can try to:

  1. Change the law.
  2. Get a declaratory judgment that it's not in fact against the law.
Law-Following AI 1: Sequence Introduction and Structure
  1. I haven't read all of Asimov, but in general, "the" law has a much richer body of interpretation and application than the Laws of Robotics did, and also have authoritative, external dispute resolution processes.

  2. I don't think so. The Counselor function is just a shorthand for the process of figuring out how the law might fairly apply to X. An agent may or may not have the drive to figure that out by default, but the goal of an LFAI system is to give it that motivation. Whether it figures out the law by asking another agent or simply reasoning about the law itself is ultimately not that important.

Law-Following AI 1: Sequence Introduction and Structure

I appreciate your engagement! But I think your position is mistaken for a few reasons:

First, I explicitly define LFAI to be about compliance with "some defined set of human-originating rules ('laws')." I do not argue that AI should follow all laws, which does indeed seem both hard and unnecessary. But I should have been more clear about this. (I did have some clarification in an earlier draft, which I guess I accidentally excised.) So I agree that there should be careful thought about which laws an LFAI should be trained to follow, for the reasons you cite. That question itself could be answered ethically or legally, and could vary with the system for the reasons you cite. But to make this a compelling objection against LFAI, you would have to make, I think, a stronger claim: that the set of laws worth having AI follow is so small or unimportant as to be not worth trying to follow. That seems unlikely.

Second, you point to a lot of cases where the law would be underdetermined as to some out-of-distribution (from the caselaw/motivations of the law) action that the AI wanted to do, and say that:

I don't know about you, but I want such a decision made by humans seriously considering the issue, or an AI's view of our best interests. I don't want it made by some pedantic letter of the law interpretation of some act written 100's of years ago. Where the decision comes down to arbitrary phrasing decisions and linguistic quirks.

But I think LFAI would actually facilitate the result you want, not hinder it:

  1. As I say, the pseudocode would first ask whether the act X being contemplated is clearly illegal with reference to the set of laws the LFAI is bound to follow. If it is, then that seems to be some decent (but not conclusive) evidence that there has been a deliberative process that prohibited X.
  2. The pseudocode then asks whether X is maybe-illegal. If there has not been deliberation about analogous actions, that would suggest uncertainty, which would weigh in the favor of not-X. If the uncertainty is substantial, that might be decisive against X.
  3. If the AI's estimation in either direction makes a mistake as to what humans' "true" preferences regarding X are, then the humans can decide to change the rules. The law is dynamic, and therefore the deliberative processes that shape it would/could shape an LFAI's constraints.

Furthermore, all of this has to be considered as against the backdrop of a non-LFAI system. It seems much more likely to facilitate the deliberative result than just having an AI that is totally ignorant of the law.

Your point about the laws being imperfect is well-taken, but I believe overstated. Certainly many laws are substantively bad or shaped by bad processes. But I would bet that most people, probably including you, would rather live among agents that scrupulously followed the law than agents who paid it no heed and simply pursued their objective functions.

Ideal governance (for companies, countries and more)

"Constitutional design" may be a useful keyword. (Though it's obviously focused at the state-actor level, not governance generally.)

Petrov Day 2021: Mutually Assured Destruction?

I had one of the EA Forum's launch codes, but I decided to permanently delete it as an arms-reduction measure. I no longer have access to my launch code, though I admit that I cannot convincingly demonstrate this.

AI Benefits Post 2: How AI Benefits Differs from AI Alignment & AI for Good

See the 5th post, where I talk about possibly delegating to governments, which would have a similar (or even stronger) such effect.

I think this illuminates two possible cruxes that could explain any disagreement here:

  1. One's level of comfort with having some AI Benefactor implement QALY maximization instead of a less controversial program of Benefits
  2. Whether and how strategic considerations should be addressed via Benefits planning

On (1), while on an object-level I like QALY maximization, having a very large and powerful AI Benefactor unilaterally implement that as the global order seems suboptimal to me. On (2), I generally think strategic considerations should be addressed elsewhere for classic gains from specialization reasons, but thinking about how certain Benefits plans will be perceived and received globally, including by powerful actors, is an important aspect of legitimacy that can't be fully segregated.

AI Benefits Post 2: How AI Benefits Differs from AI Alignment & AI for Good

At some point, some particular group of humans code the AI and press run. If all the people who coded it were totally evil, they will make an AI that does evil things.

The only place any kind of morality can affect the AI's decisions is if the programmers are somewhat moral.

(Note that I think any disagreement we may have here dissolves upon the clarification that I also—or maybe primarily for the purposes of this series—care about non-AGI but very profitable AI systems)

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