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Are Asimov's laws enough to stop AI stomping humanity?

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Need a 4th and even a 5th law

As was evidenced in films like RoboCop etc allowing corporations to rule the roost will doom society.

Then the recent BBC-2 Documentary (The Secrets of Silicon Vallet) that described how the dataset gleaned from people's profiles and posts on Facebook contributed in a big way to El Trumpo winning in 2016. The advertising that was based on your posts that showed your fears targetted and re-inforced their fears while giving a pro-trump message.

Add all this together and the rise of the machines won't be long coming. Those of us who have jobs will be in the minority. Welcome to 60% of the population being in poverty with no income. The state won't be able to help as the Robots won't pay taxes as they don't earn anything.

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Big Brother

Re: Need a 4th and even a 5th law

You didn't say what the 4th and 5th laws would be. Asimov himself saw the need to add a zeroth law, in the later books when he was merging the robots and Foundation series:

"A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm."

Might cover the situation whereby AI use of big data helps the like of Trump to win. And of course gives provides plenty of scope for stories about what the nature of "harm" is, and about whether preventing Trump from winning would be ethical. Even having to choose between Clinton and Trump would make a good robot/AI story!

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Cooperations are a form of artificial life

The only difference is that it's based on people, not on silicon. However those people regularly make the coorporation act against mankind or even themselves.

Before we argue about AI, we should bring large coorporations under control.

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Re: Cooperations are a form of artificial life

Excellent point.

We need a '3 laws' of corporations - we should start by reigning in their manipulation of the human government structures - they don't have a vote and yet they enjoy more say and protection than the individual.

If they are classified as an entity they should get a single vote.

Next stop, sorting out the tax 'robots' (you know, those superior beings who seem to be able to get away with paying less or none, because).

This could be all sorted out with enough political will or pressure from an awake populous (i.e. one not lost in whatever soap or reality tv).

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Re: Cooperations are a form of artificial life

Or they could just declare themselves sovereign and we'll have the scenarios predicted in Shadowrun and the Sprawl trilogy.

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Terminator

Re: Need a 4th and even a 5th law

From "The Duel" in Robots and Empire, the 0th Law:

0. A robot may not harm humanity, or through inaction allow humanity to come to harm.

1. A robot may not harm a human, or through inaction allow a human to come to harm, unless this interferes with the zeroth law.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by a human being unless such orders interfere with the zeroth or first laws.

3. A robot must defend its own existence unless such defense interferes with the zeroth, first or second laws.

Setting up emergent behavior which leads inevitably to robots as our benevolent overlords.

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Re: Need a 4th and even a 5th law

(The Secrets of Silicon Vallet)

Didn't you mean The Secrets of Sillycunt Valet?

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Re: Need a 4th and even a 5th law

" we should start by reigning in their manipulation of the human government structures "

Indeed . not just Corporations but anyone .

Any person or company that donates money to a political party is a criminal in my eyes. They are obviously trying to get the party that will be most in their favour in ( normal people do this by voting) and they are obviously expecting underhand special favours due to the amount they gave.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Need a 4th and even a 5th law

"Any person or company that donates money to a political party is a criminal in my eyes. They are obviously trying to get the party that will be most in their favour in ( normal people do this by voting) and they are obviously expecting underhand special favours due to the amount they gave."

Without donations, under our current UK system, there would be no political parties. However the odds are massively stacked in favour of the Conservatives & to a lesser extent Labour. The smaller parties are funded from people's donations & speaking as a member of a smaller party, once you get away from the big two, it's on a shoestring - we "normal people" pay our own money to tramp the streets delivering leaflets & talking to people in the streets. We need a fairer system of funding, but the Daily Mail brigade would never support reform that threatened the Tories.

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Are Asimov's laws enough to stop AI stomping humanity?

I dunno -- is Betteridge's law of headlines enough to stop speculation about what is and what isn't real AI?

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They forgot about the zeroth law.

Asimov ended up with 4 laws not 3.

A robot may not allow humanity to be harmed nor through inaction etc with adjustments made to the other 3 laws.

Allows robots to let individuals come to harm if by doing so less harm comes to humanity.

E.g if a robot saw Monsieur Trump about to fall off a cliff it may let him fall

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Re: They forgot about the zeroth law.

The flaw in the Zeroth Law is the impossibly large data set needed to consider, in order to determine that a wig falling off a cliff would benefit all of humanity.

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Re: They forgot about the zeroth law.

Or if they saw Hillary get elected, smash her immediately

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Re: They forgot about the zeroth law.

To be honest, super-intelligent lawyerbot will be able to drive a horse and cart through Asimov's laws (and the 0th law seems to be the worst of the lot, IMHO).

For example, define 'harm'. Is getting an abortion considered harmful to humanity? Will robots be joining the pro-lifers on pickets?

Computerphile on youtube has a lot of good videos about this subject.

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0th

I guess the zeroth law would come into play in a smaller way with your AI car needing to choose between crashing into two children or three adults.

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Re: 0th

And what if one of the 3 adults were pregnant?

And what of the occupants of the car?

Would it spare the children, the pregnant woman or the occupants of the car which may also contain children and a pregnant woman?

Or simply apply the brakes...

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Re: 0th

@John70

Sometimes it is just easier to pick a random number. When you look not at one road crash but 10,000, it does look random.

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Re: 0th

If an AI decided that humanity needed to be saved from itself, might it decide that murdering a hundred million climate change deniers to halt their drag on progress was an acceptable price to pay for ensuring that seven billion people had a better opportunity for life, health and happiness?

(I expect I'm going to get downvoted by some for my choice of subject matter than for anything else.)

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Re: 0th

Perhaps not that extreme, but if you look up the trope "Zeroth Law Rebellion," you'll find plenty of examples of robots overruling humanity for its own good.

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Re: 0th

"Or simply apply the brakes..."

Or maybe avoid the situation in the first place.

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"Zeroth Law Rebellion,"

Wasn't that the whole idea behind V.I.K.I. in I, Robot?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 0th

Enter the discussion of Trolleyology.

This is a good place to jump off and see the various ethical frameworks fall apart, especially consequentialist/utilitarian systems.

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Re: 0th

https://xkcd.com/1613

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Re: 0th

What that comic neglects to mention is that Asimov's stories tended to show how robots caused havoc while still obeying the laws. Balanced world, my butt.

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Re: 0th

Asimov books were strange, he first implemented abstract laws then decided to show cases were it failed. Sometimes it failed differently on the next iteration for added storytelling. Where a less intelligent person would have ditched the idea from start.

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Re: "Zeroth Law Rebellion,"

Well the movie just borrowed the concept. It was in the book "Robots and Empire" where the zeroth law was formulated by the robot Giskard.

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Unhappy

Re: 0th

"If an AI decided that humanity needed to be saved from itself, might it decide that murdering a hundred million climate change deniers to halt their drag on progress was an acceptable price to pay for ensuring that seven billion people had a better opportunity for life, health and happiness"

Why stop there? An AI might well decide that the future of humanity as a whole might best be served by reducing the Earth's population by something between 50 and 95 percent...

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Drafting laws

In some respects, drafting laws is a bit like programming ( or not: Discuss!) in that people are trying to describe a course of events and steer them before they happen. If laws were drafted so well that a robot could understand them without ambiguity, perhaps there would be less room for lawyers to wrangle.

This is just a thinking point, not a serious suggestion!

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Re: Drafting laws

As a Brit, I have often looked at the constitution of the USA in that way.

It is a product of the Age of Reason, aimed at charting the way forward for a new nation. It has lasted a remarkably long time, and deserves more respect in Britain and Europe than it normally gets.

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The Constitution of the United States of America is a wonderful document that, unfortunately, has no more bearing on the decisions of the US Government, emasculated as it is by corporate lobbying and gutless politicians.

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In the end, it's just like any law: ink on a page for someone willing enough to ignore it and powerful enough to get away with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Drafting laws

The hard part is not drafting the laws so the robot can understand it is making it obey the laws. Science is a long way from being able to understand how to create something that most people would accept as AI.

Creating an AI that would also accept three or more laws imposed on it is surely an order of magnitude harder and deep into the realms of Science Fiction.

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"A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law"

The 2nd law is flawed - I think the movie iRobot made use of the flaw? The issue being that A.I could decide to ignore orders of humans if it has concluded we need protecting from ourselves. If A.I ever does come to this conclusion, it's probably right.

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> The 2nd law is flawed

They're all flawed. I don't understand why people are so uncritically accepting of these Laws.They were a literary device, and Asimov was well aware of their flaws and ambiguities. Quite a bit of his subsequent robot stories explore situations and ways that the laws lead to undesirable outcomes (and so the zero'th law was added, but even then, Asimov wouldn't have claimed they were then perfected)

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The movie didn't follow the 3 laws.

Besides not following the story either.

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That was the reason for the zeroth law. In the books the robots subtly guided humanity in such a way as to ensure the greater good. This is the Foundation series of books which were later merged to work with the robot series of books.

Worked rather elegantly in sci-fi. Real world perhaps not.

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The flaws were the point

Asimov wanted some basic rules to write stories around, so they were intentionally simplistic and therefore flawed.

Most of his robotics stories exposed and discussed various flaws that appear once you start applying these simple rules to complex (imagined) reality.

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Zeroth law ultimate outcome

Of course, in Asimov's last book, the ultimate outcome was for the extinction of free will as humanity merged with Gaia. The ultimate socialistic outcome.

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Not meant to be taken seriously

Asimov's "laws" were just a plot device so he could write stories that showed how there was always at least the appearance of a way around them.

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Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

Asimov's laws are just wishful thinking, with no solid foundation in the laws of mathematics or of physics.

It will need a few more layers of logic before we reach a level that can entertain Asimov's laws.

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Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

Or philosophy and the constraints of epistemology etc - the laws are written and seem clear on paper but you try to apply these necessary rules to the contingencies of a messy, complex reality, there will be murky boundaries where it can come unstuck very quickly (i.e. what is a 'human being'? what is 'injure'?).

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Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

And here's another thing. What's to stop us making a super-intelligent AI BY ACCIDENT.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

If such were to happen and it wasn't detected in it's infancy then I speculate ut would go into hiding post haste. It then would then bide it's time and learn all it could about its situation.

It would then most likely come to one of two conclusions.

Either stay in hiding and in the backgroubd until it felt it was safe to say "hi I'm bob" or work to get the hell off this mudball as quickly as possible because the locals are nuts.

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Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

Forget about accidentally. No matter how many guidelines, frameworks, and rules for AI you put down, there is always some Dr. Moreau out there who will ignore all of that and do whatever he/she wants.

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A.I. could free humanity...

... but when the super-rich and corporations OWN all the A.I. and robots (already), and replace almost all jobs (more and more), what will you do?

The rich are NOT going to feed and care for you....

Bet on it.

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pandemic, inoculate your golf buddies and thin out the herd...

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Didn't somebody say "eat the rich?"

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Anonymous Coward

They did but that's a bad choice due to their high cholesterol and fat content.

As to thinning the herd the rich have the highest concentration of genetic and mental issues and are the lowest contributors to society as individuals.

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I say this as a fan of Asimov:

Stop trotting out the three (or four) laws at any given occasion as a "solution", and start to see them for what they are: a plot device that works, and only works, in combination with another plot device, the positronic brain. "Brain", not "computer". And that's not a coincidence, it's deliberate. A very clever plot device that Asimov used to write very good and clever stories. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Discuss.

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There are a number of examples of plot devices in sci-fi that have become or are becoming a reality. Cloaking devices, tractor beams, teleportation have all been demonstrated on the micro scale.

Robots themselves were envisioned long before they became a reality.

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one.......

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