More Musings on the alignment of so called “Artificial” Intelligence and Human Values

One of my mother’s favorite expressions was “Those who do not learn from history are forced to repeat it”. I have been in information security of nearly four decades. Today, I teach courses on Governance, Risk and Compliance or GRC. GRC has been very important for thousands of years. Long before we were shipping our goods in packets of data, we have been shipping them on sea faring vessels (like the phone you carry, it probably traveled most of it’s trip from the factory on a ship). Govern basically means to steer in a direction and Risk refers to “cliffs under the water” or unforeseen dangers. To avoid as much risk as possible, we start by making maps of known risks. However there are always moment to moment changes that can greatly affect any situation. For instance a sudden change in the weather; as a strong wind can blow a ship of course and crash it into a cliff.

Keeping up with moment to moment changes in the weather and other risky conditions; for instance political unrest in a port city, is essential to gather meaningful intelligence and communicate it as quickly as possible. When Radio communications were created, only a little over a hundred years ago, their use on ships became life savers, literally. While many may recall that the Titanic disaster caused the death of nearly 1,500 people, over 700 passengers survived that would surely have been lost, had they not had a radio!

Gathering intelligence is key to GRC. Radio allowed for news to travel not only from human mouths to human ears, it allows for “Artificial” mouths to communicate with “Artificial” ears. Is the news it gathers artificial? One could argue that any static noises on the line certainly aren’t aren’t human, but I argue it isn’t intelligence either. And we are always working on better noise reduction technologies.

Using artificial eye lenses, the telescope, Galileo was able to gather information about our solar system, far beyond the abilities of human eyes alone, challenging the values of humans. Particularly the values of the Catholic Church. How to deal with such a dilemma, where artificial intelligence runs against human values? If you don’t know the story, it didn’t work out well for artificial intelligence.

My students need to know about securing their systems from electromagnetic interception using Faraday cages. I find it very inspiring to point out that unlike Catholic Church under Pope Urban VIII, who demanded Galilio recant his story, Michael Faraday believed that science was not at all in conflict with religion. To Faraday, any scientific discovery could be interpreted as “So that’s how God does it!”, to which I very much agree.

I argue we are too far past such a dark age response to intelligence, regardless of whether it was gathered by hand or extended with some augmenting technology. The real challenge of aligning the values of AGI and humans, is getting humans out of the dark ages. There are still many people who find science to conflict with religion. And it is really tricky to get people to update and patch their religious views with intelligence.

Happy Thursday,

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