comScore Facebook AI Head Trusts Society as Failsafe, We're Doomed | The Mary Sue

Facebook Head of AI Trusts Society as a Failsafe Against Evil and Oh God We’re All Doomed

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World domination by unstoppable machines might be on the back burner in terms of reasons to worry about AI, since robots taking all our jobs is a much more pressing concern. But the singularity bringing our whole world crashing down is still a concern, especially since it’s something that would happen rather suddenly. Facebook’s head of AI isn’t worried, though, because surely society will stop evil from taking hold!

In an interview with Axios, Yann LeCun displayed a lot of faith in the systems that keep our world functional, saying, “We have a lot of checks and balances built into society to prevent evil from having infinite power. Most companies are not either working for good or evil—they’re just maximizing profits. But we have all sorts of rules and laws to prevent our economy from going haywire. It will be the same thing for AI.”

However, as the interviewer pointed out right in the question, “maximizing profits” can be plenty evil. Even if the AI systems that we’re looking at in the near future wouldn’t have the overarching power to “buy a bunch of food before destroying the rest of the world’s food supply” (as was the hypothetical scenario in the question) businesses have done plenty of damage in the past, within their existing confines.

So, it’s not that foreseeable AI systems can’t wreck everything, but more that those systems can’t wreck everything in a way humans aren’t already capable of. As we all know, humans are particularly creative at ruining things, so it’s understandable that LeCun thinks we’ve pretty well tested the boundaries of modern society ourselves and proved it fairly resilient.

On the other hand, we’ve been finding plenty of new ways to ruin things lately, so it remains to be seen whether society really is that resilient or we just haven’t had enough time with it yet—and we all know how much more efficient machines are.

(via Gizmodo, image: Warner Bros.)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.