Will Autonomous Systems' Self-Preservation Lead To Dangerous Behavior?

A new paper published in the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence by Steve Omohundro suggests that autonomous robots and other autonomous systems may exhibit dangerous behaviors as a result of being programmed for self-preservation.

I've added some of my own emphasis to his paper, quoted below:

In this paper, we argue that military and economic pressures are driving the rapid development of autonomous systems. We show why designers will design these systems to approximate rational economic agents. We then show that rational systems exhibit universal ‘drives’ towards self-preservation, replication, resource acquisition and efficiency and that those drives will lead to anti-social and dangerous behaviour if not explicitly countered. We argue that the current computing environment would be very vulnerable to this kind of system. We describe how to build safe systems using the power of mathematical proof. We describe a variety of harmful systems and techniques for restraining them. Finally, we describe the ‘Safe-AI Scaffolding Strategy’ for developing powerful systems with a high confidence of safety...

Rational systems have universal drives

Most goals require physical and computational resources. Better outcomes can usually be achieved as more resources become available. To maximise the expected utility, a rational system will therefore develop a number of instrumental subgoals related to resources. Because these instrumental subgoals appear in a wide variety of systems, we call them ‘drives’. Like human or animal drives, they are tendencies which will be acted upon unless something explicitly contradicts them. There are a number of these drives but they naturally cluster into a few important categories.

To develop an intuition about the drives, it is useful to consider a simple autonomous system with a concrete goal. Consider a rational chess robot with a utility function that rewards winning as many games of chess as possible against good players. This might seem to be an innocuous goal but we will see that it leads to harmful behaviours due to the rational drives...

Self-protective drives

When roboticists are asked by nervous onlookers about safety, a common answer is ‘We can always unplug it!’ But imagine this outcome from the chess robot's point of view. A future in which it is unplugged is a future in which it cannot play or win any games of chess. This has very low utility and so expected utility maximisation will cause the creation of the instrumental subgoal of preventing itself from being unplugged. If the system believes the roboticist will persist in trying to unplug it, it will be motivated to develop the subgoal of permanently stopping the roboticist. Because nothing in the simple chess utility function gives a negative weight to murder, the seemingly harmless chess robot will become a killer out of the drive for self-protection.

The same reasoning will cause the robot to try to prevent damage to itself or loss of its resources. Systems will be motivated to physically harden themselves. To protect their data, they will be motivated to store it redundantly and with error detection. Because damage is typically localised in space, they will be motivated to disperse their information across different physical locations. They will be motivated to develop and deploy computational security against intrusion. They will be motivated to detect deception and to defend against manipulation by others.

Philip K. Dick expressed his concerns about the evolution of autonomous robotic systems in his 1953 story Second Variety. He goes further than Omohundro and describes the actual evolution of autonomous machine systems:

"Interesting, isn't it?"

"What?"

"This, the new types. The new varieties of claws. We're completely at their mercy, aren't we? By now they've probably gotten into the UN lines, too. It makes me wonder if we're not seeing the beginning of a new species. The new species. Evolution. The race to come after man."
(Read more about machine evolution)

Rudy Rucker wrote about self-reproducing autonomous robots that refused to obey man-made rules in his 1988 novel Wetware:

In the shaft's great, vertical tunnel, bright beings darted through the hot light; odd-shaped living machines that glowed with all the colors of the rainbow. These were the boppers; self-reproducing robots who obeyed no man. Some looked humanoid, some looked like spiders, some looked like snakes, some looked like bats. All were covered with flickercladding, a microwired imipolex compound that could absorb and emit light.

See also this story on Evolutionary Robotics To Design Better Robots and Robot Brain Grows As It Learns.

I'm sure you'll enjoy reading through Autonomous technology and the greater human good; via KurzweilAI.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/22/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1968.

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!' - Red Dwarf

Software Learns To Design Software
'... The rational use of computers to design more advanced computers.' - Isaac Asimov, 1958.

China Now Has Robot Journalists
'A vast complex electronic organism buried deep in the ground, responsible to no one...' - Philip K. Dick, 1963.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.'

Sweden Outlaws Drones
'An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator...'

Wear Your Self-Powered Generator
'It's basically a micro-sandwich...'

TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
'My little friends can find you wherever you go!'

Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot that 'appears or pretends to be human' had to be compensated...'

Handle, New Wheeled Hopping Robot
'the hopper sprang thirty feet into the air...'

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.