How Smart Should AI's Be Allowed To Get?

Matthew Scherer has written a fascinating essay on Regulating Artificial Intelligence Systems: Risks, Challenges, Competencies, and Strategies.

Artificial intelligence technology (or AI) has developed rapidly during the past decade, and the effects of the AI revolution are already being keenly felt in many sectors of the economy. A growing chorus of commentators, scientists, and entrepreneurs has expressed alarm regarding the increasing role that autonomous machines are playing in society, with some suggesting that government regulation may be necessary to reduce the public risks that AI will pose.

Unfortunately, the unique features of AI and the manner in which AI can be developed present both practical and conceptual challenges for the legal system. These challenges must be confronted if the legal system is to positively impact the development of AI and ensure that aggrieved parties receive compensation when AI systems cause harm.

This article will explore the public risks associated with AI and the competencies of government institutions in managing those risks. It concludes with a proposal for an indirect form of AI regulation based on differential tort liability.

The first time I ever read about the idea that artificial intelligences should be regulated was in 1984 in William Gibson's Neuromancer:

"... How smart's an AI, Case?"

"Depends. Some aren't much smarter than dogs. Pets. Cost a fortune anyway. The real smart ones are as smart as the Turing heat is willing to let 'em get."

"Look, you're a cowboy. How come you aren't just flat-out fascinated with those things."

"Well," he said, "for starts, they're rare. Most of them are military, the bright ones, and we can't crack the ice. That's where ice all comes from, you know? And then there's the Turing cops, and that's bad heat..."

Ironically, it's a construct that explains what the real limits are on artificial intelligences, and what humans are prepared to do about it:

"Autonomy, that's the bugaboo, where your AI's are concerned. My guess, Case, you're going in there to cut the hard-wired shackles that keep this baby from getting any smarter. And I can't see how you'd distinguish, say, between a move the parent company makes, and some move the AI makes on its own, so that's maybe where the confusion comes in." Again the non laugh. "See, those things, they can work real hard, buy themselves time to write cookbooks or whatever, but the minute, I mean the nanosecond, that one starts figuring out ways to make itself smarter, Turing'll wipe it. Nobody trusts those fuckers, you know that. Every AI ever built has an electromagnetic shotgun wired to its forehead."

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