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News : Innovation Last Updated: Jan 14, 2015 - 11:09 AM


Scientists, entrepreneurs, investors sign open letter on artificial intelligence
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jan 12, 2015 - 4:53 AM

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Source: News Office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Scientists, entrepreneurs and investors have signed an open letter on artificial intelligence (AI) that was issued on Sunday by the US Future of Life Institute.

The signatories include Prof Stephen Hawking, the cosmologist, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motor and SpaceX, and Dr Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, who is the executive director of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University. The co-founders of Deep Mind, the British AI company that was acquired by Google in January 2014, are also among the signees.

The Future of Life Institute was founded last year and Jaan Tallinn, a co-founder of Skype, was among the founders. It says it is a "volunteer-run research and outreach organization working to mitigate existential risks facing humanity. We are currently focusing on potential risks from the development of human-level artificial intelligence."

The letter says:

The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls."

It adds: “Our AI systems must do what we want them to do.”

Elon Musk wrote in a tweet last August: "Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes."

Nick Bostrom, is a philosopher who founded and directs the Future of Humanity Institute, in the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford.

"Humans have been around for over 100,000 years. During that time, we have survived earthquakes and firestorms and asteroids and all kinds of other things," an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) quotes Prof Bostrom. "It’s unlikely that any of those natural hazards will do us in within the next 100 years if we’ve already survived 100,000. By contrast, we are introducing, through human activity, entirely new types of dangers by developing powerful new technologies. We have no record of surviving those."

The CHE says Bostrom, who coined the term "existential risks" for such threats, jokes that more research has been done on snowboards and dung beetles than on the question of whether we’ll survive disaster.

The Financial Times says some in Silicon Valley have estimated that more than 150 start-ups are working on artificial intelligence today with increasing attention from investors, entrepreneurs and companies such as Google who eye huge rewards from creating computers that can think for themselves. However, the FLI warns that greater focus on the social ramifications would be “timely”, drawing not only on computer science but economics, law and IT security.

Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: an Open Letter

Artificial intelligence (AI) research has explored a variety of problems and approaches since its inception, but for the last 20 years or so has been focused on the problems surrounding the construction of intelligent agents - systems that perceive and act in some environment. In this context, "intelligence" is related to statistical and economic notions of rationality - colloquially, the ability to make good decisions, plans, or inferences. The adoption of probabilistic and decision-theoretic representations and statistical learning methods has led to a large degree of integration and cross-fertilization among AI, machine learning, statistics, control theory, neuroscience, and other fields. The establishment of shared theoretical frameworks, combined with the availability of data and processing power, has yielded remarkable successes in various component tasks such as speech recognition, image classification, autonomous vehicles, machine translation, legged locomotion, and question-answering systems.

As capabilities in these areas and others cross the threshold from laboratory research to economically valuable technologies, a virtuous cycle takes hold whereby even small improvements in performance are worth large sums of money, prompting greater investments in research. There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

The progress in AI research makes it timely to focus research not only on making AI more capable, but also on maximizing the societal benefit of AI. Such considerations motivated the AAAI 2008-09 Presidential Panel on Long-Term AI Futures and other projects on AI impacts, and constitute a significant expansion of the field of AI itself, which up to now has focused largely on techniques that are neutral with respect to purpose. We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do. The attached research priorities document gives many examples of such research directions that can help maximize the societal benefit of AI. This research is by necessity interdisciplinary, because it involves both society and AI. It ranges from economics, law and philosophy to computer security, formal methods and, of course, various branches of AI itself.

In summary, we believe that research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial is both important and timely, and that there are concrete research directions that can be pursued today.

Open letter signatories include:

Stuart Russell, Berkeley, Professor of Computer Science, director of the Center for Intelligent Systems, and co-author of the standard textbook Artificial Intelligence: a Modern Approach.
Tom Dietterich, Oregon State, President of AAAI, Professor and Director of Intelligent Systems
Eric Horvitz, Microsoft research director, ex AAAI president, co-chair of the AAAI presidential panel on long-term AI futures
Bart Selman, Cornell, Professor of Computer Science, co-chair of the AAAI presidential panel on long-term AI futures
Francesca Rossi, Padova & Harvard, Professor of Computer Science, IJCAI President and Co-chair of AAAI committee on impact of AI and Ethical Issues
Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind
Shane Legg, co-founder of DeepMind
Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind
Dileep George, co-founder of Vicarious
Scott Phoenix, co-founder of Vicarious
Vernor Vinge, San Diego, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science
Peter Norvig, Director of research at Google and co-author of the standard textbook Artificial Intelligence: a Modern Approach
Michael Wooldridge, Oxford, Head of Dept. of Computer Science, Chair of European Coordinating Committee for Artificial Intelligence
Leslie Pack Kaelbling, MIT, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, founder of the Journal of Machine Learning Research
Tom Mitchell, CMU, former President of AAAI, chair of Machine Learning Department
Toby Walsh, Univ. of New South Wales & NICTA, Professor of AI and President of the AI Access Foundation
Murray Shanahan, Imperial College, Professor of Cognitive Robotics
Michael Osborne, Oxford, Associate Professor of Machine Learning
David Parkes, Harvard, Professor of Computer Science
Laurent Orseau, Google/DeepMind
Ilya Sutskever, Google, AI researcher
Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Google, AI researcher
Steve Crossan, Google
Charina Choi, Google
Joscha Bach, MIT, AI researcher
Bill Hibbard, Madison, AI researcher
Steve Omohundro, AI researcher
Richard Mallah, Cambridge Semantics, Director of Advanced Analytics, AI researcher
Alexander Wissner-Gross, Harvard, Fellow at the Institute for Applied Computational Science
Adrian Weller, Cambridge, AI researcher
Jacob Steinhardt, Stanford, AI Ph.D. student
Nick Hay, Berkeley, AI Ph.D. student
Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, CSER and FLI
Elon Musk, SpaceX, Tesla Motors
Luke Nosek, Founders Fund
Aaron VanDevender, Founders Fund
Matthew Putman, CEO of Nanotronics Imaging
Owain Evans, MIT, Ph.D. student in probabilistic computing
Viktoriya Krakovna, Harvard, Statistics Ph.D. student, FLI co-founder
Janos Kramar, FLI researcher
Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT, Professor at and director of MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy
Ryan Calo, U. Washington, Assistant Professor of Law
Heather Roff Perkins, U. Denver, visiting professor
Tomaso Poggio, Director, Center for Brains, Minds and Machines
Margaret Boden, U. Sussex, Professor of Cognitive Science
Joshua Greene, Harvard, Associate Professor of Psychology
Martin Rees, Cambridge, Professor Emeritus of Cosmology and Astrophysics, Gruber & Crafoord laureate
Huw Price, Cambridge, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy
Nick Bostrom, Oxford, Professor of Philosophy, Director of FHI
Anthony Aguirre, Santa Cruz, Professor of Physics, co-founder of FLI
Stephen Hawking, Director of research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, 2012 Fundamental Physics Prize laureate for his work on quantum gravity
Frank Wilczek, MIT, Professor of Physics, Nobel Laureate for his work on the strong nuclear force
Marin Soljacic, MIT, Professor of Physics, McArthur Fellow, Founder of WiTricity
Max Tegmark, MIT, Professor of Physics, co-founder of FLI and FQXi
Meia Chita-Tegmark, Boston University, co-founder of FLI
Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director of Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)
Eliezer Yudkowsky, MIRI researcher, co-founder of MIRI (then known as SIAI)
Katja Grace, MIRI researcher
Benja Fallenstein, MIRI researcher
Nate Soares, MIRI researcher
Michael Vassar, founder of MetaMed and ex-president of MIRI (then known as SIAI)
Paul Christiano, Berkeley, Computer Science graduate student
Seán Ó Héigeartaigh, University of Cambridge, Executive Director, CSER
Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Future of Humanity Institute, Project Manager
Anders Sandberg, Oxford, FHI researcher
Daniel Dewey, Oxford, FHI researcher
Stuart Armstrong, Oxford, FHI researcher
Cecilia Tilli, Oxford, FHI researcher
Toby Ord, FHI researcher, Founder of Giving What We Can
Geoff Anders, founder of Leverage Research
JB Straubel, co-founder of Tesla
Sam Harris, Project Reason
Ajay Agrawal, U. Toronto
James Manyika, McKinsey
James Moor, Dartmouth
Wendell Wallach, Yale
Sean Legassick, MobGeo
Shamil Chandaria, London U, Institute of Philosophy
Michele Reilly, Turing Inc.
Neil Jacobstein, Singularity University
Dominik Grewe, Google DeepMind
Roman V. Yampolskiy, University of Louisville
Geoffrey Hinton, University of Toronto and Google Inc.
Carlos R. B. Azevedo, University of Campinas, AI Researcher
Michael Andregg, Fathom Computing
Ulrich Junker, IBM
Miroslaw Truszczynski, University of Kentucky
Christian Steinruecken, University of Cambridge, graduate student in AI
Mark Waser, Digital Wisdom Institute
Douglas Clark, CEO, Métier
Jesus Cepeda, PhD in Robotics and AI, Monterrey, Mexico
Rodolfo Rosini, CEO, Storybricks
Eray Özkural, Gök Us Sibernetik Ar & Ge, Computer Scientist
Kathryn McElroy, UX Designer for IBM Watson
Anirban Bhattacharya, Computer Science Researcher
Lan Laucirica, SpaceX
Jesse Brown, UC San Francisco, Neuroscience postdoctoral scholar
Jonathan Yates, IBM Watson Group EMEA
Sam Richard, UI Architect, IBM Watson
Joel Pitt, Independent Researcher (ex-OpenCog)
Achu Wilson, C.T.O Sastra Robotics
Mark Watson, author and consultant specializing in artificial intelligence
George Kachergis, postdoctoral researcher at New York University
Roberto Paura, Italian Institute for the Future
David Duvenaud, Harvard University
James Babcock, Praxamed
Igor Trajkovski, Time.mk
Appu Shaji, Head, R&D, EyeEm
Jared Peters, co-founder of Origamir Robotics
Tsvi Benson-Tilsen, University of Chicago, MIRI associate
Nathaniel Thomas, Stanford University, PhD student in quantum computing
Alejandro Machado, Carnegie Mellon University, graduate student
Max Kesin, Palantir, ML developer
Patrick LaVictoire, MIRI
Ronnie Vuine, micropsi industries
Simon Hughes, PhD Candidate Machine Learning, DePaul
Gabriel Synnaeve, Ecole Normale Supérieure / EHESS
Ben Goertzel, OpenCog Foundation
Anna Salamon, Center for Applied Rationality
David Harvilicz, CEO, Kernel.com
Shagun Akarsh, Software Engineer
Hradayesh Nimavat, Data Science researcher
Maël Primet, co-founder of Snips
Tamas Locher, Purpose Industries
Shawn Rimmell, Founder, GLOBAL Automation Technologies
Rand Hindi, CEO, Snips
Jack Hunt, University of Oxford
Stephen J. Palaszewski, Ph.D., Blue Danube Labs, Consultant
Vicente Silveira, LinkedIn
Ibrahim Hyder, University of Waterloo
Jeffrey Weiren Wang, School of Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology
Herluf Dahlin, ee engineer/msc psychology
Gert Post, founder of Heimdallr Smart Networks
LeAnthony Mathews, Rutgers
Jenny Ottosson, CEO and Founder of Corylus Technologies
Davide Radice, Amazon
Jürgen Messing
Layla Mah, Lead Architect, VR & Advanced Rendering, AMD
Stephen Fraser, Blackgrid Ltd.
Andrew Kemendo, National Intelligence University
Morteza Zandieh, KTH AI Master
Rob Phillips, Drone Researcher
Hannu Rajaniemi, Helix Nanotechnologies, Inc.
Ales Flidr, Harvard College Student
Michael Fester, Co-founder of Snips
Diego Martinez, Software developer at Wordstream
Jack Arenas, Goldman Sachs
Federico Gobbo, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Emil Gilliam, Google
Oliver Habryka, UC Berkeley student
Tyler Neely, Distributed Systems, Security, and Brain-Computer Interface Engineer
Eric Matzner, Futurist
Susan Holden Martin, MBA, J.D., Steering Committee, The Mars Society, Inc.
Ellis Reppo, Founder Salinger Enterprises
Remy Goldschmidt, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, student
Bradley Johnson, SolarCity LV
Nikolaj Berntsen, CTO GenieBelt

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