↑ comment by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) ·
2017-06-21T18:41:50.852Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
One of the more crucial points, I think, is that positive utility is – for most humans – complex and its creation is conjunctive. Disutility, in contrast, is disjunctive. Consequently, the probability of creating the former is smaller than the latter – all else being equal (of course, all else is not equal).
In other words, the scenarios leading towards the creation of (large amounts of) positive human value are conjunctive: to create a highly positive future, we have to eliminate (or at least substantially reduce) physical pain and boredom and injustice and loneliness and inequality (at least certain forms of it) and death, etc. etc. etc. (You might argue that getting "FAI" and "CEV" right would accomplish all those things at once (true) but getting FAI and CEV right is, of course, a highly conjunctive task in itself.)
In contrast, disutility is much more easily created and essentially disjunctive. Many roads lead towards dystopia: sadistic programmers or failing AI safety wholesale (or "only" value-loading or extrapolating, or stable self-modification), or some totalitarian regime takes over, etc. etc.
It's also not a coincidence that even the most untalented writer with the most limited imagination can conjure up a convincing dystopian society. Envisioning a true utopia in concrete detail, on the other hand, is nigh impossible for most human minds.
Footnote 10 of the above mentioned s-risk-static makes a related point (emphasis mine):
"[...] human intuitions about what is valuable are often complex and fragile (Yudkowsky, 2011), taking up only a small area in the space of all possible values. In other words, the number of possible configurations of matter constituting anything we would value highly (under reflection) is arguably smaller than the number of possible configurations that constitute some sort of strong suffering or disvalue, making the incidental creation of the latter ceteris paribus more likely."
Consequently, UFAIs such as paperclippers are more likely to create large amounts of disutility than utility (factoring out acausal considerations) incidentally (e.g. because creating simulations is instrumentally useful for them).
Generally, I like how you put it in your comment here:
In terms of utility, the landscape of possible human-built superintelligences might look like a big flat plain (paperclippers and other things that kill everyone without fuss), with a tall sharp peak (FAI) surrounded by a pit that's astronomically deeper (many almost-FAIs and other designs that sound natural to humans). The pit needs to be compared to the peak, not the plain. If the pit is more likely, I'd rather have the plain.
Yeah. In a nutshell, supporting generic x-risk-reduction (which also reduces extinction risks) is in one's best interest, if and only if one's own normative trade-ratio of suffering vs. happiness is less suffering-focused than one's estimate of the ratio of expected future happiness to suffering (feel free to replace "happiness" with utility and "suffering" with disutility). If one is more pessimistic about the future or if one needs large amounts of happiness to trade-off small amounts of suffering, one should rather focus on s-risk-reduction instead. Of course, this simplistic analysis leaves out issues like cooperation with others, neglectedness, tractability, moral uncertainty, acausal considerations, etc.
Do you think that makes sense?
Replies from: cousin_it
↑ comment by cousin_it ·
2017-06-21T19:07:13.322Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Yeah, I also had the idea about utility being conjunctive and mentioned it in a deleted reply to Wei, but then realized that Eliezer's version (fragility of value) already exists and is better argued.
On the other hand, maybe the worst hellscapes can be prevented in one go, if we "just" solve the problem of consciousness and tell the AI what suffering means. We don't need all of human value for that. Hellscapes without suffering can also be pretty bad in terms of human value, but not quite as bad, I think. Of course solving consciousness is still a very tall order, but it might be easier than solving all philosophy that's required for FAI, and it can lead to other shortcuts like in my recent post (not that I'd propose them seriously).
Replies from: Lukas_Gloor
↑ comment by Lukas_Gloor ·
2017-06-22T08:43:44.410Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Some people at MIRI might be thinking about this under nonperson predicate. (Eliezer's view on which computations matter morally is different from the one endorsed by Brian, though.) And maybe it's important to not limit FAI options too much by preventing mindcrime at all costs – if there are benefits against other very bad failure modes (or – cooperatively – just increased controllability for the people who care a lot about utopia-type outcomes), maybe some mindcrime in the early stages to ensure goal-alignment would be the lesser evil.