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February 23, 2009

Creating a Cooperative Future

by omohundro

On February 22, 2009 Steve Omohundro gave a talk at the Bay Area Artificial Intellgience Group on “Creating a Cooperative Future”. A PDF file with the slides is available here:

Steve Omohundro “Creating a Cooperative Future”

Thanks to Drew Reynolds for videotaping the talk. The edited video and transcript will be posted here when they are completed.

Here is the abstract for the talk:

Creating a Cooperative Future

by Steve Omohundro, Ph.D.

Will emerging technologies lead to greater cooperation or to more conflict? As we get closer to true AI and nanotechnology, a better understanding of cooperation and competition will help us design systems that are beneficial for humanity.

Recent developments in both biology and economics emphasize cooperative interactions as well as competitive ones. The “selfish gene” view of biological evolution is being extended to include synergies and interactions at multiple levels of organization. The “competitive markets” view of economics is being extended to include both cooperation and competition in an intricate network of “co-opetition”. Cooperation between two entities can result if there are synergies in their goals, if they can avoid dysergies, or if one or both of them is compassionate toward the other. The history of life is one of increasing levels of cooperation. Organelles joined to form eukaryotic cells, cells joined to form multi-cellular organisms, organisms joined into hives, tribes, and countries. Many perceive that a kind of “global brain” is currently emerging. Each new level of organization creates structures that foster cooperation at lower levels.

In this talk I’ll discuss the nature of cooperation in general and then tackle the issue of creating cooperation among intelligent entities that can alter their physical structures. Single entities will tend to organize themselves as energy-efficient compact structures. But if two or more such entities come into conflict, a new kind of “game theoretic physics” comes into play. Each entity will try to make its physical structure and dynamics so complex that competitors must waste resources to sense it, represent it, and compete with it. A regime of “Mutually Assured Distraction” would use up resources on all sides and provides an incentive to create an alternative regime of peaceful coexistence. The asymmetry in the difficulty of posing problems versus solving them (assuming P!=NP) appears to allow some range of weaker entities to coexist with stronger entities. This gives us a theoretical basis for constructing stable peaceful societies and ecosystems. We discuss some possible pathways to that end.

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