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SRI Talk: AI, Robotics, and Smart Contracts

On Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 4:00 PM Steve Omohundro will speak at the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI in Menlo Park hosted by Richard Waldinger.

AI, Robotics, and Smart Contracts

Steve Omohundro Possibility Research and Self-Aware Systems [Home Page]

Notice:  Hosted by Richard Waldinger

Date: Tuesday April 21st, 4pm

Location:  EJ228 (SRI E building)  (Directions)


WebEx and VTC available upon request

Google, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Baidu, Foxconn, and others have recently made multi-billion dollar investments in artificial intelligence and robotics. Some of these investments are aimed at increasing productivity and enhancing coordination and cooperation. Others are aimed at creating strategic gains in competitive interactions. This is creating “arms races” in high-frequency trading, cyber warfare, drone warfare, stealth technology, surveillance systems, and missile warfare. Recently, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and others have issued strong cautionary statements about the safety of intelligent technologies. We describe the potentially antisocial “rational drives” of self-preservation, resource acquisition, replication, and self-improvement that uncontrolled autonomous systems naturally exhibit. We describe the “Safe-AI Scaffolding Strategy” for developing these systems with a high confidence of safety based on the insight that even superintelligences are constrained by the laws of physics, mathematical proof, and cryptographic complexity. “Smart contracts” are a promising decentralized cryptographic technology used in Ethereum and other second-generation cryptocurrencies. They can express economic, legal, and political rules and will be a key component in governing autonomous technologies. If we are able to meet the challenges, AI and robotics have the potential to dramatically improve every aspect of human life.

   Bio for Steve Omohundro

Steve Omohundro has been a scientist, professor, author, software architect, and entrepreneur doing research that explores the interface between mind and matter. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and cofounded the Center for Complex Systems Research. He published the book “Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics”, designed the programming languages StarLisp and Sather, wrote the 3D graphics system for Mathematica, and built systems which learn to read lips, control robots, and induce grammars. He is president of both Possibility Research and Self-Aware Systems, a think tank working to ensure that intelligent technologies have a positive impact. His work on positive intelligent technologies was featured in James Barrat’s book “Our Final Invention” and has generated international interest. He serves on the advisory boards of the Cryptocurrency Research Group, the Institute for Blockchain Studies, and Pebble Cryptocurrency.

   Note for Visitors to SRI

Please arrive at least 10 minutes early as you will need to sign in by following instructions by the lobby phone at Building E. SRI is located at 333 Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park. Visitors may park in the parking lots off Fourth Street. Detailed directions to SRI, as well as maps, are available from the Visiting AIC web page. There are two entrances to SRI International located on Ravenswood Ave. Please check the Builing E entrance signage.


Huffington Post article supporting our work!

James Barrat just wrote a powerful article for the Huffington Post:

And he explicitly supported our work in the article (thanks James!):

The crux of the problem is that we don’t know how to control superintelligent machines. Many assume they will be harmless or even grateful. But important research conducted by A.I. scientist Steve Omohundro indicates that they will develop basic drives. Whether their job is to mine asteroids, pick stocks or manage our critical infrastructure of energy and water, they’ll become self-protective and seek resources to better achieve their goals. They’ll fight us to survive, and they won’t want to be turned off. Omohundro’s research concludes that the drives of superintelligent machines will be on a collision course with our own, unless we design them very carefully. We are right to ask, as Stephen Hawking did, “So, facing possible futures of incalculable benefits and risks, the experts are surely doing everything possible to ensure the best outcome, right?”

Wrong. With few exceptions, they’re developing products, not exploring safety and ethics. In the next decade, artificial intelligence-enhanced products are projected to create trillions of dollars in economic value. Shouldn’t some fraction of that be invested in the ethics of autonomous machines, solving the A.I. control problem and ensuring mankind’s survival?