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“Humans Should Flourish” is All that Stands Between Us and Murderous Robots

How to stop AIs from going rogue and killing us all?

Theoretically, it is all about the guiding principles you instil into them while you build them. That is not so easy, though: teach your AI that it should be toiling to make human beings happy, and you might end up with eight billion people forcibly plugged into a machine administering happiness-inducing waves to the brain; ask the AI to bring about peace, and it could decide that the surefire way to achieve that is killing off the whole humankind. You get the gist: ambiguous commands tend to have nasty consequences.

Hence the Royal Society and the British Academy teamed up to have a crack at staving off killer robots, by means of creating fool-proof (Skynet-proof?) principles. Reading a recent report by the two organisations, turns out that only one principle will do it: to avoid disaster, intelligent machines should be instructed to follow the rule that “humans should flourish.”

Why is it so? According to the Royal Society’s Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser, that is simply because “the term really encapsulated what we wanted to say,” BBC News reports. Leyser underlined how the principle manages to condense in a simple sentence a whole lot of meaning, being a pithy version of Isaac Asimov’s well-known “three laws of robotics.”

Furthermore, the report suggests that we create an organisation ensuring that machines serve rather than manipulate people, and it advocates for a larger involvement of the public in the development of smart systems.

Another entity, called “stewardship body” and comprised of experts and stakeholders—according to the report—should instead be in charge of creating an ethical framework for machines to abide by.

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