OpenAI’s Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever comments on Artificial General Intelligence – “You’re gonna see dramatically more intelligent systems in 10 or 15 years from now, and I think it’s highly likely that those systems will have completely astronomical impact on society”

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Below are some of the interesting comments Ilya Sutskever made in the documentary IHuman.

I feel that technology is a force of nature. I feel like there is a lot of similarity between technology and biological evolution. Playing God. Scientists have been accused of playing God for a while, but there is a real sense in which we are creating something very different from anything we’ve created so far. I was interested in the concept of AI from a relatively early age. At some point, I got especially interested in machine learning. What is experience? What is learning? What is thinking? How does the brain work? These questions are philosophical, but it looks like we can come up with algorithms that both do useful things and help us answer these questions. Like it’s almost like applied philosophy. Artificial General Intelligence, AGI. A computer system that can do any job or any task that a human does, but only better. Yeah, I mean, we definitely will be able to create completely autonomous beings with their own goals. And it will be very important, especially as these beings become much smarter than humans, it’s going to be important to have these beings, that the goals of these beings be aligned with our goals. That’s what we’re trying to do at OpenAI. Be at the forefront of research and steer the research, steer their initial conditions so to maximize the chance that the future will be good for humans. Now, AI is a great thing because AI will solve all the problems that we have today. It will solve employment, it will solve disease, it will solve poverty, but it will also create new problems. I think that… The problem of fake news is going to be a thousand, a million times worse. Cyberattacks will become much more extreme. You will have totally automated AI weapons. I think AI has the potential to create infinitely stable dictatorships. You’re gonna see dramatically more intelligent systems in 10 or 15 years from now, and I think it’s highly likely that those systems will have completely astronomical impact on society. Will humans actually benefit? And who will benefit, who will not?

Artificial General Intelligence, AGI. Imagine your smartest friend, with 1,000 friends, just as smart, and then run them at a 1,000 times faster than real time. So it means that in every day of our time, they will do three years of thinking. Can you imagine how much you could do if, for every day, you could do three years’ worth of work? It wouldn’t be an unfair comparison to say that what we have right now is even more exciting than the quantum physicists of the early 20th century. They discovered nuclear power. I feel extremely lucky to be taking part in this. Many machine learning experts, who are very knowledgeable and experienced, have a lot of skepticism about AGI. About when it would happen, and about whether it could happen at all. But right now, this is something that just not that many people have realized yet. That the speed of computers, for neural networks, for AI, are going to become maybe 100,000 times faster in a small number of years. The entire hardware industry for a long time didn’t really know what to do next, but with artificial neural networks, now that they actually work, you have a reason to build huge computers. You can build a brain in silicon, it’s possible. The very first AGIs will be basically very, very large data centers packed with specialized neural network processors working in parallel. Compact, hot, power hungry package, consuming like 10 million homes’ worth of energy. A roast beef sandwich. Yeah, something slightly different. Just this once. Even the very first AGIs will be dramatically more capable than humans. Humans will no longer be economically useful for nearly any task. Why would you want to hire a human, if you could just get a computer that’s going to do it much better and much more cheaply? AGI is going to be like, without question, the most important technology in the history of the planet by a huge margin. It’s going to be bigger than electricity, nuclear, and the Internet combined. In fact, you could say that the whole purpose of all human science, the purpose of computer science, the End Game, this is the End Game, to build this. And it’s going to be built. It’s going to be a new life form. It’s going to be… It’s going to make us obsolete.

The beliefs and desires of the first AGIs will be extremely important. So, it’s important to program them correctly. I think that if this is not done, then the nature of evolution of natural selection will favor those systems, prioritize their own survival above all else. It’s not that it’s going to actively hate humans and want to harm them, but it’s just going to be too powerful and I think a good analogy would be the way humans treat animals. It’s not that we hate animals. I think humans love animals and have a lot of affection for them, but when the time comes to build a highway between two cities, we are not asking the animals for permission. We just do it because it’s important for us. And I think by default, that’s the kind of relationship that’s going to be between us and AGIs which are truly autonomous and operating on their own behalf. If you have an arms-race dynamics between multiple kings trying to build the AGI first, they will have less time to make sure that the AGI that they build will care deeply for humans. Because the way I imagine it is that there is an avalanche, there is an avalanche of AGI development. Imagine it’s a huge unstoppable force. And I think it’s pretty likely the entire surface of the earth would be covered with solar panels and data centers. Given these kinds of concerns, it will be important that the AGI is somehow built as a cooperation with multiple countries. The future is going to be good for the AIs, regardless. It would be nice if it would be good for humans as well.

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