As part of a research project for college I would like to understand what many of you astern to be the risks associated with regulating Artificial Intelligence. Such as whether regulation is too risky in regards to limiting progress or too risky in regards to uninformed regulation.

  • $\begingroup$ Just as a note - Artificial Intelligence is defined as "the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions." isn't exactly correct. The definition of AI varies massively between people, but generally AI refers to a programmatic substitute to a human in a problem that would normally require a human. The term says nothing about how an AI thinks, just the end goal. This may seem pedantic, but it's actually really important to know the discrepancy between artificial intelligence and the AGI you mentioned in the survey $\endgroup$ – Recessive Oct 21 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ If you're asking us only to fill the survey, then this could be off-topic. If you're asking us to answer the question in the title, then this post should be fine. $\endgroup$ – nbro Oct 21 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ I took the link to the survey out of the main text of the question, but I think it would be ok to post in the comments: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/… $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Oct 21 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a link to a survey I put together. Also as part of the project. If you have the time to look at it please do! Thank you! :) docs.google.com/forms/d/… $\endgroup$ – JsAdam Oct 21 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Recessive I was also having a hard time creating stories that involve just ANI and thought it would be easier for people to understand. If you have any tips for the survey I'd love to here them! $\endgroup$ – JsAdam Oct 21 at 22:32

Risks of regulation?

As you mention in your survey, it is generally understood that the primary concern with regulating AI research is that other parties risk falling behind.

Should we regulate it? Can it be done?

You can't really "regulate" technological development in the same way you can regulate some other things in general. Asides from the fact that there is no global governance that can implement this regulation on nations, you can't really regulate someone's research more than you can control how people think: you just need a pen / paper / computer to do any research in math/AI.

The NSA tried to regulate encryption citing national security reasons during a saga known as the Crypto Wars. They failed.

What is AI anyways? How will we get there? What will it be like?

Honestly, from the phrasing of your questions in your survey, I get the impression that you don't really understand the hypothetical existential risk due to AI. Personally I don't really buy into their thesis, but in any case, if such a super-intelligent agent emerges, the problem isn't so much "oh no my city is destroyed" or "oh no so many people are killed", but more so "all of humanity is enslaved without being aware" or "everything is dead". We think this might happen because we assume AI is all-powerful and we project our own negative qualities onto this unknown agent with unknown power. It's mostly fear really.

This is all speculation, and by definition you cannot predict the behavior of an agent smarter than you, so literally every single comment on this topic is purely unbased speculation. The only thing that is true is that we don't know.

There is another aspect of AI which is dangerous, which more so concerns with how humans use it: i.e. facial recognition, automated weapon systems, automated hacking. These are more pressing issues.

What should we do? We are forced to research AI because no party can afford to fall behind, but at the same time we are pushing ourselves towards a dangerous future: it's a catch-22....

Consensus and current practice suggests that every researcher publicizes our results. Compared to other areas of academia, whose research is often locked behind paywall, ML/AI research is quite publicly accessible. Of course, this doesn't prevent the possibility of a rouge agent....


I think there is a very strong argument for regulating AI. Chiefly, unintentional (or intentional) bias in statistically driven algorithms, and the idea that responsibility can be offloaded to processes that cannot be meaningfully punished where they transgress. Additionally, the history of technology, especially since the industrial revolution, strongly validates neo-luddism in the sense that the problems arising from implementation of new technology are not always predictable.

In this sense, there are both ethical reasons to consider regulation, and minimax reasons (here in the sense of erring on the side of caution to minimize the maximum potential downside.)

  • Risk of falling behind

A risk is that not all participants will hew to the regulations, giving those who don't a significant advantage, but, that, in and of itself, is not a reason to forgo sensible regulation.

However, this is not a justification to forgo regulation in that that penalties at least serve as potential deterrent.

  • Opportunity cost

Not a risk, but a driver. The idea of "leaving money on the table" in that not implementing a given technology forgoes greater utility, sacrificing potential benefit.

This is not invalid, but shouldn't ignore hidden costs. For instance, the wide-scale deployment of even primitive bots has had a profound social impact.


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