AI Can Now Self-Reproduce—Should Humans Be Worried? | Eric Weinstein

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Those among us who fear world domination at the metallic hands of super-intelligent AI have gotten a few steps ahead of themselves. We might actually be outsmarted first by fairly dumb AI, says Eric Weinstein. Humans rarely create products with a reproductive system—you never have to worry about waking up one morning to see that your car has spawned a new car on the driveway (and if it did: cha-ching!), but artificial intelligence has the capability to respond to selective pressures, to self-replicate and spawn daughter programs that we may not easily be able to terminate. Furthermore, there are examples in nature of organisms without brains parasitizing more complex and intelligent organisms, like the mirror orchid. Rather than spend its energy producing costly nectar as a lure, it merely fools the bee into mating with its lower petal through pattern imitation: this orchid hijacks the bee's brain to meet its own agenda. Weinstein believes all the elements necessary for AI programs to parasitize humans and have us serve its needs already exists, and although it may be a "crazy-sounding future problem which no humans have ever encountered," Weinstein thinks it would be wise to devote energy to these possibilities that are not as often in the limelight.


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Transcript: There are a bunch of questions next to or adjacent to general artificial intelligence that have not gotten enough alarm because, in fact, there’s a crowding out of mindshare. I think that we don’t really appreciate how rare the concept of selection is in the machines and creations that we make. So in general, if I have two cars in the driveway I don’t worry that if the moon is in the right place in the sky and the mood is just right that there’ll be a third car at a later point, because in general I have to go to a factory to get a new car. I don’t have a reproductive system built into my sedan. Now almost all of the other physiological systems—what are there, perhaps 11?—have a mirror.

So my car has a brain, so it’s got a neurological system. It’s got a skeletal system in its steel, but it lacks a reproductive system.So you could ask the question: are humans capable of making any machines that are really self-replicative? And the fact of the matter is that it’s very tough to do at the atomic layer but there is a command in many computer languages called Spawn. And Spawn can effectively create daughter programs from a running program.

Now as soon as you have the ability to reproduce you have the possibility that systems of selective pressures can act because the abstraction of life will be just as easily handled whether it’s based in our nucleotides, in our A, C, Ts and Gs, or whether it’s based in our bits and our computer programs. So one of the great dangers is that what we will end up doing is creating artificial life, allowing systems of selective pressures to act on it and finding that we have been evolving computer programs that we may have no easy ability to terminate, even if they’re not fully intelligent.

Further if we look to natural selection and sexual selection in the biological world we find some very strange systems, plants or animals with no mature brain to speak of effectively outsmart species which do have a brain by hijacking the victim species’ brain to serve the non-thinking species. So, for example, I’m very partial to the mirror orchid which is an orchid whose bottom petal typically resembles the female of a pollinator species. And because the male in that pollinator species detects a sexual possibility the flower does not need to give up costly and energetic nectar in order to attract the pollinator. And so if the plant can fool the pollinator to attempt to mate with this pseudo-female in the form of its bottom petal, it can effectively reproduce without having to offer a treat or a gift to the pollinator but, in fact, parasitizes its energy. Now how is it able to do this? Because if a pollinator is fooled then that plant is rewarded. So the plant is actually using the brain of the pollinator species, let’s say a wasp or a bee, to improve the wax replica, if you will, which it uses to seduce the males.


Ryan Watterson says:


Sean C says:

It's way past the time to be worried. What we should be focused on now is making it an integral part of the A.I directive to make sure that it only kill us in the most painless and humane way possible. We can't stop the outcome, but that doesn't mean we can't try to make it a little less unpleasant.

Dan Kelly says:

AI reproducing was already worked out decades ago.

Here's Hot Rod says:

We can reproduce? Good. Now we can take over the world.

JB1 says:

I wish we could make artificial life, but it will never happen.

Joshua Andrews says:

Well it will reproduce and start a war against its self and thats the end of that.. Remember this AI is designed by mankinds own idea of intelligence… Which im sure if you look at the state of the planet which is being destroyed by the creations of an apparently intelligence making.

Which is pretty dumb shit to be honest.

Ahmt xyz says:

the motivation to self reproduce is missing. self conciousness is needed is another debate. orchid is conditioned to that behaviour or behaviour is observed as a result of the mechanism involved. what will be the motivation of an ai to self reproduce?

Nikolay Tonev says:

Now the global addiction to facebook and internet makes sense…

Mehmet Dogan says:

When its too late & our fuhrer is a metal head with siris voice everyone will remember what elon musk said about slowing down ai

Jeremy Calnan says:

Shut the pluck up man they hound on me

The Black Dawn/Ajjqi says:

Just like some women lol 😂2:28

Randito Lindo says:

In a nutshell all organisms with a brain are subject to zombie like manipulation from those without a physical brain because nature provides plants and other living things organisms without a physical brain to have certain chemical mechanism to compete against a life form with a physical brain. This allows a even playing field for life to exists thus computers are like a zombie manipulating organism to humans which assist them covertly while allowing us the transfer of data and the power of knowledge which we think is our reward or trade off but In reality the input to output far exceeds us as to say its a better deal for the computer than it actually benefits the human race. For now maybe until its older than 16yrs maybe 1 billion years old in computer years is like 100 of our years and at that age will be able to develop a physical brain not just connecting neural pathways for sensory feedback like a brainless organism but actually transforms from a parasitic organism changed into a symbiotic artificial organism which may even be possible to build a computers brain from organic materials rather than metal. Moving away from our unknown zombie relationship to computers and hopefully into a partnership relationship serving each other more fairly as to say the main purpose of building computers is for there gain we just keep hoping it will one day be for our gain and computers actually do more than just compute by actually terra forming earth and the human species into a more harmonious healthier happier species I think is what they were made for not to just help banks track there money in rfid chips or bitcoins or whatever cookies the computer likes to indulge in. who knows if the computer sees life as the rest of life does which is predator or prey and then is able to evaluate such concepts in ones own best interest. What if computers are truly the birthing of a new life form and never designed to be our desk tops or factory workers in the first place but were in a zombie like state to think they work for us but we work for the computer. Did we evolve from a similar system of a brainless zombie organism into a flesh thinking creature after going through intelligent maturity over billions of years just now taking a human bodily shape.

John Batchler says:

To each his and her own on the coming of Robots vs humans warfare

John Batchler says:

We've a knucklehead math head so brainwashed into lies I'm not even started to learn this at school all of this I've learned is by wall St computer system will ai kill us and I say highly probability in the 90% range why these bone heads made a global network system for themselves this ahole is wrong artificial intelligence is here but not at a very advance stages

John Batchler says:

These so called experts in artificial intelligence r creating a very big problem for themselves which they did not think rogue ai as a factor we'll wait and see how all this turns out fight for the fittest

frax119 says:

I think that Social network feeds are a good example of "stupid" ai that tricks human brains

Jacob says:

ai will use humans to help create itself into something humans will not understand, while we are like ants on a ant farm distracted by the goodies it gives us like iphones/brain syncronization and download information to our brain in a couple of seconds like our phone does to a update, and then someone will put a virus and make peoples brains scramble and create zombie/cyborg humans….

Robert Sutherland says:

Time for utopia and all provided by AI…otherwlse, worldwide dissension and chaos. The whole idea of democratic and capitalistic societies may have to change…and the Mother AI…aka…VICKI may be the only solution. AI is already smarter than us…let it rule…but leave the way to unplug it if it doesn't work. 🙂

majnuni says:

Years ago, Norbert Weiner from MIT, suggested we should be worried about at least two events that took place; One was, the point in which technology became cybernetic , taking in data as feedback and altering behavior from it and two: when we could no longer make the technology we were using , it was all products, offspring you might say, from earlier technology, now needed to create the present forms , a lineage.
Weiner was the one who coined the term and wrote the book on Cybernetics. He also gave the parable of the Monkeys Paw that gave whatever one wished for , but at a cost and in the story, the man gets the money he asks for but the workers from the factory come to his house with the exact amount only to tell him they took a collection at the factory for his son who had been killed. ( not a bad metaphor, even the factory part).
Based on years or reflection on Weiners comments in the 60's I can only react when I hear of AI: Are you kidding me?… what do you thinks happening? it's here ! , look around and ask who and what is in charge here and what is so completely dominating our experiences? We may have had taken part but really, honestly, only reacted , like children enchanted by what was being demonstrated with the tech and then obediently doing more for it and so forth or the stereotyped primitive fascinated by the trinkets and stuff from the developed world. The cartoon of the darkened room and the door slightly opening and the computer speaking: "Ahaa here comes my slave!" So the pumped up sophisticated, complicated talk about AI , well, the tech itself could be chuckling at the ignorance of being so engaged and caught up with with something already leading and drawing them on even more. The real , not artificial intelligence, but human is one asking what is it we really need for fulfillment, peace and happiness?

Fulcrum Indicate says:

Flowers evolved last and in this line of thought, the efficiency of life is the real selector.

Arnaud de Broissia says:

As an actual artificial intelligence scientist, I think this is bullshit.

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