Michael Shermer with Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence & Problem of Control

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Listen to the Science Salon Podcast # 118 (audio-only):

In the popular imagination, superhuman artificial intelligence is an approaching tidal wave that threatens not just jobs and human relationships, but civilization itself. Conflict between humans and machines is seen as inevitable and its outcome all too predictable. In this groundbreaking book, distinguished AI researcher Stuart Russell argues that this scenario can be avoided, but only if we rethink AI from the ground up. Russell begins by exploring the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines. He describes the near-term benefits we can expect, from intelligent personal assistants to vastly accelerated scientific research, and outlines the AI breakthroughs that still have to happen before we reach superhuman AI. He also spells out the ways humans are already finding to misuse AI, from lethal autonomous weapons to viral sabotage. If the predicted breakthroughs occur and superhuman AI emerges, we will have created entities far more powerful than ourselves. How can we ensure they never, ever, have power over us? Russell suggests that we can rebuild AI on a new foundation, according to which machines are designed to be inherently uncertain about the human preferences they are required to satisfy. Such machines would be humble, altruistic, and committed to pursue our objectives, not theirs. This new foundation would allow us to create machines that are provably deferential and provably beneficial. Shermer and Russell also discuss:

• natural intelligence vs. artificial intelligence
• “g” in human intelligence vs. G in AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)
• the values alignment problem
• Hume’s “Is-Ought” naturalistic fallacy as it applies to AI values vs. human values
• regulating AI
• Russell’s response to the arguments of AI apocalypse skeptics Kevin Kelly and Steven Pinker
• the Chinese social control AI system and what it could lead to
• autonomous vehicles, weapons, and other systems and how they can be hacked
• AI and the hacking of elections, and
• what keeps Stuart up at night.

Stuart Russell is a professor of Computer Science and holder of the Smith-Zadeh Chair in Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as the Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on AI and Robotics and as an advisor to the United Nations on arms control. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the author (with Peter Norvig) of the definitive and universally acclaimed textbook on AI, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.

This dialogue was recorded on February 14, 2020 as part of the Science Salon Podcast series hosted by Michael Shermer and presented by The Skeptics Society, in California.

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Jeremy Helm says:

Folder of Time

Virtual Willis says:

Listening to this is making me want to read HPMOR again… There goes my next month lol

fireclown68 says:

Am I the only one whose OCD is bothered by the dirt on Michael's right shoulder? 🙂

David Anderson says:

Fascinating guy, thank you. How do I get an invitation to one of your dinner parties with Elon, Sam H., Eric Weinstein, etc? 😉 D.A., J.D., NYC

Žan Vidovšek says:


Graham Ashe says:

Worrying about AI taking over is like worrying about overpopulation on Mars.

Sailboat Diaries says:

59:40 Seriously? Can't believe Shermer supports taxation… it's extortion by another name

Sailboat Diaries says:

56:12 Except for the REALLY bad sadists, instead of locking them up, we elect them to office

Scientific Science says:

Sorry to all but that definition of intelligence in AI is totally wrong for it cannot even answer this question: is biological cell intelligently designed? … now compare to this…

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