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Stuart Russell: Will we choose the right objective for AI before it destroys us all? Posted on : Feb 13 - 2020

Stuart Russell, author of a textbook on AI, and the popular volume, Human Compatible, says humanity needs to get its act together and think about what the right objectives are to make sure machines more intelligent than ourselves don't annihilate the human race.

Will machines much smarter than us destroy the human race?

Usually, that question is the stuff of hysterically bad journalism. But there is a section of academia that is reflecting on the matter with thoughtfulness and rigor.

One such fellow is Stuart Russell, professor of artificial intelligence at the University of California at Berkeley. Wednesday morning at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, a crowd of AI researchers mobbed Russell as he stepped off the stage at the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Russell had spoken for an hour about the fate of humanity should it lose control of intelligent machines. "How not to destroy the world with AI," as he titled it (slides available on Russell's Web site).

He spent another fifteen minutes patiently listening in the hall outside the ballroom as excited audience members peppered him with follow-up questions.

Then Russell excused himself to go to the lobby bar and explain to ZDNet how he is trying to change a mindset that fails to appreciate the risks.

"A lot of people operate on the assumption that it's only when we make machines that are conscious that we will have a problem," Russell explained as he sipped a coffee. "But that literally doesn't make any sense."

In Russell's view, any machine that can be made with greater intelligence than humans poses a danger, just by being smarter. "You can make super-intelligent machines, and it doesn't matter if it's conscious or not." View More