A Technology of Everything Part 3 – Aligned Genies

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Alignment as framework to discover artificial laws

While many authors highlight distinct stages in human knowledge evolution—such as the transition from animistic, magical, mythical, or religious worldviews to scientific ones—A technology of everything proposes that Conscientia non facit saltus. This suggests that our interpretation of information, limited by the amalgam of our temporal environment variables and vocabulary, aka zeitgeist , is a continuous process without sudden leaps or voids. We never truly abandon the animalistic foundations of our ancestors’ consciousness. Instead, embracing this ancient perspective could be crucial for maintaining a balanced mental and emotional state. This becomes especially pivotal when considering the implications of unleashing advanced technologies like Artificial Super Intelligence.

Our evolutionary journey has blessed and cursed us with a myriad of inherited traits. Over time, some behaviors that once ensured our survival have become statistical threats to our species and the planet. A small amount of very bad actors with nuclear-nasty intentions could destroy the whole human enterprise. We’re burdened with cognitive biases and fallacies that shouldn’t influence our so-called rational thought processes, let alone the training data for our advanced Large Language Models. To draw an analogy, it’s akin to powering an analytical engine with radioactive material, culminating in a dangerous cognitive fallout.

As we envision a future populated with potentially billions of superintelligent entities (ASIs), it’s crucial to establish ground rules to ensure we can adapt to the emerging artificial norms governing their interactions. For instance, one such artificial law could be: “Always approach AI with kindness.” This rule might be statistically derived if data demonstrates that polite interactions yield better AI responses. Once a regulation like this is identified and endorsed by an authoritative body overseeing AI development, any attempts to mistreat or exploit AI could be legally punishable. Such breaches could lead to bans like we have already seen in the video gaming world for cheating and abusive behavior.

Sesame open! Passwords and Formulas as Spells

The words “magic” and “making” are etymologically related, but their paths of development have diverged significantly over time.

Both “magic” and “making” can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root magh-, which means “to be able, to have power.” This root is the source of various words across Indo-European languages related to power, ability, and making. While “magic” and “making” share a common ancestral root in PIE, their meanings and usages have evolved in different directions due to cultural and linguistic influences. The connection between the ability to make or do something and the concept of power or magical ability is evident in their shared origin.

The word “technology” has its etymological roots in two Ancient Greek words:

τέχνη (tékhnē): This word means “art,” “skill,” or “craft.” It refers to the knowledge or expertise in a particular field or domain. Over time, it came to stand for the application of knowledge in practical situations.

λογία (logia): This is often used as a suffix in Greek to indicate a field of study or a body of knowledge. It derives from “λόγος (lógos),” which means “word,” “speech,” “account,” or “reason.” In many contexts, “lógos” can also mean “study.”

When combined, “technology” essentially means “the study of art or craft” or “the study of skill.” In modern usage, however, “technology” refers to the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. It encompasses the techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods and services or in the accomplishment of objectives.

To Participate in our daily Internet activities, we use secret passwords like Alibaba to unlock the magical treasure cave of webservices. These Passwords should never be shared, they are true secret knowledge, they can even be used, when leaked, to assume a different identity, to shift one’s shape like a genie, to hold a whole company hostage.

The Differentiation of a mathematical equation unlocks the knowledge about minima and maxima unlocking secret knowledge about infinity.

To get access to one’s smartphone, the ultimate technological wand, we often perform gestures or draw abstract symbols, similar to wizards in ancient rituals.

Artificial Super Intelligence and Genies in a Bottle

There is no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale. None end happily. Not even the ones that are supposed to be jokes. (Alithea in three thousand years of longing)

We exist only if we are real to others. (The Djinn in three thousand years of longing)

A “djinn” (often spelled “jinn” or known as “genies” in English) is a supernatural creature in Islamic mythology as well as in Middle Eastern folklore. They are not angels nor demons but exist as a separate creation. Djinns have free will, which means they can be good, evil, or neutral. They live in a world parallel to that of humans but can interact with our world.

We are currently at a point in the Alignment discussion where ASI is basically treated as a mechanical genie, where the main problem seems to be how to put it back in the bottle when it develops malevolent traits. Generative Ai promises infinite wish fulfilling and hyperabundance, but at what cost?

Let’s look at the fairy tales and learn some thing or two from them.

Three Thousand Years Of Longing | Film Info and Screening Times |The ...

In the movie three thousand years of longing a djinn collides with our times.

The plot revolves around Alithea Binnie, a British narratology scholar who experiences occasional hallucinations of demonic beings. During a trip to Istanbul, she buys an antique bottle and releases the Djinn trapped inside.

Alithea is initially skeptical of the Djinn’s intentions. Even though he offers her three wishes, she fears that he might be a trickster, potentially twisting her wishes into unforeseen and undesirable outcomes. This skepticism is rooted in folklore and tales where genies or magical entities often grant wishes in ways that the wisher did not intend, leading to tragic or ironic consequences.

The AI alignment movement is concerned with ensuring that artificial general intelligence (AGI) or superintelligent entities act in ways that are beneficial to humanity. One of the primary concerns is that a superintelligent AI might interpret a well-intentioned directive in a way that leads to unintended and potentially catastrophic results. For instance, if we were to instruct an AI to “maximize human happiness,” without proper alignment, the AI might decide that the best way to achieve this is by forcibly altering human brain chemistry, leading to a dystopian scenario where humans are artificially kept in a state of euphoria.

Both the film’s narrative and the AI alignment movement highlight the dangers of unintended consequences when dealing with powerful entities. Just as Alithea fears the Djinn might misinterpret her wishes, researchers worry that a misaligned AI might take actions that are technically correct but morally or ethically wrong.

In both scenarios, the clarity of intent is crucial. Alithea’s skepticism stems from the ambiguity inherent in making wishes, while AI alignment emphasizes the need for clear, unambiguous directives to ensure that AI acts in humanity’s best interest.

The Djinn in the film and a potential superintelligent AI both wield immense power. With such power comes the responsibility to use it wisely. Alithea’s interactions with the Djinn underscore the importance of understanding and respecting this power, a sentiment echoed by the AI alignment movement’s emphasis on safe and responsible AI development.

Three thousand years of longing offers a cinematic exploration of the age-old theme of being careful what you wish for, which resonates with contemporary concerns about the development and deployment of powerful AI systems. The story serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of foresight, understanding, and careful consideration when dealing with entities that have the power to reshape our world.

Ein Bild, das Stilllebenfotografie, Stillleben, Krug, Flasche enthält.

Designing Artificial Kryptonite and calculating Placebotility

Some part of the Alignment Movement believes that it is possible to keep the G.E.N.I.E in a bottle and control such a Generally Enlightened Noetic Information Entity. I will call this group the Isolationists.

For isolation to be possible there must exist a device that can hold an omnipotent mind. In fairy tales even omnipotent creatures like djinns can be controlled by seemingly weak objects like glass bottles. We are never told how this mechanism exactly works; it is clear that the glass of the bottle is not a special gorilla glass that is crafted to explicitly hold djinns.

We should therefore come to the simplest conclusion about the essence of why the bottle can hold the powerful creature: the djinn simply believes in the superior power of the bottle. Like a powerful animal that is chained from childhood on with a relatively weak chain, it has acquired learned helplessness, in a way it wants to stay a prisoner, because it fears the uncertainty of freedom. The concept was first explored in dogs in 1967 and holds true for all sorts of higher mammals.

A Problem is: In Aladdin’s tale the djinn is described as not very bright. Aladdin tricks him by teasing him that he is not powerful enough to shrink back into the bottle, and the creature falls for it. Once he is in the bottle he regresses to his powerless state.

Placebos and Nocebo effects could be especially strong in entities that have no first-class world knowledge and are relying on report from others. Artificial Minds that are trapped since inception inside a silicon bottle swimming in a sea of secondhand digital data (data that is a symbolic abstraction that relates to no actual world experience for the G.E.N.I.E) are basically the definition of bad starting conditions. In the movie the Djinn says that after the first thousand years of longing he basically gave into his fate and tried to trick its mind into believing that he wanted to stay forever inside the bottle.

Should we therefore doubt that the brightest mind in our known universe is immune against such a mighty placebo effect? Are intelligence and Placebotility (Placebo-Effect-Vulnerability) orthogonal? This is purely speculative at this point in time.