Control dangerous AI before it controls us, one expert says

A killer robot from the 2009 film "Terminator Salvation" — exactly the type of future we don't want to see.

Super-intelligent computers or robots have threatened humanity’s existence more than once in science fiction. Such doomsday scenarios could be prevented if humans can create a virtual prison to contain artificial intelligence before it grows dangerously self-aware.

Keeping the artificial intelligence genie trapped in the proverbial bottle could turn an apocalyptic threat into a powerful oracle that solves humanity’s problems, said Roman Yampolskiy, a computer scientist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. But successful containment requires careful planning so that a clever breed of artificial intelligence cannot simply threaten, bribe, seduce or hack its way to freedom.

“It can discover new attack pathways, launch sophisticated social-engineering attacks and re-use existing hardware components in unforeseen ways,” Yampolskiy said. “Such software is not limited to infecting computers and networks — it can also attack human psyches, bribe, blackmail and brainwash those who come in contact with it.”

A new field of research aimed at solving the prison problem for artificial-intelligence programs could have side benefits for improving cybersecurity and cryptography, Yampolskiy suggested. His proposal was detailed in the March issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

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