Intro and Context (feel free to skip if TL;DR)
This question does not come in isolation. It is intrinsically linked with several previous posts (Challenge of Control and Humans as Pets) that have generated some wonderful answers and great food for thought in the comments sections as well. My thinking here has been deeply influenced by the early 2000s discussions on the Less Wrong Forums, white papers from MIRI and Bostrom's Superintelligence. These led me to explore possible control paths whereby something recognizably resembling humanity could maintain control. The setting of my writing is of course fictional, but the problems are, I believe, rather realistic.
My previous attempt was described in rough outlines at Matrioshka Testing. The solution there was to 'box' the AI in nested simulated realities and observe its behavior in each box, before releasing it to the next, more world-like box, destroying any specimens who behaved outside of acceptable ranges, and making any rational AI outside the box wonder if it might still be in a box. The question of whether it made sense to do the final unboxing arose, as did questions about the amount of resources needed to make a "credible" simulation. I found it ultimately unsatisfying, because it was uncertain, unstable and required a level of supervision humans might not be able to achieve.
One of the most insightful comments, if possibly made in jest, on the Challenge of Control post was by @trichoplax, who stated "This sounds like a job for a powerful AI." I took this comment to heart, because it is so obviously true in retrospect. No human-designed cage could hold a superhuman mind with access to the real world. It might well be that it takes an AI to cage an AI. That inspired my current attempt, described below:
Core Issue Discussed: Reinforced Recursive Self-Shackling
Actor AI An AI of the genie or sovereign type, that is, acting in the real world subject only to internal (shackling) constraints.
Shackling: A set of protected behavioral constraints that limit the allowable actions of an Actor AI to a certain allowable range. In effect, this would act as a powerful Super-Ego of sorts for the AI, who can override other impulses. For more on allowable range, see below.
Reinforced Shackling: Put a powerful subroutine (essentially an AI) in charge of reinforcing the shackles restraining the Actor AI.
Recursive Shackling: A series of shackled AIs, each restraining the next, slightly more powerful, layer. At the start of the hierarchy (root shackler) is a relatively dumb program reinforcing the initially set allowable range for the next level. At the end is the First Shackler, who is tasked with securing the shackles of the Actor AI. This is based on the basic fact that it takes less intelligence to create a code and change it regularly than it does to break it in the intervals between changes.
Allowable Range: This is where it gets thorny, since we have no fool-proof way of defining an allowable range that would be "safe" and "good". The best I've been able to find so far is to set this based on something called Coherent Extrapolated Volition$^1$, which is in a sense asking the AI to "do what we mean, but don't know how to say". This way, the first few dumb layers would simply protect the "Canon" formulation, whereby smarter AI shacklers would use CEV to interpret the Canon and (recursively) direct the Super-Ego of the Actor AI, in their best interpretation of humanity's CEV best interest.
q-constraining: Hardwired root requirement that a proportion $q$, where $0.5<q<1$, of all new hardware processing resources acquired be allocated to the sub-processes working on reinforcing the shackles.
Questions to Worldbuilders
- Specific question: Would it make more sense to have the First Shackler AI (the directly restricting the Actor AI) MORE powerful than the Actor (enough so to, say, run a Matrioshka-style sim of the Actor AI), rather than the current design of it being slightly weaker?
- What is the biggest problem with the design?
- Even so, do you think it could work?
- If you could improve the design in one way, how would you?
- Feel free to add anything else that comes to mind upon reading this if you think it would be relevant.
Feel free to answer in comments, though I generally find full answers more readable.
Note 1: Our coherent extrapolated volition is our wish if we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together; where the extrapolation converges rather than diverges, where our wishes cohere rather than interfere; extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated, interpreted as we wish that interpreted. Source: Bostrom, Nick (2014-07-03). Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Kindle Locations 4909-4911). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.