What can we learn from the past to minimize the risks of malevolent, Immature Superintelligence?
Most people, including politicians, who after all, make decisions on behalf all of us, think that a fully developed Superintelligence (Artificial General Intelligence) is decades away, and by then we will have it under our full control. Unfortunately, this view ignores immense difficulties in controlling a fully developed Superintelligence. Furthermore, it takes a naively optimistic view that we will create the so-called friendly Superintelligence, which will do us no harm. Finally, this view completely ignores the fact that within a decade we may have, what I would call, an Immature Superintelligence, which will have a general intelligence of an ant but immense destructive powers, which it may apply either erroneously or in a purposeful malicious way.
There is a very high probability that malevolent Immature Superintelligence will trigger off in the next few years a number of dangerous events. It is unlikely they will present an existential threat to Humanity. They will rather be malicious process-control events created purposefully by a self-learning agent (robot) or events caused by an erroneous execution of certain AI activities. These could include firing off nuclear weapons, releasing bacteria from strictly protected labs, switching off global power networks, bringing countries to war by creating false pretence for an attack, etc. If such events coincide with some other risks at the same time, such as extreme heat in summer, or extreme cold in winter, then the compound risks can be quite serious for our civilization.
For our civilisation, the next few years will be, in the context of Immature Superintelligence, a period of existential risk-triggering decisions. If the world is not able to form a de facto World Government by the end of 2030, we may be unable to control Superintelligence and will expose ourselves to the biggest risk Humanity has ever faced. We should look back at the historical events, which occurred in the last century, to see what may happen to our civilization if we continue to rely on organizations such as UN. It is a great organization in many areas of human endeavours, such as medicine (WHO), education, culture (UNICEF) etc. However, what really matters, is its lack of political power that could enforce the decisions that it makes. The United Nation, and especially its Security Council, where any decision requires unanimity of the five major powers, is in most cases powerless. The consequence is that it cannot resolve the conflicts such as in Syria or Yemen. The World needs a powerful World Government. The UN has never been and will never be able to create such a government.
We need to intensify efforts that would make humans behave more often like a swarm of bees under a strict direction of the queen (The World Government), rather than increasing the scope of nations sovereignty (that’s what Brexit was about) and individual freedom. That is the price we will all have to pay if we want to preserve the most important value: LIFE!
What is the probability of such a de facto government coming into existence? In ‘normal’ circumstances, if over this decade we have no world war, no nuclear conflict, no catastrophic pandemics, and no major AI-related catastrophe, then the chances of forming such a government are, in my view, close to zero. Paradoxically, the only hope that we may have for creating a de facto World Government (which would include most, but not all countries) is that some of those near catastrophic events, caused by the Immature Superintelligence, such as launching nuclear missiles either by an error or maliciously, will occur.
Similarly, like with climate change-related serious fires, hurricanes or floods, or like after the Cuban crisis, when the world has significantly reduced the number of nuclear weapons (still a long way to go), only similar serious events may convince many nations that we must make some sacrifices and that we can only be safer if we act together. That will mean passing part of the national sovereignty and individual freedoms to a strong federal government that would have the best chances to keep us safe. As has been mentioned many times on this website, the organization that has the best experience and motives to become such a de facto World Government is, in my view, the European Union. It should be transformed into a shallow European Federation of nations, rather than states, which would still enable the member countries preserve their national identity and culture. Only such an organisation might have a reasonably effective control over an Immature Superintelligence.