back to article World leaders ink AI safety pacts while Musk and Sunak engage in awkward bromance

The UK government has announced a tech industry agreement it claims will form a plan for AI safety testing. With various types of AI being routinely built into consumer and business-facing software, developers agreed that governments have a role in overseeing external safety testing of AI models. The move is designed to keep …

  1. Steve Button Silver badge

    Timescales?

    It's all very well predicting that we'll be living in The Culture (which is where Musk gets many of his ideas, including Neural Lace) and we won't need jobs...

    but he's put no timescales on this. It's almost certainly going to happen in less than 1,000 years. In the lifetime of Sunak's government? Nope. My life? very unlikely. My grandchildren's lifetime? Could be, but still pretty unlikely.

    I'm still waiting for flying cars, hoverboards or, I dunno, free public transport.

    I do think AI is pretty cool, and I'm hoping that soon I'll be able to say "Computer, take my last year's expenses spreadsheet and copy everything to this year and update the dates and amounts for me" and it will go off and dig into my bank accounts and figure everything out.

    Right now, I feel that companies are trying to drum up a lot of hype about the future of AI, so that they can get a big slice of that lovely VC funding. More bloody vapourware.

    Putting in a "framework" for this would be like the Wright Brothers asking for an oversight board, to consider the potential impacts of plane engines, or something (please think of a better analogy, it's Friday and I'm tired).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh, we've got Hoverboards. They just don't hover. And have been banned from the rail network.

      (Are those things still on sale? I haven't seen them in a while...)

      1. Steve Button Silver badge

        Correction. Hover boards that actually work (like in Back To The Future) and flying cars that actually work (like in Blade Runner)

    2. Willy Ekerslike

      Re: Timescales?

      One day, perhaps. Looking at office work, and administration tasks in general, most will quite possibly become fully automated within a generation or three. Looking at manufacturing, robots can already do a lot of the repetitive or predictable work, I think it might take a bit longer to get all tasks under AI and robotic control (though we'll probably get a long way down that road fairly quickly in the more developed economies). Agriculture/farming is already fairly mechanised and automation is quickly gaining ground (again, in the more developed economies).

      There are significant caveats, though.

      Who will make decisions? How will it all be governed? Where will any human oversight fit in? Those are all work to some people, so the "nobody needing to work" criterion has to address even that.

      Once there is limited work, how will the economy be managed? If people aren't needed for work, what will they be needed for? Even leisure activities (including entertainment) will need to become autonomous? If nobody earns a wage, the state will need to support.

      Who will invest in the poorer economies to support those who fully depend on being able to work for a wage? For example, automating clothing "sweat shops" whilst concurrently giving the workforce wages without them having to do anything for them.

      And a lot else I've not even considered...

      The ultimate goal may be achievable but the current economy and (global and national) government is unlikely to be able to manage the transition.

      Musk's statement is, to me, akin to predicting that the Sun will eventually die - and the timescale needn't be all that different!

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Timescales?

        Looking at office work, and administration tasks in general, most will quite possibly become fully automated within a generation or three.

        You can already observe quite funny thing at some offices. Workers send emails generated by ChatGPT to their colleagues, then their colleagues put these emails to ChatGPT with some context and reply back. Rinse and repeat.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Timescales?

          That raises the question of what useful work they were doing before. And the corollary - how many existing jobs are actually useful?

        2. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Timescales?

          And watching CS50 from Harvard they did Large Language Models and The End of Programming - CS50 Tech Talk with Dr. Matt Welsh.

          Dr. Matt Welsh made itself seem like a tit saying his company uses Co-Pilot and he's made it mandatory or he'll fire you.

      2. Plest Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Timescales?

        Exactly this and the billion dollar question is...if we will now have no need for a job and will have all this leisure time and opportunities, who's going to pay for it all?

        The ultra-billionaires didn't become rich by giving a single penny away, they're not going to start some utopian social system to pay us all a living wage for doing nothing are they! The governents around the world are financed by, oh yes, taxes paid but workers and if not one's working, well doesn't take a genius to work out the next step does it.

        Looks like the only jobs going will be to be hired as private security force of the ultra rich to protect them from the riots as people take to the streets to demand jobs, food, homes and money.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Timescales?

          What other people? They either don't matter or will have died of starvation, cold (energy bills) or health (it's critical to privatise all healthcare to these people - less poor people living and more money made)

        2. desht

          Re: Timescales?

          "Looks like the only jobs going will be to be hired as private security force of the ultra rich to protect them from the riots as people take to the streets to demand jobs, food, homes and money."

          Nah, AI drones with poor person recognition tech will be able to handle that.

      3. Felonmarmer

        Re: Timescales?

        "Once there is limited work, how will the economy be managed? If people aren't needed for work, what will they be needed for? Even leisure activities (including entertainment) will need to become autonomous? If nobody earns a wage, the state will need to support."

        Either everything is free and provided by the state, and money ceases to exist, or some form of universal income is provided which means permanent relative poverty for most and Musk and Co living it up being so rich that for them there is no money (not far from where we are now).

        Couple this with Sunak's advice to risk it all on going into business, when 60% of all start-ups fail in the first year (and that's right now, let alone when everybody is doing it and we are all competing for the same customers) and you can see what they mean for us and them. Imagining betting your career and livelihood on a gamble with less than a 50-50 payout? Rishi Sunak can.

        Musk is selling us Star Trek, but we are going to get Bladerunner (without the flying cars).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Timescales?

          >Couple this with Sunak's advice to risk it all on going into business, when 60% of all start-ups fail in the first year (and that's right now, let alone when everybody is doing it and we are all competing for the same customers) and you can see what they mean for us and them. Imagining betting your career and livelihood on a gamble with less than a 50-50 payout? Rishi Sunak can.

          A reminder that Rishi Sunak refused to help many SMEs during Covid...

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Timescales?

      waiting for flying cars, hoverboards or, I dunno, free public transport.

      If, like Rishy Sunak, you take short flights at no cost to yourself, then it is the next best thing to having flying cars and free public transport

    4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Timescales?

      I'm still waiting on AI rather than marketing branding nonsense.

      What we currently have is LLM technologies that are essentially very cleverly put together instances of predictive text. Obviously rather more sophisticated than predictive text, but there is absolutely no intelligence anywhere to be had. There is no domain of knowledges being formed with propositions, tests and experimentation, just the munging together of scraped content from elsewhere which may, or may not, be accurate and is likely rather biased too. These tools are useful, but they are not and never can be "AI".

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Timescales?

        "There is no domain of knowledges being formed with propositions, tests and experimentation, just the munging together of scraped content from elsewhere which may, or may not, be accurate and is likely rather biased too."

        If the models are recursively trained on the output of models what is the long-term outcome? Do they converge so they all give the same, possibly meaningless, output to every prompt or do they diverge and emit random strings of nonsense?

    5. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

      Re: Timescales?

      "Putting in a "framework" for this would be like the Wright Brothers asking for an oversight board, to consider the potential impacts of plane engines, or something (please think of a better analogy, it's Friday and I'm tired)."

      I think it's a very good analogy. The political urge to regulate all the things is out of control. Powered flight, cars, railways, computers, the internet... None of them came about amid a regulatory framework. Sure, if needed, introduce regulations later, when there is need. But innovation cannot thrive when it's bogged down in red tape.

  2. hammarbtyp
    Terminator

    Remember the 70's promise's

    When I was growing up, we were promised that robotics would free us from drudgery, and by the time I became an adult, we would all live a life of leisure while our robotics slaves did the work for us.

    The reality was that it increased the gap between the have and have nots, forcing people into jobs that were not worth investing in Robotics, while the profits went to an increasingly small mega billionaires, who used there cash to wield soft power to protect their status

    I have no confidence, AI is not going down the same route

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: Remember the 70's promise's

      The worrying thing is that these billionaires always seen to want to force us to do things "for our own good" and shape the world the way they think it should be. Gates, Musk, Soros, Thiel and Schwab and ALL megalomaniacs* and are all very powerful. And they all think they are doing good. And they are all technocrats. And we can't vote them out, even though they have much more power than, say, the PM.

      *just a few random examples, there are many more who fly into these conferences in their private jets.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Remember the 70's promise's

      I think that's misstating what happened. We don't have that utopian dream not because people got in the way, but because the technology didn't do what the dream said it would. It doesn't matter if you have billions to spend on it, you still don't have robots to do many of the things you want done. Of course, with that much money, you can have a bunch of humans doing those things, but that's the point. We don't have the robots envisioned by futurists at the time, so perhaps it's unsurprising that our world still looks more like the 1970s than it does the picture of universal robot service. Robots in manufacturing is really not the same as robots doing every type of manual labor.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Remember the 70's promise's

      I'm still waiting for the paperless office.

      1. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: Remember the 70's promise's

        I upvoted however, should mention that it was the Covid-19 lockdown that finally put paid to paper at work for me. Applied for and do current job paperlessly and have not seen a scrap of paper so far, except for the tag that was attached to last year's postally delivered Christmas edibles gift from the boss.

        Unintended consequences, eh?

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Remember the 70's promise's

      The problem was/is not robotics/AI. It was and remains the wretched governments that we tolerate. Putting these bastards in charge of AI development would be quite the worst thing we could do. I say "would" because, as the article notes, none of this was binding and it never will be.

    5. TheOtherNeo

      Re: Remember the 70's promise's

      Probably a TikTok or Instagram video of a podcast of a farmer saying that all the farm equipment was sold on the idea that it will reduce work for farmers. Instead, they now just do more work with less people. He still works long hours almost every day as there is now just more of it.

      This is the same with many of these robots. Not less work, just different work.

    6. Jedit Silver badge
      IT Angle

      "we were promised that robotics would free us from drudgery"

      Or as someone put it to me: we were told that in the future robots would do all the drudge work while we would be free to express ourselves artistically. Then we got AI and the reverse happened.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A classic pairing

    Of reality detached morons (musk and sunak)

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: A classic pairing

      This whole thing does my head in.

      What the fuck is the prime minister doing there? Regardless of how useless you may think he is (and I do), surely he has more important things to attend to? As for Musk - a man trying to convert Twitter into a unified-everything app we should trust with our money, after he has just lost fifteen-billion dollars due largely to mismanagement - words fail me.

      They're a couple of punchlines to a not funny joke - both trying desperately to divert our attention away from the fact they have failed at their actual jobs.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: A classic pairing

        Sunak is grasping at straws.

        Today I saw an electronic billboard with Sunak and Musk with some headline about "landmark AI something" and on the left there was a woman with a child sitting on a cardboard and eating food with their bare hands and then there was a guy harassing drivers in stationary traffic begging for money.

        That was quite surreal, but shows how Sunak and Conservatives are detached from reality.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: A classic pairing

        "What the fuck is the prime minister doing there?"

        He organised had someone organise it. It's his big photo-opportunity.

      3. KarMann Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: A classic pairing

        Assuming you're referring to the numbers I think you're referring to, you forgot to carry the one*, or something. Twenty-five billion, not fifteen.

        * not literally; that'd be in addition; and I assume that's from the $44/19 billion figures

    2. Plest Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: A classic pairing

      What the f**k are Sunak and his mates smoking? They do realise that the money he happily pisses up the wall and the money he has in his own £750m bank account was 'cos people earned it and then spent it on crap the companies he invests in, then sold to the people who paid!

      It's like they're from a different planet!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musk isn't invited back. Ever.

    Seems team Rish! are apoplectic that his Muskness suggested a job-free future. It's hard to imagine something so opposed to their plans for the UK.

    However seeing Rish! squirm was worth it.

    And generally I am no fan of Musk.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Musk isn't invited back. Ever.

      Aren't jobs for plebs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Musk isn't invited back. Ever.

        your thinking of proper jobs.

        musk and sunak do the talking bollocks job for more money than sense

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: a job-free future

      Without supporting His Muskiness in any way, shape or form, one has to admit that the end result of automation, AI and robotics means that, one fine day, the only humans who work are the ones who will actively want to. Everything that needs doing will be accomplished by automatons, with defined procedures that have been refined over decades, then centuries.

      I refer to The Expanse for a clear idea on how this could work : citizens, upon graduation, would decide if they wish to have a life defined by Basic (revenue, support, health care, etc.. I guess), or if they want to actually work for their subsistance and attain a career worth something.

      That is one idea. I suppose there are a number of possible variations. But the point is : we're doing everything we can to work as little as possible. One day, that will mean that we don't have to work anymore.

      So we might as well talk about it, I guess. Even though I would really prefer that a failure like Musk not be the one to champion the idea.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: a job-free future

        we're doing everything we can to work as little as possible. One day, that will mean that we don't have to work anymore.

        And yet we work more than ever before.

        The idea that AI somehow replace humans is nonsense. Humans always adapt and there will be always something to do.

        1. Plest Silver badge

          Re: a job-free future

          Much as I think AI is a load of tosh what it will do is lower the value of human work and we will all be doing roughly same jobs but for much less pay in future because you won't need to hire anyone with any brains, all you need to teach kids in school is how to ask the AI to do something complex while you do something menial, and get paid a menial paypacket.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: a job-free future

            Automating the part where you ask the AI to do something obvious is the easy part. That's not going to be the part of many jobs in the future. If the AI can do it and the employer is willing to have the AI do it, sending the information and request to the AI shouldn't require a person. There will be a lot of jobs where humans are still needed, which will include ones where AI can't do it. Unless we improve the quality of AI quickly, this may end up being most jobs, but even if we get much more reliable models, there will be jobs where it can't help. This won't make those jobs fun, but they will certainly exist.

          2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: a job-free future

            what it will do is lower the value of human work and we will all be doing roughly same jobs but for much less pay

            More like employers will just add it to the repertoire of excuses they use to keep paying pittance.

            That said any work that AI can "replace" is already menial, so people who will no longer have to do it, will advance to "managers" of AI and therefore I'd argue they should be paid more, as they are no longer be doing the work directly, but they will have to delegate and assess.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: a job-free future

        I have not read those books, although they're now on my reading list, but if your summary is accurate, I don't think it's realistic or desirable:

        "citizens, upon graduation, would decide if they wish to have a life defined by Basic (revenue, support, health care, etc.. I guess), or if they want to actually work for their subsistance and attain a career worth something."

        The first problem is that I'm unconvinced that we would eliminate work to the extent that this becomes realistic. Of course, technology eliminates certain types of work with some frequency, but it doesn't do so all at once. Meanwhile, more jobs are created to run the technology and by the increased ability to do the things that were once done manually. We've automated a lot of things in the past few decades, and yet the unemployment rate is still pretty low in many of the countries where jobs like manufacturing were lost. Does this mean that we have no problem because everyone just gets a different job? No, because nothing says that those jobs are as good or that getting them was easy. There are lots of problems in a situation like this, but the expectation that there will be more people than jobs we can think of having someone do has been incorrect most of the times it has been predicted in the past. I'm not convinced that AI, even if it improves significantly, will be the technology that substantially reduces the need for labor.

        The second problem is independent. Let's assume that I'm wrong and I can look back on this comment a couple decades from now and laugh about how stupid my prediction was. I still think the proposal to choose between a career and support is a really bad option. It leads to a lot of resentment between groups, and whenever that happens, someone will try to exploit that resentment for political power, with the likely outcome that one of the groups will be harmed. I'm imagining the resentment in the scenario you summarized to be caused by people who work thinking that those who don't are lazy and useless, while those who don't work think those who say that are judgemental and outdated. At least if the support was provided to both groups, those who worked wouldn't have an excuse to say that, if they weren't doing something useful to society, they'd have more. I don't think that minor change would be enough. This depends a lot on exactly what jobs were left after that. If we could get it where only the most creative ones were left, then we're probably pretty good because there are enough people who like doing that kind of work to take it on voluntarily. I imagine that at least some of the jobs that take a while to automate will be unpleasant ones, which makes this much harder to solve to everyone's satisfaction.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: a job-free future

          "someone will try to exploit that resentment for political power, with the likely outcome that one of the groups will be harmed"

          Both groups harmed is the usual long-term outcome.

      3. arctic_haze

        Re: a job-free future

        But this model is 100% incompatible with the right-wing idea of cutting welfare, preferably to zero.

      4. desht

        Re: a job-free future

        "I refer to The Expanse for a clear idea on how this could work : citizens, upon graduation, would decide if they wish to have a life defined by Basic (revenue, support, health care, etc.. I guess), or if they want to actually work for their subsistance and attain a career worth something."

        As excellent a story as The Expanse is, I'm not sure I'd use it as an example of a future utopia. Billions of people living a miserable existence with just about enough money not to starve, and subject to a lifelong lottery to get a decent job (with no guarantee of actually getting one) doesn't sound great to me

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Outcomes?

    "The AI testing agreement, which carries no legal weight" followed "Twenty-eight countries and the EU [signing] up to the mission statement, aimed at setting the agenda for addressing AI risk". Merely 'aimed at'?

    So nothing binding on anyone has actually been achieved. Rather like climate change conferences really (and party conferences and ...). It sems we're in an age where aspirational waffle is the primary national (and international) product, so maybe ChatGPT is the right way to go -- automated waffle generation without the need to waggle the jaw.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Capture

    Australia, Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea have all signed up to the agreement, although China – which is making huge investments in AI

    This is all about regulatory capture and "hot air" Sunak, who is on the way out, is likely looking to secure the market for big corporations and keep potential competition at bay, hoping, in my opinion, that it will land him a nice and lucrative job somewhere in the bay area to stroke his fragile ego. After all he is still being seen as relatively poor husband of his rich wife and he is desperately trying to be his own man.

    But I digress. You can see how much of a hot air it is, because China has not signed it. Why would they put shackles on their own economy?

    Probably they had a good laugh at these neo-liberal idiots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Capture

      Where is the USA???

      1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Capture

        Where is the USA???

        Losing their technology to its enemies, destroying its economy and welfare system, supporting more wars than it can handle.

        And their political leaders on the way not to be re-elected.

        All good.

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Jobs lost to AI

    But well before that happens to us plebs, it's Sunak who is going to lose his current gig - at the hands of the very same plebs at the next election. In all probability he'll decamp to the West Coast and may be rustle up a non-exec position at one of Musk's outfits

    1. Lurko

      Re: Jobs lost to AI

      "it's Sunak who is going to lose his current gig"

      Is that going to worry him? It would appear that being an ex-prime minister is rather more lucrative than being an actual prime minister, even ignoring the utterly underserved £115k a year the w@nkers get. Of course, that doesn't include their severance payments or their ministerial pension, nor their MP's pension. Even so, his wife's tax benefits of being a nom-dom probably outweigh all of those.

      Personally I'd have them all hung.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Jobs lost to AI

        For Sunak, money is not an issue, but he's desperately trying to be relevant in the world stage. Time was when a senior politician would go onto some high profile position - not so with the recent crop of British PMs.

        May be Musk could offer Sunak the job of "Tesla Autopilot Ambassador/Spokesperson", to promote the technology underpinned by AI and deal with regulatory authorities. Just the job for "Dr Death" as he has been referred to after his "Eat out to help out [the virus]" scheme.

  8. Soap Distant

    What?

    Why is an elected world leader talking to some self styled "Tony Stark" failure about this subject? With respected academics yes, but not this buffoon.

    1. Fred Dibnah

      Re: What?

      Sunak wasn’t even elected, he won a beauty contest in front of a few thousand gammon-faced & blue-rinsed Tory members.

      1. abend0c4

        Re: What?

        He didn't even do that: the only other candidate (Mordaunt) withdrew, leaving him the winner by default without even a vote of MPs.

        And he's doing it because Musk is guaranteed to get the spotlight and he's hoping to benefit from the reflection.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: What?

          And let’s not forget he lost the first beauty contest to Liz Truss. Liz Truss. Think about that!

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: What?

            I'd rather not be reminded of her, given the chaos she initiated and then exiting stage left, leaving behind misery everywhere

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: What?

              Like any other Tory, Truss has spent the time since blaming everyone and everything else for her abject failures. No responsibility whatsoever. She's enjoying the free income of course.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: What?

              "given the chaos she initiated"

              You're quite wrong on that. She was right all the time and tells everyone so so at every opportunity.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: What?

                down vote for not using /sarc tag

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Ouch!

      "Thus the spectacle of the British prime minister fawning over the banal utterances of the world’s richest man as prophecies from an entrepreneurial god who deigns to walk among us"

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/nov/05/sam-bankman-fried-elon-musk-rish-sunak-silicon-valley-spell

      "Lastly, human beings have fallen for the likes of Musk and Bank-Friedman for millennia."

      Will Hutton

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ouch!

        "Lastly, human beings have fallen for the likes of Musk and Bank-Friedman for millennia."

        Hutton's next sentence is unfortunate:

        Instead of uncritically lionising all things technological and mathematical, never forget the lessons of undervalued literature and history – the best antidotes to a confused and credulous present.

        The best antidote is sufficient technological and mathematical knowledge to see through charlatans and their snake oil. I suspect those who fall hardest for them are those best versed in literature and history.

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    "more starry-eyed than a SpaceX telescope"

    When Musk met Sunak: the prime minister was more starry-eyed than a SpaceX telescope

    writes Marina Hyde...

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/nov/03/rishi-sunak-elon-musk-prime-minister-spacex-silicon-valley

    Sunak missed an opportunity to make it Musk v Zuckerberg by facilitating a UK venue for the fight

  10. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    Treason

    Musk is flirting hard with treason, just an fyi.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Treason

      How so?

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Treason

      Treason against which country? And I'd be interested in hearing both why you think that is the case and what you think treason means in this context. I don't see any reason to expect treason from him. Plenty of other nasty things, some of them potentially criminal, but I'm not seeing treasonous activity here.

  11. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    AI elections

    Relax citizens, take another pill.

    The election will be decided on by your ever loving AI leaders.

    Ding!

    Ah we have the result…

  12. steelpillow Silver badge
    Pirate

    A non-standard standard

    Inking agreements to develop global standards is dangerous. If every Western AI is built to play nicely, you can be sure that every malicious power will be building AIs to play nastily with them. Forms of nastiness will evolve to outsmart patches in the usual arms race, so Darwin dictates the rules, here. The only standard will be survival. All else is BS.

    In order to survive, we need a "gene pool" for AIs, a mixed ecology where the best defenders are continually cloned, varied and selected. Every standard must in short order become a non-standard.

    At least the first generation of true AIs will reflect the eternal Darwinian struggle between creation and destruction, as imposed on them by their mixed bag of struggling human masters. A healthy ecology of next-gen AIs will likely want to respect the laws of Nature, not least the ghost of Darwin, and keep it that way.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The whole event was a deliberate distraction from the damage the current "parrot-tech" (*) is already doing. Actual AI, i.e. systems that know what they are doing, understand the environment in which they are acting, and comprehend the consequence of those actions, is fictional and will almost certainly remain so.

    Meanwhile the parrot-tech will be used to give authority to unjustifiable decisions (and provide blame avoidance) "because the AI says so".

    (*) thanks to C Stross for this description

    1. steelpillow Silver badge

      Not fiction. Even "parrot-tech" is grossly overstating it. Current AI is around the level of the Cambrian era and the age of the trilobites, the cerebral cortex did not evolve until the era of the nautilus and the boneless fish. If people and parrots can evolve from that far back, so can AI. The only question is when.

      I'm guessing that it's a hockey-stick curve and AI has reached the point where it starts to accelerate upwards. However many millions of stages biological evolution took, the hockey-stick is going to condense them into a relatively short timescale.

      1. HISTSIZE=10000

        Evolution is not teleonomic

        There is a fundamental difference between the evolution of life and the evolution of techniques: Evolution does not have a purpose. So it can only rely on [reinforced] brute force attack. That's why it's so slow (and so thorough). Thankfully, in some cases, it is faster than the average rate of changes in the environments. Otherwise there would be nobody to notice.

        The evolution of techniques, nowadays, is less and less serendipitous and more and more market-driven. Capital flows in where market demand is identified by investors. Then smart brains take it forward with all the power of our information age. That makes it so much faster and efficient (at the cost of a loss of randomness bounties).

        Also, evolution is a single tree. With a single direction. To get out of a potential well, evolution can only rollback to a less evolved niche and forfeit later beneficial adaptations (e.g., give up gills for lungs). Techniques can start from anywhere, be polymorphic, and "cross-breed" as much as they want. Exaptations are also very common (like Nvidia reusing rendering chips for AI because of polynomial processing similarities).

        So, in summary, I don't think one can use biology evolution as a reliable comparison yardstick.

  14. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the unedifying spectacle of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak interviewing tycoon Elon Musk, the world's richest man"

    Would this be more or less unedifying than interviewing his father-in-law about working hours?

    1. Lurko

      70 hours a week. Nothing less will do.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Or, paying tax

  16. Tron Silver badge

    Pathetic theatre.

    Stop being scared of the future. And stop using it as an excuse for state control of tech. Leave that to the pros in Beijing, not the halfwits who destroyed our economy and services in less than a decade.

    AI is just an extension of ordinary coding. Trusting it is unwise as idiots who do will find out. After the usual moral panic (of which this is just the latest) and a burst of interest, it will drop down the prolefeed league and hardly get a mention - like BitCoin.

    You can trust me more than Musk. I haven't lost about $20bn of asset value in the last year like Xitter has.

    You can trust me more than Sunak. I haven't taken 25% off Sterling like his party has.

  17. trevorde Silver badge

    Edited out

    [Elon Musk] Rishi, do you have BoJo's phone number?

    [Rishi Sunak] Err, he's no longer the Prime Minister...

    [EM] A week is a long time in politics or AI

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Edited out

      After last week's evidence at the Covid inquiry I think we can safely rely on BoJo staying as lon longer Prime Minister.

      1. Felonmarmer

        Re: Edited out

        Never rule anything out, after all nothing new was revealed about Johnson, we all knew what he was like. Hancock however has gone down a few grades.

        Apply D&D advice, the monster is not dead until you have cut of it's head and burned it and it's body in separate fires and buried the ashes in multiple locations, and even then be wary.

  18. steviebuk Silver badge

    General Intelligents

    We're nowhere near it. Watching Robert Miles videos are always interesting. Especially on AI safety and the specification gaming one he did. Then we have the AI that once in the wild does stuff different to what they expect because of its training data.

  19. John H Woods Silver badge

    Not Sunak's biggest fan, but ...

    ... I thought it was astonishingly disrespectful to a head of state (and therefore to the state in question) for Musk to stride out leaving him scurrying behind.

    NB: Yes, I know C III is THE head of state, but Sunak's the one who wrote the letters of last resort.

  20. Nedly
    Black Helicopters

    Isn't it all a bit silly

    I mean, the scaremongering that is going on around AI, bloody Jim Cameron has a lot to answer for here.

    Safety measures put in place are not going to stop anyone using AI with malicious intent, we only have to look at the proliferation of trojans and viruses over the years to see that people will do that regardless.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like