George Dyson on three laws of artificial intelligence

In Possible Minds, George Dyson is one of 25 thought leaders who address the promise and peril of AI. Here are his thoughts about what he views as the three laws of AI:

“The first, known as  Ashby’s Law, after cybernetician W. Ross Ashby, author of Design for a Brain, states that any effective control system must be as complex as the system it controls

“The second law, articulated by John von Neumann, states that the defining characteristics of a complex system is that it constitutes its own simplest behavioral description. The simplest complete model of an organism is the organism itself. Trying to rfeduce tghe system’s behavior to any formal description makes things more complicated, not less.

“The third law states that any system simple enough to be understandable will not be complicated enough to behave intelligently, while any system complicated enough to behave intelligently will be too complicated to understand.

“The third law offers comfort for those who believe that until we understand intelligence, we need not worry about superhuman intelligence arising among machines. But there is a loop hole in the third law. It is entirely possible to build something without understanding it. You don’t need to fully understand how a brain works in order to build one that works. This is a loophole that no amount of supervision over algorithms by programmers and their ethical advisers can ever close. Provably ‘good’ AI is a myth. Our relationship with true AI will always be a matter of faith, not proof.”

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George Dyson is a historian of science and technology and the author of Baidarka: The Kayak, Darwin Among the Machines, Project Orion, and Turing’s Cathedral.

Possible Minds: 25 Ways of Looking at AI, Edited by John Brockman, was published by Penguin Press/An imprint of Penguin Random House (February 2019)





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