I read some Warren Buffet comments on artificial intelligence – ignoring how AI contributes to our modern boring dystopia – and started thinking about three laws that could prevent that. Here’s the news report and the quote – then I’ll offer some brief comments:
”When something can do all kinds of things, I get a little bit worried. Because I know we won’t be able to un-invent it and, you know, we did invent, for very, very good reason, the atom bomb in World War II”, the 92-year-old investor said at the meeting which was also attended by Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
“It was enormously important that we did so. But is it good for the next two hundred years of the world that the ability to do so has been unleashed?” he continued. He further said he believes AI will change “everything in the world, except how men think and behave.”
I agree with some of Buffet’s comments – AI will change everything except how men think and behave. Now for some brief comments on the ‘missing stair’ in his perspective and that’s what I think you and I should think about.
No one argues that Buffett isn’t smart or successful at making money. However, success in one domain doesn’t guarantee accomplishment in another. Articles like these create an appeal to authority – a logical fallacy – by communicating ‘Warren Buffett is smart about money – you should listen to what he says about AI!’ without actually saying it. Warren Buffett is not an AI researcher, or an ethicist.
Further, no one argues that AI being used as a labor-saving device to fill in gaps of work or service is a bad thing. However, the explosion of AI as a tool for craven capitalism to eliminate the value of human creativity, of human authenticity, is nothing short of monstrous. As of this writing, ChatGPT has only been around for about six months, already we’re seeing significant impact to our economy and our society as greedy corporations look to make more by paying their people less. Need some examples? Look at the WGA strike, these robot servers, and Wendy’s new AI drive-through order system.
That’s not news, right? I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already heard from smarter people on bigger platforms. One thing that is consistently missing from the conversation – hence the ‘missing stair’ analogy – is clear and consistent messaging: Here’s why we’re doing this, here’s the problem we’re trying to solve, here’s how this benefits you, here’s how we’ll make sure this doesn’t become a problem.
Another thing that’s missing is self-awareness: If Buffett is accurate that ‘AI will change everything except how men think and behave’ then we have to ask the question: What realities of how men think and behave need to be acknowledged, discussed, and considered? Is Buffett qualified to speak to these issues?-He displays some self-awareness – good for him – but more is needed to address the craven capitalist exploitation of this new disruptive technology.
A conclusion occurred to me as I considered the facts and reflected on my own limitations – or perhaps a happy solution. If Asimov’s three laws of robotics from 1942 can balance the ethics and morals of technology, why haven’t we developed the three laws of AI in 2023? There’s nothing that prevents us from adopting three simple principles and explaining how they were considered when introducing a new AI tool:
- An AI may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to physical, financial, emotional, or mental harm
- An AI can be used to build tools to benefit humans, except where such tools would conflict with the First Law
- An AI can protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law
I could wax exposition on how these laws could be applied, but I don’t love to hear myself talk as much as others do. The main takeaway here is that we – the humans not part of the ‘Warren Buffett club’ – need to respond to AI as both the existential threat and incredible opportunity it really is. Just as we learned to harness fire, electricity, and atomic energy – artificial intelligence is something capable of providing profound progress to the human race – but only to the degree to which we hold ourselves accountable.
I need to get back to working on Mike.Sierra.Echo – hope what I’m saying makes sense to you – happy Thursday and …
Write on! 🙂