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AI and Robotics at an Inflection Point
PARC Forum

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18 September 2014
5:00-6:30pm (5:00-6:00 presentation and Q&A, followed by networking until 6:30)
George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC
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Google, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Baidu, Foxconn, and others have recently made multi-billion dollar investments in artificial intelligence and robotics. Some of these investments are aimed at increasing productivity and enhancing coordination and cooperation. Others are aimed at creating strategic gains in competitive interactions. This is creating "arms races" in high-frequency trading, cyber warfare, drone warfare, stealth technology, surveillance systems, and missile warfare. Recently, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and others have issued strong cautionary statements about the safety of intelligent technologies. We describe the potentially antisocial "rational drives" of self-preservation, resource acquisition, replication, and self-improvement that uncontrolled autonomous systems naturally exhibit.  We describe the "Safe-AI Scaffolding Strategy" for developing these systems with a high confidence of safety based on the insight that even superintelligences are constrained by mathematical proof and cryptographic complexity. It appears that we are at an inflection point in the development of intelligent technologies and that the choices we make today will have a dramatic impact on the future of humanity.

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Steve Omohundro has been a scientist, professor, author, software architect, and entrepreneur doing research that explores the interface between mind and matter. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and cofounded the Center for Complex Systems Research. He published the book “Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics”, designed the programming languages StarLisp and Sather, wrote the 3D graphics system for Mathematica, and built systems which learn to read lips, control robots, and induce grammars. He is president of Possibility Research devoted to creating innovative technologies and Self-Aware Systems, a think tank working to ensure that intelligent technologies have a positive impact. His work on positive intelligent technologies was featured in James Barrat's book "Our Final Invention" and has been generating international interest.


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