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How Do You Solve a Problem Like AI?

CC0 / / Artificial intelligence
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It's the stuff dreams are made of. A robot picks up your clothes and cleans your house for you - but at the same time - it could end up being a nightmare with the bot smashing-up your treasured belongings by mistake.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly expanding into video gaming, self-driving cars, healthcare and households, potentially transforming the world of science, medicine and technology — and our lives.

However scientists from Google Brain, Open AI, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley are predicting that the proliferation of AI will come at a price.

In a paper titled, "Concrete Problems in AI Safety," the researchers examined the potential impacts AI has on poorly programed systems.

"The authors believe that AI technologies are likely to be overwhelmingly beneficial for humanity, but also believe that it is worth giving serious thought to potential challenges and risks."

Concerns have arisen surrounding privacy, security, fairness, economic and military implications of AI-controlled bots and autonomous systems, "as well as concerns about the longer-term implications of powerful AI," and "the problem of accidents in machine learning systems," the authors said. 

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Going back to basics — the researchers recently decided to focus on AI "health and safety" in which risks are increased, if AI is used to control health-related systems and technology where once accidents could be put down to human error — it would be down to computer programed error.

"Small-scale accidents seem like a very concrete threat, and are critical to prevent."

Many tech websites have used the smashing of a vase by a robot, programed to clean your house, as an example of a "small-scale" accident.

"How do we ensure that the cleaning robot doesn't make exploratory moves with bad repercussions?" the researchers ask.

And the authors believe it is important to keep an eye on the minutiae. That is, the potential for more mundane AI episodes, like a cleaning bot breaking stuff as it does the ironing due to some-sort of malfunction.

​This way, the scientists hope to be able to scale up the approach to AI "health and safety" and prevent accidents as AI is set to be more powerful and prolific in people's lives, which has the potential to make dreams a reality — or become a nightmare.

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