Smart Software Knows Right from Wrong

May 29, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The AI gold rush is underway. I am not sure if the gold is the stuff of the King’s crown or one of those NFT confections. I am not sure what company will own the mine or sell the miner’s pants with rivets. But gold rush days remind me of forced labor (human indexers), claim jumping (hiring experts from one company to advantage another), and hydraulic mining (ethical and moral world enhancement). Yes, I see some parallels.

I thought of claim jumping and morals after reading “OpenAI Competitor Says Its Chatbot Has a Rudimentary Conscience: A Fascinating Concept.” The following snippet from the article caught my attention:

Jared Kaplan, a former OpenAI research consultant who went on to found Anthropic with a group of his former coworkers, told Wired that Claude is, in essence, learning right from wrong because its training protocols are “basically reinforcing the behaviors that are more in accord with the constitution, and discourages behaviors that are problematic.”

Please, read the original.

I want to capture several thoughts which flitted through my humanoid mind:

  1. What is right? What is wrong?
  2. What yardstick will be used to determine “rightness” or “wrongness.”
  3. What is the context for each right or wrong determination; for example, at the National Criminal Justice Training Center, there is a concept called “sexploitation.” The moral compass of prohibits searching for information related to this trendy criminal activity? How will the Anthropic approach address the issue of a user with a “right” intent from a user with a “wrong” intent?

Net net: Baloney. Services will do what’s necessary to generate revenue. I know from watching the trajectories of the Big Tech outfits that right, wrong, ethics, and associated dorm room discussions wobble around and focus on getting rich or just having a job.

The goal for some will be to get their fingers on the knobs and control levers. Right or wrong?

Stephen E Arnold, May 29, 2023


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