‘Sic AI’s on each other’ to solve artificial intelligence threat: David Brin, author

David Brin, the Hugo and Nebula-winning science fiction author behind the Uplift novels and The Postman, has devised a plan to combat the existential threat from rogue artificial intelligence.

He says only one thing has ever worked in history to curb bad behavior by villains. It’s not asking them nicely, and it’s not creating ethical codes or safety boards.

It’s called reciprocal accountability, and he thinks it will work for AI as well.

“Empower individuals to hold each other accountable. We know how to do this fairly well. And if we can get AIs doing this, there may be a soft landing waiting for us,” he tells Magazine.

“Sic them on each other. Get them competing, even tattling or whistle-blowing on each other.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Magazine chatted with Brin after he gave a presentation about his idea at the recent Beneficial Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) Conference in Panama. It’s easily the best-received speech from the conference, greeted with whoops and applause.

David Brin at the Beneficial AGI conference in Panama. (Fenton)

Brin puts the “science” into science fiction writer — he has a PhD in astronomy and consults for NASA. Being an author was “my second life choice” after becoming a scientist, he says, “but civilization appears to have insisted that I’m a better writer than a physicist.”

His books have been translated into 24 languages, although his name will forever be tied to the Kevin Costner box office bomb, The Postman. It’s not his fault, though; the original novel won the Locus Award for best science fiction novel.

Privacy and transparency proponent

An author after the crypto community’s heart, Brin has been talking about transparency and surveillance since the mid-1990s, first in a seminal article for Wired that he turned into a nonfiction book called The Transparent Society in 1998.

“It’s considered a classic in some circles,” he says.

In the work, Brin…

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