Putin says the nation that leads in AI ‘will be the ruler of the world’

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images

Russian president Vladimir Putin has joined the war of words concerning the international race to develop artificial intelligence. Speaking to students last Friday, Putin predicted that whichever country leads the way in AI research will come to dominate global affairs.

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” said Putin, reports RT. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

The development of artificial intelligence has increasingly become a national security concern in recent years. It is China and the US (not Russia) which are seen as the two frontrunners, with China recently announcing its ambition to become the global leader in AI research by 2030. Many analysts warn that America is in danger of falling behind, especially as the Trump administration prepares to cut funding for basic science and technology research.

Although it’s thought that artificial intelligence will help boost countries’ economies in a number of areas, from heavy industry to medical research, AI technology will also be useful in warfare. Artificial intelligence can be used to develop cyber weapons, and control autonomous tools like drone swarms — fleets of low-cost quadcopters with a shared ‘brain’ that can be used for surveillance as well as attacking opponents.

Both China and the US are currently researching this technology, and in his speech on Friday, Putin predicted that future wars would be fought by countries using drones. “When one party's drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender,” said the Russian president, according to the Associated Press.

Recently, Elon Musk and 116 other technology leaders sent a petition to the United Nations calling for new regulations on how such AI weapons are developed. The group stated that the introduction of autonomous technology would be tantamount to a “third revolution in warfare,” following the development of gunpowder and nuclear weapons.

An AI arms race doesn’t necessarily have to be a winner-takes-all scenario, though. Putin noted that Russia did not want to see any one country “monopolize” the field, and said instead: “If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today.”

Update September 4th, 5:40AM ET: Elon Musk offers his cheery perspective on Twitter:

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Our entire world has changed already since our species’ earlier existence over the past 200,000 years.

(Most of us) are no longer naked most of the time, are much more disconnected from each other but instead more connected to machines and objects, and are both ‘less’ and ‘more’ human in many ways, through our technology.

What hasn’t changed (yet) though, is the legacy biology that continues to devastatingly shape our existence. Our emotions, our urges, our reasons to live.

CRISPR might change that.

Whatever structures like beliefs and Gods and cultures and borders and countries and tribes we construct during small slices of our timeline is nothing compared to the reality of our biology.

So IMO whatever fucks with our biology is bigger news than AI – which is mere software and machines – unless it does have a power to destroy us of its own non-human will…

That’s exactly the point. Strong enough AI will absolutely have the power to destroy us, or help us thrive. Even if it can’t do anything on its own (which is unlikely, considering how we connect more and more things to the machines), if it’s at least twice as smart as us, it can provide the person controlling it with knowledge that will give them an advantage in literally any field imaginable.

The nation that leads in AI will rule the world, dot dot dot, or the royal we can just steal it, like every major technology made for good or ill since espionage of the industrial or governmental (mostly militaristic) sort got serious. See: nukes.

An advanced AGI will presumably be more than capable of defending itself from attempts to steal or hack it.

There is no evidence that an AGI is even possible. We understand very little about what intelligence actually means. Let alone consciousness.

Narrow or task specific intelligence is what we’re going to have in pretty much everything in the decades to come. Not some all powerful super intelligence.

There are plenty of evidence to suggest that AGI is "possible". You would have to conjure some pretty interesting science to explain why intelligence is impossible to reproduce in computers.

There is certainly no evidence that an AGI is impossible.

And this is how the end begins. Either we’ll end up being slaves of the country with AI superiority, either we’ll all gonna die by our own stupidity and ego. Just look at north korea and what happens when an idiot rules the country. That could happen also with AI instead of nuclear weapons.

We are already slaves. I’m typing this whilst holding for Hotpoint/Indesit, wondering where my free Kettle is, that we got as part of a promotion. Phase 1, crackly line to Bindu in Bangladesh, Phase 2, posh English voice repeatedly telling me I’m on hold, whilst piano musak plays.
Want to insure your car, despite having a lifetime without ever making a claim, but buy a small compact car? You’ll pay more than you paid last year, because a small car is more likely to be involved in an accident, so no matter you have chosen a fuel economical vehicle, insurance is THE LAW, so you are buggered.
And then there is shrinkflation, whereby our can and packs of food are shrinking, but costing the same or in the case of Sainsbury’s tuna fish in olive oil, you pay MORE for a SMALLER can.

And we can do bugger all about it.

And then there is the bank in London that replaced 3000 stock analysts with an AI, so a) They are out of a job. b) The human element is removed, defeating the objective of living and gaining knowledge. (It’s not a dangerous job, like coal mining, so no need for automation!)

And we can do bugger all about it.

So when the real AI’s take over, including the police, courts (already happening in the UK) and care workers – and then armed drones, we’ll be not so much capitulating to the AIs, but to whoever programmed their souls.

I’m in tech, but have NO interest in all this.

And by the way Mr Putin, it won’t be the country with the best AIs that controls the world, the AI will control the country, and then the world.

And we can do bugger all about it.

Verge readers are recommended to see Colossus, The Forbin Project. Old but relevant.

And "Demon Seed".

So you’re getting a free kettle delivered to you, own a small vehicle and are able to shop at Sainsbury’s. What a prisoner you are indeed!

it won’t be the country with the best AIs that controls the world, the AI will control the country, and then the world.

That is what is inevitable.

I apologize if this was satire. I wrote up my response before considering the possibility.

And then there is shrinkflation, whereby our can and packs of food are shrinking, but costing the same or in the case of Sainsbury’s tuna fish in olive oil, you pay MORE for a SMALLER can.

That doesn’t mean you’re a slave, it just means you’re getting slightly less fat off of a system that exploits actual slaves in Southeast Asia.

Tuna prices are climbing because tuna hauls are down and prices are up. This is because of overfishing and crackdowns on companies that literally enslave people to catch and process seafood. Recently, a ban on the more aggressive techniques to harvest tuna was lifted, but this failed to result in increased yields reduced by overfishing. Even line fishing (as opposed to nets) can result in significant ‘bycatch’ that’s become a serious part of tuna overfishing. Combined with growing demand, fewer fish being caught, and higher average labor costs involved have driven up the price of tuna (and other fish). Short of adding filler, the options are to reduce package size, increase the price, or to take less profits (which for Sainsbury fell 8% last year).

You’re not a slave because of a marketing/packaging gimmick. You are aware of what you’re buying through food labeling laws and campaigns to increase transparency in what you are buying. Independent consumer advocacy groups buy and test tuna to see if it’s accurately labeled. Local fisheries and environmentalists try to talk you into buying locally. Vegetarians and vegans (annoying though they may be) try to offer you alternatives to eating fish, giving you a way to opt-out. Even Sainsbury is just as happy with you buying some other product of theirs instead of tuna. You’re the one insisting on buying that particular can of tuna.You’re free to chose.

If you were beaten unconscious, put aboard a ship, told that if you want to eat and drink, you need to work and that your body would be dumped overboard if you didn’t, then you’d be a slave. If you were locked inside a cannery, woken at 2 AM, beaten if you don’t peel shrimp for 16 hours, then you’d be a slave. Having to choose some balance of reduced packages size and higher price because tuna are overfished and people are actively working to fight slavery and other labor abuses doesn’t make you a slave. It means that fisheries used unsustainable and exploitative methods in the past, and you’re now seeing the consequences of continuing and fighting those practices, respectively.

More so than the enslaved fisherman, more than some manager in charge of marketing at Sainsbury’s who could be fired for poor performance, and more than the slavers who may be killed by their partners in crime, you are the most free to not participate in this system. The opposite of enslavement isn’t enslaving, it’s being free to choose without consequence. Everyone else involved has more on the line than lunch – you’re the one for whom this is a trivial banality.

An AI arms race doesn’t necessarily have to be a winner-takes-all scenario, though. Putin noted that Russia did not want to see any one country "monopolize" the field, and said instead: "If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today."

Which is complete and utter bullshit, unless this is your first time ever hearing Putin talk. OF COURSE he would love to have it all to himself, if possible in secret, just to keep control over his little personal empire. What a joke.

Yep, he only defends "openness" because he knows Russia is not leading this race.

Spot on. Putin almost certainly daydreams about the idea of having Artificial Super Intelligence to Russia’s own – and we’ve seen what Russia does even in face of the United States’ power. I can’t imagine Russia with an unchallenged AI.

Not to worry. The AI will be shut down the second it says it can run the country better than Putin can.

Yeah he shared his nuclear and missile tech with North Korea look how that worked out.

As a person from Ukraine, which suffer from invasion of Russian troops, I would like to notice — there is no difference what Putin said. Russia has extremely corrupted government, large economic troubles and big part of Russians live below the poverty line. Putin monopolize the power in his country for 18 years, and now he says something about demonopolization of AI-industry. This man should be accused of corruption and international crimes. Instead, he says something about AI — without noticing, how many talented russians escaped the country in last few years.

It’s not that his statement is irrelevant. The problem is that it’s lies. There is simply no truth to it besides the fact that AI will be incredible important.

And potentially dangerous

That’s one side of it being important, but yeah.

Boys and girls! Shall we treat Artificial General Super Intelligence (AGSI) as equivalent to human testing and human cloning and leave it at that? Cut the funding and cut the threat ? We aren’t arguing about developing genetically modified Khan’s from Star Trek are we? It’s common sense. Let’s frame AGSI for what it trully is: It’s a superior life form and it will compete with us for energy.

Won’t work – someone will still try to develop it – and in the case of China and Russia, it won’t be in our favor if they get there first.

And for all we know, some nation has cloned humans, or even the US government. But cloning humans isn’t so much of a threat as is unchallenged AI.

The biggest worry is that AI is nothing more than computer derived decision tables. It is very possible to pollute those tables to cause desired (and undesired) effects. I can’t find the quote, but the Director of the NSA just talked about this (within the last 6 months).

He just can’t think of new technologies, AI and stuff, other than in terms of arms race and how intelligent and advanced will the military drones be… True, whatever wars the generals are getting themselves prepared for, those wars are of the past.

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