When the bots come for us we’ll be grateful this guy has the ...

World

When the bots come for us we’ll be grateful this guy has the ‘off-switch’

As experts warn of AI escaping our control, one man is set on stopping the machines taking over

Harry de Quetteville

Nearly 10 years ago, Prof Stuart Russell, one of the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence, was on the Paris Metro when he touched upon what he thinks may be the key to combating any potential threat posed to us by AI, while listening to Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei.

“It is an amazing piece,” he says, in the soft but gently insistent fashion of a reserved man with immense authority in his field. “It made me think about what’s important in the quality of human experience. I was having such an experience at the time. And it occurred to me that if artificial intelligence has a purpose, it is to improve the overall quality of human experience.

“Then I thought, ‘but AI doesn’t know what the quality of human experience is’. And I realised that this was an interesting new way of thinking about AI. The idea came to me in a flash. So I tucked it away.”..

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