Niagara University Professor Offers Outlook on Coexistence of Humans & Robots
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.
- A recent Oxford University
that examines the ethics of artificial intelligence includes a chapter by Dr. Steve
Petersen, associate professor of philosophy at Niagara University, on how a "superintelligence" -- an AI much smarter than humans -- would (or could) learn to be ethical.
Dr. Petersen's chapter, "Superintelligence as Superethic
al," which appears in Robot Ethics 2.0, rebukes an idea from a Nick Bostrom b
at outlines a frightening but realistic scenario for human extinction: true artificial intelligence is likely to bootstrap itself into superintelligence, and thereby become ideally effective at achieving its goals. Human-friendly goals seem too abstract to be pre-programmed with any confidence, wrote Bostrom, and if those goals are not explicitly favorable toward humans, the superintelligence will extinguish the human race -- not through any malice, but simply because it will want human resources for its own purposes.
In response, Dr. Petersen offers a much brighter outlook. He argues that if the superintelligence must
complex final goals, then this means that such a superintelligence must, in effect,
about its own goals. And because it will be especially clear to a superintelligence that there are no sharp lines between one agent's goals and another's, that reasoning could therefore automatically be ethical in na
Dr. Petersen joi
ned Niagara University's philosophy department in 2006, after serving in a postdoctoral position at Kalamazoo College. He holds bachelor's degrees in philosophy and math from Harvard University and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Michigan.
Founded by the Vincentian community in 1856, Niagara University is a comprehensive institution, blending the best of a liberal arts and professional education, grounded in our values-based Catholic tradition. Its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management offer programs at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral level.
As the first Vincentian university established in the United States, Niagara prepares students for personal and professional success while emphasizing service to the community in honor of St. Vincent de Paul. Niagara's institutional commitment to service learning has led to its inclusion on the President's Honor Roll for Community Service every year since its inception in 2006, and its recognition with the Carnegie Foundation's Classification for Community Engagement.