AI could be a disaster for humanity. A top computer scientist thinks he has the solution

Stuart Russell wrote the book on AI and is leading the fight to change how we build it.

Stuart Russell is a leading AI researcher who literally wrote (well, co-authored) the top textbook on the topic. He has also, for the last several years, been warning that his field has the potential to go catastrophically wrong.

In a new book, Human Compatible, he explains how. AI systems, he notes, are evaluated by how good they are at achieving their objective: winning video games, writing humanlike text, solving puzzles. If they hit on a strategy that fits that objective, they will run with it, without explicit human instruction to do so.

But with this approach, we’ve set ourselves up for failure because the “objective” we’ve given the AI system is not the only thing we care about. Imagine a self-driving car with an “objective” to get from Point A to Point B but unaware that we also care about the survival of the passengers and of pedestrians along the way. Or a health care cost-saving system that discriminates against black patients because it anticipates that they’re less likely to seek the health care they need. continue reading on recode