Publication of Stuart Russell’s new book on AI safety—reviews needed

Stu­art Rus­sell, pro­fes­sor of Com­puter Science at UC Berkeley and Direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Hu­man-Com­pat­i­ble In­tel­li­gence (CHAI), has a new book out to­day: “Hu­man Com­pat­i­ble: Ar­tifi­cial In­tel­li­gence and the Con­trol Prob­lem”.

In the book, he ex­plains why he has come to con­sider his own dis­ci­pline an ex­is­ten­tial threat to our species, and lays out how we can change course be­fore it’s too late. The book ex­plores the idea of in­tel­li­gence in hu­mans and in ma­chines, de­scribes the benefits we can ex­pect (from in­tel­li­gent per­sonal as­sis­tants to vastly ac­cel­er­ated sci­en­tific re­search), and out­lines the AI break­throughs that still have to hap­pen be­fore we reach su­per­hu­man AI. Rus­sell spells out the ways hu­mans are already find­ing to mi­suse AI, from lethal au­tonomous weapons to the ma­nipu­la­tion of opinions on a global scale. Fi­nally, he ex­plains why we must en­sure that we never lose con­trol of ma­chines more pow­er­ful than we are. He sug­gests that we can re­build AI on a new foun­da­tion, ac­cord­ing to which ma­chines are de­signed to be in­her­ently un­cer­tain about the hu­man prefer­ences they are re­quired to satisfy.

I think the book can be an ex­tremely im­pact­ful and pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the field of AI safety. It makes the case for work­ing on AI safety to a broad au­di­ence. It also gives up­dated ar­gu­ments on AI safety five years af­ter Nick Bostrom’s “Su­per­in­tel­li­gence” and gives ex­am­ples of promis­ing re­search ar­eas. It has also been fa­vor­ably re­viewed by ex­perts in the field, such as Yoshua Ben­gio and Judea Pearl.

If you would like to sup­port the book’s suc­cess, here are some ways to help:

  • You can now or­der the book, in the UK edi­tion, and the US edi­tion. The first few weeks seem to be very im­por­tant in de­ter­min­ing a book’s suc­cess, so if you plan to read the book even­tu­ally (even if you don’t have time now), this is the best time to or­der!

  • You can write re­views of the book on Ama­zon and on other web­sites, such as Goodreads. Please write gen­uine re­views. The im­por­tant thing is to get quite a lot of re­views; even if not ev­ery re­view is fa­vor­able, their ex­is­tence im­proves the book’s search rank­ing and makes it more likely that some­one study­ing this topic will even­tu­ally stum­ble across it.

I am work­ing at CHAI, and I’m helping with com­mu­ni­ca­tion around the book launch. I’d be happy to an­swer your ques­tions!

Thanks to Aaron Gertler for his help with edit­ing.