Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

Scott Alexander in Slate Star Codex:

Clarke’s First Law goes: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Stuart Russell is only 58. But what he lacks in age, he makes up in distinction: he’s a computer science professor at Berkeley, neurosurgery professor at UCSF, DARPA advisor, and author of the leading textbook on AI. His new book Human Compatible states that superintelligent AI is possible; Clarke would recommend we listen.

I’m only half-joking: in addition to its contents, Human Compatible is important as an artifact, a crystallized proof that top scientists now think AI safety is worth writing books about. Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies previously filled this role. But Superintelligence was in 2014, and by a philosophy professor. From the artifactual point of view, HC is just better – more recent, and by a more domain-relevant expert. But if you also open up the books to see what’s inside, the two defy easy comparison.

More here.