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date: 06 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses the concept of the autonomous AI—AI that is self-governing. Unease regarding autonomous AI is most vividly expressed in the vision of an artificial superintelligence whose self-generated goals and interests diverge radically from those of humankind, and which thus places humankind’s well-being—and maybe even their survival—at risk. As such, the chapter examines the conditions that would need to be met by an intelligent machine in order for that machine to exhibit the kind of autonomy that is operative in this dystopian scenario. However, there is arguably a more pressing concern regarding a different class of AI systems, those that are autonomous in only the milder sense that—in their domains of operation—humans are ceding, or will cede, some significant degree of control to them. Systems of this kind include self-driving cars and autonomous weapons systems. The chapter then evaluates whether these already-in-the-world autonomous AI systems are a genuine cause for concern. A key issue here concerns the properties of so-called deep learning networks.

Keywords: autonomous AI, artificial superintelligence, intelligent machine, AI systems, self-driving cars, autonomous weapons systems, deep learning networks

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