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AI starting to have big real-world impact, says expert

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‘Yeah, we’re spooked’: AI starting to have big real-world impact, says expert

A scientist who wrote a leading textbook on artificial intelligence has said experts are “spooked” by their own success in the field, comparing the advance of AI to the development of the atom bomb.

Prof Stuart Russell, the founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley, said most experts believed that machines more intelligent than humans would be developed this century, and he called for international treaties to regulate the development of the technology.

“The AI community has not yet adjusted to the fact that we are now starting to have a really big impact in the real world,” he told the Guardian. “That simply wasn’t the case for most of the history of the field – we were just in the lab, developing things, trying to get stuff to work, mostly failing to get stuff to work. So the question of real-world impact was just not germane at all. And we have to grow up very quickly to catch up.”

Artificial intelligence underpins many aspects of modern life, from search engines to banking, and advances in image recognition and machine translation are among the key developments in recent years.

Russell – who in 1995 co-authored the seminal book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, and who will be giving this year’s BBC Reith lectures entitled “Living with Artificial Intelligence”, which begin on Monday – says urgent work is needed to make sure humans remain in control as superintelligent AI is developed.

“AI has been designed with one particular methodology and sort of general approach. And we’re not careful enough to use that kind of system in complicated real-world settings,” he said.

For example, asking AI to cure cancer as quickly as possible could be dangerous. “It would probably find ways of inducing tumours in the whole human population, so that it could run millions of experiments in parallel, using all of us as guinea pigs,” said Russell. “And that’s because that’s the solution to the objective we gave it; we just forgot to specify that you can’t use humans as guinea pigs and you can’t use up the whole GDP of the world to run your experiments and you can’t do this and you can’t do that.”

Russell said there was still a big gap between the AI of today and that depicted in films such as Ex Machina, but a future with machines that are more intelligent than humans was on the cards.

“I think numbers range from 10 years for the most optimistic to a few hundred years,” said Russell. “But almost all AI researchers would say it’s going to happen in this century.”

One concern is that a machine would not need to be more intelligent than humans in all things to pose a serious risk. “It’s something that’s unfolding now,” he said. “If you look at social media and the algorithms that choose what people read and watch, they have a huge amount of control over our cognitive input.”

The upshot, he said, is that the algorithms manipulate the user, brainwashing them so that their behaviour becomes more predictable when it comes to what they chose to engage with, boosting click-based revenue.

Have AI researchers become spooked by their own success? “Yeah, I think we are increasingly spooked,” Russell said.

“It reminds me a little bit of what happened in physics where the physicists knew that atomic energy existed, they could measure the masses of different atoms, and they could figure out how much energy could be released if you could do the conversion between different types of atoms,” he said, noting that the experts always stressed the idea was theoretical. “And then it happened and they weren’t ready for it.”

The use of AI in military applications – such as small anti-personnel weapons – is of particular concern, he said. “Those are the ones that are very easily scalable, meaning you could put a million of them in a single truck and you could open the back and off they go and wipe out a whole city,” said Russell.

Russell believes the future for AI lies in developing machines that know the true objective is uncertain, as are our preferences, meaning they must check in with humans – rather like a butler – on any decision. But the idea is complex, not least because different people have different – and sometimes conflicting – preferences, and those preferences are not fixed.

Russell called for measures including a code of conduct for researchers, legislation and treaties to ensure the safety of AI systems in use, and training of researchers to ensure AI is not susceptible to problems such as racial bias. He said EU legislation that would ban impersonation of humans by machines should be adopted around the world.

Russell said he hoped the Reith lectures would emphasise that there is a choice about what the future holds. “It’s really important for the public to be involved in those choices, because it’s the public who will benefit or not,” he said.

But there was another message, too. “Progress in AI is something that will take a while to happen, but it doesn’t make it science fiction,” he said.

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I Will Soon Start Signing Death Warrants- Bala Mohammed

Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed has disclosed that he will soon start to sign death warrants.

Mohammed made this known on Friday in Bauchi while signing the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill and a bill for the establishment of the Bauchi state penal code, into law.

In Nigeria, state governors are legally backed to sign the death warrants.

Since 2012, no governor has been reported to have signed death warrants.

“We will soon be signing some death sentences because there are many and because of justice which has to be taken to a logical conclusion

“I know some governors are running away from signing the death sentences because they exercise restraints on the basis that there may be some element of error.

“But to me, I will leave it to my lord (the chief judge) who will prosecute. It’s not my fault. If it is brought to my attention, I will do it.”

“As for the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, we know that we are the first in the northern part of the country to enact the law, which is a member’s bill incidentally from the honourable speaker, and it has earned us a lot of respect in the country.

“But because of some noticed gaps, it was taken back and it was corrected. We thank the house for making the corrections.”

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.

(NAN)

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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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