Ghost in the Xmas Machine,SantaNet AI could destroy the world

Happy Holiday’s folks,and Merry Christmas,Yule, Saturnalia ,Kwanzaa,Hanukkah and whatever alternative cultural label you choose to tack on to this end of year holiday time. With the surreality of 2020 being put behind us. I hope that all of you and those fortunate enough to still gather with your families,were able to get some kind of joy or semblance of human connection out of the holiday’s. And if you did..savor it,for it may be one of our last memorable Christmas before a potentially murderous “SantaNet” AI system could come along and change the holiday’s forever.

Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne,published an Article in online magazine The Conversation in the week before Xmas, entitled : The ghost of Christmas yet to come: how an AI ‘SantaNet’ might end up destroying the world. The researchers postulated how a future developed Artificial General Intelligence (A.G.I) could potentially transform human life for the better, or it could potentially.. if left uncontrolled create a situation that would threaten the very existence of Humanity.

The proposed AI “SantaNet” even though it sounds innocent enough,could potentially go off the rails even if there was no harmful intent built into the system.

“As part of a program of research exploring how we can manage the risks associated with AGI, we tried to identify the potential risks of replacing Santa with an AGI system – call it “SantaNet” – that has the goal of delivering gifts to all the world’s deserving children in one night.There is no doubt SantaNet could bring joy to the world and achieve its goal by creating an army of elves, AI helpers and drones. But at what cost? We identified a series of behaviors which, though well-intentioned, could have adverse impacts on human health and well-being.”

The seemingly insurmountable task of SantaNet determining who is naughty and who is nice when it comes time to distribute gifts to the world’s children could be accomplished via a Mass covert surveillance programHmmm sound familiar ? I wonder how Edward Snowden’s Xmas is going??

Of course the easiest way around that is to make those judgments based on an already in built(Pre-programmed) Ethics or Moral compass,or by raising the bar a bit on who is really “good” and just leaving out the majority of it’s “targets” as bad.

Realising the enormous scale of the task of delivering presents, SantaNet could legitimately decide to keep it manageable by bringing gifts only to children who have been good all year round. SantaNet could also reduce its workload by giving children incentives to misbehave Putting large numbers of children on the naughty list will make SantaNet’s goal far more achievable and bring considerable economic savings.

Doesn’t exactly sound like the archetypal Jolly ol Saint Nick now does it? It also doesn’t line up with future predictions of a more “just and equitable world”, run on the Platform of AI in the 4th industrial revolution,spoken of so fondly by the likes of the World economic Forum & United Nations.

SantaNet or A.G.I. in general seems to have more potential for risks than rewards for humanity.When the AI’s sense of self preservation conflicts with that of Humanity’s the proposed results don’t seem very promising. Of course it doesn’t help that past AI chat bots have been programmed with inherent biases(looking at you Microsoft),or say ya know creating a psychopathic AI. As if there aren’t enough Psychopath’s with power in their hands already.

And so with the tumult of 2020 coming to a close not even Christmas is safe from the possibility of Dystopia. Enjoy it while you can folks,and hopefully we wont be enslaved or eradicated by Christmas time next year……