Roman Yampolskiy

“Humans might one day need to beg AIs for our sentient rights” – AI expert Roman Yampolskiy – New Sentientist Conversation

Roman is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Louisville. He is known for his work on behavioral biometrics, the security of cyberworlds and artificial intelligence safety. He founded the field of intellectology – the analysis of the forms and limits of intelligence. He is director of the Cyber Security Laboratory in the department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the Speed School of Engineering. Roman has written over 100 publications, including many books spanning these fields.

In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

The audio is also on our Sentientism Podcast – subscribe so you don’t miss it.

We discuss:

  • Growing up in the Soviet Union. Not much religion around.
  • Not meeting anyone religious until coming to the US as an adult
  • Not finding religious arguments interesting or compelling
  • Fascination with intersection of big ideas, philosophy, science
  • Questions can come from religion, but standards of evidence come from science
  • Comfort with others holding supernatural beliefs – helps us remain open-minded
  • Is god analogous with someone who is running a world simulation?
  • We need to get much better at evaluating evidence. Should be separate from theories/hypotheses
  • The need for scientific humility
  • Deep fakes
  • Freedom as an ethical foundation, subject to not hurting others or restricting the freedom of others
  • Can we develop a pop-up AI that guides our ethics?
  • Consciousness / sentience warrants protection
  • Can Artificial Intelligences achieve consciousness or even super-consciousness?
  • Humans might need to beg future AIs for our rights, as we grant rights to animals
  • The hypocrisy of thinking animals should have perfect rights, but enjoying eating them (theory vs. practice and cognitive dissonance)
  • Why so many AI researchers are ready to acknowledge AI sentience but forget or disregard non-human animal sentience
  • Consciousness, sentience, qualia, the “Hard Problem”, David Chalmers
  • Assessing sentience
  • The role of observers in quantum physics. Could there be some non-material element of consciousness?
  • Meeting Luna the puppy “Seems conscious!”
  • Will future AIs warrant protection/rights
  • Ending animal farming to set a good example to our future AI overlords
  • AIs will prefer “sentientism” to “humanism”
  • Substrate independence
  • Sentience/consciousness as a spectrum, simple to super (beyond human)
  • Ethical challenges with non-sentient AI
  • If human agents can’t agree (value alignment problem), can we even move towards a shared environment that will make us all happy? Maybe everyone could have their own individual virtual world!
  • Even a positively negotiated shared environment wouldn’t be as good for each of us as a perfect individual enviroinment – just don’t switch it off
  • Can animal farming go away in a few years via clean-meat etc?
  • Veganism and moral resolutions to cognitive dissonance, vs. tech alternatives removing blockers
  • The dangers of disenfranchising humans if we grant rights too broadly (e.g. to trillions of bacteria or sentient AIs)
  • Equal vs. degrees of moral consideration
  • “Most of us will be as ethical as our choices”.

Roman mentions these papers in our discussion:

You can follow Roman on Twitter @romanyam: .

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Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work on this video. Follow him at @cgbessellieu.

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    • You respond as though the word “might” was missing from Roman’s sentence. There’s a big difference between believing that something will definitely happen and that it’s conceptually possible. 🙂

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