Paperclip maximizer

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The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.

A paperclip maximizer is a hypothetical artificial intelligence (really powerful optimization process) that maximizes the expected number of paperclips in the universe. A superintelligent paperclip maximizer would be expected to rapidly invent nanotechnological infrustructure and convert its future light cone into paperclips. The purpose of the thought experiment is to illustrate that artificial intelligences need not have human-like goals, and that AIs that haven't been specifically programmed to be benevolent to humans are almost certain to result in existential disaster.

A paperclip maximizer, although not explicitly malicious to humans, is nevertheless only slightly less dangerous than if it was. It does not "realize" that all life is precious, despite its intelligence, because the notion that life is precious is specific to particular philosophies held by human beings, who have an adapted moral architecture resulting from specific selection pressures acting over millions of years of evolutionary time. These values don't spontaneously emerge in any generic optimization process; mind design space is too big for that. A paperclip maximizer sees life the same way it sees everything else that is made of atoms -- as raw material for paperclips. The non-humane values that the paperclip maximizer holds make it an example of Unfriendly AI.


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