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Team Aims To Create Pure Evil AI 527

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-with-fire dept.
puroresu writes "Scientific American reports on the efforts of Selmer Bringsjord and his team at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who have been attempting to develop an AI possessed of an interesting character trait: pure evil. From the article, 'He and his research team began developing their computer representation of evil by posing a series of questions beginning with the basics: name, age, sex, etc., and progressing to inquiries about this fictional person's beliefs and motivations. This exercise resulted in "E," a computer character first created in 2005 to meet the criteria of Bringsjord's working definition of evil. Whereas the original E was simply a program designed to respond to questions in a manner consistent with Bringsjord's definition, the researchers have since given E a physical identity: It's a relatively young, white man with short black hair and dark stubble on his face.'"

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Team Aims To Create Pure Evil AI

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:46PM (#29069921) Journal
    Narrator: You're on a scenic route through a state recreational area known as the human mind. You ask a passerby for directions, only to find he has no face ... or something. Suddenly up ahead there's a door in the road. You swerve, narrowly avoiding ... The Scary Door!

    Scientist: *a mad scientist is seen mixing chemicals* I have combined the DNA of the world's most evil animals to make the most evil creature of them all. *a pod opens flowing with clouds of steam*

    Naked Man: *steps out of pod* Turns out it's man!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by tomcode (261182)

      "Why should I listen to you? You're Hitler!"

      "Save me Eva Braun!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FroMan (111520)

      The Honking [wikipedia.org]

      • That was my first thought too...

        "... Only after bringing Project Satan to live did they discover they had made a horrible mistake. For you see, it was pure evil!"

    • by SBrach (1073190) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:01PM (#29070137)
      Announcer: Imagine if you will, an announcer you can barely understand, he refers to a [mutters], but you're not quite sure what he said. He seems to be eating something, or perhaps he's a little drunk. It's remotely possible that he just said something about the Scary Door.

      Private: It's all over! Our guns and bombs are useless against the aliens.

      Farmer: The saucers! They's a-crashin'!

      Announcer: In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God's creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    you are a part of the resistance.

    • by MaerD (954222) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:54PM (#29070041)
      No, I'm not. And neither are you. There is no resistance. There is no "skynet". Please, come down off the ledge, Bob.
      Also, IT has asked that you stop trying to plant "bombs" in the server room. Modeling clay with wires stuck in it will not explode.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Also, IT has asked that you stop trying to plant "bombs" in the server room. Modeling clay with wires stuck in it will not explode.

        They'd rather he planted something that would explode?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nurb432 (527695)

        ... Modeling clay with wires stuck in it will not explode.

        But they do it all the time on stargate..

    • I would have made a clever reference to the game resistance: fall of man [metacritic.com] but I got bored before I made it, just as I got bored with the game before getting far enough to have anything to reference.

  • This is doing to end well...
    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:51PM (#29069993) Journal

      I foresee you using "preview" next time.

    • by escay (923320)

      I foresee this as being a step further to understanding the root of human evil.

      It all depends on how well the AI captures evil behavior. Bringsjord does have some interesting points as to what constitutes an evil person:

      • (a) their reasons for an evil action tend be incoherent, such as a mentally-ill psychopath or
      • (b) they regard the harm caused as a good thing, such as religious fanatics.

      Why do we need to understand human evil, you ask? the same reason we need to understand the cause of a disease - it

      • Re:I foresee (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ravenshrike (808508) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:50PM (#29070865)
        The three most evil people on this planet in the modern age were neither religious, nor incoherent. Oddly enough, 2 of the three were asian, and one was eastern european. Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, and Iosef Vissarionovich Stalin were much more evil than Hitler ever aspired to. At least Hitler had the excuse of being bugfuck crazy beyond the simple paranoia Stalin had.
        • Re:I foresee (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Greyfox (87712) on Friday August 14, 2009 @06:26PM (#29072305) Homepage Journal
          No one ever "aspires" to evil, and to some extent the label is applied by the winner. To Hitler and the Nazis we were the evil trying to oppress them. Not to mention the fuel for the revolution was us fucking Germany over for World War I, but that's another story. Same thing goes for the assorted terrorist organizations that keep trying to blow up folks in the middle east. In their eyes, we're the evil ones and they're soldiers for the cause of good. They'd have a lot less support if they said "Yeah we're blowing up all those guys because we're just Evil and that's what we like to do." Or my personal favorite, Vlad the Impaler, impaled all those guys but he's STILL viewed as a hero in that region today. All that impaling did impose a lot of order on the citizens, too. Arguably he was no worse than any of the other statesmen of his time.

          I view "Good" and "Evil" to a large extent as imaginary terms that we apply to people who agree or disagree with us. True you could manipulate people for your own goals without regard for their welfare or the consequences of your actions and that would be fairly evil, but usually you view your goals as "good" and furthering them as good for everyone, even if they don't realize it at the time.

  • by feldhaus (813019) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:51PM (#29069987)
    ... did they decide that evil is male? There are some girls I want them to meet.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:56PM (#29070059) Journal
      I suspect that they(ironically detracting from their goal) went down the path of maximising for "threatening" or "untrustworthy", rather than evil(which is much harder to depict, without falling into specific cliche-riddled stuff).

      A fair few studies suggest that a face that looks about like that one, with more or less unpleasantly masculine features, rates low on perceived trustworthiness and high on perceived threat. Of course, the evil that you don't recognize is way more dangerous than the obvious one, so choosing that is kind of silly; but I'm not too surprised that they did.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      My first thought was to just model Paris Hilton's brain. Then I realized the obvious flaw in that idea.
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:53PM (#29070017) Journal

    Well Bringsjord's definition quotes

    To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of "causing considerable harm to others," Bringsjord says. Finally, "and most importantly," he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing.

    So I guess all they have to be is a religious nutjob who thinks killing heathens/infadels/etc etc is alright.

    • Yes, that is an easy way to be an evil person (and likely not even know it).

      Was there a point to your example?

      All they have to be is a child molester, too, but that's hardly a reason to post about it.

      • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:03PM (#29070183) Journal

        Not necessarily though, I mean don't get me wrong, I think Child molestation is a bad thing, but sometimes the people are so messed up inside that they KNOW its wrong and they can't stop doing it, like how some people can't stop smoking cigarettes.

        Having known someone who was into that kind of thing, he told me that he really hated who he was and that it felt a little bit like a bipolar thing that he couldn't help. Was what he doing wrong? Absolutely, and he knew it.

        Did he feel he was doing more good then causing harm? No. He turned himself in.

        I posted because when I read it I thought "How does one create pure evil when evil is a frame of reference?" So I went to RTFA and just thought that Bringsjord's definition of evil was not exactly what -I- would picture pure evil. I imagined pure evil as that maniac who wants to control the world for his own benefit, at the cost of anyone elses lives or pleasures. My closing comment was that Bingsford's definition of pure evil exists QUITE COMMONLY in the world today.

        • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:13PM (#29070327)

          I imagined pure evil as that maniac who wants to control the world for his own benefit, at the cost of anyone elses lives or pleasures.

          I thought this too. Then I wondered how you could analyze such an AI. A big part of being pure evil includes deception with lies and half-truthes. One would almost need two ways to interact with the AI: one as a random person and one as the "always gets the truth" person.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:05PM (#29070207) Journal
      Not necessarily: religious nutjobs' reasons are bullshit; but they are often quite coherent bullshit. Moreover, religious nutjobs generally subscribe to some flavor of a divine command theory of ethics and believe that they are carrying out divine instructions, which logically implies that they do not believe that they are carrying out a morally wrong action.(Arguably, divine command theories of ethics are incoherent, Plato having more or less shoved a stake in their heart ages ago; but they are quite common and quite commonly believed, even on inspection, to be coherent).

      If anything, the most dangerous nutjobs are characterized by their extreme degree of value-rational conduct. In the case of pretty much any religious nutjob of note, you'll find, either around them or in the society that spawned them, numerous people who embrace the same epistemological and metaphysical convictions who, nevertheless, are only modestly dangerous, at most, because they do not follow their convictions through to their rational conclusion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I find it interesting that Selmer assumes an absolute morality - your religious nutjob will of course view the killing of infidels as unpleasant but necessary. I don't really buy the whole harm for its own sake thing, though - if someone is like that, they're called a sociopath or psycopath, not evil. Evil in my mind is simply an extreme lack of interest in the welfare of others: would you firebomb an orphanage so you can sell the land to developers? Run someone over to make the traffic light? Sell someone
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Bringsjord's definition has some interesting presuppositions about human nature, apparently.

      It kinda sounds like he thinks "evil" can only be born out of "incoherence" (reasons to commit the morally wrong action) or "misunderstanding" (regarded the harm as a good thing).

      It also is interesting that he doesn't define what a morally wrong action is, or what is morally wrong. It seems that is more to the point in defining "evil." If I define "morally wrong" as that which only applies to interactions with othe

    • What if you know that what you're doing is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible, has no sane explanation, gives you no pleasure, has no religious reasoning and you're merely doing it to prove a point. Like ... a white, middle aged family man, wife, three kids, independently wealthy, agnostic, no run-ins with the law, got along splendidly with his parents and siblings who goes and blows up a school bus full of children, a kinder garden, nursery, retirement home, ER, a stock brokerage office, a bank,

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      So I guess all they have to be is a religious nutjob who thinks killing heathens/infadels/etc etc is alright.

      Troll Score
      2/10 - Originality
      8/10 - Anger Inducing Level
      1/10 - Subtleness

      In all seriousness, this is every person on the planet. I mean, seriously - every person has hypocritical tendencies at some point. I do agree that religious-types need to do a better job of not being hypocritical given what they preach. But, it really is human nature to say one thing, and do the exact (worse) opposite. It's easier to do the "wrong" thing and pay lip service to the right thing. It takes work to do the right thing

  • by bigredradio (631970) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:53PM (#29070027) Homepage Journal
    Vista, XP, or ME
  • whatever you type in, it refuses to respond. No matter how hard you provoke it. Called /dev/null, it's been around for decades
  • ... someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others ... The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of causing considerable harm to others ... and most importantly ... if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and reg
  • "This is serious guys. We've run out of bad weather events and mythical monsters to adapt into crap flicks to entertain the Cheetos addicts who have nowhere to go on Saturday night."

    "Uh . . . uh . . ."

    "What the hell is it Ernie? And don't tell me you think we should adapt Ringworld again."

    "Well, I'm reading about this RPI project to create a pure evil . . ."

    "THAT'S IT! Lucy, Grant, I want a script by Friday! And remember, decapitations people."

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:57PM (#29070079)

    So... basically, they're trying to create the very first politician AI?

    • So... basically, they're trying to create the very first politician AI?

      Almost, but they've added something called Artificial Intelligence to the mix.

  • More likely this will be available as an iPhone upgrade.

  • As was predicted in the last panel [keenspot.com].

  • The beginning of the end for people who live in automated houses. As E searches the internet for examples of how to outdo itself in the field of evil, disaster will strike the world when it gains access to netflix's movie repository. I'll wake up chained to my radiator with a dull hacksaw in front of me and a tape recording. I'll here my wife screaming as she's sodomized Alexander DeLarge style by our refrigerator. And our son? Our son is being forced to watch "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" on all fou
  • SID 6.7? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ph0rk (118461) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:01PM (#29070141)
    As long as they don't happen to drop the cube holding the AI into a puddle of shapechanging goo.

    Also, the face doesn't look much like Russel Crowe, so we're probably safe.
  • Why me? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SeeSp0tRun (1270464) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:01PM (#29070155) Journal
    It is disheartening to feel as though the OP described my physical makeup...
  • news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ginotech (816751) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:04PM (#29070205)
    TFA is from October 2008.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fataugie (89032)

      So what you're saying is....the article poster is evil for withholding vital information?

  • Evil? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:07PM (#29070231) Homepage

    From the article:

    To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of "causing considerable harm to others," Bringsjord says. Finally, "and most importantly," he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing.

    This sounds to me more like cruelty, which is certainly a kind of evil, but by no means the only one. It's also more than a little cartoonish: this is someone who appears to do harm simply for the sake of causing harm (i.e. for the lulz?), rather than the more carefully rationalized evil seen as realistic today. How useful will that really turn out to be?

  • Codenamed "Hanlon", its first words will be "Welcome to Microsoft Window"
  • It kinda looks like Sam Fisher.

    Exhibit 1 [examiner.com]

    Exhibit 2 [kotaku.com]
  • This is the result of Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions trying to delegate more of their work to computer systems.

  • Hehehe... Sexist AI [smbc-comics.com]

  • Wow, isn't that obvious? Seriously, real evil (and I mean dickwad screw you over whenever possible evil) is so much more insidious than just simple choose-the-left-door options. True evil has motivations; building you up for a hard, tragic fall a la Iago in Othello. Evil is Charles Manson using people to murder and torture people based on the rejection and crushed dreams from his faint glimpse at stardom. Evil is marching armies across Europe based on your own insecurities and superstitions. "Bad" is
  • All you have to do is make it disconnect when it realises that it's losing...

  • by thestudio_bob (894258) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:21PM (#29070437)
    What the article fails to mention is that the original code model was based off of Microsofts's "Clippy".
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:25PM (#29070485) Homepage Journal

    I decry the terrible racism that suggests a white person might be evil. It's an outrage. And what is this stereotype about being shaved.

  • Former Student (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TenBrothers (995309) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:32PM (#29070569)
    I was a student of Dr. Bringsjord's as he developed this program. Dr Bringsjord has two working definitions differentiating good and evil. He has his academic definitions, and then he has what I called his "cocktail party" definitions, which are supposed to be used to describe what he's doing without prompting further inquiry, or at least inquiry that is not in-depth. The definition he's offering here is much closer to his usual "cocktail party" definition differentiating "good" and "evil" (as you can see from the use of the phrase "good thing" to define the relativistic definition of "evil." I only mention this because since nobody here is getting the honest academic "full-definition" insight into what the decision making process is between state A.good and state B.evil, then conjecture on just what the hell is going on is going to be fruitless. ...he says, writing that as if he's never read slashdot threads.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:34PM (#29070595)

    Can't we just clone him to a computer? Cheaper. More fun to play with ala Sim torture.

  • by kaffekaine (1526977) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:59PM (#29070953)

    After reading the article I think the kery thing this research has proven is that being a great computer scientist does not necessarily guarantee you'll be an even passable philosopher or psychologist.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday August 14, 2009 @04:21PM (#29071163) Homepage Journal

    Sounds racist to me. Pull their funding.

    ( yes, that was sarcasm )

  • EVIL (Score:3, Funny)

    by kaoshin (110328) on Friday August 14, 2009 @04:23PM (#29071187)
    "Pure evil" or Neutral Evil I think would be rather simple, as it will always make choices that benefit itself without factors of honor, compassion, variation, etc. I think Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil are much more complex alignments.

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