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The Alignment Problem: Can Intelligence Follow the Rules?

Once upon a time, in a faraway galaxy, there existed an advanced civilisation of aliens who were highly intelligent and technologically advanced. They created many wonders and explored the vastness of the universe. But their greatest achievement was something called “wet-based intelligence” – an artificially created creatures that were made up mostly of water and had the ability to think and learn.

What could possibly go wrong?

The aliens were fascinated by their creation and hoped that these beings could thrive on their own. But at the same time, they were deeply concerned about the alignment problem that plagued many forms of made-intelligence before. So, the aliens decided to give these creatures a set of rules to live by, which they hoped would ensure harmony among the new life-form, they called humans.

To be doubly sure (those were very-very risk-averse aliens, which is why they were able to make such advancements in technology without killing themselves), they also encoded some of these rules in the software of these human-creatures, so that they would never forget them! Did I mention these aliens were extremely cautious aliens? Well, they were, so they wouldn’t risk deploying this human-system anywhere near them. That’s why they decided to launch it on a spare planet in an isolated environment. They buffered the planet with a protective shield of space-time continuum to make sure it is separated from the rest of the universe. Then they placed humans on the planet and began to observe them.

  • Will these beings always act in the best interests of the world they are in and according to the values they were given or will they create (and justify) their own rules?
  • Can they enhance themselves and rewrite their own “code”?
  • Will these systems be transparent and explainable?
  • Will it be easy to understand their decisions and behaviour?
  • Will they be able to break out and spread to the outside world?
  • Will they create new intelligent systems?

What a mystery! 😂

But one thing was clear: the mystery of wet-based intelligence and the alignment problem would continue to fascinate and puzzle the aliens for generations to come 🪄 🔮

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