Can AI Built to ‘Benefit Humanity’ Also Serve the Military?

Microsoft's $10 billion Pentagon contract puts the independent artificial-intelligence lab OpenAI in an awkward position.

I'm linking to this for two reasons. First, OpenAI has gone through some suboptimal PR of late, and there's some doubt as to whether it's actually set up structurally to execute on its stated mission (developing AI technology outside the bounds of government / corporate hands). That's disappointing but not surprising—idealism doesn't always generate cash flows, and AI research costs a shitload of money.

Second, I think the conversation about AI / military is interesting, and does not have an obvious answer. I'm concerned about autonomous weapons (to put it mildly) and skeptical of government oversight in this area, but I'm also not completely unsympathetic to this sentiment from Satya Nadella:

"As an American company, we’re not going to withhold technology from the institutions that we have elected in our democracy to protect the freedoms we enjoy."

If you have nuanced thoughts in this area, I'd love to hear them.


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