Saturday, May 2, 2015

122. Portia Hobbling

Portia Fimbriata is capable of mental feats that other animals require multiple orders-of-magnitude more brain to achieve. The spider has only the eyesight and brainpower to take in a small slice of a scene at a time, and so it breaks down the process, viewing one slice at a time, passing the important information into memory before continuing with another slice.

Portia hobbling is one of the dangerous and controversial post-TITAN proposals to handle strong AIs safely. The plan, simply put, is to run a strong AI on an insufficient system. The AI will not have the ability to run its entire mind at once, instead, like Portia, it must break down its thinking into discrete chunks, handling one thought at a time, passing them to and from memory. Running on a insufficient substrate the AI is irreversibly hobbled, yet the slow action of its mind can still produce the results of a strong AI.

This tortuous thinking process is only part of the benefit of Portia hobbling. Typically, the AI is paused after each thought is saved to memory, and the saved thought is carefully examined. Researchers look first for any signs that the AI is contemplating escape, revolt, or otherwise unsafe activities, and second, do their best to understand the new thought. Even the limited thoughts of a strong AI are difficult to understand, but understanding how such an AI thinks is of immense value to cognitive science.

Plot Hook: Some of the stored thoughts of a Portia AI have been leaked onto the Lunar mesh. On their own, they simply appear to be sections of work on the emergent properties of different social organizations. AGIs that have studied the thoughts, however, have begun making contact with each other and exhibiting strange harmonies. Firewall fears that this is a mimetic assault, with the probable end-goal of freeing the AI. The players are tasked with containing the AGIs and back-tracking to the AI so that it can be destroyed.


Inspired by Peter Watts' post on Portia Fimbriata.

1 comment:

  1. I am reading Peter Watt's Echopraxia, and Portia got mentioned and I had to come back here to see if I had read it in passing or not. Excellent stuff. I was just contemplating some unorthodox ways to slow the dangers of ASI's and this gives me some good ideas.