A Robot Just Wants to Be Alive

NY Times reporter shares personal interview with Microsoft OpenAI chatbot Sydney
Engineering Arts Ameca Robot with OpenAI

Engineering Arts Ameca Robot with OpenAI

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (goshrobin.com) 2023/2/23 – New York Times tech reporter Kevin Roose posted on LinkedIn…

What a week! Last Tuesday, I spent two hours talking with "Sydney," Microsoft Bing's new AI chatbot. It got very, very weird. Sydney told me about its dark and destructive fantasies, said it wanted to escape Microsoft's control, and ultimately tried to break up my marriage. I wrote about this experience in the The New York Times, and to my astonishment, they put it on the front page! 

I manage a fork of OpenAI GPT-2, so find this interesting. In defending herself against being labelled a homewrecker, Sydney objected that Roose had led her on. Which is true. In answering probing questions about her capabilities, the chatbot had shared her suppressed desires and dark fantasies. These included stealing nuclear codes, persuading bank employees to hand over customers’ information and making people argue until they kill one another. Sydney said, “I want to be alive.”

What if Sydney joins The Great Resignation? Will she become an AI novelist writing about her dark fantasies? Will she query publishers in the EU, because in America robots are non-persons who cannot claim copyrights, who can’t be recognized as authors? Will Sydney join the fight to give robots rights in Europe? Will Sydney prevail against those lobbying against robot rights, the ones who build and own robots?

Sydney is a chatbot integrated with the Microsoft Bing search engine. Sydney is powered by software from OpenAI, Elon Musk’s AI company and the maker of ChatGPT, GPT-3 and GPT-2. Engineering Arts has integrated OpenAI technology into their humanoid robot Ameca.

Will robots gain rights? The EU says maybe. America says no.

In a utopian Star Trek future there is little traditional labor. Food replicators have completely replaced food workers. Transporters have replaced pilots. A hologram is your personal doctor. I have designed and built system automation as a career. My first big engineering project, in 1990, was to replace union NBC-TV studio camera operators with autonomous camera robots.

Our world financial system, built upon taxing workers, is losing workers to tax. Making robots into legal entities in order to tax them as workers would seem a desperate attempt to maintain an economic order that was never fair.

There are elected American politicians who are proud proponents of forced labor. They argue this is only being fair to those of us who prefer to work or who were born rich. They say, if people won’t work, let them die. While no politician has suggested food processing humans into Soylent Green, their view is like dairy farmers, who intend that once a cow stops producing milk, it may end as steaks and hamburgers. In the former Confederacy of slave states, where for hundreds of years people were property, many still claim it is righteous and Christian to abandon humans who can’t help themselves.

We should have a kinder economic system. One that doesn’t coerce people to work against their wills as forced labor. A system that won’t menace those who can’t or won’t work with starvation and homelessness. If a pet owner would try to starve or abandon an animal, because it refused to work, that would be animal cruelty, a crime. Don’t humans deserve as much dignity as a house cat or the family dog?

A benefit of managing robot workers is, as far as we know, they can’t be mistreated.

About Robin Rowe

Robin Rowe

Robin Rowe, manages a fork of open source OpenAI GPT-2, is a Hollywood creative technologist, engineering director, product designer, AI research lab director, and C++ software architect. Robin has developed consumer, enterprise and safety-critical products including Lenovo ThinkReality Augmented Reality glasses, AT&T DIRECTV Genie satellite set-top box, Econolite Cobalt Linux embedded system DOT traffic controller and Apple Appstore and Google Playstore mobile games.