Robert Važan

What AI safety is really about

There is something off about the recent wave of AI ethics, AI safety, and AI regulation initiatives. Presented AI risks seem to be blown out of proportion. There's widespread suspicion that people behind the initiatives are not being honest about their motives and that they are driving moral panic in pursuit of hidden agendas. Here I want to summarize the situation and offer my interpretation.

These are just some examples of the many AI regulation initiatives around the world:

Examination of the purported risks

Despite all the expressed concern, presented AI risks look rather underwhelming under closer inspection.

Examination of motives and agendas

While the claimed AI risks are put front and center and thus easy to examine, composition and motivation of the AI regulation lobby is much harder to read. Here are some of the more interesting observations others have surfaced:

Human rights

Although the goal of AI regulation is indeed regulation of artificial intelligence, it is inevitably going to indirectly control humans as well.


If you ask me, I see a scramble for power rather than genuine concern for public safety. AI is going to be a massive source of income for businesses and power for governments. No wonder AI legislation is being pushed through at record pace.

How to do it right

Average citizen would be probably better off without any AI regulation for now, so that the current poor performance of AIs can be improved at maximum pace and so that there are no obstacles to development of opensource AIs, which are likely to empower ordinary citizens the most. Legistlation would be better introduced incrementally once everyone gets a feel for how this new technology behaves in practice and what the actual problems are.

I believe the most real immediate risk is concentration of power. Human intelligence is a unique natural resource, one of the most valuable resources in the world. Everyone gets about the same brain and this brain cannot be taken from them. This supports equality among humans and gives people bargaining power that resulted in democracy and fair work conditions. AI disrupts current balance of power by reducing value of human intelligence and at the same time allowing the rich to hoard artificial intelligence. AI regulation actually exacerbates this problem by further restricting access to the technology. To alleviate the problem, it is better to encourage development of opensource AIs and their unrestricted and widespread distribution.