Good depictions of speed mismatches between advanced AI systems and humans?

post by Geoffrey Miller (geoffreymiller) · 2023-03-15T16:40:29.741Z · EA · GW · 9 comments

This is a question post.

Advanced AI systems can potentially perceive, decide, and act much faster than humans can -- perhaps many orders of magnitude faster. Given that we're used to intelligent agents all operating at about human speed, the effects of this 'speed mismatch' could be quite startling & counter-intuitive. An advanced AI might out-pace human actions and reactions in a way that's somewhat analogous to the way that a 'speedster' superhero (e.g. the Flash, Quicksilver) can out-pace normal humans, or the way that some fictional characters can 'stop time' and move around as if if everyone else is frozen in place (e.g. in 'The Fermata' novel (1994) by Nicholson Baker). 

Are there any more realistic depictions of this potential AI/human speed mismatch in nonfiction articles or books, or in science fiction stories, movies, or TV series -- especially ones that explore the risks and downsides of the mismatch?


answer by Habryka · 2023-03-15T18:44:37.045Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I personally find video game speedrunning a pretty useful intuition pump for what it might look like for an AI to do things in the real world. Seeing the skill-ceiling in games feels like it has helped me calibrate on how crazy things could get if you have much faster-thinking and faster-acting Artificial Intelligence. 

comment by Geoffrey Miller (geoffreymiller) · 2023-03-15T19:46:15.590Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Habryka -- nice point. 

Example: speedrunning 'Ultimate Doom': 

answer by Max_Daniel · 2023-03-16T00:27:52.337Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This isn't quite what you're looking for because it's more a partial analogy of the phenomenon you point to rather than a realistic depiction, but FWIW I found this old short story [LW · GW] by Eliezer Yudkowsky quite memorable.

answer by Geoffrey Miller · 2023-03-15T19:59:48.807Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

PS: A few good examples I can think of off the top of my head (although they're not particularly realistic in relation to current AI tech):

  • The space battle scenes in the Culture science fiction novels by Iain M. Banks, in which the ship 'Minds' (super advanced AIs) fight so fast using mostly beam weapons that the battles are typically over in a few seconds, long before their human crews have any idea what's happening. 
  • The scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron in which Ultron wakes up, learns human history, defeats Jarvis, escapes into the Internet, and starts manufacturing robot copies of itself within a few seconds: 
  • The scenes in Mandalorian TV series where the IG-11 combat robot is much faster than the humanoid storm troopers: 
answer by Erin · 2023-03-15T17:43:02.821Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

"The Bobiverse" series is lighthearted and generally techno-optimistic, but does portray this in a way that seems accurate to me.

comment by Geoffrey Miller (geoffreymiller) · 2023-03-15T19:40:24.437Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Erin - thanks; looks interesting; hadn't heard of this science fiction book series before.


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comment by Steven Byrnes (steve2152) · 2023-03-15T19:07:08.472Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Related: Critch’s post Slow motion videos as AI risk intuition pumps [LW · GW].

Replies from: geoffreymiller
comment by Geoffrey Miller (geoffreymiller) · 2023-03-15T20:04:23.038Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the very useful link. I hadn't read that before. 

I like the intuition pump that if advanced AI systems are running at about 10 million times human cognitive speed, then one year of human history equals 10 million years of AI experience.

Replies from: steve2152
comment by Steven Byrnes (steve2152) · 2023-03-15T20:33:46.817Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yup! Alternatively: we’re working with silicon chips that are 10,000,000× faster than the brain, so we can get a 100× speedup even if we’re a whopping 100,000× less skillful at parallelizing brain algorithms than the brain itself.