Opinion Technology
September 12, 2023

The Alberta Plan: Professor Richard Sutton’s Blueprint for AI’s Future

Professor Richard Sutton, a research scientist at DeepMind and a pioneer in reinforcement learning, delivers a message to humanity. As some of the foremost minds in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) express concerns akin to the warnings of scientists like J. Robert Oppenheimer in the past, Sutton’s words resonate with a sense of urgency and responsibility.

The Alberta Plan: Professor Richard Sutton's Blueprint for AI's Future
Professor Richard Sutton

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the renowned physicist known for his role in the development of the atomic bomb, also recognized the potential dangers of emerging technologies. In the late 1940s, he called for global control over atomic energy, apprehensive about the destructive power it held. His advocacy against the hydrogen bomb, as an advisor to the Atomic Energy Commission, led to consequences that impacted his career.

Drawing parallels to the past, today’s AI visionaries are stepping forward to address the ethical and existential questions posed by AI advancement. Geoffrey Hinton, often referred to as one of the “founding fathers” of AI, left his esteemed position at Google to voice concerns about AI’s trajectory openly.

Richard Sutton, another luminary in the AI field, has also chosen to speak candidly to humanity while continuing his research at Google DeepMind. In his recent 17-minute address titled “AI Heirs,” delivered at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2023 in Shanghai, Sutton shares profound insights:

  • We are on the cusp of an unprecedented evolutionary transition, not just on Earth but in the entire Universe—an epoch where higher intelligence undergoes a changing of the guard.
  • The greatest risks in this transition may arise from our own apprehensions about this monumental shift.
  • Attempting to reverse or control this process is futile; our only viable path forward is to acknowledge its inevitability and craft a prudent, thoughtful plan for the transfer of stewardship to the AI heirs.

This plan, aptly named “The Alberta Plan,” was crafted under Sutton’s leadership at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute DeepMind Alberta.

While these “founding fathers” of AI attempt to engage society in a crucial dialogue, life continues its regular course for most, seemingly unaffected. In contrast to historical figures like Oppenheimer, contemporary dissenters don’t face the same accusations of unreliability. Instead, they encounter more subtle, age-related skepticism from the media. However, the urgency of their message remains undiminished.

In this era, it is improbable that future generations will immortalize us in films akin to “Oppenheimer.” If a portrayal does emerge, it may be more aligned with the ironic and satirical tone found in productions like “Idiocracy.” The responsibility now rests on us to heed the wisdom of those who understand the magnitude of AI’s transformative power.

As we traverse this uncharted territory, it is not fear but foresight that should guide our actions. The message is clear: we must prepare and plan for a future where AI inherits the mantle of higher intelligence, with wisdom, prudence, and humanity as our guides.

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Damir is the team leader, product manager, and editor at Metaverse Post, covering topics such as AI/ML, AGI, LLMs, Metaverse, and Web3-related fields. His articles attract a massive audience of over a million users every month. He appears to be an expert with 10 years of experience in SEO and digital marketing. Damir has been mentioned in Mashable, Wired, Cointelegraph, The New Yorker, Inside.com, Entrepreneur, BeInCrypto, and other publications. He travels between the UAE, Turkey, Russia, and the CIS as a digital nomad. Damir earned a bachelor's degree in physics, which he believes has given him the critical thinking skills needed to be successful in the ever-changing landscape of the internet. 

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Damir Yalalov
Damir Yalalov

Damir is the team leader, product manager, and editor at Metaverse Post, covering topics such as AI/ML, AGI, LLMs, Metaverse, and Web3-related fields. His articles attract a massive audience of over a million users every month. He appears to be an expert with 10 years of experience in SEO and digital marketing. Damir has been mentioned in Mashable, Wired, Cointelegraph, The New Yorker, Inside.com, Entrepreneur, BeInCrypto, and other publications. He travels between the UAE, Turkey, Russia, and the CIS as a digital nomad. Damir earned a bachelor's degree in physics, which he believes has given him the critical thinking skills needed to be successful in the ever-changing landscape of the internet. 

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