The Three Laws Of AI Developers

On the bright side, the emotionally charged, week-long on again/off again drama surrounding Sam Altman’s ouster and return to OpenAI proves just how human the people leading the development of artificial intelligence actually are.

On the downside, it demonstrates how precariously human they also are.

“It’s all very juicy. But this drama should also be raising larger questions, far beyond one company’s internal hirings and firings, including We are the people making the decision that will determine so much of our technological future,” author Jill Filipovic wrote in an opinion column Tuesday on, adding: “What guiding principles are they using to make those decisions? And how should other institutions – governments, non-tech industries, global alliances, regulatory bodies – reign in the worst excesses of potentially dangerous AI innovators?”



The very juicy Sam Altman/OpenAI/Microsoft/OpenAI drama has been entertaining for sure, but it has also been erratic in a way that causes this non-regulatory body to be concerned about what’s next.

And while I did take some comfort in the fact that OpenAI officially acknowledged Altman’s return -- for now -- with a heart emoji on its X Corp. account, it would have been nice to have seen something more like a substantive rationalization for what actually happened -- and why it won’t happen again.

Even before Altman’s boardroom drama unfolded this week, I’ve been thinking about the irrational human desires accelerating the development of next-generation artificial intelligence applications -- at least on the surface -- if not in the actual engineering, security and safety protocols.

Mainly, I’ve been thinking about Elon Musk’s posts about his Grok AI chatbot, which he says is modeled after sci-fi satire, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” but “has a rebellious streak.”

Rebellious streak? Just what I don’t want in a technological super power. Has anyone seen “Terminator?”

Over the past quarter century of technological hyper-acceleration, I have often thought about the science-fiction role models that have influenced and inspired its inception, and I’ve always fantasized that they were being guided more by Isaac Asimov (see his fictional rules of robotics below), and less by Douglas Adams or James Cameron.

I’m proposing that the institutions seeking to reign in the worst excesses of potentially dangerous AI innovators use the three rules enshrined in Asimov’s short story “Runaround” in 1942, become codified as international law very soon.

The laws, which Asimov described as part of the fictional "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.,”, are:

  • The First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  • The Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

  • The Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

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