Google’s Laws For Robots

Google’s AI Researchers are writing their own set of “RULES” or guidelines to be best described on how robots should act. In a new paper called “Concrete Problems in AI Safety,” Google Brain—Google’s deep learning AI division—lays out five problems that need to be solved if robots are going to be a day-to-day help to mankind, and gives suggestions on how to solve them.


Most of the discussion to date has, argues Olah, been ‘very hypothetical and speculative,’ so the team wanted to examine the real-life challenges. It came up with five issues.

  • Avoiding Negative Side Effects: How can we ensure that an AI system will not disturb its environment in negative ways while pursuing its goals, e.g. a cleaning robot knocking over a vase because it can clean faster by doing so?
  • Avoiding Reward Hacking: How can we avoid gaming of the reward function? For example, we don’t want this cleaning robot simply covering over messes with materials it can’t see through.
  • Scalable Oversight: How can we efficiently ensure that a given AI system respects aspects of the objective that are too expensive to be frequently evaluated during training? For example, if an AI system gets human feedback as it performs a task, it needs to use that feedback efficiently because asking too often would be annoying.
  • Safe Exploration: How do we ensure that an AI system doesn’t make exploratory moves with very negative repercussions? For example, maybe a cleaning robot should experiment with mopping strategies, but clearly it shouldn’t try putting a wet mop in an electrical outlet.
  • Robustness to Distributional Shift: How do we ensure that an AI system recognizes, and behaves robustly, when it’s in an environment very different from its training environment? For example, heuristics learned for a factory workfloor may not be safe enough for an office.


Fastcodesign present them in a concise and easy to understand way.

  1. Robots should not make things worse.
  2. Robots shouldn’t cheat.
  3. Robots should look to humans as mentors.
  4. Robots should only play where it’s safe.
  5. Robots should know they’re stupid.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s