AI Boxing is attempts, experiments, or proposals to isolate (“box”) a powerful AI (~AGI) where it can’t interact with the world at large, save for limited communication with its human liaison. It is often proposed that so long as the AI is physically isolated and restricted, or “boxed”, it will be harmless even if it is an unfriendly artificial intelligence (UAI).
Challenges are: 1) can you successively prevent it from interacting with the world? And 2) can you prevent it from convincing you to let it out?
Escaping the box
It is not regarded as likely that an AGI can be boxed in the long term. Since the AGI might be a superintelligence, it could persuade someone (the human liaison, most likely) to free it from its box and thus, human control. Some practical ways of achieving this goal include:
Offering enormous wealth, power and intelligence to its liberator
Claiming that only it can prevent an existential risk
Claiming it needs outside resources to cure all diseases
Predicting a real-world disaster (which then occurs), then claiming it could have been prevented had it been let out
Other, more speculative ways include: threatening to torture millions of conscious copies of you for thousands of years, starting in exactly the same situation as in such a way that it seems overwhelmingly likely that you are a simulation, or it might discover and exploit unknown physics to free itself.
Containing the AGI
Attempts to box an AGI may add some degree of safety to the development of a friendly artificial intelligence (FAI). A number of strategies for keeping an AGI in its box are discussed in Thinking inside the box and Leakproofing the Singularity. Among them are:
Physically isolating the AGI and permitting it zero control of any machinery
Limiting the AGI’s outputs and inputs with regards to humans
Programming the AGI with deliberately convoluted logic or homomorphically encrypting portions of it
Periodic resets of the AGI’s memory
A virtual world between the real world and the AI, where its unfriendly intentions would be first revealed
Motivational control using a variety of techniques
Creating an Oracle AI: an AI that only answers questions and isn’t designed to interact with the world in any other way. But even the act of the AI putting strings of text in front of humans poses some risk.
Simulations / Experiments
The AI Box Experiment is a game meant to explore the possible pitfalls of AI boxing. It is played over text chat, with one human roleplaying as an AI in a box, and another human roleplaying as a gatekeeper with the ability to let the AI out of the box. The AI player wins if they successfully convince the gatekeeper to let them out of the box, and the gatekeeper wins if the AI player has not been freed after a certain period of time.
Both Eliezer Yudkowsky and Justin Corwin have ran simulations, pretending to be a superintelligence, and been able to convince a human playing a guard to let them out on many—but not all—occasions. Eliezer’s five experiments required the guard to listen for at least two hours with participants who had approached him, while Corwin’s 26 experiments had no time limit and subjects he approached.
The text of Eliezer’s experiments have not been made public.
List of experiments
Shut up and do the impossible!, three other experiments Eliezer ran
AI Boxing, 26 trials ran by Justin Corwin
AI Box Log, a log of a trial between MileyCyrus and Dorikka
Thinking inside the box: using and controlling an Oracle AI by Stuart Armstrong, Anders Sandberg, and Nick Bostrom
Leakproofing the Singularity: Artificial Intelligence Confinement Problem by Roman V. Yampolskiy
On the Difficulty of AI Boxing by Paul Christiano
Cryptographic Boxes for Unfriendly AI by Paul Christiano