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An Oracle AI is a regularly proposed solution to the problem of developing Friendly AI. It is conceptualized as a super-intelligent system which is designed for only answering questions, and has no ability to act in the world. The name was first suggested by Nick Bostrom.


Armstrong, Sandberg and Bostrom discuss Oracle AI safety at length in their Thinking inside the box: using and controlling an Oracle AI. The authors propose a conceptual architecture to create such a system, besides reviewing how one might measure it accuracy and shed some light on human level considerations. Among the last are physical security – also known as “boxing” -, the potential for the oracle to use social engineering, which questions may be safe to ask, utility indifference, and many other factors. The paper’s conclusion that Oracles – or AI boxing concepts in general - are safer than fully free agent AIs has been a subject of debate for a long time.

In a related work, Dreams of Friendliness, Eliezer Yudkowsky gives an informal argument stating that all oracles will be agent-like, that is, driven by its own goals. He rests on the idea that anything considered "intelligent" must choose the correct course of action among all actions avaliable. That means that the Oracle will have many possible things to believe, although very few of them are correct. Therefore believing the correct thing means some method was used to select the correct belief from the many incorrect beliefs. By definition, this is an optimization process which has a goal of selecting correct beliefs....

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