Summary: A new study finds those with Machiavellian personality traits are more open to the prospect of mind uploading once the technology becomes available. The study raises concerns about those with dark triad personality traits could disproportionately adopt the technology and supports concerns about antisocial use of artificial general intelligence.

Source: University of Helsinki

According to transhumanist philosophy, contemporary humans are not the end-state of evolution. Humans can in fact enhance their current capabilities by all technological, political, and educational means.

Mind upload, making a digital copy of one’s brain, is a part of the transhumanistic dream of eternal life. However, AI safety research has alerted to one major risk; that mind upload technology could appeal primarily to callous and selfish individuals who then abuse this technology for their personal gain.

Our study revealed that Machiavellianism, (callousness and manipulativeness), but not psychopathy, was associated with favorable views about mind upload, both directly and indirectly through utilitarian moral attitudes.

These results therefore substantiate the concerns voiced by researchers—namely, that mind upload technology could be adopted disproportionately by individuals with an
antisocial personality.

There are numerous predictions about the ethical risks that future technologies may engender. In our present study, we empirically substantiated one such concern articulated by several scholars working at the interface between ethics and artificial intelligence: we find that Dark Triad traits, and Machiavellianism in particular, are positively associated with the moral approval of mind upload technology.

The approval of mind upload technologies is connected to at least one of the Dark Triad traits – Machiavellianism. Also, utilitarian moral
attitudes are connected to the approval of mind upload technologies (and partially explain the association between the former two). Psychopathy is not directly connected to the approval of mind upload technologies but through Machiavellianism. Image is in the public domain

In other words, the risk that callous, selfish individuals will exploit fu-ture AGI developments for their personal gain may be non-trivial on the basis of our present evidence.

Finally, on a broader note, our study illustrates how research in applied moral and personality psychology can help in the effort to identify, and hopefully forestall, various ethical risks that may ensue from rapid technological developments.

About this personality and neurotech research news

Source: University of Helsinki
Contact: Michael Laakasuo – University of Helsinki
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Open access.
“The dark path to eternal life: Machiavellianism predicts approval of mind upload technology” by Michael Laakasuo et al. Personality and Individual Differences


Abstract

The dark path to eternal life: Machiavellianism predicts approval of mind upload technology

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This shows a depressed looking man

Mind upload, making a digital copy of one’s brain, is a part of the transhumanistic dream of eternal life and the end of suffering. It is also perceived as a viable route toward artificial general intelligence (AGI).

However, AI safety research has alerted to one major risk in creating AGI by mind upload: namely, that mind upload technology could appeal primarily to callous and selfish individuals who then abuse this technology for their personal gain—and, potentially, at a considerable cost to the welfare of humankind.

Therefore, it is important to understand whether people’s acceptance of mind upload is associated with pathological and/or antisocial traits.

To this end, the present research examined whether individual differences in Dark Triad traits predict attitudes toward mind upload in a sample of 1007 English-speaking adults. A pre-registered structural equation model revealed that Machiavellianism (but not psychopathy) was associated with favorable views about mind upload, both directly and indirectly through utilitarian moral attitudes.

These results therefore substantiate the concerns voiced by AI safety researchers—namely, that mind upload technology could be adopted disproportionately by individuals with an antisocial personality.



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