SAINT is an acronym loaded with religious significance. In this case, though, the intention is entirely pragmatic.
SAINT stands for Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. With the latest climate change report giving us ten years to cut global carbon emissions to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees C, the need for such a strategy is obvious and urgent, because it is clear that conventional international political processes will not be able to do the job in time. Even in a best case scenario, the ongoing challenges will remain. Getting in a rocket and going off to live in space is a shameful abrogation of the responsibilities of the global tech community.
The SAINT solution is fraught with political traps, would be a massive capital, energy and labour intensive task that would be at best imperfect, but it could get us there in time. And time would take care of the gaps and faults of an emerging transformational global strategy. We could start to build it, in fact it is imperative that we do. A grassroots global movement does not have to wait for permission, and cannot be individually derided, persecuted, and outlawed.
Before a positive AI environment of the type that is needed can be seriously considered, the global public space within the internet needs to be protected. Constant vigilance is required to fend off continual attacks on the very foundations of a strategy that could secure our future. First principles of internet operation (see Global Internet Principles blog post) will inform us that the internet environment needs to be secure and free, in working as an information provider. This creates an opportunity to develop the SAINT strategy based on globally accepted principles.
The formidable task is then to operationally establish problem solving relating to climate change, human rights, and preservation of global species. Vast energy resources are currently devoted to what are essentially AIs that manipulate us and sell us things. What if a proportion of this expensive, energy and labour consuming structure was devoted to informing us, persuading us, and providing us with pathways to invest in active climate change mitigation strategies and protection of humans and other species?
What would we get in exchange for this massive investment?
In short, a planet we can all continue to safely live on.
It is important to say that regime change is not the goal of a SAINT, and neither is the covert gathering of information to compromise privacy and enable manipulation. Observation of boundaries that are being crossed by current AI development can be utilised to limit the activities of a SAINT. In some ways, transparent operation and clear operational limits set by principle rather than competing national governments or corporations, would be one of the ground breaking aspects of a SAINT.
Whether it is a democracy, autocracy, or intergovernmental body, no one entity can claim to have the answers or be providing the leadership that is needed now. The United Nations Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change, supported by contributing nations, is an example of sharing and analysis of authenticated information. Its conclusions are grim, yet the stages of solutions and active global collaboration are yet to come. Investment in AI could accelerate and amplify those solutions, and offer more that are not acceptable to many nation states because they would require behavioural modifications they may not find politically acceptable. While we live in an age where humans have broken down climate stability with excess carbon emissions, some democracies are the worst offenders, Australia being a case in point.
A SAINT could enable its community, which could include national governments, to impose economic sanctions and investment strategies to force change onto offending countries and industries without fear or favour, according to global internet mediated principles. Just as individual nations put their political interests first and foremost, SAINT will give primacy to the welfare of the global environment and all of its inhabitants. To achieve its goal, SAINT will use the levers of politics even as it rises above the political fray of competing nations. Once this technology is there, it can be legitimised by global voting, or simply start to operate with collaborative partners across corporate and national boundaries.
Ethical investors, from those with tiny investments to those with very large resources, could buy in and together, make an enormous difference. These investment solutions, you will note, are already out there but they are working in a fragmented way.
Investment algorithms that leverage financial investments and resources plus trade practices in order to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions; investment aid to assist communities when economic sanctions are applied, could act as a spur for countries to meet targets on their own. Simultaneously, granular plans for water management and species preservation could be developed, along with plans for refugee movement and resettlement. The management of pandemics and natural disasters are an area that is crying out for immediate global collaboration.
The tasks of a SAINT are extremely complex and probably need to be dealt with as an interconnected whole. To embrace this complexity is literally the only logical choice left to preserve our world as a sustainable environment in a timely way.
Let’s take a minute to look at conspiracy theorists who claim a one world government has plans to seize power in the world using intelligent robots and the like. They are delusional on a number of levels. The disaster that definitely is happening, is climate change, not one world governance. Collaborative global governance on critical issues like climate change and pandemics, let alone power-grabbing robots, is still science fiction. The lessons we have already learned from malign deployment of AI technologies means we are forewarned and thus forearmed.
A SAINT would be an artificial intelligence driven global strategy to save our earth and its species, not a political force in the sense of invasion and societal control. A SAINT could not stop people fighting, but it could limit the damage of aggressors who commit human rights violations, by applying sanctions.
The principles and operation of a SAINT would be public and transparent. It would use all authenticated information available. In developing such an AI, it is inevitable that there would be political fallout, and the perception of politicisation may be the aspect that stops, for example, tech industry leaders from making high level investment in this field. If SpaceX, for example, was SAINTX, there would likely be a huge outcry from libertarian Americans and conspiracy theorists.
But this concern can no longer be an excuse for industry leaders and indeed all of us to fail to act.
Your planet needs you!