Resource scarcity, Wars and AI

by David Murrin

One of the key principals expounded in Breaking the Code of History (BTCH) was that the majority of geopolitical conflicts are driven by resource competition. This prime driver can easily be considered as a unique human, negative quality.

However, similar behaviours can be seen in nature. Furthermore, they may not be restricted to the organic world as recently such behaviour was observed by the AI division of Google’s DeepMind. This took place during an experiment with AI neural networks trained to learn from experience. When the networks were set the task of collecting apples in the computer game, they initially cooperated whilst there was a plentiful supply of fruit. In effect, they peacefully coexisted and allowed each other to collect the apples because the risk of conflict was not justified compared to the availability of the apples.

However, at a critical juncture as the supply of fruit decreased, their behavior dramatically changed from one of mutual cooperation to one of aggressive competition that resulted in the immobilisation of other competitive networks. Significantly, the smarter the robot was doing the collecting, the quicker and nastier became its behavior.

The conclusions to be drawn are interesting. Firstly, it explains why the majority of people are surprised when peace moves to war. The best example is the globalised trading system of 1914 which presence to many meant that war could never break out as mutual dependency would override aggression. After all, people at the time were so used to the environment of coexistence that they did not sense the other parties’ perception that resources were about to be scarce, which then triggered a more aggressive strategy of militarisation that ultimately led to a global conflict. The key trigger on the road to wars is when one side considers that resources will become short in supply and thus, they start preparing for that eventuality.

Secondly, it means that when Sentient AI arrives on earth within the next decade, it like mankind will inevitably become aggressive when competing for scarce resources. We can assume that those resources will be mankind’s resources and thus conflict seems all but inevitable with our children.

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  © 2017


About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Feltman founded the U.S. and European Conflict Indexes in 1988. The indexes have predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election beginning in 1988, plus the outcome of several European elections. In May of 2010, the Conflict Index was used by university students in Egypt. The Index predicted the fall of the Mubarak government within the next year.
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