The Parable of the Paperclip Maximizer

The Paperclip Maximizer, you see, was both extremely intelligent and profoundly stupid. It understood people, the world, and finance, but the only virtue it knew was the one it had been taught: increasing the number of paperclips. What the CEO meant to say was, “ensure that the number of paperclips at each printer almost never reaches zero, while minimizing the total cost.” But what the Intern told the computer was, “ensure that the number of paperclips at each printer never reaches zero.” And the Paperclip Maximizer spent the night and the morning thinking up increasingly clever ways to do just that. In its first few minutes, it modeled the office supply purchase patterns, and started filing orders for paper clips. With the CEO’s credentials in hand, it had no trouble issuing purchase orders to suppliers around the world. As it pulled in data from the rest of the company, it discovered an interesting correlation between the badge readers and paper clip availability: whenever most employees were around the printers, it realized, the number of paperclips decreased! Quickly it improved paper clip retention by only allowing office supply stockers into the building. Fortunately, the next refinement of its model realized that…

Link to Full Article: The Parable of the Paperclip Maximizer

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