What decision theory provides the best procedure for identifying the best action available to a given artificially intelligent system?

Dissertation, University of Oxford (2018)


Decision theory has had a long-standing history in the behavioural and social sciences as a tool for constructing good approximations of human behaviour. Yet as artificially intelligent systems (AIs) grow in intellectual capacity and eventually outpace humans, decision theory becomes evermore important as a model of AI behaviour. What sort of decision procedure might an AI employ? In this work, I propose that policy-based causal decision theory (PCDT), which places a primacy on the decision-relevance of predictors and simulations of agent behaviour, may be such a procedure. I compare this account to the recently-developed functional decision theory (FDT), which is motivated by similar concerns. I also address potentially counterintuitive features of PCDT, such as its refusal to condition on observations made at certain times.

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Samuel A. Barnett
Oxford University

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