Six months on from the “pause” letter

Nicely, that didn’t occur, clearly. 

I sat down with MIT professor Max Tegmark, the founder and president of FLI, to take inventory of what has occurred since. Listed here are highlights of our dialog. 

On shifting the Overton window on AI threat: Tegmark advised me that in conversations with AI researchers and tech CEOs, it had grow to be clear that there was an enormous quantity of hysteria concerning the existential threat AI poses, however no one felt they may talk about it brazenly “for worry of being ridiculed as Luddite scaremongerers.” “The important thing aim of the letter was to mainstream the dialog, to maneuver the Overton window so that folks felt secure expressing these issues,” he says. “Six months later, it’s clear that half was a hit.”

However that’s about it: “What’s not nice is that each one the businesses are nonetheless going full steam forward and we nonetheless don’t have any significant regulation in America. It seems like US policymakers, for all their discuss, aren’t going to cross any legal guidelines this yr that meaningfully rein in probably the most harmful stuff.”

Why the federal government ought to step in: Tegmark is lobbying for an FDA-style company that may implement guidelines round AI, and for the federal government to drive tech corporations to pause AI improvement. “It’s additionally clear that [AI leaders like Sam Altman, Demis Hassabis, and Dario Amodei] are very involved themselves. However all of them know they’ll’t pause alone,” Tegmark says. Pausing alone could be “a catastrophe for his or her firm, proper?” he provides. “They simply get outcompeted, after which that CEO will likely be changed with somebody who doesn’t wish to pause. The one means the pause comes about is that if the governments of the world step in and put in place security requirements that drive everybody to pause.” 

So how about Elon … ? Musk signed the letter calling for a pause, solely to arrange a brand new AI firm referred to as X.AI to construct AI techniques that may “perceive the true nature of the universe.” (Musk is an advisor to the FLI.) “Clearly, he desires a pause identical to plenty of different AI leaders. However so long as there isn’t one, he feels he has to additionally keep within the recreation.”

Why he thinks tech CEOs have the goodness of humanity of their hearts: “What makes me suppose that they actually need a good future with AI, not a nasty one? I’ve recognized them for a few years. I discuss with them recurrently. And I can inform even in non-public conversations—I can sense it.” 

Response to critics who say specializing in existential threat distracts from present harms: “It’s essential that those that care rather a lot about present issues and people who care about imminent upcoming harms work collectively slightly than infighting. I’ve zero criticism of people that deal with present harms. I believe it’s nice that they’re doing it. I care about these issues very a lot. If individuals interact in this type of infighting, it’s simply serving to Large Tech divide and conquer all those that wish to actually rein in Large Tech.”

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