Do you have AI Safety research ideas that you would like others to work on? Is there a project you want to do and you want help finding a team to work with you? AI Safety Camp could be the solution for you!
AI Safety Camp Virtual is a 3-month long online research program from January to April 2024, where participants form teams to work on pre-selected projects. We want you to suggest the projects!
If you have an AI Safety project idea and some research experience, apply to be a Research Lead.
If accepted, we offer some assistance to develop your idea into a plan suitable for AI Safety Camp. When project plans are ready, we open up team member applications. You get to review applications for your team, and select who joins as a team member. From there, it’s your job to guide work on your project.
Your project is totally in your hands. We, Linda and Remmelt, are just there at the start.
Who is qualified?
We require that you have some previous research experience. If you are at least 1 year into a PhD or if you have completed an AI Safety research program (such as a previous AI Safety Camp, Refine or SERI MATS), or done a research internship with an AI Safety org, then you are qualified already. Other research experience can count too.
More senior researchers are of course also welcome, as long as you think our format of leading an online team inquiring into your research questions suits you and your research.
If you are unsure, or have any questions you are welcome to:
Choosing project idea(s)
AI Safety Camp is about ensuring future AI are safe. This round, we split work into two areas:
- To not build uncontrollable AI
Focussed work toward restricting corporate-AI scaling. Given reasons why ‘AGI’ cannot be controlled sufficiently (in time) to stay safe.
- Everything else
Open to any other ideas, including any work toward controlling/value-aligning AGI.
We welcome diverse projects! Last round, we accepted 14 projects – including in Theoretical research, Machine learning experiments, Deliberative design, Governance, and Communication.
If you already have an idea for what project you would like to lead, that’s great. Apply with that one!
You don’t need to come up with an original idea though. What matters is you understanding the idea you want to work on, and why. If you base your proposal on someone else’s idea, make sure to cite them.
- Remmelt reviews uncontrollability-focussed projects.
- Linda reviews everything else.
We will also ask for assistance from previous Research Leads, and up to a handful of other trusted people, to review and suggest improvement for your project proposals.
You can submit as many project proposals as you want. However, we will not let you lead more than two projects, and we don’t recommend leading more than one.
Use this template to describe each of your project proposals. We want one document per proposal.
Every team will have:
- one Research Lead
- one Team Coordinator
- other team members
To make progress on your project, every team member is expected to work at least 5 hours per week (however the RL can choose to favour people who can put in more time, when selecting their team). This includes time joining weekly team meetings, and communicating regularly (between meetings) with other team members about their work.
Research Lead (RL)
The RL suggests one or several research topics. If a group forms around one of their topics, the RL will guide the project, and keep track of relevant milestones. When things inevitably don’t go as planned (this is research after all) the RL is in charge of setting the new course.
The RL is part of the team and will be contributing to project work, same as everyone else on the team.
Team Coordinator (TC)
The TC is the ops person of the team. They are in charge of making sure meetings are scheduled, check in with individuals on task progress, etc.
The job of the TC is important, but not expected to take much time (except for project management-heavy teams). Most of the time, the TC will act like a regular team member contributing to the research, same as everyone else on the team.
TC and RL can be the same person.
Other team members
Other team members will work on the project under the leadership of the RL and the TC. Team members will be selected based on relevant skills, understandings and commitments to contribute to the project.
Team formation and timeline
Applications for this camp will open in two stages:
- Now – Nov 3 is for RLs to suggest project ideas. Selected RLs then get support developing their project plans. Next we publish the project plans, and open applications for other team members.
- Nov 10 – Dec 22 is for all other team members. Potential participants will apply to join specific projects they want to work on. RLs are expected to select applicants for their project(s), and interview potential team members.
- October 6: Application deadline for RLs.
If you apply in time you are guaranteed an interview and help refining your proposal, before we make a decision.
- October 11: Deadline for late RL applications.
If you apply late we are not guaranteed help with your proposal. However, you do improve your chances by being less late.
- November 3: Deadline for refined proposals.
Team member applications:
- November 10: Accepted proposals are posted on the AISC website. Application to join teams open.
- December 1: Application to join teams closes.
- December 22: Deadline for RLs to choose their team.
- Jan 13 – 14: Opening weekend
- Jan 15 – Apr 28: Research is happening.
Teams meet weekly, and plan in their own work hours.
- April 25 – 28: Final presentations
- For as long as you want: Some teams keep working together after the official end of AISC.
When starting out we recommend that you don’t make any commitment beyond the official length of the program. However if you find that you work well together as a team, we encourage you to keep going even after AISC is officially over.
Application process for RL
As part of the RL application process we will help you improve your project plan, mainly through comments on your document. How much support we can provide depends on the number of applications we get. However, everyone who applies on time (before October 6th) is guaranteed at least one 1-on-1 call with someone on the AISC team, to discuss your proposal.
Your application will not be judged based on your initial proposal, but on the refined proposal, after you had the opportunity to respond to our feedback. The final deadline for improving your proposal is November 3rd.
Your RL application will be judged based on:
- Theory of impact
What is the theory of impact of your project? Here we are asking about the relevance of your project work for reducing large-scale risks of AI development and deployment. If your project succeeds, can you tell us how this makes the world safer?
- Project plan and fit for AISC
Do you have a well-thought-out plan for your project? How well does your plan fit the format of AISC? Is the project something that can be done by a remote team over 3 months? If your project is very ambitious, maybe you want to pick out a smaller sub-goal as the aim of AISC?
- Downside risk
What are the downside risks of your projects and what is your plan to mitigate any such risk? The most common risk for AI safety projects is that your project might accelerate AI capabilities. If we think your project will enhance capabilities more than safety, we will not accept it.
- You as Research Lead
Do we believe that you have the required skills and commitment to the project, and enough time to spend on this, in order to follow through? If we are going to promote your project and help you recruit a team to join you, we need to know that you will not let your team down.
Stipends are limited this round.
For participants, we have $99K left in our stipend pot, which translated over ~60 participants would mean that we can pay out $1K per team member and $1.5K per research lead for anyone who opts in.
For the rest, we are cash-strapped. We cannot reimburse software subscription or cloud compute costs.
We froze our salary funds from FTX. We organisers are volunteering our time because we think it matters.
Do you want to be a Research Lead?
If you have a project idea and you are willing to lead or guide a team working on this idea, you should apply to be RL.
We don’t expect a fully formed research plan! If we think your idea is suitable for AISC, we can help you to improve it.
If you are unsure, or have any further questions you are welcome to: