We are pleased to announce the 2023 Open Philanthropy AI Worldviews Contest.
The goal of the contest is to surface novel considerations that could influence our views on AI timelines and AI risk. We plan to distribute $225,000 in prize money across six winning entries. This is the same contest we preannounced late last year, which is itself the spiritual successor to the now-defunct Future Fund competition. Part of our hope is that our (much smaller) prizes might encourage people who already started work for the Future Fund competition to share it publicly.
The contest deadline is May 31, 2023. All work posted for the first time on or after September 23, 2022 is eligible. Use this form to submit your entry.
Prize Conditions and Amounts
Essays should address one of these two questions:
Question 1: What is the probability that AGI is developed by January 1, 2043?
Question 2: Conditional on AGI being developed by 2070, what is the probability that humanity will suffer an existential catastrophe due to loss of control over an AGI system?
Essays should be clearly targeted at one of the questions, not both.
Winning essays will be determined by the extent to which they substantively inform the thinking of a panel of Open Phil employees. There are several ways an essay could substantively inform the thinking of a panelist:
- An essay could cause a panelist to change their central estimate of the probability of AGI by 2043 or the probability of existential catastrophe conditional on AGI by 2070.
- An essay could cause a panelist to change the shape of their probability distribution for AGI by 2043 or existential catastrophe conditional on AGI by 2070, which could have strategic implications even if it doesn’t alter the panelist’s central estimate.
- An essay could clarify a concept or identify a crux in a way that made it clearer what further research would be valuable to conduct (even if the essay doesn’t change anybody’s probability distribution or central estimate).
We will keep the composition of the panel anonymous to avoid participants targeting their work too closely to the beliefs of any one person. The panel includes representatives from both our Global Health & Wellbeing team and our Longtermism team. Open Phil’s published body of work on AI broadly represents the views of the panel.
Panelist credences on the probability of AGI by 2043 range from ~10% to ~45%. Conditional on AGI being developed by 2070, panelist credences on the probability of existential catastrophe range from ~5% to ~50%.
We will award a total of six prizes across three tiers:
- First prize (two awards): $50,000
- Second prize (two awards): $37,500
- Third prize (two awards): $25,000
- Submissions must be original work, published for the first time on or after September 23, 2022 and before 11:59 pm EDT May 31, 2023.
- All authors must be 18 years or older.
- Submissions must be written in English.
- No official word limit — but we expect to find it harder to engage with pieces longer than 5,000 words (not counting footnotes and references).
- Open Phil employees and their immediate family members are ineligible.
- The following groups are also ineligible:
- People who are residing in, or nationals of, Puerto Rico, Quebec, or countries or jurisdictions that prohibit such contests by law
- People who are specifically sanctioned by the United States or based in a US-sanctioned country (North Korea, Iran, Russia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, and Cuba at time of writing)
- You can submit as many entries as you want, but you can only win one prize.
- Co-authorship is fine.
- See here for additional details and fine print.
Use this form to submit your entries. We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you post your entry on the EA Forum and/or LessWrong. However, if your essay contains infohazardous material, please do not post the essay publicly.
Note that submissions will be hosted on a Google server and viewable by Open Phil staff. We don’t think that (m)any submissions will warrant more security than this. However, if you believe that your submission merits a more secure procedure, reach out to AIWorldviewsContest@openphilanthropy.org, and we will make appropriate arrangements.
Judging Process and Criteria
There will be three rounds of judging.
Round 1: An initial screening panel will evaluate all submitted essays by blind grading to determine whether each essay is a good-faith entry. All good-faith entries will advance to Round 2.
Round 2: Out of the good-faith entries advancing from Round 1, a panel of judges will select at least twenty-four finalists.
Round 3: Out of the finalists advancing from Round 2, the judges will select two first-place entries, two second-place entries, and two third-place entries.
In Rounds 2 and 3, the judges will make their decision using the criteria described below:
- The extent to which an essay uncovers considerations that change a judge’s beliefs about the probability of AGI arriving by 2043 or the threat that AGI systems might pose. (67%)
- The extent to which an essay clarifies the underlying concepts that ought to inform one’s views about the probability of AGI arriving by 2043 or the threat that AGI systems might pose. (33%)
Please email AIWorldviewsContest@openphilanthropy.org with any questions, comments, or concerns.
By “AGI” we mean something like “AI that can quickly and affordably be trained to perform nearly all economically and strategically valuable tasks at roughly human cost or less.” AGI is a notoriously thorny concept to define precisely. What we’re actually interested in is the potential existential threat posed by advanced AI systems. To that end, we welcome submissions that are oriented around related concepts, such as transformative AI, human-level AI, or PASTA.
This includes the research published on our website, as well as material from Ajeya Cotra, Holden Karnofsky, Joe Carlsmith, and Tom Davidson.
Would you consider incorporating a broader panel of judges? OpenPhil, and effective altruists more generally, tends to have quite strong and niche views about the future of artificial intelligence. This contest would have broader credibility if it were evaluated from a set of perspectives more consistent with, and representative of the field as a whole.
Thanks for your comment. I am also concerned about groupthink within homogenous communities. I hope this contest is one small push against groupthink at Open Phil. By default, I do, unfortunately, expect most of the submissions to come from people who share the same basic worldview as Open Phil staff. And for submissions that come from people with radically different worldviews, there is the danger that we fail to recognize an excellent point because we are less familiar with the stylistic and epistemic conventions within which it is embedded.
For these sorts of reasons, we did explicitly consider including non-Open Phil judges for the contest. Ultimately, we decided that didn’t make sense for this use case. We are, after all, hoping that submissions update our thinking, and it’s harder for an outside judge to represent our point of view.
But this contest is not the only way we are stress-testing our thinking. For example, I’m involved in another project in which we are engaging directly with smart people who disagree with us about AI risk. We hope that as a result of that adversarial collaboration, we can generate a consensus of cruxes so that we have a better handle on how new developments ought to change our credences. I hope to be able to share more details on that project over the summer.
If you want to chat more about groupthink concerns, shoot me a DM. I believe it’s a somewhat underappreciated worry within EA.
You could of course commit to acting on some kind of judgment of some diverse group you think worth differing too, rather than acting on your own opinion. One way to understand what David Thorstad is asking (which he might or might not endorse) is why you don't do that given it would (allegedly) mean acting on a more-like-to-be-correct opinion, rather than one that is less-likely to be correct. From that point of view, it's just missing the point to say 'we're trying to get our opinion updated', because you shouldn't be using your opinions, rather than some properly diverse groups opinions to be setting policy in general.
The objective of the contest isn't to farm prestige or credibility with some hypothetical third party, it's to inform OpenPhil's work, and it seems very likely OpenPhil is by far the best judge of that.
There is a growing consensus among social scientists that diversity of approaches and perspectives is essential to reaching truth and avoiding bias. Most theorists now believe that deliberation among homogenous groups is likely to lead to groupthink, polarization, extremism, and other forms of failed group deliberation. They emphasize that the risk is especially strong in self-selecting groups, as well as in groups where discourse is heavily concentrated on the internet.
Many social scientists would tend to think that effective altruists fit most of the risk factors for failures of group deliberation. They would tend to think that if effective altruists are concerned with finding the truth about risks posed by future developments in artificial intelligence, effective altruists would do well to draw from a wider range of perspectives and approaches. They would tend to see developments such as this contest as primarily confirmatory, unlikely to substantially shift group views and quite likely to reinforce them. They would suggest that those developments could be redesigned in a more truth-seeking way by incorporating a broader range of perspectives in deliberation.
These seem like arguments for OpenPhil to hire people with a broad range of perspectives, and to solicit contest submissions from a broad range of people, but not to adjust the judges. It doesn't benefit OpenPhil at all if, having put e.g. a social conservative on the board of judges, the winner does so by appealing to her with arguments that OpenPhil does not find compelling. OpenPhil is uniquely qualified to judge what arguments they have found informative.
It might be worth considering whether the goal of this contest is to produce arguments that OpenPhil finds compelling and informative, or to produce arguments that are compelling and informative.
These would not be arguments in favor of the conclusion that a broader range of perspectives is a useful way to produce arguments that OpenPhil finds compelling and informative. The best way for OpenPhil to produce arguments that OpenPhil finds compelling and informative would be to select judges exclusively from its own membership, and that is what they have done.
They would instead be arguments in favor of the conclusion that a broader range of perspectives is a useful way to produce arguments that actually are compelling and informative, as well as to avoid a number of known biases and failure modes in group deliberation.
What procedure would you recommend for how Open Phil chooses between allocating money to AI versus allocating it to other causes? Would you recommend essentially the same procedure for:
- A university deciding whether to fund a new department
-A local council deciding what to budget cuts to make, after an unexpected loss of central government funding
- A CEO setting corporate strategy
Ordinarily, a philanthropic foundation offering a prize meant to advance scientific understanding of some topic X would put at mot one or two of its own members on the prize panel. The rest of the panel would be composed of leading scientists, academics, industry professionals, and perhaps a few policymakers. They might also consider inviting leaders of relevant foundations. Most members of the panel would be chosen for specific expertise in topic X combined with broad respect and experience within their fields, although a few panelists might be chosen to represent generalist constituencies (for example, a university president). Members would typically be at mid- or late-career stages, and have substantial research records of their own as well as the esteem of their peers. They might, as appropriate, draw on a broader pool of peer reviewers or nominators in early rounds of the selection process.
Prizes would typically be broadly advertised, and left open for a sufficient period to allow original research (at least six months). They would encourage submissions of a standard length for original research contributions, rather than discouraging submissions greater than 5,000 words. If the focus was solely on the individual piece of submitted work, the review process would be double- or triple-blinded and announced as such.
I could go on, but I take it that all of the above are fairly standard.
Point taken: I have a better idea what you mean you make it concrete in that way.
It'd be nice if some of the people who disagree voted here could say why they think using outside judges would be a bad idea.
Interestingly, the belief that there is an X-risk from AI might not be all that niche, relative to the US public as whole, though obviously Open Phil probably has other views that are niche in that context:
'A majority (55%) of Americans are now worried at least somewhat that artificially intelligent machines could one day pose a risk to the human race’s existence. ' Of course, it's unclear exactly what "could" means in this sort of context. But Monmouth is a reputable pollster I think(?) and not everyone at Open Phil. is a Yudkowsky style doomer who thinks doom is near certain.
Not that this means your wrong to say they are niche in "the field", whatever exactly that is. (And to be clear, I actually am inclined to agree that having judges from outside Open Phil. with different views would be in theory an improvement.)
EDIT: To be clear, I personally think it is very unlikely (maybe 1 in 1000) that we will go extinct because of misaligned AI by 2100, so I'm not just defending a view I hold here.
Requesting a few clarifications:
Thanks for your questions. We're interested in a wide range of considerations. It's debatable whether human-originating civilization failing to make good use of its "cosmic endowment" constitutes an existential catastrophe. If you want to focus on more recognizable catastrophes (such as extinction, unrecoverable civilizational collapse, or dystopia) that would be fine.
In a similar vein, if you think there is an important scenario in which humanity suffers an existential catastrophe by collectively losing control over an ecosystem of AGIs, that would also be an acceptable topic.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
I guess the requirement that all authors be eighteen years of age or older rules out all(?) current high performing non-human generated essay sources, eg, from Virtual Beings generically, chatGPT, etc. In general, though, can AI/ML instances be used in the generation of raw text for this contest, besides as an example?
Hi Phil - just to clarify: the entries must entirely be the original work of the author(s). You can cite others and you can use AI-generated text as an example, but for everything that is not explicitly flagged as someone else's work, we will assume it is original to the author.