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I met Australia's Assistant Minister for Defence last Friday. I asked him to write an email to the Minister in charge of AI, asking him to establish an AI Safety Institute. He said he would. He also seemed on board with not having fully autonomous AI weaponry.

All because I sent one email asking for a meeting + had said meeting. 

Advocacy might be the lowest hanging fruit in AI Safety.

4
Mo Putera
2mo
Akash's Speaking to Congressional staffers about AI risk seems similar: Like you, Akash just cold-emailed people: There's a lot of concrete learnings in that writeup; definitely worth reading I think.

A periodic reminder that you can just email politicians and then meet them (see screenshot below).

2
Neil Warren
15d
Another thing you can do is send comments proposed legislation on regulations.gov. I did so last week about a recent californian bill on open-sourcing model weights (now closed). In the checklist (screenshot below) they say: "the comment process is not a vote – one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters". There are people much more qualified on AI risk than I over here, so in case you didn't know, you might want to keep an eye on new regulation coming up. It doesn't take much time and seems to have a fairly big impact.

RIP to any posts on anything earnest over the last 48 hours. Maybe in future we don't tag anything April Fools and it is otherwise a complete blackout on serious posts 😅

6
BrownHairedEevee
13d
How about making the April Fool's Day tag visible on the forum frontpage, like so?

Something(!) needs to be done. Otherwise, it's just a mess for clarity and the communication of ideas. 

8
yanni kyriacos
12d
I think the hilarity is in the confusion / click bait. Your idea would rob us of this! I think the best course of action is for anyone with a serious post to wait until April 3 :|
2
tobytrem
12d
Not a solution to everything mentioned here- but a reminder that you can click "customize feed" at the top of the page and remove all posts tagged april fools.
1
yanni kyriacos
11d
nah let's lean all the way in, for one day a year, the wild west out here.
1
yanni kyriacos
12d
Damn just had the idea of a "Who wants to be Fired?" post. 

[GIF] A feature I'd love on the forum: while posts are read back to you, the part of the text that is being read is highlighted. This exists on Naturalreaders.com and would love to see it here (great for people who have wandering minds like me)


 

4
JP Addison
18d
I agree with you, and so does our issue tracker. Sadly, it does seem a bit hard. Tagging @peterhartree as a person who might be able to tell me that it's less hard than I think.
4
yanni kyriacos
18d
As someone who works with software engineers, I have respect for how simple-appearing things can actually be technically challenging.
2
Lorenzo Buonanno
18d
For what it's worth, I would find the first part of the issue (i.e. making the player "floating" or "sticky") already quite useful, and it seems much easier to implement.

My previous take on writing to Politicians got numbers, so I figured I'd post the email I send below.

I am going to make some updates, but this is the latest version:

---

Hi [Politician]

My name is Yanni Kyriacos, I live in Coogee, just down the road from your electorate.

If you're up for it, I'd like to meet to discuss the risks posed by AI. In addition to my day job building startups, I do community / movement building in the AI Safety / AI existential risk space. You can learn more about AI Safety ANZ by joining our Facebook group here or the PauseAI movement here. I am also a signatory of Australians for AI Safety - a group that has called for the Australian government to set up an AI Commission (or similar body).

Recently I worked with Australian AI experts (such as Good Ancestors Policy) in making a submission to the recent safe and response AI consultation process. In the letter, we called on the government to acknowledge the potential catastrophic and existential risks from artificial intelligence. More on that can be found here.

There are many immediate risks from already existing AI systems like ChatGPT or Midjourney, such as disinformation or improper implementation in various ... (read more)

2
Vasco Grilo
2mo
Thanks for sharing, Yanni, and it is really cool that you managed to get Australia's Assistant Minister for Defence interested in creating an AI Safety Institute!  Did you mean to include a link? The Metaculus' question you link to involves meeting many conditions besides passing university exams:

So I did a quick check today - I've sent 19 emails to politicians about AI Safety / x-risk and received 4 meetings. They've all had a really good vibe, and I've managed to get each of them to commit to something small (e.g. email XYZ person about setting up an AI Safety Institute). I'm pretty happy with the hit rate (4/19). I might do another forum quick take once I've sent 50.

I think acting on the margins is still very underrated. For e.g. I think 5x the amount of advocacy for a Pause on capabilities development of frontier AI models would be great. I also think in 12 months time it would be fine for me to reevaluate this take and say something like 'ok that's enough Pause advocacy'.

Basically, you shouldn't feel 'locked in' to any view. And if you're starting to feel like you're part of a tribe, then that could be a bad sign you've been psychographically locked in.

I think if you work in AI Safety (or want to) it is very important to be extremely skeptical of your motivations for working in the space. This applies to being skepticism of interventions within AI Safety as well. 

For example, EAs (like most people!) are motivated to do things they're (1) good at (2) see as high status (i.e. people very quietly ask themselves 'would someone who I perceive as high status approve of my belief or action?'). Based on this, I am worried that (1) many EAs find protesting AI labs (and advocating for a Pause in general) cringy and/or awkward (2) Ignore the potential impact of organisations such as PauseAI. 

We might all literally die soon because of misaligned AI, so what I'm recommending is that anyone seriously considering AI Safety as a career path spends a lot of time on the question of 'what is really motivating me here?' 

7
yanni kyriacos
1mo
fwiw i think this works in both directions - people who are "action" focussed probably have a bias towards advocacy / protesting and underweight the usefulness of research.

I have written 7 emails to 7 Politicians aiming to meet them to discuss AI Safety, and already have 2 meetings.

Normally, I'd put this kind of post on twitter, but I'm not on twitter, so it is here instead.

I just want people to know that if they're worried about AI Safety, believe more government engagement is a good thing and can hold a decent conversation (i.e. you understand the issue and are a good verbal/written communicator), then this could be an underrated path to high impact.

Another thing that is great about it is you can choose how many emails to send and how many meetings to have. So it can be done on the side of a "day job".

It breaks my heart when I see eulogy posts on the forum. And while I greatly appreciate people going to the effort of writing them (while presumably experiencing grief), it still doesn't feel like enough. We're talking about people that dedicated their lives to doing good, and all they get is a post. I don't have a suggestion to address this 'problem', and some may even feel that a post is enough, but I don't. Maybe there is no good answer and death just sucks. I dunno.

The general public wants frontier AI models regulated and there doesn't seem to be grassroots focussed orgs attempting to capture and funnel this energy into influencing politicians. E.g. via this kind of activity. This seems like massively low hanging fruit. An example of an organisation that does this (but for GH&W) is Results Australia. Someone should set up such an org.

1
yanni kyriacos
1mo
My impression is that PauseAI focusses more on media engagement + protests, which I consider a good but separate thing. Results Australia, as an example, focuses (almost exclusively) on having concerned citizens interacting directly with politicians. Maybe it would be a good thing for orgs to focus on separate things (e.g. for reasons of perception + specialisation). I lean in this direction but remain pretty unsure.
5
joepio
1mo
Founder of PauseAI here. I know our protests are the most visible, but they are actually a small portion of what we do. People always talk about the protests, but I think we actually had most results through invisible volunteer lobbying. Personally, I've spent way more time sending emails to politicians and journalists, meeting them and informing them of the issues. I wrote an Email Builder to get volunteers to write to their representatives, gave multiple workshops on doing so, and have seen many people (including you of course!) take action and ask for feedback in the discord. I think combining both protesting and volunteer lobbying in one org is very powerful. It's not a new idea of course - orgs like GreenPeace have been using this strategy for decades. The protests create visibility and attention, and the lobbying gives the important people the right background information. The protests encourage more volunteers to join and help out, so we get more volunteer lobbyists! In my experience the protests also help with getting an in with politicians - it creates a recognizable brand that shows you represent a larger group.

What are some historical examples of a group (like AI Safety folk) getting something incredibly wrong about an incoming Technology? Bonus question: what led to that group getting it so wrong? Maybe there is something to learn here.

9
Ives Parr
1d
This is probably a good exercise. I do want to point out a common bias about getting existential risks wrong. If someone was right about doomsday, we would not be here to discuss it. That is a huge survivorship bias. Even catestrophic events which lessen the number of people are going to be systemically underestimated. This phenomenon is the anthropic shadow which is relevant to an analysis like this. 
1
yanni kyriacos
16m
Yeah, Case Studies as Research need to be treated very carefully (i.e. they can still be valuable exercises but the analyser needs to be aware of their weaknesses)

In the 90's and 2000's, many people such as Eric Drexler were extremely worried about nanotechnology and viewed it as an existential threat through the "gray goo" scenario. Yudkowsky predicted drexler style nanotech would occur by 2010, using very similar language to what he is currently saying about AGI. 

It turned out they were all being absurdly overoptimistic about how soon the technology would arrive, and the whole drexlerite nanotech project flamed out by the end of the 2000's and has pretty much not progressed since. I think a similar dynamic playing out with AGI is less likely, but still very plausible. 

2
Habryka
1d
Do you have links to people being very worried about gray goo stuff? (Also, the post you link to makes this clear, but this was a prediction from when Eliezer was a teenager, or just turned 20, which does not make for a particularly good comparison, IMO)
1
yanni kyriacos
2d
I hope you're right. Thanks for the example, it seems like a good one.
5
saulius
3d
There were many predictions about AI and AGI in the past (maybe mostly last century) that were very wrong. I think I read about it in Superintelligence. A quick Google search shows this article which probably talks about that.
0
yanni kyriacos
2d
Thanks!
4
saulius
3d
Cultured meat predictions were overly optimistic, although many of those predictions might have been companies hyping up their products to attract investors. There's also probably a selection bias where the biggest cultured meat optimisits are the ones who become cultured meat experts and make predictions
2
John Salter
3d
https://pessimistsarchive.org/

What is your "Pens Down" moment? 

"Pens Down" to mean 'Artificial Super Intelligence in my opinion is close enough that it no longer makes sense to work on whatever else I'm currently working on, because we're about to undergo radical amounts of change very soon/quickly'.

For me, it is probably when we have something as powerful as GPT-4 except it is agentic and costs less than $100 / month. So, that looks like a digital personal assistant that can execute an instruction like "have a TV delivered for me by X date, under Y price and organise installation and wall mounting."

This is obviously a question mainly for people who don't work full time on AI Safety.

2
Chris Leong
2mo
I don't know if this can be answered in full-generality. I suppose it comes down to things like: • Financial runway/back-up plans in case your prediction is wrong • Importance of what you're doing now • Potential for impact in AI safety
1
yanni kyriacos
2mo
I agree. I think it could be a useful exercise though to make the whole thing (ASI) less abstract. I find it hard to reconcile that (1) I think we're going to have AGI soon and (2) I haven't made more significant life changes. I don't buy the argument that much shouldn't change (at least, in my life). 
2
Chris Leong
2mo
Happy to talk that through if you'd like, though I'm kind of biased, so probably better to speak to someone who doesn't have a horse in the race.
1
yanni kyriacos
2mo
I suppose it is plausible for a person to never have a "Pens Down" moment if; 1. There is a FOOM 2. They feel they won't be able to positively contribute to making ASI safe / slowing it down
1
yanni kyriacos
2mo
I'm somewhat worried we're only 2-3 years from this, FWIW. I'd give it a ~ 25% chance.

Even though I've been in the AI Safety space for ~ 2 years, I can't shake the feeling that every living thing dying painlessly in its sleep overnight (due to AI killing us) isn't as bad as (i.e. is 'better' than) hundreds of millions of people living in poverty and/or hundreds of billions of animals being tortured. 

This makes me suspicious of my motivations. I think I do the work partly because I kinda feel the loss of future generations, but mainly because AI Safety still feels so neglected (and my counter factual impact here is larger).

I don't think... (read more)

Thanks for sharing. I suspect most of the hundreds of millions of people living in poverty would disagree with you, though, and would prefer not to painlessly die in their sleep tonight.

1
yanni kyriacos
25d
I think its possible we're talking passed each other?
5
NickLaing
25d
I don't think he's talking past you. His point seems that the vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people living in poverty both have net positive lives, and don't want to die. Even with a purely hedonistic outlook, it wouldn't be better for their lives to end. Unless you are not talking about the present, but a future far worse than today's situation?
1
yanni kyriacos
25d
I'm saying that on some level it feels worse to me that 700 million people suffer in poverty than every single person dying painlessly in their sleep. Or that billions of animals are in torture factories. It sounds like I'm misunderstanding Jason's point?
2
NickLaing
25d
I would contend they are not "suffering" in poverty overall, because most of their lives are net positive. There may be many struggles and their lives are a lot harder than ours, but still better than not being alive at all. I agree with you on the animals in torture factories, because their lives are probably net negative unlike the 700 million in poverty. 
3
titotal
25d
If AI actually does manage to kill us (which I doubt), It will not involve everybody dying painlessly in their sleep. That is an assumption of the "FOOM to god AI with no warning" model, which bears no resemblance to reality.  The technology to kill everyone on earth in their sleep instantaneously does not exist now, and will not exist in the near-future, even if AGI is invented. Killing everyone in their sleep is orders of magnitude more difficult than killing everyone awake, so why on earth would that be the default scenario? 
2
Stephen Clare
24d
I think you have a point with animals, but I don't think the balance of human experience means that non-existence would be better than the status quo. Will talks about this quite a lot in ch. 9 of WWOTF ("Will the future be good or bad?"). He writes: And, of course, for people at least, things are getting better over time. I think animal suffering complicates this a lot.

I think the average EA worries too much about negative PR related to EA. I think this is a shame because EA didn't get to where it is now because it concerned itself with PR. It got here through good-old-fashioned hard work (and good thinking ofc).

Two examples:

1. FTX. 

2. OpenAI board drama.

On the whole, I think there was way too much time spent thinking and talking about these massive outliers and it would have been better if 95%+ of EAs put their head down and did what they do best - get back to work.

I think it is good to discuss and take action... (read more)

A potential failure mode of 80k recommending EAs work at AI labs:

  1. 80k promotes a safety related job within a leading AI lab.
  2. 80k's audience (purposefully) skews to high prospect candidates (HPC) - smarter, richer, better connected vs average. 
  3. HPC applies for and gets safety role within AI lab.
  4. HPC candidate stays at the lab but moves roles. 
  5. Now we have a smart, rich, well connected person no longer in safety but in capabilities.

I think this is sufficiently important / likely that 80k should consider tracking these people over time to see if this is a real issue.

2
NickLaing
2mo
Thanks Yanni, I think a lot of people have been concerned about this kind of thing. I would be surprised if 80,000 hours isn't already tracking this or something like it - perhaps try reaching out to them directly, you might get a better response that way

What would be the pros and cons of adding a semi-hidden-but-permanent Hot Takes section to the Forum? All of my takes are Hot and due to time constraints I would otherwise not post at all. Some would argue that someone like me should not post Hot Takes at all. Anyway, in true lazy fashion here is ChatGPT on the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Encourages diverse perspectives and stimulates debate.
  • Can attract more engagement and interest from users.
  • Provides a platform for expressing unconventional or controversial ideas.
  • Fosters a culture of intellectual curiosity and ope
... (read more)
2
Rebecca
24d
This feels like it could just be a genre of Quick Takes that people may choose to post?
2
NickLaing
1mo
That's an interesting one - I'm a fan of hot takes myself :D. I think "Quick takes" does the job on these though, even if the posts are a bit longer. I'm not sure we need another section. Maybe a "Hot takes" tab could be added to signify that the thought behind a take isn't so deep?

One of the seminal texts in marketing science is The Long and The Short of it by Field and Binet. They argue that for maximum effectiveness, marketing should aim to create two distinct work streams and results; immediate sales and longer term sales. 

They argue the tactics that go into either are distinct (e.g. short term = create a sense of urgency, long term = match brand associations with category associations). 

This feels like a good analogy for AI Safety Advocacy / Governance - keep talking about short term things people can buy now (in an Au... (read more)

I have heard rumours that an AI Safety documentary is being made. Separate to this, a good friend of mine is also seriously considering making one, but he isn't "in" AI Safety. If you know who this first group is and can put me in touch with them, it might be worth getting across each others plans.

Feels kinda obnoxious to write a quick take along the lines of "I'm thinking about writing a post on X, does anyone actually give a sh*t? Otherwise I won't write it."

I just wanted to check, since I can't place my finger on why it feels obnoxious but it certainly does. 

What is your best guess of the overall impact of 80k interviewing AI labs on their podcast + listing AI lab vacant roles?

Poll: https://www.guidedtrack.com/programs/qj0ykwn/run

2
EdoArad
8mo
@Yonatan Cale 
6
Yonatan Cale
8mo
My long thoughts: 1. 80k don't claim to only advertise impactful jobs They also advertise jobs that help build career impact, and they're not against posting jobs that cause harm (and it's often/always not clear which is which). See more in this post. They sometimes add features like marking "recommended orgs" (which I endorse!), and sometimes remove those features ( 😿 ). 2. 80k's career guide about working at AI labs doesn't dive into "which lab" See here. Relevant text: I think [link to comment] the "which lab" question is really important, and I'd encourage 80k to either be opinionated about it, or at least help people make up their mind somehow, not just leave people hanging on "which lab" while also often recommending people go work at AI labs, and also mentioning that often that work is net-negative and recommending reducing the risk by not working "in certain positions unless you feel awesome about the lab". [I have longer thoughts on how they could do this, but my main point is that it's (imo) an important hole in their recommendation that might be hidden from many readers] 3. Counterfactual / With great power comes great responsibility If 80k wouldn't do all this, should we assume there would be no job board and no guides? I claim that something like a job board has critical mass: Candidates know the best orgs are there, and orgs know the best candidates are there.  Once there's a job board with critical mass, it's not trivial to "compete" with it. But EAs love opening job boards. A few new EA job boards pop up every year. I do think there would be an alternative. And so the question seems to me to be - how well are 80k using their critical mass? 4. What results did 80k's work actually cause? First of all: I don't actually know, and if someone from 80k would respond, that would be way better than my guess. Still, here's my guess, which I think would be better than just responding to the poll: * Lots of engineers who care about AI Safet
3
Guy Raveh
8mo
And there's always the other option that I (unpopularly) believe in - that better publicly available AI capabilities are necessary for meaningful safety research, thus AI labs have contributed positively to the field.

I think https://www.wakingup.com/ should be considered for effective organisation status. It donates 10% of revenue to the most effective causes and I think reaching nondual states of awakening could be one of the most effective ways for people in rich countries to improve their wellbeing. 

5
Misha_Yagudin
9mo
Related: https://www.clearerthinking.org/post/can-you-experience-enlightenment-through-sam-harris-waking-up-meditation-app
2
Will Aldred
9mo
Also related (though more tangentially): https://podcast.clearerthinking.org/episode/167/michael-taft-and-jeremy-stevenson-glimpses-of-enlightenment-through-nondual-meditation/

How impactful could non-dual meditation be for improving wellbeing?

Are there any EAs out there who have practiced non-dual meditation? Specifically, anything from the Dzogchen or Mahamudra traditions of Tibetan Buddhism? 

More secular teachers would be Loch Kelly, Sam Harris, Michael Taft.

This has been a life changing experience for me and I'm wondering whether it could be a blind spot for EA.

I'd also just love to chat with someone else who has experienced non-duality / awakening through this form of meditation :)

How bad does factory farming need to get before we WANT TO accelerate AI capabilities?

This article suggests that the DAILY "total painfulness of fish suffering is equivalent to the painfulness of one hundred fifty million human deaths" and that most of these deaths are via "slow suffocation, crushing, or live disemboweling".

Let's assume the creation of AGI had a >80% probability of leading to two outcomes for non-human animals: extinction or liberation.

How might we do the math on this? 

I figured out why dudes like forecasting so much 

1
OllieBase
8mo
Never thought I'd see the day of an EA / Aunty Donna crossover, but here we are. Thank you.
1
yanni kyriacos
8mo
EA could do with another slice of pud
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