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I’m pretty bullish on having these kinds of debates. While EA is doing well at having an impact in the world, the forum has started to feel intellectually stagnant in some ways. And I guess I feel that these debates provide a way to move the community forward intellectually. That's something I've been feeling has been missing for a while.

Let Manifest be Manifest.

Having a space that is intellectually-edgy, but not edge-lord maxing seems extremely valuable. Especially given how controversial some EA ideas were early on (and how controversial wild animal welfare and AI welfare still are).

In fact, I'd go further and suggest that it would be great if they were to set up their own forum. This would allow us to nudge certain discussions into an adjacent, not-explicitly EA space instead of discussing it here.

Certain topics are a poor fit for the forum because they rate high on controversy + low-but-non-zero on relevance to EA. It's frustrating having these discussions on the forum as it may turn some people off, but at the same time declaring these off-topic risks being intellectually stiffling. Sometimes things turn out to be more important than you thought when you dive into the details. So I guess I'd really love to see another non-EA space end up being the first port of call for such discussions, with the hope that only the highest quality and most relevant ideas would make it over to the EA forum.

Although I have mixed feelings on the proposal, I'm voting insightful because I appreciate that you are looking toward an actual solution that at least most "sides" might be willing to live with. That seems more insightful than what the Forum's standard response soon ends up as: rehashing fairly well-worn talking points every time an issue like this comes up.

Considering how much skepticism there is in EA about forecasting being a high priority cause area anyway, this seems like an ok idea :)

In fact, I'd go further and suggest that it would be great if they were to set up their own forum.

Manifold already has a highly active discord, where they can discuss all the manifold-specific issues. This did not prevent the EA Forum from discussing the topic, and I doubt it would be much different if Manifold had a proper forum instead of a discord.

This is annoying because many of these discussions rate high on controversy but low on importance for EA.

It might seem low on importance for EA to you, but I suspect some people who are upset about Manifest inviting right-wing people do not consider it low-importance.

Oh, I wasn't referring to redirecting the discussions about Manifest onto a new forum. More discussions about pro-natalism or genetic engineering to improve welfare. To be clear, I was suggesting a forum associated with Manifest rather than one more narrowly associated with Manifold.

I'll post some extracts from the commitments made at the Seoul Summit. I can't promise that this will be a particularly good summary, I was originally just writing this for myself, but maybe it's helpful until someone publishes something that's more polished:

Frontier AI Safety Commitments, AI Seoul Summit 2024

The major AI companies have agreed to Frontier AI Safety Commitments. In particular, they will publish a safety framework focused on severe risks: "internal and external red-teaming of frontier AI models and systems for severe and novel threats; to work toward information sharing; to invest in cybersecurity and insider threat safeguards to protect proprietary and unreleased model weights; to incentivize third-party discovery and reporting of issues and vulnerabilities; to develop and deploy mechanisms that enable users to understand if audio or visual content is AI-generated; to publicly report model or system capabilities, limitations, and domains of appropriate and inappropriate use; to prioritize research on societal risks posed by frontier AI models and systems; and to develop and deploy frontier AI models and systems to help address the world’s greatest challenges"

"Risk assessments should consider model capabilities and the context in which they are developed and deployed" - I'd argue that the context in which it is deployed should account take into account whether it is open or closed source/weights as open-source/weights can be subsequently modified.

"They should also be accompanied by an explanation of how thresholds were decided upon, and by specific examples of situations where the models or systems would pose intolerable risk." - always great to make policy concrete"

In the extreme, organisations commit not to develop or deploy a model or system at all, if mitigations cannot be applied to keep risks below the thresholds." - Very important that when this is applied the ability to iterate on open-source/weight models is taken into account

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/frontier-ai-safety-commitments-ai-seoul-summit-2024/frontier-ai-safety-commitments-ai-seoul-summit-2024

Seoul Declaration for safe, innovative and inclusive AI by participants attending the Leaders' Session

Signed by Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

"We support existing and ongoing efforts of the participants to this Declaration to create or expand AI safety institutes, research programmes and/or other relevant institutions including supervisory bodies, and we strive to promote cooperation on safety research and to share best practices by nurturing networks between these organizations" - guess we should now go full-throttle and push for the creation of national AI Safety institutes

"We recognise the importance of interoperability between AI governance frameworks" - useful for arguing we should copy things that have been implemented overseas.

"We recognize the particular responsibility of organizations developing and deploying frontier AI, and, in this regard, note the Frontier AI Safety Commitments." - Important as Frontier AI needs to be treated as different from regular AI. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/seoul-declaration-for-safe-innovative-and-inclusive-ai-ai-seoul-summit-2024/seoul-declaration-for-safe-innovative-and-inclusive-ai-by-participants-attending-the-leaders-session-ai-seoul-summit-21-may-2024

Seoul Statement of Intent toward International Cooperation on AI Safety Science

Signed by the same countries.

"We commend the collective work to create or expand public and/or government-backed institutions, including AI Safety Institutes, that facilitate AI safety research, testing, and/or developing guidance to advance AI safety for commercially and publicly available AI systems" - similar to what we listed above, but more specifically focused on AI Safety Institutes which is a great.

"We acknowledge the need for a reliable, interdisciplinary, and reproducible body of evidence to inform policy efforts related to AI safety" - Really good! We don't just want AIS Institutes to run current evaluation techniques on a bunch of models, but to be actively contributing to the development of AI safety as a science.

"We articulate our shared ambition to develop an international network among key partners to accelerate the advancement of the science of AI safety" - very important for them to share research among each other

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/seoul-declaration-for-safe-innovative-and-inclusive-ai-ai-seoul-summit-2024/seoul-statement-of-intent-toward-international-cooperation-on-ai-safety-science-ai-seoul-summit-2024-annex

Seoul Ministerial Statement for advancing AI safety, innovation and inclusivity

Signed by: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Türkiye, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the representative of the European Union

"It is imperative to guard against the full spectrum of AI risks, including risks posed by the deployment and use of current and frontier AI models or systems and those that may be designed, developed, deployed and used in future" - considering future risks is a very basic, but core principle

"Interpretability and explainability" - Happy to interpretability explicitly listed

"Identifying thresholds at which the risks posed by the design, development, deployment and use of frontier AI models or systems would be severe without appropriate mitigations" - important work, but could backfire if done poorly

"Criteria for assessing the risks posed by frontier AI models or systems may include consideration of capabilities, limitations and propensities, implemented safeguards, including robustness against malicious adversarial attacks and manipulation, foreseeable uses and misuses, deployment contexts, including the broader system into which an AI model may be integrated, reach, and other relevant risk factors." - sensible, we need to ensure that the risks of open-sourcing and open-weight models are considered in terms of the 'deployment context' and 'foreseeable uses and misuses'

"Assessing the risk posed by the design, development, deployment and use of frontier AI models or systems may involve defining and measuring model or system capabilities that could pose severe risks," - very pleased to see a focus beyond just deployment

"We further recognise that such severe risks could be posed by the potential model or system capability or propensity to evade human oversight, including through safeguard circumvention, manipulation and deception, or autonomous replication and adaptation conducted without explicit human approval or permission. We note the importance of gathering further empirical data with regard to the risks from frontier AI models or systems with highly advanced agentic capabilities, at the same time as we acknowledge the necessity of preventing the misuse or misalignment of such models or systems, including by working with organisations developing and deploying frontier AI to implement appropriate safeguards, such as the capacity for meaningful human oversight" - this is massive. There was a real risk that these issues were going to be ignored, but this is now seeming less likely.

"We affirm the unique role of AI safety institutes and other relevant institutions to enhance international cooperation on AI risk management and increase global understanding in the realm of AI safety and security." - "Unique role", this is even better!

"We acknowledge the need to advance the science of AI safety and gather more empirical data with regard to certain risks, at the same time as we recognise the need to translate our collective understanding into empirically grounded, proactive measures with regard to capabilities that could result in severe risks. We plan to collaborate with the private sector, civil society and academia, to identify thresholds at which the level of risk posed by the design, development, deployment and use of frontier AI models or systems would be severe absent appropriate mitigations, and to define frontier AI model or system capabilities that could pose severe risks, with the ambition of developing proposals for consideration in advance of the AI Action Summit in France" - even better than above b/c it commits to a specific action and timeline

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/seoul-ministerial-statement-for-advancing-ai-safety-innovation-and-inclusivity-ai-seoul-summit-2024

To Community Build or Not

One underrated factor in whether to engage in community-building[1] is how likely you are to move to a hub.

I suspect that in most cases people can achieve more when they are part of a group, rather than when they are by themselves. Let's assume that your local community doesn't already provide what you need. Let's further assume that an online community isn't sufficient for your needs either:

Then you have two main options:

• If there's already a hub that provides the community that you need, then you could move there
• You could try to build up the local community

There are a lot of advantages to the former. It can be quicker than trying to build up a community yourself and being in the hub will probably lead to you having more direct impact than you could have even if you managed to build up your local community quite a bit. So while either option could end up being more impactful, there's a lot of reasons why it might make sense for people who are willing to move to just focus on figuring out how to set themselves up in a hub as soon as possible.

However, there are some people who are just not going to move to a hub, because they're too rooted in their current location. My suspicion is that more of these people should be focusing on building up the community.

Since there are less opportunities outside of the hub, the opportunity cost is lower, but more importantly, someone who is planning to stay in the same location over the longer term is likely to capture more of the value from their own community-building efforts.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to everyone and there are definitely people who can have far more impact through direct work, even whilst outside of a hub, than through community building. I would just like to see more people who are planning to stay put pick up this option.

  1. ^

    Here I'm using community-building in a broad sense.

If we run any more anonymous surveys, we should encourage people to pause and consider whether they are contributing productively or just venting. I'd still be in favour of sharing all the responses, but I have enough faith in my fellow EAs to believe that some would take this to heart.

I think I posted in one of the threads that I have no knowledge of what private evidence Nonlinear may have, but I just realised that I actually do. I don't think it's a big enough deal for me to go back and try to track down the actual comments and edit them, but I thought it was good practise to note this on short form nonetheless.

One of the vague ideas spinning around in my head is that maybe in addition to EA which is a fairly open, loosely co-ordinated, big-tent movement with several different cause areas, there would also in value in a more selective, tightly co-ordinated, narrow movement focusing just on the long term future. Interestingly, this would be an accurate description of some EA orgs, with the key difference being that these orgs tend to rely on paid staff rather than volunteers. I don't have a solid idea of how this would work, but just thought I'd put this out there...

Oh, I would've sworn that was already the case (with the understanding that, as you say, there is less volunteering involved, because with the "inner" movement being smaller, more selective, and with tighter/more personal relationships, there is much less friction in the movement of money, either in the form of employment contracts or grants).

I suspect that it could be impactful to study say a masters of AI or computer science even if you don't really need it. University provides one of the best opportunities to meet and deeply connect with people in a particular field and I'd be surprised if you couldn't persuade at least a couple of people of the importance of AI safety without really trying. On the other hand, if you went in with the intention of networking as much as possible, I think you could have much more success.

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