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If you are sending money to OpenAI, what would make you stop? For me, there is no ambiguity anymore. The line has been crossed.

Many publicly available signals are pointing towards OpenAI's lack of enthusiasm about AI safety while being quite enthusiastic about advancing AI capabilities as far as possible, even towards AGI. There have been several waves of people with AI safety views leaving OpenAI culminating in dissolution of superalignment team and it is hard to tell if OpenAI conducts any alignment research at all. I worry about the risk of advanced AI and no longer trust OpenAI to behave well when needed. Therefore I am cancelling my subscription and think others should as well.

I have basically written this post a few days ago but was waiting for Zvi to provide his summary of events in Open exodus. Predictably, he just did and it is much better summary than I would be able to provide. In the end, he writes:

Everyone needs to update their views and plans based on this new information. We need to update, and examine our past mistakes, including taking a hard look at the events that led to the founding of OpenAI. We should further update based on how they deal with the NDAs and non-disparagement agreements going forward.

My small update is cancelling GPT subscription and I think as many people as possible should do that. Paying for GPT and having my beliefs was, as of last week, debatable. Now, I think it is unjustifiable.

It is very simple. Sending money to a company that is trying to achieve something I worry about is not a good idea. They don't even have any plausible deniability of caring about safety now. On the other hand, they are definitely still at the leading edge of AI development.

I think AI risks are non-negligible and the plausible harm they can cause is tremendous (extinction or some s-risk scenario). Many people also believe that. But we arrive to really low probabilities when thinking about how much can an individual influence those large problems spanning large futures. We get very small probabilities but very large positive values. 

In this case, we have really small probability that our 20 bucks/month will lead to unsafe AGI. But it definitely helps OpenAI, even though marginally. By this logic, sending money to OpenAI might be by far the most horrific act many people, including many EAs, regularly commit. Normal people don't have assumptions that would make them care. But we have them, and we should act on them. Cancel your subscription and refrain from using the free version, as your data might be even more valuable to them than the subscription money. Please spread this sentiment.

My summary of recent events

For the sake of completeness, if Zvi hadn't published his post, I had written this, leaving it here in a slightly draft-ish state:

All the people

People who are leaving OpenAI seem to have quite similar feelings about AI safety as do I and they seem to be very competent. They are insiders, they have hands-on experience with the technology and OpenAI's inner workings. Dario Amodei and around 10 other OpenAI's employees left in 2021 to found Antrophic, because they felt they can do better AI safety work together (https://youtu.be/5GtVrk00eck?si=FQSCraQ8UOtyxePW&t=39). Then we had the infamous board drama that led to Sam Altman’s stronger hold over OpenAI, and the most safety-minded people are there no more. Helen Toner of CSET, Tasha McCauley, former Effective Ventures board member, and Sutskever, who initially just left the board, now he has left OpenAI altogether. And finally, over the last few months, the remaining safety people have been pushed away, fired, or resigned https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2024/5/17/24158403/openai-resignations-ai-safety-ilya-sutskever-jan-leike-artificial-intelligence .

Walk the walk

Founding the superalignment team (https://openai.com/index/introducing-superalignment/) led by Sutskever and Leike and promising 20% of compute to them sounded great. It still seems like it would much more likely happen in a worlds, where OpenAI's executives actually care about AI safety. But it didn't last. Leike tweets about "sailing against the wind" and it being harder and harder to conduct safety research.

I can't help but see the following string of events: "founding of the superalignment team (with an AI safety-minded board)", "board drama where AI safety people left", "superalignment effectively disbanded." A cynical reading would be that the superalignment team existed only because the temporary power balance allowed it, and as soon as the power center shifted towards Altman, he took actions that led to its dissolution.





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For me, ChatGPT greatly increases the productivity of myself and my team, whereas the very modest effect of a small amount of money from my subscription I find very unlikely to be seriously furthering the acceleration of AI.

I suspect that the productivity of EAs generally is very valuable and if EAs benefit from the tool it is likely not a good idea for them to stop using it.

Given that there is so much less money going to AI safety than AI capabilities, I would think that a more sensible request would be that those using ChatGPT and thus funding OpenAI fund promising AI safety efforts... this would likely more than offset the harm caused by your funding and enable you to keep using a valuable tool. And if the benefits for you are not worth the cost of the subscription + the offset, then perhaps the benefit is not, in that case worth the harm. I would suggest that people who know more about this stuff than me recommend an AI safety fund for offsetting ChatGPT use.

how much better is chatgpt than claude, in your experience? I feel like it wouldn't be costly for me to drop down to free tier at openai but keep premium at anthropic, though I would miss the system prompt / custom gpt features. (I'm currently 20/month at both) 

For the tasks I use it for (mainly writing help), Claude Opus is often better than GPT-4

I honestly don't have much experience other than using GPT4, which I have found to be very helpful. 

Without rehashing the moral offsetting debate, I seriously doubt that there are any AI safety funding options that provide as much benefit as the harm of enabling OpenAI. This intuition comes from the fact that Open Phil funds a ton of AI safety work, so your money would only be marginal for AI safety work that falls below their funding bar, combined with my anecdotal (totally could be wrong) view that AI safety projects are more limited by manpower than by money.

This strikes me as remarkably counterintuitive, given the enormous disparity between funding between AI capabilities spending and AI safety spending. I was also under the impression that AI capabilities were not as funding-constrained. 

AI companies are constrained by the risk that they might not be able to monetize their products effectively enough to recover the insane compute costs of training. As an extreme example, if everyone used free GPT but zero people were willing to pay for a subscription, then investors would become significantly less excited by AI companies, because the potential profits they would expect to recover would be lower than if people are willing to buy subscriptions at a high rate.

So I think it's better to frame the impact of a subscription not as "you give OAI $20" but rather "you increase OAI's (real and perceived) ability to monetize its products by 1/(# of subscribers)".

Fair enough.

I still suspect that you may be underestimating marginal AI Safety funding opportunities.

One observation here, which might not be useful: I think the people most effective at combating climate change do consume fossil fuels both directly (e.g. international flights) and indirectly (e.g. plastics in stuff they purchase). There are value too in those people that try to delineate themselves completely - they all play different roles.  But they might try to limit their consumption. So perhaps I should not use GPT for e.g. entertainment, but only strictly for work.

Keep in mind that even if we stop our subscription, thousands of people in the supply chain of your goods will have subscriptions so you will still be indirectly funding OpenAI unless you go to the extreme length of only buying stuff from supply chains free of OpenAI.

I might well be biased here, I used to be working on climate and try to wean myself completely off fossil fuels and now I have greatly moderated/rationalized my views.

I understand the sentiment, but for me it would be dangerously close to moral offsetting, which I am not fan of. E.g. animal welfare activist might say "eating factory farm meat in random restaurants saves me some time, which I am using to help animals". Or "eating meat is okay, because I am saving much more animals by donating to ACE recommended charities or something".

I think naive math checks out, but slightly broader conception of ethics would discourage such reasoning.

But to be more constructive, I subscribed to Antrophic's Claude. Claude Opus should be on similar level as GPT4 and I have much more trust in the company (but I am ready to abandon them if they fail to live up my safety expectations).

But there is a lot of smaller companies that can do a lot with smaller models like Llama, like https://www.phind.com/, mainly targeted for coding. Companies like those don't have huge AI ambitions, they are just (very well) leveraging current technology provided by big players to make an useful product.

To be clear, I am in favor of promoting offsetting in both contexts, although the benefits of veganism in avoiding contributing to factory farming demand, increasing demand for pro-social vegan products, and sending an important moral signal make it difficult to calculate an appropriate sum. Further, I think a deontological or virtue ethics concern with killing or eating the flesh of sentient beings also naturally arises.

In the case here though, your choices cash out in terms of your effect on X and S risks re AGI. I think an appropriate offset for the funding effect is able to reverse or more than reverse your effect without moral complication.

adekcz - thanks for writing this. I'm also horrified by OpenAI turning from well-intentioned to apparently reckless and sociopathic, in pushing forward towards AGI capabilities without any serious commitment to AI safety.

The question is whether withholding a bit of money from OpenAI will really change their behavior, or whether a 'ChatGPT boycott' based on safety concerns could be more effective if our money-withholding is accompanied by some noisier public signaling of our moral outrage. I'm not sure what this would look like, exactly, but I imagine it could include some coordination with the 'Pause AI' movement (active on X/Twitter). I think a public commitment to boycotting OpenAI (e.g. through social media posts) would be helpful -- especially through channels that don't normally attract much AI safety discussion (e.g. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram -- in addition to X).

tldr: boycotts work best when we make a lot of noise about them, not when they're just a private withdrawal of funding.

Agree, boycotts should be public, therefore my post :).

On the other hand, I don't see myself being able to push this to the next level (very little personal fit). I would be very happy if someone did.

If you're using it enough, you're probably costing them money. Using the everliving shit out of it would be better for you and for screwing openAI, if you're that way inclined

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