Student, Bsi / DMus @ University of Melbourne
6 karmaJoined Pursuing an undergraduate degree


I think that AI Safety is probably neglected in the public consciousness, simply because most people still don't understand what AI even "is". This lack of obviously precludes people from caring about AI safety, because they don't appreciate that AI is a qualitatively different technology to any technology hitherto created. And if they're not interfacing with the current LLMs (I suspect most older people aren't) then they can't appreciate the exponential progress in sophistication. By now, people have some visceral understanding of the realities of progressive climate change.  But AI is still an abstract concept, and an exponential technology in its infancy, so it's hard to viscerally grok the idea of AI-x-risk.

Let's say that proportion of adults in a developed country that know of, or have used an LLM, is 20%. From that 20%, perhaps half of them (10% of population) have a dim premonition of the profundity of AI. But, anecdotally, no-one I know is really thinking of AI's trajectory, except perhaps a sense of vague foreboding. 

I am fairly new to the EA and rationality communities, but I sense that members of EA/rationality are on average cerebral, and perhaps introverted or have an unassuming demeanor. Moreover, the mindset is one of epistemic humility. EA rarely attracts the extroverted, disagreeable, outspoken "activist" types that other movements attract--for example, Israel-Palestine causes or Extinction Rebellion. Due to this, I'm predicting that we have a scarcity of EAs with the comparative advantage of organising and attending protests, and making noise in public. However, I think that protests are necessary to raise public awareness about AI safety and galvanise an educated mass response. The key considerations are: what demands do we set, based on what evidence/reasoning? And in broadcasting AI-safety, how do we balance the trade-off between:

  • Trying to be as comprehensive and rational as possible in explaining AI, AI-x-risk and the need for safety research / a pause; and
  • Marketing the protest in a salient way, and explaining the cause in a way for the "average Joe" or "average Jane" to understand.

I support the PauseAI protests, will continue learning more about the issue, and hopefully will contribute to a protest in Melbourne, Australia, soon.