4693Joined Aug 2014


If you haven't read this piece by Ajeya Cotra, Without specific countermeasures, the easiest path to transformative AI likely leads to AI takeover I would highly recommend it. Some of the post on AI alignment here (aimed at a general audience) might also be helpful.

This tweet seems like vague backtracking on the long timelines.

Well Musk was the richest, who notably pulled out and then the money seems mostly not to have manifested. I haven't seen a public breakdown of commitments those sorts of statements were based on.

The kind of examples people used to use to motivate frame problem stories in the days of GOFAI in the 20th century  are routinely solved by AI systems today. 

I was going from this: "The DICE baseline emissions scenario results in 83 million cumulative excess deaths by 2100 in the central estimate. Seventy-four million of these deaths can be averted by pursuing the DICE-EMR optimal emissions path." I didn't get into deaths vs DALYs (excess deaths among those with less life left to live), chances of scenarios, etc, and gave 'on the order of' for slack.

"But I don't see why we're talking about scale. Are you defining neglectedness as a ratio of <people potentially killed in worst case>/<dollars spent>?"

Mean not worst case and not just death. That's the shape of the most interesting form to me. You could say that that cash transfers in every 1000 person town in a country with a billion people (and a uniform cash transfer program) are a millionfold less impact and a million times more neglected than cash transfers to the country as a whole, cancelling out, but the semantics aren't really going to be interesting to me.

 I think it's fairly clear that there is a vast difference between the work that those concerned with catastrophic AI safety as such have been doing vs random samples of Google staff, and that in relevant fields (e.g. RLHF,LLM red-teaming,  or AI forecasting) they are quite noticeable as a share of global activity. You may disagree. I'll leave the thread at that.

In this 2022 ML survey the median credence on extinction-level catastrophe from AI is 5%, with 48% of respondents giving 10%.  Some generalist forecaster platforms put numbers significantly lower, some  forecasting teams or researchers with excellent forecasting records and more knowledge of the area put more (with I think the tendency being for more information to yield higher forecasts, and my own expectation).  This scale looks like hundreds of millions of deaths or equivalent this century to me, although certainly many disagree. The argument below goes through with 1%.

Expected damages from climate over the century in the IPCC and published papers (which assume no drastic technological advance, which is in tension with forecasts about AI development) give damages of several percent of world product and order 100M deaths.

Global absolute poverty affects most of a billion people, with larger numbers somewhat above those poverty lines, and life expectancy many years shorter than wealthy country averages, so it gets into the range of hundreds of millions of lives lost equivalent. Over half a million die from malaria alone each year.

So without considering distant future generations or really large populations or the like, the scales look similar to me, with poverty and AI ahead of climate change but not vastly (with a more skeptical take on AI risk, poverty ahead of the other two).

"Conversely, Alphabet alone had operating expenses for 2022 of $203B, and they're fairly keen not to end the world, so you could view all of that as AI safety expenditure."

How exactly could that be true? Total FTEs working on AI alignment, especially scalable alignment are a tiny,  tiny fraction. Google Deepmind has a technical safety team with a few handfuls of people, central Alphabet has none as such. Safety teams at OAI and Anthropic are on the same order of magnitude. Aggregate expenditure on AI safety is a few hundreds of millions of dollars, orders of magnitude lower.

$200B  includes a lot of aid aimed at other political goals more than humanitarian impact, , with most of a billion people living at less than $700/yr, while the global economy is over $100,000B and cash transfer programs in rich countries are many trillions of dollars. That's the neglectedness that bumps of global aid interventions relative to local rich country help to the local relative poor. 

You can get fairly arbitrarily bad cost-effectiveness in any area by taking money and wasting on it things that generate less value than the money. E.g. spending 99.9% on digging holes and filling them in, and 0.1% on GiveDirectly. But just handing over the money  to the poor is a relevant attainable baseline.

Helping the global poor is neglected, and that accounts for most bednet outperformance. GiveDirectly, just giving cash, is thought by GiveWell/GHW to be something like 100x better on direct welfare than rich country consumption (although indirect effects reduce that gap), vs 1000x+ for bednets. So most of the log gains come from doing stuff with the global poor at all. Then bednets have a lot of their gains as positive externalities (protecting one person also protects others around them), and you're left with a little bit of 'being more confident about bednets than some potential users based on more investigation of the evidence (like vaccines), and some effects like patience/discounting.

Really exceptional intervention-within-area picks can get you a multiplier, but it's hard to get to the level of difference you see on cause selection, and especially so when you compare attempts to pick out the best in different causes.

Here's an example of a past case where a troll (who also trolled other online communities) made up multiple sock-puppet accounts, and assorted lies about sources for various arguments trashing AI safety, e.g. claiming to have been at events they were not and heard bad things, inventing nonexistent experts who supposedly rejected various claims, creating fake testimonials of badness, smearing people who discovered the deception, etc. 

Answer by CarlShulmanFeb 06, 20232714

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