Dan H

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I've heard OpenAI employees talk about the relatively high amount of compute superalignment has (complaining superalignment has too much and they, employees outside superalignment, don't have enough). In conversations with superalignment people, I noticed they talk about it as a real strategic asset ("make sure we're ready to use our compute on automated AI R&D for safety") rather than just an example of safety washing. This was something Ilya pushed for back when he was there.

OpenAI has made a hard commitment to safety by allocating 20% compute (~20% of budget) for the superalignment team. That is a huge commitment which isn't reflected in this.

I mean Google does basic things like use Yubikeys where other places don't even reliably do that. Unclear what a good checklist would look like, but maybe one could be created.

To my understanding, Google has better infosec than OpenAI and Anthropic. They have much more experience protecting assets.

A brief overview of the contents, page by page.

1: most important century and hinge of history

2: wisdom needs to keep up with technological power or else self-destruction / the world is fragile / cuban missile crisis

3: unilateralist's curse

4: bio x-risk

5: malicious actors intentionally building power-seeking AIs / anti-human accelerationism is common in tech

6: persuasive AIs and eroded epistemics

7: value lock-in and entrenched totalitarianism

8: story about bioterrorism

9: practical malicious use suggestions

10: LAWs as an on-ramp to AI x-risk

11: automated cyberwarfare -> global destablization

12: flash war, AIs in control of nuclear command and control

13: security dilemma means AI conflict can bring us to brink of extinction

14: story about flash war

15: erosion of safety due to corporate AI race

16: automation of AI research; autnomous/ascended economy; enfeeblement

17: AI development reinterpreted as evolutionary process

18: AI development is not aligned with human values but with competitive and evolutionary pressures

19: gorilla argument, AIs could easily outclass humans in so many ways

20: story about an autonomous economy

21: practical AI race suggestions

22: examples of catastrophic accidents in various industries

23: potential AI catastrophes from accidents, Normal Accidents

24: emergent AI capabilities, unknown unknowns

25: safety culture (with nuclear weapons development examples), security mindset

26: sociotechnical systems, safety vs. capabilities

27: safetywashing, defense in depth

28: story about weak safety culture

29: practical suggestions for organizational safety

30: more practical suggestions for organizational safety

31: bing and microsoft tay demonstrate how AIs can be surprisingly unhinged/difficult to steer

32: proxy gaming/reward hacking

33: goal drift

34: spurious cues can cause AIs to pursue wrong goals/intrinsification

35: power-seeking (tool use, self-preservation)

36: power-seeking continued (AIs with different goals could be uniquely adversarial)

37: deception examples

38: treacherous turns and self-awareness

39: practical suggestions for AI control

40: how AI x-risk relates to other risks

41: conclusion

Would love to identify and fund a well-regarded economist to develop AI risk models, if there were funding for it.

I think the adversarial mining thing was hot in 2019. IIRC, Hellaswag and others did it; I'd venture maybe 100 papers did it before RR, but I still think it was underexplored at the time and I'm happy RR investigated it.

I don't think Redwood's project had identical goals, and would strongly disagree with someone saying it's duplicative.

I agree it is not duplicative. It's been a while, but if I recall correctly the main difference seemed to be that they chose a task with gave them a extra nine of reliability (started with an initially easier task) and pursued it more thoroughly.

think I'm comparably skeptical of all of the evidence on offer for claims of the form "doing research on X leads to differential progress on Y,"

I think if we find that improvement of X leads to improvement on Y, then that's some evidence, but it doesn't establish that it's differential. If we find that improvement on X also leads to progress on thing Z that is highly indicative of general capabilities, then that's evidence against. If we find that it mainly affects Y but not other things Z, then that's reasonable evidence it's differential. For example, so far, transparency hasn't affected general capabilities, so I read that as evidence of differential technological progress. As another example, I think trojan defense research differentially improves our understanding our trojans; I don't see it making models better at coding or gaining new general instrumental skills.

I think commonsense is too unreliable of a guide when thinking about deep learning; deep learning findings are phenomena are often unintelligible even in hindsight (I still don't understand why some of my research papers' methods work). That's why I'd prefer empirical evidence. Empirical research claiming to differentially improve safety should demonstrate a differential safety improvement empirically.

The failure of Redwood's adversarial training project is unfortunately wholly unsurprising given almost a decade of similarly failed attempts at defenses to adversarial examples from hundreds or even thousands of ML researchers. For example, the RobustBench benchmark shows the best known robust accuracy on ImageNet is still below 50% for attacks with a barely perceptible perturbation.

The better reference class is adversarially mined examples for text models. Meta and other researchers were working on a similar projects before Redwood started doing that line of research. https://github.com/facebookresearch/anli is an example. (Reader: evaluate your model's consistency for what counts as alignment research--does this mean non-x-risk-pilled Meta researchers do some alignment research, if we believe RR project constituted exciting alignment research too?)

Separately, I haven't seen empirical demonstrations that pursuing this line of research can have limited capabilities externalities or result in differential technological progress. Robustifying models against some kinds of automatic adversarial attacks (1,2) does seem to be separable from improving general capabilities though, and I think it'd be good to have more work on that.

We recommend this article by an MIT CS professor which is partly about how creating a sustainable work culture can actually increase productivity.

This researcher's work attitude is only part of a spectrum. Many researchers find great returns working 80+ hours a week. Some labs differentiate themselves by having usual hours, but many successful labs have their members work a lot, and that works out well. For example, Dawn Song's students work a ton, and some other Berkeley grad students in other labs are intimidated by her lab's hours, but that's OK because her graduate students find that environment suitable. It'd be nice if this post was more specific about how much of the work culture discontent is about hours vs other issues.

I agree fitness is a more useful concept than rationality (and more useful than an individual agent's power), so here's a document I wrote about it: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1p4ZAuEYHL_21tqstJOGsMiG4xaRBtVcj/view

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