tamgent

549Joined Jun 2019

Comments
107

I also don't get this. I can;t help thinking about the Inner Ring essay by C.S. Lewis. I hope that's not what's happening.

I am a software engineer who transitioned to tech/AI policy/governance. I strongly agree with the overall message (or at least title) of this article: that AI governance needs technical people/work, especially for the ability to enforce  regulation. 

However in the 'types of technical work' you lay out I see some gaping governance questions/gaps. You outline various tools that could be built to improve the capability of actors in the governance space, but there are many such actors, and tools by their nature are dual use - where is the piece on who these tools would be wielded by, and how they can be used responsibly? I would be more excited about seeing new initiatives in this space that clearly set out which actors it works with for which kinds of policy issues and which not and why. Also there is a big hole around not being conflicted etc. There's lots of legal issues that can't be avoided that crop up when you need to actually use such tools in any context beyond a voluntary initiative of a company (which does not give as many guarantees as things that apply to all current and future companies, like regulations or to some extent standards). There is and will be increasingly a huge demand for companies with practical AI auditing expertise - this is a big opportunity to start trying to fill that gap. 

I think the section on 'advising on the above' could be fleshed out a whole lot more. At least I've found that because this area is very new, there is a lot of talking to do with lots of different people, lots of translation, before getting to actually do these things... it's helpful if you're the kind of technical person who is willing to learn how to communicate to a non-technical audience, and to learn from people with other backgrounds about the constraints and complexities of the policymaking world, and derives satisfaction from this. I think this is hugely worthwhile though - and if you're the kind of person who is willing to do that and looking for work in the area, do get in touch as I have some opportunities (in the UK).

Finally, I'll just more explicitly now highlight the risk of technical people being used for the aims of others (that may or may not lead to good outcomes) in this space. In my view, if you really want to work in this intersection you should be asking the above questions about anything you build - who will use this thing and how, and what are the risks and can I reduce them. And when you advise powerful actors, bringing your technical knowledge and expertise, do not be afraid to also give your opinions to decision-makers on what might lead to what kinds of real world outcomes, and ask questions about the application aims, and improve those aims.

Every time I've used VR (including latest ones), I feel sick and dizzy afterwards. I don't think this issue is unique to me. It feels difficult to me to imagine that most people would want to spend significant daily time in something that has such an effect and nothing in this post addressed this issue. Your prediction feels wildly wrong to me.

Great development. Does this mean GovAI will start inputting to more government consultations on AI and algorithms? The UK gov recently published a call for input on its AI regulation strategy - is GovAI planning to respond to it? On the regulation area - there's a lot of different areas of regulation (financial, content, communication infra, data protection, competition and consumer law), and the UK gov is taking a decentralised approach, relying on individual regulators' areas of expertise rather than creating a central body. How will GovAI stay on top of these different subject matter areas? 

Just to add to UK regulator stuff in the space:  the DRCF has a stream on algorithm auditing. Here is a paper with a short section on standards. Obviously it's early days, and focused on current AI systems, but it's  a start: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/findings-from-the-drcf-algorithmic-processing-workstream-spring-2022/auditing-algorithms-the-existing-landscape-role-of-regulators-and-future-outlook

Well I disagree but there's no need to agree - diverse approaches to a hard problem sounds good to me. 

AI doesn't exist in a vacuum, and TAI won't either. AI has messed up, is messing up and will mess up bigger as it gets more advanced. Security will never be a 100% solved problem, and aiming for zero breaches of all AI systems is unrealistic.  I think we're more likely to have better AI security with standards - do you disagree with that?  I'm not a security expert, but here some relevant considerations of one applied to TAI. See in particular the section "Assurance Requires Formal Proofs, Which Are Provably Impossible". Given the probably impossible nature of having formal guarantees (not to say we shouldn't try to get as close as possible), it really does seem that leveraging whatever institutional and coordination mechanisms have worked in the past is a worthwhile idea. I consider SSOs to be one set of these, all things considered.

Here is a section from an article written by someone who has worked in SSOs and security for decades:
> Most modern encryption is based on standardised algorithms and protocols; the use of open, well-tested and thoroughly analysed encryption standards is generally recommended. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and Google Messages now all use the same encryption standard (the Signal protocol) because it has proven to be secure and reliable. Even if weaknesses are found in such encryption standards, solutions are often quickly made available thanks to the sheer number of adopters.

I can respond to your message right now via a myriad of potential software because of the establishment of a technical standard, HTTP.  Additionally, all major web browsers run and interpret Javascript, in large part due to SSOs like IETF and W3C. By contrast, on mobile, we have two languages for the duopoly, and a myriad of issues I won't go into, but suffice to say there has been a failure of SSOs in the space to replicate what happened with web browsing and early internet. It may be that TAI present novel and harder challenges, but in some of the hardest such technical coordination challenges to date, SSOs have been very useful. I'm not as worried about defection as you if we get something good going - the leaders will likely have significant resources, and therefore be under bigger public scrutiny and will want to show they are also leading on participating in standard setting. I am hopeful that there will be significant innovation in this area in the next few years. [Disclaimer, I work in this area, so naturally biased]

Thank you kindly for the summary! I was just thinking today when the paper was making the rounds - I'd really like a summary of this whilst I'm waiting on making the time to read it in full. So this is really helpful for me.

I work in this area, and can attest to the difficulty of getting resources towards capability building for detecting trends towards future risks, as opposed to simply firefighting the ones we've been neglecting. However, I think the near vs long term distinction is often unhelpful and limited, and I prefer to try to think about things in the medium term (next 2-10 years). There's a good paper on this by FHI and CSER. 

I agree with you that the approach outlined in the paper is generally good, and with your caveats/risks too. I also think it's nice that there is variation amongst nations' approaches; hopefully they'll be complementary and borrow pieces from each other's work.

Sorry more like a finite budget and proportions, not probabilities.

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