This question is material to us, as we're building an impact certificate market (a major component in retroactive public goods funding), and if the answer is yes, we might actually want to abort, or — more likely — I'd want to put a lot of work into helping to sure up mechanisms for making it sensitive to long-term negative externalities.
Another phrasing: Are there any dependencies for AGI, that private/academic AI/AGI projects are failing to coordinate to produce, that near-future foundations for developing free software would produce?
I first arrived at this question with my economist hat on, and the answer was "of course, there would be", because knowledge and software infrastructure are non-excludable goods (useful to many but not profitable to release). But then my collaborators suggested that I take the economist hat off and try to remember what's actually happening in reality, in which, oh yeah, it genuinely seems like all of the open source code and software infrastructures and knowledge required for AI are being produced and freely released by private actors, in which case, us promoting public goods markets couldn't make things worse. (Sub-question: Why is that happening?)
But it's possible that that's not actually happening, it could be a streetlight effect: Maybe I've only come to think that all of the progress is being publicly released because I don't see all of the stuff that isn't! Maybe there are a whole lot of coordination problems going on in the background that are holding back progress, maybe OpenAI and Deepmind, the algorithmic traders, DJI, and defense researchers are all doing a lot of huge stuff but it's not being shared and fitted together, but a lot of it would be in the public cauldron if an impact cert market existed. I wouldn't know! Can we rule it out?
It would be really great to hear from anyone working on AI, AGI, and alignment on this. When you're working in an engineering field, you know what the missing pieces are, you know where people are failing to coordinate, you probably already know whether there's a lot of crucial work that no individual player has an incentive to do.
The fact that there is more than zero contributions from for-profit companies and other sources does not mean that the optimal level of public-good funding has been approached; the fact that other public-goods efforts are crowded out by existing efforts does not mean that either. (The fact that novel incentive or fundraising or corporate structures in the cryptocurrency world can raise tens of billions of dollars to create public-good-ish things while such structures still fall far short of solving 'funding public goods', however, does strongly suggest that there is an extremely large gap between those non-zero contributions and the socially-optimal level of funding.)