Some AI Governance Research Ideas

by Alexis Carlier, markusanderljung1 min read7th Jun 20212 comments

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Crossposted from the AI Alignment Forum. May contain more technical jargon than usual.

Compiled by Markus Anderljung and Alexis Carlier

Junior researchers are often wondering what they should work on. To potentially help, we asked people at the Centre for the Governance of AI for research ideas related to longtermist AI governance. The compiled ideas are developed to varying degrees, including not just questions, but also some concrete research approaches, arguments, and thoughts on why the questions matter. They differ in scope: while some could be explored over a few months, others could be a productive use of a PhD or several years of research. 

We do not make strong claims about these questions, e.g. that they are the absolute top priority at current margins. Each idea only represents the views of the person who wrote it. The ideas aren’t necessarily original. Where we think someone is already working on or has done thinking about the topic before, we've tried to point to them in the text and reach out to them before publishing this post.

If you are interested in pursuing any of these projects, please let us know by filling out this form. We may be able to help you find mentorship, advice, or collaborators. You can also fill out the form if you’re intending to work on the project independently, so that we can help avoid duplication of effort. If you have feedback on the ideas, feel free to email researchideas@governance.ai.

You can find the ideas here. Our colleagues at the FHI AI Safety team put together a corresponding post with AI safety research project suggestions here.

Other Sources

Other sources of AI governance research projects include: 

A list of the ideas in the document:

  • The Impact of US Nuclear Strategists in the early Cold War
  • Transformative AI and the Challenge of Inequality
  • Human-Machine Failing
  • Will there be a California Effect for AI?
  • Nuclear Safety in China
  • History of existential risk concerns around nanotechnology
  • Broader impact statements: Learning lessons from their introduction and evolution
  • Structuring access to AI capabilities: lessons from synthetic biology
  • Bubbles, Winters, and AI
  • Lessons from Self-Governance Mechanisms in AI
  • How does government intervention and corporate self-governance relate?
  • Summary and analysis of “common memes” about AI, in different communities
  • A Review of Strategic-Trade Theory
  • Mind reading technology
  • Compute Governance ideas
    • Compute Funds
    • Compute Providers as a Node of AI Governance
    • China’s access to cutting edge chips
    • Compute Provider Actor Analysis

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Another thing I'm really interested in is the ordinary work of lobbying... I remember someone had a question here a while back about applying for internships with US congresspeople, and thinking "this is the sort of question that would benefit from some lobbyists who had a professional understanding of how to put convincing people and ideas near the levers of government."

More EA-involved people might know: are there EA lobbyists who make it their business to know how to nudge government to make things easier for effective charities?

More EA-involved people might know: are there EA lobbyists who make it their business to know how to nudge government to make things easier for effective charities?

I don't know the specific but the Center for Effective Altruism did had at one time (I don't know whether they still do) a suborg that did lobbying. I remember hearing about how they did get their draft language into one AI bill a few years ago.