Manhattan Project was quite a unique (at least the most well-known) case when a group of famous scientists succeeded to persuade the government that particular technology is a very big threat if created by the wrong group of people. Suppose somehow the group of famous scientists succeed to persuade the US government that AGI is an existential risk. Or, (maybe that can be simpler to explain to everyone), is that even aligned AGI, but aligned with the interests and values of the wrong group of people, is not exactly what you want. Now the question - would this decrease the AGI existential risk, or not?
I can see the following pros and contras:
Pro 1: significantly more focus on alignment research.
Pro 2: Talking about the "wrong group of people" danger, I think a democratic government is a safer bet than for example a private company.
Pro 3: Most of the big players in AI are US companies. Now there is a danger of the "AI arms race" between them, which is a potential threat due to the rush and risky decisions. US government can potentially monitor IT companies' progress which will give additional protection from risky decisions in the AI race.
Contra 1: Potentially "AI arms race" can start between countries (US-China?). Would it be worse than the current competition between companies?
Which are other pros and contras? What is the net effect, in your opinion? If the net effect is obviously beneficial, who would be the scientists so famous that they can actually persuade the US government as Einstein and Scillard did in 1939?