Have you read Eric Drexler's work on open agencies and applying open agencies to present-day LLMs? Open agencies seem like progress towards a safer design for current and future cognitive architectures. Drexler's design touches on some of the aspects you mention in the post, like:
The system can be coded to both check itself against its goals, and invite human inspection if it judges that it is considering plans or actions that may either violate its ethical goals, change its goals, or remove it from human control.
My experience on Upwork is actually the same as yours! In our tests of the platform, it appears to be very difficult to find jobs due to the intense competition. I was unpleasantly surprised at first when I saw how difficult it was to earn money on Upwork as a new user. However, that was the whole point of the initial tests we did, so we expanded and have still been expanding the program to encompass other forms of virtual work that pay reliably and still have room to grow. Upwork will be a minor or non-existent part of our program.
If my program was just on Upwork, then I would be inclined to side with your analysis. Thankfully, it's not.
I think I understand the point: hypothetically, this program would take work away from people more in need, possibly even making the world worse off because of that. But if I magically made half of the virtual workforce disappear, then the half of the people that were removed would be really poor and the other half would be twice as rich. But is that creating more good? No, because the richer half would not need the money as much as the poorer half. If I added more people who were earning less money before being added then I am creating a net good, and that's what I am trying to do. I don't think the impact of helping several dozen people (just at first!) get out of poverty is insignificant, and since the program could be expanded if our tests indicate it works effectively, I think it could be considered high impact it terms of the number of people it could help and how much it could change their lives.
Well the total pool of work available for everyone is imperceptibly decreased in the short run, not aversely affecting anyone to any significant degree, while giving more of the poor who really need the money work opportunities... Is employing several dozen more people a small net good? I guess it's a matter of opinion.
We are continuing our search for similar projects, thank you for your suggestion. I hope that we have not missed any pitfalls, but like Strangeattractor wrote, we are indeed doing tests of the concept in various stages of development, and this project is kind of a pilot in and of itself, so hopefully we can catch anything we might have missed.
'In a charitable way" meaning good for the people. Just because there are for-profit companies out there doing this doesn't mean they are doing what is best for the people, they are distributing wealth, but also keeping a lot of it for themselves. A charitable venture would give most of the profits to the people involved, and this project also involves providing many things to people like internet and computer access, training, opportunities, something a lot of freelancers have to acquire for themselves in developing countries. It is very difficult for a would-be-freelancer to find access to all of the technology, one-on-one help, etc, hence the value of this project. While there are virtual employment companies, there are no companies helping freelancers get started, which is unique and fills a need.
Thank you, that is one of the markets we are looking to branch out to.
I did not throw every detail into the video and fundraiser/my post in LessWrong, that is correct... I do think I described the jist of it. I explicitly stated that funds will go towards providing computer and internet access, training given by staff, and opportunities that staff have to find. As implied, expenses will go towards computer acquisition, internet, and helping staff implement various facets of the project. I could have explained each and every detail, but it would be too long for the target audience to read. The campaign is not noticeably more vague than other related Indiegogo fundraisers I have seen.
I especially do not think dishonesty should be assumed. It's just common sense, but to try and put it in words, the effort put into the campaign and video, the numerous people involved, the fact that I'm a high school student putting my reputation on the line, the fact that we are a "verified nonprofit" shown by Indiegogo after confirming our 501(c)(3) status... It would be a very unlikely and elaborate scam, especially for the very low amount of money that this is likely to earn.
For the record, this project is operating under close scrutiny by the faculty sponsor mentioned in the video, by the nonprofit sponsor we have mentioned in the bio of Silicon Rainforest, by our adult volunteers, by our business partners, etc. If I wanted to do this as a scam, I would try to sell miraculously affordable virtual employment services, take the money, and run ;)
MTurk employs a lot of people in developed countries. I have read they are starting to reject Indian based workers because of poor work quality. I can find employment for people who can provide a similarly high standard of work relative to workers in more developed countries, but who need the income more. Member participants would otherwise have had difficulties joining, say, MTurk because of a lack of computers, internet access, proper guidance, training... I don't think there are any companies helping freelancers find work because it's not very profitable, and yet there is a great need to reach people who are not working to their potential.
Have you seen Seth Herd's work and the work it references (particularly natural language alignment)? Drexler also has an updated proposal called Open Agencies, which seems to be an updated version of his original CAIS research. It seems like Davidad is working on a complex implementation of open agencies. I will likely work on a significantly simpler implementation. I don't think any of these designs explicitly propose capping LLMs though, given that they're non-agentic, transient, etc. by design and thus seem far less risky than agentic models. The proposals mostly focus on avoiding riskier models that are agentic, persistent, etc.