Wiki Contributions


Fwiw, there is also AI governance work that is neither policy nor lab governance, in particular trying to answer broader strategic questions that are relevant to governance, e.g., timelines, whether a pause is desirable, which intermediate goals are valuable to aim for, and how much computing power Chinese actors will have access to. I guess this is sometimes called "AI strategy", but often the people/orgs working on AI governance also work on AI strategy, and vice versa, and they kind of bleed into each other.

How do you feel about that sort of work relative to the policy work you highlight above?

Open Philanthropy did donate $30M to OpenAI in 2017, and got in return the board seat that Helen Toner occupied until very recently. However, that was when OpenAI was a non-profit, and was done in order to gain some amount of oversight and control over OpenAI. I very much doubt any EA has donated to OpenAI unconditionally, or at all since then.

They often do things of the form "leaving out info, knowing this has misleading effects"

On that, here are a few examples of Conjecture leaving out info in what I think is a misleading way.

(Context: Control AI is an advocacy group, launched and run by Conjecture folks, that is opposing RSPs. I do not want to discuss the substance of Control AI’s arguments -- nor whether RSPs are in fact good or bad, on which question I don’t have a settled view -- but rather what I see as somewhat deceptive rhetoric.)

One, Control AI’s X account features a banner image with a picture of Dario Amodei (“CEO of Anthropic, $2.8 billion raised”) saying, “There’s a one in four chance AI causes human extinction.” That is misleading. What Dario Amodei has said is, “My chance that something goes really quite catastrophically wrong on the scale of human civilisation might be somewhere between 10-25%.” I understand that it is hard to communicate uncertainty in advocacy, but I think it would at least have been more virtuous to use the middle of that range (“one in six chance”), and to refer to “global catastrophe” or something rather than “human extinction”.

Two, Control AI writes that RSPs like Anthropic’s “contain wording allowing companies to opt-out of any safety agreements if they deem that another AI company may beat them in their race to create godlike AI”. I think that, too, is misleading. The closest thing Anthropic’s RSP says is:

However, in a situation of extreme emergency, such as when a clearly bad actor (such as a rogue state) is scaling in so reckless a manner that it is likely to lead to imminent global catastrophe if not stopped (and where AI itself is helpful in such defense), we could envisage a substantial loosening of these restrictions as an emergency response. Such action would only be taken in consultation with governmental authorities, and the compelling case for it would be presented publicly to the extent possible.

Anthropic’s RSP is clearly only meant to permit labs to opt out when any other outcome very likely leads to doom, and for this to be coordinated with the government, with at least some degree of transparency. The scenario is not “DeepMind is beating us to AGI, so we can unilaterally set aside our RSP”, but more like “North Korea is beating us to AGI, so we must cooperatively set aside our RSP”.

Relatedly, Control AI writes that, with RSPs, companies “can decide freely at what point they might be falling behind – and then they alone can choose to ignore the already weak” RSPs. But part of the idea with RSPs is that they are a stepping stone to national or international policy enforced by governments. For example, ARC and Anthropic both explicitly said that they hope RSPs will be turned into standards/regulation prior to the Control AI campaign. (That seems quite plausible to me as a theory of change.) Also, Anthropic commits to only updating its RSP in consultation with its Long-Term Benefit Trust (consisting of five people without any financial interest in Anthropic) -- which may or may not work well, but seems sufficiently different from Anthropic being able to “decide freely” when to ignore its RSP that I think Control AI’s characterisation is misleading. Again, I don't want to discuss the merits of RSPs, I just think Control AI is misrepresenting Anthropic's and others' positions.

Three, Control AI seems to say that Anthropic’s advocacy for RSPs is an instance of safetywashing and regulatory capture. (Connor Leahy: “The primary aim of responsible scaling is to provide a framework which looks like something was done so that politicians can go home and say: ‘We have done something.’ But the actual policy is nothing.” And also: “The AI companies in particular and other organisations around them are trying to capture the summit, lock in a status quo of an unregulated race to disaster.”) I don’t know exactly what Anthropic’s goals are -- I would guess that its leadership is driven by a complex mixture of motivations -- but I doubt it is so clear-cut as Leahy makes it out to be.

To be clear, I think Conjecture has good intentions, and wants the whole AI thing to go well. I am rooting for its safety work and looking forward to seeing updates on CoEm. And again, I personally do not have a settled view on whether RSPs like Anthropic’s are in fact good or bad, or on whether it is good or bad to advocate for them – it could well be that RSPs turn out to be toothless, and would displace better policy – I only take issue with the rhetoric.

(Disclosure: Open Philanthropy funds the organisation I work for, though the above represents only my views, not my employer’s.)

I think it is reasonable to treat this as a proxy for the state of the evidence, because lots of AI policy people specifically praised it as a good and thoughtful paper on policy.

All four of those AI policy people are coauthors on the paper -- that does not seem like good evidence that the paper is widely considered good and thoughtful, and therefore a good proxy (though I think it probably is an ok proxy).

When Jeff Kaufman shared one of the papers discussed here on the EA Forum, there was a highly upvoted comment critical of the paper (more upvoted than the post itself). That would suggest to me that this post would be fairly well received on the EA Forum, though its tone is definitely more strident than that comment, so maybe not.

ARC & Open Philanthropy state in a press release “In a sane world, all AGI progress should stop. If we don’t, there’s more than a 10% chance we will all die.”

Could you spell out what you mean by "in a sane world"? I suspect a bunch of people you disagree with do not favor a pause due to various empirical facts about the world (e.g., there being competitors like Meta).

Well, it's not like vegans/vegetarians are some tiny minority in EA. Pulling together some data from the 2022 ACX survey, people who identify as EA are about 40% vegan/vegetarian, and about 70% veg-leaning (i.e., vegan, vegetarian, or trying to eat less meat and/or offsetting meat-eating for moral reasons). (That's conditioning on identifying as an LW rationalist, since anecdotally I think being vegan/vegetarian is somewhat less common among Bay Area EAs, and the ACX sample is likely to skew pretty heavily rationalist, but the results are not that different if you don't condition.)

ETA: From the 2019 EA survey, 46% of EAs are vegan/vegetarian and 77% veg-leaning.

Israel's strategy since the Hamas took the strip over in 2007 has been to try and contain it, and keeping it weak by periodic, limited confrontations (the so called Mowing the Lawn doctorine), and trying to economically develop the strip in order to give Hamas incentives to avoid confrontation. While Hamas grew stronger, the general feeling was that the strategy works and the last 15 years were not that bad.

I am surprised to read the bolded part! What actions have the Israeli government taken to develop Gaza, and did Gaza actually develop economically in that time? (That is not a rhetorical question -- I know next to nothing about this.)

Looking quickly at some stats, real GDP per capita seems to have gone up a bit since 2007, but has declined since 2016, and its current figure ($5.6K in 2021) is lower than e.g., Angola, Bangladesh, and Venezuela.

Qualitatively, the blockade seems to have been net negative for Gaza's economic development. NYT writes:

The Palestinian territory of Gaza has been under a suffocating Israeli blockade, backed by Egypt, since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip in 2007. The blockade restricts the import of goods, including electronic and computer equipment, that could be used to make weapons and prevents most people from leaving the territory.

More than two million Palestinians live in Gaza. The tiny, crowded coastal enclave has a nearly 50 percent unemployment rate, and Gaza’s living conditions, health system and infrastructure have all deteriorated under the blockade.

But that is a news report, so we should take it with a grain of salt.

Assuming you have the singular "you" in mind, no, I do not think I am not running a motte and bailey. I said above that if you accept the assumptions, I think using the ranges as (provisional, highly uncertain) moral weights is pretty reasonable, but I also think it's reasonable to reject the assumptions. I do think it is true that some people have (mis)interpreted the report and made stronger claims than is warranted, but the report is also full of caveats and (I think) states its assumptions and results clearly.

The report:

Instead, we’re usually comparing either improving animal welfare (welfare reforms) or preventing animals from coming into existence (diet change → reduction in production levels) with improving human welfare or saving human lives.

Yes, the report is intended to guide decision-making in this way. It is not intended to provide a be-all-end-all estimate. The results still need to be interpreted in the context of the assumptions (which are clearly stated up front). I would take it as one input when making decisions, not the only input.

The post's response to the heading "So you’re saying that one person = ~three chickens?" is, no, that's just the year to year of life comparison, chickens have shorter lives than humans so the life-to-life comparison is more like 1/16. Absolutely insane.

No, that is not the post's response to that heading. It also says: "No. We’re estimating the relative peak intensities of different animals’ valenced states at a given time. So, if a given animal has a welfare range of 0.5 (and we assume that welfare ranges are symmetrical around the neutral point), that means something like, 'The best and worst experiences that this animal can have are half as intense as the best and worst experiences that a human can have' [...]" There is a difference between comparing the most positive/negative valenced states an animal can achieve and their moral worth.

The report says that somehow, people should still mostly accept Rethinking Priotities' conclusions even if they disagree with the assumptions:

“I don't share this project’s assumptions. Can't I just ignore the results?" We don’t think so. First, if unitarianism is false, then it would be reasonable to discount our estimates by some factor or other. However, the alternative—hierarchicalism, according to which some kinds of welfare matter more than others or some individuals’ welfare matters more than others’ welfare—is very hard to defend.

I think I disagree with your characterization, but it depends a bit on what you mean by "mostly". The report makes a weaker claim, that if you don't accept the premises, you shouldn't totally ignore the conclusions (as opposed to "mostly accepting" the conclusions). The idea is that even if you don't accept hedonism, it would be weird if capacity for positively/negatively valenced experiences didn't matter at all when determining moral weights. That seems reasonable to me and I don't really see the issue?

So if you factor in life span (taking 2 months for a drone) and do the ⅔ reduction for not accepting hedonism, you get a median of 1 human life = ~20K bee lives, given the report's other assumptions. That's 3 OOMs more than what Richard Kennaway wrote above.

In response to someone commenting in part:

saving human lives is net positive

The post author's reply is:

This is a very interesting result; thanks for sharing it. I've heard of others reaching the same conclusion, though I haven't seen their models. If you're willing, I'd love to see the calculations. But no pressure at all.

I am not sure what you are trying to say here, could you clarify?

e.g. 12 (ETA: 14) bees are worth 1 human

This is a misrepresentation of what the report says. The report says that, conditional on hedonism, valence symmetry, the animals being sentient, and other assumptions, the intensity of positive/negative valence that a bee can experience is 7% that of the positive/negative intensity that a human can experience. How to value creatures based on the intensities of positively/negatively valenced states they are capable of is a separate question, even if you fully accept the assumptions. (ETA: If you assume utilitarianism and hedonism etc., I think it is pretty reasonable to anchor moral weight (of a year of life) in range of intensity of positive/negative valence, while of course keeping the substantial uncertainties around all this in mind.)

On bees in particular, the authors write:

We also find it implausible that bees have larger welfare ranges than salmon. But (a) we’re also worried about pro-vertebrate bias; (b) bees are really impressive; (c) there's a great deal of overlap in the plausible welfare ranges for these two types of animals, so we aren't claiming that their welfare ranges are significantly different; and (d) we don’t know how to adjust the scores in a non-arbitrary way. So, we’ve let the result stand.

I think when engaging in name-calling ("batshit crazy animal rights folks") it is especially important to get things right.

(COI: The referenced report was produced by my employer, though a different department.)

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