Thursday, March 30, 2023

A response to Scott Aaronson's rejection of an AI pause.

Scott Aaronson, who works on AI safety for OpenAI, wrote a critique of AI Pause that was not up to his usual standards. Here's what I wrote as a comment:

Hi Scott — I was confused by your post. I’m usually able to follow them. I won’t defend the letter directly and Yudkowsky/TIME is not worth a mention but maybe you could clarify some things…

1. 6m seems a reasonable compromise given the lifespan of humans, the timescales of human deliberation and the commercial and military pressure to accelerate AI development. Short enough to motivate urgent action, but long enough that reflection is possible. (I doubt we actually pause, but I agree with the principle. China isn’t going to pause of course.)

2. Let’s assume GPT 5 with an array of NLP powered extensions exceeds the reasoning abilities of 95% of humanity in a wide variety of knowledge domains. That’s a shock on the scale of developing fire, but it’s occurring in a hugely complex and interdependent world that seems always on the edge of self-destruction and actually has the capabilities to end itself. We’re not hunter gatherers playing with fire or Mesopotomians developing writing. There’s no precedent for the speed, impact and civilizational fragility we face now.

3. It’s not relevant that people who signed this letter were previously skeptical of the progress towards AI. I recall 10 years ago you were skeptical. For my part I’ve been worried for a long time, but assumed it was going to come in 2080 or so. 60 years early is a reason to pause and understand what has happened.

Lastly, I read the OpenAI statement. That seems consistent with a pause.

No comments: