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authorBryan Newbold <>2018-08-10 16:06:17 -0700
committerBryan Newbold <>2018-08-10 16:06:46 -0700
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+Artificial Intelligence Risk Mitigation
+My main threat model is fast market agents in the hands of authoritarian or
+sociopathic/robber-baron hostile parties who attack economies and societies. We
+already have these in the form of high-speed trading corporations and
+disinformation campaigns by secret police, organize crime, and nationstates.
+But these could be carried out far faster and more effectively with another
+generation of machine learning / deep learning / whatver without requiring new
+tech or even that many resources. Really more of an augmentation thing than an
+AGI thing (though who knows how it could emerge).
+A lot of people seem to care/fear the "superintelligence" thing. I think this
+is a boogieman or red herring in most cases, but i'll also mention some things
+that could hedge against it, as much to see if people actually care about
+addressing this risk or are more interested in discussing how cool it would be
+or as a distraction for higher-expectation-value risks (like the above, or
+bio/chem/nuke weapons, or climate/ecological/resource collapse).
+## Intensive Compute
+Intensive compute currently requires intensive energy consumption, and weird
+compute requires custom silicon. Both resources can be tracked.
+Silicon fabs are scarce; a neutral international body could review all output
+of high-end fabs looking for AI-specific devices. I think there are only like
+5 regions/institutions in the world that do sub-20nm fabrication.
+- wouldn't it look a lot like bitcoin mining? (custom ASICs, huge power
+ consumption)
+- AFAIK, in current tech effort is only around training, not actual deployment
+ of neural net techniques. training can be async and distributed, executtion
+ on small generic hardware? but could monitor "efforts"/research
+- intelligence agencies do a lot of sketchy monitoring using custom silicon and
+ probably don't want to be monitored, even by a "neutral" body. Note that,
+ unlike the nuclear weapons industry, intelligence agencies are probably
+ commiting actual illegal/unaccountable acts, while weapons work was only
+ secret to control spread of knowledge to the "enemy" and had civilian
+ oversight
+Cory Doctorow (?) short story about an international monitoring service looking
+for waste heat from rogue/unlicensed "big data" operations, using satellite
+infrared cameras.
+## Civic Institutional Resiliency
+If we consider AGI/superintelligence as a potentially threatening power, but
+only in abstract/informational ways to start, it seems obvious that general
+civic and infrastructural strength is a good hedge.
+Eg, core infrastructure air gapped from the net, defense-in-depth for networked
+devices, strong prevalent crypto (for things like government announcements,
+journalism, social media), robust voting systems, etc. Basically, look at the
+CIA/Putin handbook for disrupting other countries, and make sure we are more
+robust against those sort of "dirty" campaigns and manipulation.
+There's also technical resiliency: think it's pretty acknowledged that the
+current state of software and "security engineering" in particular are a
+general shitshow, almost everything has 0-days floating around, etc. Doing a
+bell-labs like effort to reset the norms, culture, and standards of the field
+(combined with clear guidelines and tools) could make software much more robust
+and secure (in my opinion). Bell labs was rare/expensive, but not *that*
+rare/expensive in the big picture (eg, compared to defense spending and gonzo
+secret projects).
+## Slow Down Feedback Loops
+A commonly cited fear about superintelligence is that it could operate "really
+fast". There are a number of places in society that we could rate-limit and
+bring the tempo down to a human pace:
+- markets (trading)
+- changes to internet infrastructure, like BGP (largely in place already, I
+ think)
+- almost all forms of beaurocracy or API could have sane rate limits
+Our legal/governance systems often have this baked in because those systems are
+already skeptical of "mobs" and disinformation. Checks and balances are a form
+of containment.
+A broader analysis of "power in the world" and having an early warning than any
+one entity (company, government, whatever) was gaining a controlling influence
+in any resource would be interesting as a general feedback safety thing.
+## Culture
+I'm pretty confused about OpenAI, because it nominally is trying to de-risk AI,
+but it's basically just trying to advance the field (but be in the thick of
+It could instead visit labs around the world and issue reports, publish
+something like the "N minutes to midnight" (bullitin of atomic scientists),
+hold ethics debates and conferences, develop a code of ethics and get
+researchers to sign on, start student chapters at universities, lobby and
+consult with governments, draft regulations, call out "red flags" and
+tripwires, etc. Achieving broad cultural shift is hard, but way more leveraged
+than trying to get 100 people in a building to "solve the problem" or whatever.
+It's probably just the case the organization's goal is not what it's publicly
+state goal is (whether it knows that or not).
+Existence proofs of this strategy working are, I think, human cloning (pretty
+broad taboo; only a tiny fraction of people that could be are working on this
+AFAIK), chemical weapons, and to a large degree nuclear weapons (hard to
+## Legibility
+Require automated systems controlling core infrastructure and markets to be
+human-meaningful: no black boxes. No neural nets with direct control over grid
+power pricing.
+This isn't directly out of fear that these systems would be "superintelligent"
+in their own, but that we wouldn't be able to debug and figure out if they had
+been manipulated, tampered with, or remotely reverse engineered in an
+info-crisis situation. Eg, a superintelligence is more likely to be able to
+understand and manipulate "black boxes" than we are.
+## Comparison to Nuclear Regulation
+Monitoring and regulation of nuclear technologies seems to have been largely
+successful in tracking and observing (if not necessarily really containing
+proliferation or, most importantly, *reducing risk* of war as opposed to
+*preventing the growth of risk*).
+Things that maybe worked well then:
+- detection of test detonations in a variety of ways; almost impossible to
+ hide?
+- advanced, specific machinery as a bottleneck
+- control/monitoring of physical materials
+- huge power and/or radiation required for refinement process
+- "delivery systems" monitored/controlled in parallel (and don't have
+ difficulty)
+- Making of the Atomic Bomb, Dark Sun
+- Curve of binding energy (out of date but interesting as a snapshot in time)
+- Ellsberg's Doomsday Machine
+- Bertrand Russell book (TODO)