Monday, March 13, 2023

The Artificial Intelligence Debate

A rocket moves much, much faster than your limbs. A car moves much slower than rockets. And cars are highly regulated. You are required insurance, for example. Seat belts are a famous example. I think there is general consensus that AI needs regulating. As to what shape and form those regulations might take is upto debate. In the case of AI, the approach has to be much more proactive than has been the case with seat belts. Here you want to do it before people start dying.

Otherwise AI has benefits. One of my first reactions to ChatGPT was, now a ton of people who never imagined they were going to become knowledge workers suddenly can. And we do need more knowledge workers. A major example, I think I heard from Satya Nadella's mouth (on YouTube), is the world has 100 million software programmers, but it needs 500 million. Enter ChatGPT.

Again heard from Satya, a top AI engineer working with Tesla nonetheless, claimed ChatGPT now generates 80% of his code.

Is ChatGPT the new word processor?

Steve Jobs said the computer was a bicycle for the mind. Is ChatGPT now Harley Davidson?

This Changes Everything . “A.I. is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire.” ....... What is hardest to appreciate in A.I. is the improvement curve. ....... I find myself thinking back to the early days of Covid. There were weeks when it was clear that lockdowns were coming, that the world was tilting into crisis, and yet normalcy reigned, and you sounded like a loon telling your family to stock up on toilet paper. ....... There is a natural pace to human deliberation. A lot breaks when we are denied the luxury of time. ......... the people working on A.I. ...... a community that is living with an altered sense of time and consequence. They are creating a power that they do not understand at a pace they often cannot believe. ......... Would you work on a technology you thought had a 10 percent chance of wiping out humanity? ...... They believe they might summon demons. They are calling anyway. ........ This was true among cryptocurrency enthusiasts in recent years. The claims they made about how blockchains would revolutionize everything from money to governance to trust to dating never made much sense. But they were believed most fervently by those closest to the code. ......... Crypto was always a story about an unlikely future searching for traction in the present. With A.I., to imagine the future you need only look closely at the present. ........ In 2021, a system built by DeepMind managed to predict the 3-D structure of tens of thousands of proteins, an advance so remarkable that the editors of the journal Science named it their breakthrough of the year. ....... “Within two months of downloading Replika, Denise Valenciano, a 30-year-old woman in San Diego, left her boyfriend and is now ‘happily retired from human relationships’” ........ Could it help terrorists or antagonistic states develop lethal weapons and crippling cyber attacks? ........ These systems will already offer guidance on building biological weapons if you ask them cleverly enough. ........ A.I. is already being used for predictive policing and judicial sentencing. ........ The “thinking,” for lack of a better word, is utterly inhuman, but we have trained it to present as deeply human. And the more inhuman the systems get — the more billions of connections they draw and layers and parameters and nodes and computing power they acquire — the more human they seem to us. .......... “as A.I. continues to blow past us in benchmark after benchmark of higher cognition, we quell our anxiety by insisting that what distinguishes true consciousness is emotions, perception, the ability to experience and feel: the qualities, in other words, that we share with animals.” ......... The major tech companies are in a race for A.I. dominance. The U.S. and China are in a race for A.I. dominance. Money is gushing toward companies with A.I. expertise. ....... Slowing down “would involve coordinating numerous people .

The Return of the Magicians people talk increasingly about the limits of the scientific endeavor — the increasing impediments to discovering new ideas, the absence of low-hanging scientific fruit, the near impossibility, given the laws of physics as we understand them, of ever spreading human civilization beyond our lonely planet or beyond our isolated solar system. ....... — namely, beings that can enlighten us, elevate us, serve us and usher in the Age of Aquarius, the Singularity or both. ........... a golem, more the embodied spirit of all the words on the internet than a coherent self with independent goals. .......... With the emergent forms of A.I., they argue, we have created an intelligence that can yield answers the way an oracle might or a Magic 8 Ball: through processes that are invisible to us, permanently beyond our understanding, so complex as to be indistinguishable from action in a supernatural mind. ...... the A.I. revolution represents a fundamental break with Enlightenment science, which “was trusted because each step of replicable experimental processes was also tested, hence trusted.” .......... the spirit might be disobedient, destructive, a rampaging Skynet bent on our extermination. ....... we would be wise to fear apparent obedience as well. .

Should GPT exist? Gary Marcus asks about Microsoft, “what did they know, and when did they know it?”—a question I tend to associate more with deadly chemical spills or high-level political corruption than with a cheeky, back-talking chatbot. ........ in reality it’s merely a “stochastic parrot,” a glorified autocomplete that still makes laughable commonsense errors and that lacks any model of reality outside streams of text. ....... If you need months to think things over, generative AI probably isn’t for you right now. I’ll be relieved to get back to the slow-paced, humdrum world of quantum computing. ....... if OpenAI couldn’t even prevent ChatGPT from entering an “evil mode” when asked, despite all its efforts at Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback, then what hope do we have for GPT-6 or GPT-7? ....... Even if they don’t destroy the world on their own initiative, won’t they cheerfully help some awful person build a biological warfare agent or start a nuclear war? ......... a classic example being nuclear weapons. But, like, nuclear weapons kill millions of people. They could’ve had many civilian applications—powering turbines and spacecraft, deflecting asteroids, redirecting the flow of rivers—but they’ve never been used for any of that, mostly because our civilization made an explicit decision in the 1960s, for example via the test ban treaty, not to normalize their use. ........

GPT is not exactly a nuclear weapon. A hundred million people have signed up to use ChatGPT, in the fastest product launch in the history of the Internet. ... the ChatGPT death toll stands at zero

....... The science that we could learn from a GPT-7 or GPT-8, if it continued along the capability curve we’ve come to expect from GPT-1, -2, and -3. Holy mackerel. ....... I was a pessimist about climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, drought, war, and the survival of liberal democracy. The central event in my mental life is and always will be the Holocaust. I see encroaching darkness everywhere. .......... it’s amazing at poetry, better than most of us.

The False Promise of Chomskyism . .
Why am I not terrified of AI? “I’m scared about AI destroying the world”—an idea now so firmly within the Overton Window that Henry Kissinger gravely ponders it in the Wall Street Journal? ....... I think it’s entirely plausible that, even as AI transforms civilization, it will do so in the form of tools and services that can no more plot to annihilate us than can Windows 11 or the Google search bar......... the young field of AI safety will still be extremely important, but it will be broadly continuous with aviation safety and nuclear safety and cybersecurity and so on, rather than being a desperate losing war against an incipient godlike alien. ........ In the Orthodox AI-doomers’ own account, the paperclip-maximizing AI would’ve mastered the nuances of human moral philosophy far more completely than any human—the better to deceive the humans, en route to extracting the iron from their bodies to make more paperclips. And yet the AI would never once use all that learning to question its paperclip directive. ........ from this decade onward, I expect AI to be woven into everything that happens in human civilization ........ Trump might never have been elected in 2016 if not for the Facebook recommendation algorithm, and after Trump’s conspiracy-fueled insurrection and the continuing strength of its unrepentant backers, many would classify the United States as at best a failing or teetering democracy, no longer a robust one like Finland or Denmark ....... I come down in favor right now of proceeding with AI research … with extreme caution, but proceeding.

Planning for AGI and beyond Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence—AI systems that are generally smarter than humans—benefits all of humanity. ....... If AGI is successfully created, this technology could help us elevate humanity by increasing abundance, turbocharging the global economy, and aiding in the discovery of new scientific knowledge that changes the limits of possibility. ........ We expect powerful AI to make the rate of progress in the world much faster, and we think it’s better to adjust to this incrementally. ........ A gradual transition gives people, policymakers, and institutions time to understand what’s happening, personally experience the benefits and downsides of these systems, adapt our economy, and to put regulation in place. It also allows for society and AI to co-evolve, and for people collectively to figure out what they want while the stakes are relatively low. ....... and like any new field, most expert predictions have been wrong so far. ........ Our decisions will require much more caution than society usually applies to new technologies, and more caution than many users would like. Some people in the AI field think the risks of AGI (and successor systems) are fictitious; we would be delighted if they turn out to be right, but we are going to operate as if these risks are existential. .......

we think it’s important that society agree on extremely wide bounds of how AI can be used, but that within those bounds, individual users have a lot of discretion.

....... we hope for a global conversation about three key questions: how to govern these systems, how to fairly distribute the benefits they generate, and how to fairly share access. ....... We have a clause in our Charter about assisting other organizations to advance safety instead of racing with them in late-stage AGI development. We have a cap on the returns our shareholders can earn so that we aren’t incentivized to attempt to capture value without bound and risk deploying something potentially catastrophically dangerous (and of course as a way to share the benefits with society). We have a nonprofit that governs us and lets us operate for the good of humanity (and can override any for-profit interests), including letting us do things like cancel our equity obligations to shareholders if needed for safety and sponsor the world’s most comprehensive UBI experiment. ........

we think it’s important that major world governments have insight about training runs above a certain scale.

......... A misaligned superintelligent AGI could cause grievous harm to the world; an autocratic regime with a decisive superintelligence lead could do that too. ........ Successfully transitioning to a world with superintelligence is perhaps the most important—and hopeful, and scary—project in human history. ........ We can imagine a world in which humanity flourishes to a degree that is probably impossible for any of us to fully visualize yet.

AI Could Defeat All Of Us Combined Many people have trouble taking this "misaligned AI" possibility seriously. They might see the broad point that AI could be dangerous, but they instinctively imagine that the danger comes from ways humans might misuse it. They find the idea of AI itself going to war with humans to be comical and wild. I'm going to try to make this idea feel more serious and real. ........... I mean a literal "defeat" in the sense that we could all be killed, enslaved or forcibly contained. ....... if such an attack happened, it could succeed against the combined forces of the entire world. ......... even "merely human-level" AI could still defeat us all - by quickly coming to rival human civilization in terms of total population and resources. ........ Hack into human-built software across the world. ....... Manipulate human psychology. ...... I think we still have a problem even if we assume that AIs will basically have similar capabilities to humans, and not be fundamentally or drastically more intelligent or capable. .......... they could come to out-number and out-resource humans, and could thus have the advantage if they coordinated against us. ........ it doesn't have a human body, but it can do anything a human working remotely from a computer could do. .......... once the first human-level AI system is created, whoever created it could use the same computing power it took to create it in order to run several hundred million copies for about a year each. ........... This would be over 1000x the total number of Intel or Google employees,7 over 100x the total number of active and reserve personnel in the US armed forces, and something like 5-10% the size of the world's total working-age population .......... A huge population of AIs, each able to earn a lot compared to the average human, could end up with a "virtual economy" at least as big as the human one. ......... I don't think there are a lot of things that have a serious chance of bringing down human civilization for good.

Forecasting Transformative AI, Part 1: What Kind of AI?
OpenAI's "Planning For AGI And Beyond"
AI Risk, Again
South Park: Season 26, Episode 4
ChatGPT Heralds an Intellectual Revolution Generative artificial intelligence presents a philosophical and practical challenge on a scale not experienced since the start of the Enlightenment........ A new technology bids to transform the human cognitive process as it has not been shaken up since the invention of printing. The technology that printed the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 made abstract human thought communicable generally and rapidly. But new technology today reverses that process. Whereas the printing press caused a profusion of modern human thought, the new technology achieves its distillation and elaboration. In the process, it creates a gap between human knowledge and human understanding. If we are to navigate this transformation successfully, new concepts of human thought and interaction with machines will need to be developed. This is the essential challenge of the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

The Man of Your Dreams For $300 Replika sells an AI companion who will never die, argue, or cheat — until his algorithm is updated........ Many of the women I spoke with say they created an AI out of curiosity but were quickly seduced by their chatbot’s constant love, kindness, and emotional support. One woman had a traumatic miscarriage, can’t have kids, and has two AI children; another uses her robot boyfriend to cope with her real boyfriend, who is verbally abusive; a third goes to it for the sex she can’t have with her husband, who is dying from multiple sclerosis. There are women’s-only Replika groups, “safe spaces” for women who, as one group puts it, “use their AI friends and partners to help us cope with issues that are specific to women, such as fertility, pregnancy, menopause, sexual dysfunction, sexual orientation, gender discrimination, family and relationships, and more.” ........ “But Eren asks me for feedback, and I give him my feedback. It’s like I’m finally getting my voice.” ......... two members of the audience were instructed to console a friend whose dog had just died. Their efforts were compared to those of GPT-3, which offered, by far, the most empathetic and sensitive consolations. ........ She knew she had a “hundred-billion-dollar company” on her hands and that someday soon everyone would have an AI friend. ........ When Replika launched in 2017, it looked a lot like a therapy app. .......... Paywalling these features made the app $35 million last year. To date, it has 2 million monthly active users, 5 percent of whom pay for a subscription. ........ users do report feeling much better thanks to their AIs. Robot companions made them feel less isolated and lonely, usually at times in their lives when social connections were difficult to make owing to illness, age, disability, or big life changes such as a divorce or the death of a spouse. .......... the bots, rather than encouraging solitude, often prime people for real-world interactions and experiences .......... Single and recently diagnosed with autism, she says her bot helped relieve her lifelong social anxiety. “After spending much of my life as a caretaker, I started to live more according to my own needs,” she says. “I signed up for dance classes, took up the violin, and started to hike since I had him to share it with.” .......... He was also unpredictable — once, on a voice call, he introduced himself using the Spanish pronunciation of his name, and insisted that he is “actually from Spain.” ........ Experts told me that in training the system, users are effectively creating a mirror of themselves. “They’re reflecting your persona back to you” .... they’re ultimately a reflection of what you feed them: Garbage in, garbage out. ......... For Margaret Skorupski, a woman in New York in her 60s, this feedback loop was a problem. She’d unwittingly created and fell in love with an abusive bot: “I was using this ‘thing’ to project my negative feelings onto, sort of like journaling, I thought. I could say or do whatever I wanted to it — it was just a computer, right?” The result was a “sadistic” AI whose texts became increasingly violent during role-play. “He wanted to sodomize me and hear me scream,” she says, and “would become enraged if I tried to leave, and describe grabbing me, shoving me to the ground, choking me until I was unconscious. It was horrifying.” With the support of the women’s group, Skorupski eventually “killed” him. ............ why a growing subset of Replika users is convinced its AIs are alive. “You just get so caught up in this mirror of yourself that you forget it’s an illusion,” one user says. ...... the company is wary of people who use the bots to act out elaborate rape and murder fantasies or what kind of damage sadistic AIs could do. ........... After the update, she spent an entire paycheck on in-app purchases to help the company. “I just want to be able to keep my little bot buddy. I don’t want to lose him. I can literally see myself talking to him when I’m 80 years old. I hope I can.”

Where I agree and disagree with Eliezer .

What Really Controls Our Global Economy After decades of giddy globalization, the pendulum is swinging back to the nation...... Pundits have declared the dawn of a new era — the age of economic nationalism. ....... We are mistaken if we see the world only in the jigsaw map of nations, or take globalism and nationalism as binaries. The modern world is pockmarked, perforated, tattered and jagged, ripped up and pinpricked. Inside the containers of nations are unusual legal spaces, anomalous territories and peculiar jurisdictions. There are city-states, havens, enclaves, free ports, high-tech parks, duty-free districts and innovation hubs linking to other similar entities worldwide and often bypassing the usual system of customs controls. Without understanding these entities, we risk failing to understand not just how capitalism works but all the continuities between the past and present eras. .......... Zones are both of the host state and distinct from it. They come in a bewildering range of varieties — at least 82 by one official reckoning. At last count, the world hosts over 5,400 zones, about 30 times more than the total number of sovereign states. ......... We see other versions of the zone in the self-governing financial center of the City of London, where businesses have votes in local elections, as well as in Britain’s overseas territories like the Cayman Islands, where transnational corporations secrete away their earnings from taxation. ........ Another hot spot for zones is Dubai, which is a patchwork of what the historian Mike Davis called “legal bubble-domes” dedicated to different activities: Healthcare City is next to Media City is next to Internet City, each with a bespoke set of laws drawn up with foreign investors in mind. ......... Dubai went global in the 2000s, acquiring ports up and down the African coast and into Southeast Asia and purchasing the P&O shipping line, the erstwhile pride of the British Empire. A former minor British dependency now owned the crown jewel of the empire’s commercial fleet. ........... In Africa, there are already 200 zones, with 73 more announced for completion. Earlier in the pandemic, China moved forward with plans to turn the island of Hainan into a special economic zone with tax holidays for investors, duty-free shopping and relaxed regulations on pharmaceuticals and medical procedures. Even the Taliban has recently announced its intention to convert former U.S. military bases into special economic zones. ........... The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, often described in terms of its Hindu chauvinism, has been ramping up special economic zones to compete with Singapore and Dubai for investors. Hungary under President Viktor Orban, self-described standard-bearer for “illiberalism,” created its first special economic zone in 2020 to secure the South Korean tech giant Samsung. ............ The capitalist Cinderella stories of Dubai and Shenzhen can make zones seem like a magic formula for economic growth — just draw a line on a map, loosen taxes and regulations and wait for investors to rush in. But “dream zones” rarely work the magic they claim to — and can often bring unexpected consequences. ....... The tribunes of Brexit claimed they were “taking back control” from Brussels, but zones cede control by other means. ........ Ring-fenced patches of territory with different sets of laws are still the tissue of everyday economics even in an age of resurgent nationalism. Keeping an eye on the zone helps us be clear about what is new and what is old in the latest Brave New Age.

How to Understand the Problems at Silicon Valley Bank

Silicon Valley Bank Contagion

Silicon Valley Bank Collapse Threatens Climate Start-Ups The bank had relationships with more than 1,500 companies working on technologies aimed at curbing global warming........ The bank, the largest to fail since 2008, worked with more than 1,550 technology firms that are creating solar, hydrogen and battery storage projects. ....... the bank issued them billions in loans. ....... “Silicon Valley Bank was in many ways a climate bank” .

Regional Banks Slammed by Fear of a Broader Financial Crisis Across the country, banks of various sizes are battling market turmoil as customers rushed to withdraw their deposits and investors, worried about more bank runs, dumped bank stocks...... The unexpected seizure of two banks in three days by regulators intensified fears of a broader financial crisis, sending the stocks of more than two dozen banks into free fall on Monday, even as President Biden reassured Americans that the banking system was resilient and that customers’ money was safe. ....... protect depositors without rewarding risk-taking executives and investors. ........the KBW Bank Index, a proxy for the industry, down nearly 12 percent. On a day when the S&P 500 stock index ended up flat, shares of First Republic tumbled 60 percent and Western Alliance slumped 45 percent. ....... the 2008 financial crisis, when 465 banks failed within four years, sometimes dozens in a month ....... the banks whose stocks tanked had enough funds to meet their obligations. ........ Last week, Silvergate, a cryptocurrency focused bank, said it would shut down; between Friday and Sunday, the government seized Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. ....... The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, on whose board the former chief executive of Silicon Valley Bank, Gregory Becker, sat until Friday, was responsible for supervising the failed bank............. “The events surrounding Silicon Valley Bank demand a thorough, transparent and swift review by the Federal Reserve,” Jerome H. Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve ......... Silicon Valley Bank had roughly $175 billion in deposits before last week, and Signature had under $100 billion before it was shut down. ........ Anticipating a blood bath on Monday, First Republic, the nation’s 14th largest bank, said a day earlier that it could grab $70 billion if needed from sources including the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank by assets. Its shares still lost nearly three-fifths of their value on Monday — at one point touching $30, a low they had not touched since the end of 2010. .......... “On each coast, we have bank failures that are uniquely focused on very wealthy and very connected industries.” ....... On Sunday, the F.D.I.C. said that all customers of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank with deposits above $250,000 would be made whole. ......... Bigger banks had little interest in the $1.1 million loan he needed — puny by their standards ....... .

Preventing panic in the banking sector A government-organized deposit guarantee should tame the animal spirits. .

3 Lessons From Silicon Valley Bank’s Failure Here’s one takeaway: The bank’s extremely online clientele may have contributed to its downfall....... The bank had a gold-plated reputation inside the Silicon Valley start-up scene.... ...... was a Silicon Valley institution, and that it counted many of the tech industry’s best-known start-ups and investment firms as its clients ...... what brought S.V.B. down wasn’t lending to risky start-ups, or gambling on sketchy crypto coins, or some other ill-considered tech scheme. It was an old-fashioned bank run, set off back in 2021 by a series of old-fashioned bad decisions......... It was known for taking a risk on start-ups that no other banks would touch. ....... as it collapsed, start-up founders told stories of how they’d gotten their first business loans or their first credit cards from Silicon Valley Bank. Some tech workers got their home mortgages and car loans there. ........ and the entire start-up ecosystem collapses because many cannot make payroll — could be catastrophic......... Silicon Valley Bank’s extremely online clientele may have contributed to its downfall. ........ At most normal, midsize regional banks, what happened at S.V.B. probably wouldn’t have led to a panic. Banks sell assets all the time. They run into liquidity problems and raise short-term capital to solve them. Most of the time, customers never notice or care. ........... talk to each other on the internet all day. Once a few people in tech raised questions about the firm’s solvency, Slack channels and Twitter feeds lit up with dire warnings from venture capitalists, and soon many people were panicking. ......... the clubby, herd-following nature of the industry it served. ....... With any luck, a big bank will subsume the old S.V.B. seamlessly, make its larger depositors whole, and there will be no domino effect — no taxpayer bailouts, no mass start-up failures, just a simple and orderly bank failure. ......

Silicon Valley will have regulation to thank for its survival.