Pausing for Thought: A Tale of AI and Hot Takes
April 1, 2023•353 words
Hot takes on the "Pause Giant AI Experiments" open letter from the Future for Life Institute abound but how many of us took the time to actually read the letter? Or better yet, familiarize ourselves with the Institute's work on AI safety? Yeah. That's about what I thought.
Even Elon Musk found time to sign the open letter – and that's while he's dealing with multiple lawsuits involving AI and while also ethically and financially burning Twitter to the ground. All part of the 4D chess game, baby.
Now, I can't claim innocence. My own hot take was that pausing giant AI experiments would let the bad actors get ahead. But after actually reading the letter, I wasn't so sure. It's like reading the instructions after you've already built the IKEA furniture – sometimes, it's enlightening.
The letter got me thinking: will better advanced general-purpose AI be the remedy to malicious uses of AI? Sure, maybe some of them, but most will need more less general tools. Large, complex and general systems typically need multiple layers of specialized subsystems to protect them.
And what about the economic disparity that's at least temporarily induced by the introduction of new automation technologies? Will better advanced general-purpose AI deal with that? I'd venture to say that's about as likely as Orkut rising from the... huh, will you look at that....
Here's the thing, though: even if a six-month pause isn't likely to be agreed upon, nothing stops us from running with most of the recommendations in the letter. It's like your mom always said, "If your friends won't pause their giant AI experiments, that doesn't mean you shouldn't pause yours!"
So, let's step back from our hot takes and consider the bigger picture. It might just turn out that pausing giant AI experiments is a great idea, even if it might not be possible. At the very least, it's a conversation worth having. And who knows, maybe pausing for thought can lead to better, safer AI in the long run. Or at least give us a collective distraction from watching Elon do what Twitter's competitors couldn't.