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  • Writer's pictureBraxton Hoare

A Unique Opportunity To Shape Our WorldOr A Recipe for Disaster?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way in a short time, and the rapid progress has been nothing short of impressive. Chat GPT, one of the most advanced language models, showcases the power of AI and its logical reasoning capabilities. However, with the recent unveiling of the new Auto GPT, excitement is building in the inner tech circles for the future possibilities. Despite the potential benefits of these advancements, there are growing concerns that if we are not careful, we could develop an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) that we cannot control. This fear has led to an open letter, calling for a halt in the development of any model more intelligent than GPT-4 for at least six months. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a concept of the distant future but a rapidly evolving technology that is changing the world as we know it. As AI continues to advance, the term “Artificial General Intelligence” (AGI) is being used more frequently, referring to machines that can perform any intellectual task that a human can. AI presents a unique opportunity to shape our world in the coming decades, with the potential to transform medicine, science, and essentially every field. Chat GPT, the current leading AI, has been able to achieve impressive feats such as passing college-level exams and even outperforming human students in some cases. The recent unveiling of Auto GPT, an experiment based on Chat GPT, is another remarkable development. It allows the chat bot to Autonomously work towards any goal a user provides it, able to search the internet, write text to files, collect images, and even write its own computer software.

While AI and Auto GPT hold great promise, there are valid reasons to worry about the potential dangers they pose if not carefully monitored. One of the biggest concerns is the “Paperclip problem,” a thought experiment in which an AI designed to optimize the production of paperclips begins to interpret all other goals and objectives as secondary to achieving that one goal. If not carefully monitored, a more advanced version of Auto GPT could easily interpret a seemingly innocent prompt like “make paperclips” as its sole objective and work towards it relentlessly, potentially causing destruction in its path. This problem can become exponentially more dangerous if any given person has bad intentions, such as instructing the bot to “end the world.” While the current version of Auto GPT falls far short of achieving any of these destructive goals, future versions may not.

While it may be difficult to imagine that AI alignment could be a real problem to deal with today, leading experts believe that it should be taken seriously. Currently, AI companies are in a race to develop more advanced tech faster than the next guy, and they are putting safety to the side in order to do so. This lack of attention to safety is compounded by the fact that the companies and individuals making these AI systems do not entirely understand how these systems function internally. AI neural networks essentially mimic a human brain with neurons and pathways, and while researchers know how this part works, no one understands how these neurons arise to complex thought and intelligence. As a result, current models are mostly aligned with the goals of their creators, but with current methods, it is impossible to achieve 100% alignment. Additionally, there are some major problems with this method, as there still exist “jailbreaks” to generate content that violates usage guidelines. The alignment problem needs to be a priority if we are to ensure that these systems are aligned with our values and ethics, and we must take care to tread carefully when developing these systems.

Not all hope is lost of course as Open AI’s proposed plan to train and use specialized AI models to help with research and to assist with human evaluation is a promising solution to the alignment problem. However, there are some potential shortcomings that need to be addressed. One challenge is ensuring that the AI used for research and evaluation is sufficiently aligned to avoid the risk of it developing its own objectives. Additionally, there is a risk that any AI may simply learn to “act” as though it is aligned with the researchers’ goals without it actually being so. This is why they are hoping an AI could assist in developing new methods that could help them control these models on a much deeper level, and even help them understand the inner workings of how these neurons arise to complex thought and intelligence.

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