We've just launched the beta for AlignmentForum.org.
Much of the value of LessWrong has come from the development of technical research on AI Alignment. In particular, having those discussions be in an accessible place has allowed newcomers to get up to speed and involved. But the alignment research community has at least some needs that are best met with a semi-private forum.
For the past few years, agentfoundations.org has served as a space for highly technical discussion of AI safety. But some aspects of the site design have made it a bit difficult to maintain, and harder to onboard new researchers. Meanwhile, as the AI landscape has shifted, it seemed valuable to expand the scope of the site. Agent Foundations is one particular paradigm with respect to AGI alignment, and it seemed important for researchers in other paradigms to be in communication with each other.
So for several months, the LessWrong and AgentFoundations teams have been discussing the possibility of using the LW codebase as the basis for a new alignment forum. Over the past couple weeks we've gotten ready for a closed beta test, both to iron out bugs and (more importantly) get feedback from researchers on whether the overall approach makes sense.
The current features of the Alignment Forum (subject to change) are:
- A small number of admins can invite new members, granting them posting and commenting permissions. This will be the case during the beta - the exact mechanism of curation after launch is still under discussion.
- When a researcher posts on AlignmentForum, the post is shared with LessWrong. On LessWrong, anyone can comment. On AlignmentForum, only AF members can comment. (AF comments are also crossposted to LW). The intent is for AF members to have a focused, technical discussion, while still allowing newcomers to LessWrong to see and discuss what's going on.
- AlignmentForum posts and comments on LW will be marked as such.
- AF members will have a separate karma total for AlignmentForum (so AF karma will more closely represent what technical researchers think about a given topic).
- On AlignmentForum, only AF Karma is visible. (note: not currently implemented but will be by end of day)
- On LessWrong, AF Karma will be displayed (smaller) alongside regular karma.
- If a commenter on LessWrong is making particularly good contributions to an AF discussion, an AF Admin can tag the comment as an AF comment, which will be visible on the AlignmentForum. The LessWrong user will then have voting privileges (but not necessarily posting privileges), allowing them to start to accrue AF karma, and to vote on AF comments and threads.
We’ve currently copied over some LessWrong posts that seemed like a good fit, and invited a few people to write posts today. (These don’t necessarily represent the longterm vision of the site, but seemed like a good way to begin the beta test)
This is a fairly major experiment, and we’re interested in feedback both from AI alignment researchers (who we’ll be reaching out to more individually in the next two weeks) and LessWrong users, about the overall approach and the integration with LessWrong.