Vojtech Kovarik

Background in mathematics (descriptive set theory, Banach spaces) and game-theory (mostly zero-sum, imperfect information games). CFAR mentor. Usually doing alignment research.

Wiki Contributions


To the extent that we are using the existence of humans with inner monologue as evidence for the suitability of this approach to AGI, I think it also serves as evidence for why that approach isn't really safe.

As an example: If I try, I can control my inner monologue to some extent. For example, I could make my inner monologue about "officially approved actions" very loud. And run a secondary thread of thinking about "non-approved thoughts" in the background --- "quieter" and in a more fragmented manner, and killing it off everytime it made it into the inner monologue.

Sure, there will be some traces. (A lot, even, I kinda suck at this :-).) But I think this already brings us outside of the realm of "interpretable by default" and into "a race between your interpretability and my cognitive steganography".

Note that I, or most humans, didnt have a particular need to develop this exact type of cognitive steganography. (The "elephant in the brain" type of actions-thoughts inconsistency is not exactly this.) As a result, I think we would be able to get much much better very quickly if there was an incentive to do it. (Not talking evolutionary scale. More like "give me a weekend to play with this".) And while I have no incentive to develop these skills, the same cannot be said for a brain-like AI that we are (trying to) interpret as it thinks.

One way in which the world seems brittle / having free energy AI could use to gain advantage: We haven't figured out good communication practices for the digital age. We don't have good collective epistemics. And we dont seem to be on track to have this solved in the next 20 years. As a result I expect that with enough compute and understanding of network science, and perhaps a couple more things, you could sabotage the whole civilization. ("Enough" is meant to stand for "a lot, but within reach of an early AGI". Heck, if Google somehow spent the next 5 years just on that, I would give them fair odds.)

Re sharp left turn: Maybe I misunderstand the "sharp left turn" term, but I thought this just means a sudden extreme gain in capabilities? If I am correct, then I expect you might get "sharp left turn" with a simulator during training --- eg, a user fine-tunes it on one additional dataset, and suddenly FOOOM. (Say, suddenly it can simulate agents that propose takeover plans that would actually work, when previously they failed at this with identical prompting.)

One implication I see is that it if the simulator architecture becomes frequently used, it might be really hard to tell whether a thing is dangerous or not. For example might just behave completely fine with most prompts and catastrophically with some other prompts, and you will never know until you try. (Or unless you do some extra interpretability/other work that doesn't yet exist.) It would be rather unfortunate if the Vulnerable World Hypothesis was true because of specific LLM prompts :-).

Explanation for my strong downvote/disagreement:
Sure, in the ideal world, this post would have a much better scholarship.

In the actual world, there are tradeoffs between the number of posts and the quality of scholarship. The cost is both the time and the fact that doing literature review is a chore. If you demand good scholarship, people will write slower/less. With some posts this is a good thing. With this post, I would rather have an attrocious scholarship and 1% higher chance of the sequence having one more post in it. (Hypothetical example. I expect the real tradeoffs are less favourable.)

An attempted paraphrase, to hopefully-disentangle some claims:

Eliezer, list of AGI lethalities: pivotal acts are (necessarily?) "outside of the Overton window, or something"[1].

Critch, preceding post: Strategies involving non-Overton elements are not worth it

Critch, this post: there are pivotal outcomes you can via a strategy with no non-Overton elements

Eliezer, this comment: the "AI immune system" example is not an example of a strategy with no non-Overton elements

Possible reading: Critch/the reader/Eliezer currently wouldn't be able to name a strategy towards a pivotal outcome, with no non-Overton elements

Extreme version of this: Any practical-in-our-world strategy towards a pivotal outcome necessarily contains some non-Overton elements

  1. ^

    Substitute your better characterization of the undesirable property here. I will just use "non-Overton" for the purposes of this comment.

(Not very sure I understood your description right, but here is my take:)

  • I think your proposal is not explaining some crucial steps, which are in fact hard. In particular, I understood it as "you have AI which can give you blueprints for nano sized machines". But I think we already have some blueprints, this isn't an issue. How we assemble them is an issue.
  • I expect that there will be more issues like this that you would find if you tried writing the plan in more detail.

However, I share the general sentiment behind your post --- I also don't understand why you can't get some pivotal act by combining human intelligence with some narrow AI. I expect that Eliezer have tried to come up with such combinations and came away with some general takeaways on this being not realistic. But I haven't done this exercise, so it seems not obvious to me. Perhaps it would be beneficial if many more people tried doing the exercise and then communicated the takeaways.

Personally, the author believes that SPI might “add up to normality” --- that it will be a sort of reformulation of existing (informal) approaches used by humans, with similar benefits and limitations.
I'm a bit confused by this claim. To me it's a bit unclear what you mean by "adding up to normality". (E.g.: Are you claiming that A) humans in current-day strategic interactions shouldn't change their behavior in response to learning about SPIs (because 1) they are already using them or 2) doing things that are somehow equivalent to them)? Or are you claiming that B) they don't fundamentally change game-theoretic analysis (of any scenario/most scenarios)? Or C) are you saying they are irrelevant for AI v. AI interactions? Or D) that the invention of SPIs will not revolutionize human society, make peace in the middle east, ...) Some of the versions seem clearly false to me. (E.g., re C, even if you think that the requirements for the use of SPIs are rarely satisfied in practice, it's still easy to construct simple, somewhat plausible scenarios / assumptions (see our paper) under which SPIs do seem do matter substantially for game-theoretic analysis.) Some just aren't justified at all in your post. (E.g., re A1, you're saying that (like myself) you find this all confusing and hard to say.) And some are probably not contrary to what anyone else believes about surrogate goals / SPIs. (E.g., I don't know anyone who makes particularly broad or grandiose claims about the use of SPIs by humans.)

I definitely don't think (C) and the "any" variant of (B). Less sure about the "most" variant of (B), but I wouldn't bet on that either.

I do believe (D), mostly because I don't think that humans will be able to make the necessary commitments (in the sense mentioned in the thread with Rohin). I am not super sure about (A). My bet is that to the extent that SPI can work for humans, we are already using it (or something equivalent) in most situations. But perhaps some exceptions will work, like the lawyer example? (Although I suspect that our skill at picking hawkish lawyers is stronger than we realize. Or there might be existing incentives where lawyers are being selected for hawkishness, because we are already using them for someting-like-SPI? Overall, I guess that the more one-time-only an event is, the higher is the chance that the pre-existing selection pressures will be weak, and (A) might work.)

Overall I'd have appreciated more detailed discussion of when this is realistic (or of why you think it rarely is realistic).

That is a good point. I will try to expand on it, perhaps at least in a comment here once I have time, or so :-).

My other complaint is that in some places you state some claim X in a way that (to me) suggests that you think that Tobi Baumann or Vince and I (or whoever else is talking/writing about surrogate goals/SPIs) have suggested that X is false, when really Tobi, Vince and I are very much aware of X and have (although perhaps to an insufficient extent) stated X.

Thank you for pointing that out. In all these cases, I actually know that you "stated X", so this is not an impression I wanted to create. I added a note at the begging of the document to hopefully clarify this.

Perfect, that is indeed the diffeence. I agree with all of what you write here.

In this light, the reason for my objection is that I understand how we can make a commitment of the first type, but I have no clue how to make a commitment of the second type. (In our specific example, once demand unarmed is an option -- once SPI is in use -- the counterfactual world where there is only demand armed just seems so different. Wouldn't history need to go very differently? Perhaps it wouldn't even be clear what "you" is in that world?)

But I agree that with SDA-AGIs, the second type of commitment becomes more realistic. (Although, the potential line of thinking mentioned by Caspar applies here: Perhaps those AGIs will come up with SPI-or-something on their own, so there is less value in thinking about this type of SPI now.)

That is -- I think* -- a correct way to parse it. But I don't think it false... uhm, that makes me genuinely confused. Let me try to re-rephrase, see if uncovers the crux :-).

You are in a world where most (1- Ɛ ) of the bandits demand unarmed when paired with a caravan commited to [responding to demand unarmed the same as it responds to demand armed] (and they demand armed against caravans without such commitment). The bandit population (ie, their strategies) either remains the same (for simplicity) or the strategies that led to more profit increase in relative frequency. And you have a commited caravan. If you instruct it to always resist, you get payoff 9(1-Ɛ) - 2Ɛ (using the payoff matrix from "G'; extension of G"). If you instruct it to always give in, you get payoff 4(1- Ɛ ) + 3Ɛ. So it is better to instruct it to always resist.

*The only issue that comes to mind is my [responding to demand unarmed the same as it responds to demand armed] vs your [treating demand unarmed as they would have treated demand armed]? If you think there is a difference between the two, then I endorse the former and I am confused about what the latter would mean.

Load More