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Matt Levine is hilarious & spot-on, exhibit 389247 🔗

Matt Levine is hilarious & spot-on, exhibit 389247 (likely paywalled unless you subscribe to his newsletter, which you should):

AI sorting

A dumb simple model of artificial intelligence companies is:

  1. It would be good to develop good AI (AI that helps humans), but bad to develop bad AI (AI that kills or enslaves humans).
  2. If you try to build good AI, there is some risk of building bad AI instead (your robot tricks you into thinking that it’s nice, then enslaves you), so you have to be very very careful. You can’t move too fast; you have to check carefully, at each step, to make sure that your robot is not secretly evil.
  3. Company A is formed by idealistic AI researchers who want to create good AI. They work together well for a while.
  4. Disagreements develop. Some researchers at Company A say “we need to work faster to build good AI, because if we don’t, someone else will come along and build bad AI first instead.” Others say “no, we can’t work faster, that would compromise our ability to check that the robot is not evil.”
  5. The first group wins the argument, for reasons.
  6. The people who lose the argument, who are genuinely worried about bad AI, quit Company A in outrage and go start Company B, with the goal of carefully and safely creating good AI.
  7. They work together well for a few months.
  8. Disagreements develop at Company B. Some researchers say “we need to work faster to build good AI, because otherwise Company A will build bad AI first. That’s why we quit, after all.” Others say “no, we can’t work faster, that would compromise our bad robot checks. That’s why we quit, after all.”
  9. The first group wins the argument, for the same reasons as in Step 5.
  10. The people who lose the argument quit and start Company C.
  11. This keeps repeating: Company C eventually splits over similar tensions, but also Company A and Company B can themselves keep dividing as some people want to move faster than others.
  12. Eventually all the AI researchers are very finely sorted by aggressiveness, so that Company Z is full of purists who are too cautious ever to build anything at all, while Company A is full of people who are like “actually being enslaved by robots would be pretty cool.”