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Affordances for AI labs

Published 25 January 2023

This is a list of actions AI labs could take that may be strategically relevant (or consequences or characteristics of possible actions).


  • Deploy an AI system
  • Pursue AI capabilities
    • Pursue risky (and more or less alignable systems) systems
    • Pursue systems that enable risky (and more or less alignable) systems
    • Pursue weak AI that's mostly orthogonal to progress in risky stuff for a specific (strategically significant) task or goal
      • This could enable or abate catastrophic risks besides unaligned AI
  • Do alignment (and related) research (or: decrease the alignment tax by doing technical research)
  • Advance global capabilities
    • Publish capabilities research
    • Cause investment or spending in big AI projects to increase
  • Advance alignment (or: decrease the alignment tax) in ways other than doing technical research
    • Support and coordinate with external alignment researchers
  • Attempt to align a particular system (or: try to pay the alignment tax)
  • Interact with other labs
    • Coordinate with other labs (notably including coordinating to avoid risky systems)
      • Make themselves transparent to each other
      • Make themselves transparent to an external auditor
      • Merge
      • Effectively commit to share upsides
      • Effectively commit to stop and assist
    • Affect what other labs believe on the object level (about AI capabilities or risk in general, or regarding particular memes)
    • Negotiate with other labs, or affect other labs' incentives or meta-level beliefs
  • Affect public opinion, media, and politics
    • Publish research
    • Make demos or public statements
    • Release or deploy AI systems
  • Improve their culture or operations
    • Improve operational security
    • Affect attitudes of effective leadership
    • Affect attitudes of researchers
    • Make a plan for alignment (e.g., OpenAI's); share it; update and improve it; and coordinate with capabilities researchers, alignment researchers, or other labs if relevant
    • Make plans for what to do with powerful AI (e.g. a process for producing powerful aligned AI given some type of advanced AI system, or a specification for parties interacting peacefully)
    • Improve their ability to make themselves (selectively) transparent
  • Try to better understand the future, the strategic landscape, risks, and possible actions
  • Acquire resources (money, hardware, talent, influence over states, status/prestige/trust, etc.)
  • Affect other actors' resources
    • Affect the flow of talent between labs or between projects
  • Plan, execute, or participate in pivotal acts or processes
  • Capture scarce resources
    • E.g., language data from language model users

Primary author: Zach Stein-Perlman

responses_to_ai/affordances/lab_affordances.txt · Last modified: 2023/07/23 20:54 by katjagrace