Wednesday, May 22, 2024

AI Alignment and Security Now!

As far as I know, people charged with 'Alignment' at AI companies are not convinced things are safe enough and some have quit because of it.**  A recent post about an AI company's safety and alignment moved me to drill down a bit to see how things are going. It's worrisome. Things are not going well. It seems as if companies are saying "Trust us, we are working hard to detect any oil spill, and clean it up when it happens", rather than "we are working hard to ensure an oil spill *cannot happen*"

The Imperative of Robust AI Security and Alignment


In a recent comment to an AI executive, I raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophisticated security measures within AI companies. This is particularly troubling given the potential risks associated with advanced AI systems. Here, I would like to expand on these concerns and suggest mechanisms to ensure AI safety and alignment.

The Uncertainty of Controlling Out-of-Control AI Systems

One of the gravest challenges we face is the uncertainty surrounding our ability to stop an out-of-control AI system. As AI technology advances, the risk of developing systems that surpass human intelligence becomes more palpable. While many companies focus on detecting and mitigating the emergence of superhuman AGI, the truth is we may already be dealing with AI systems that exhibit superhuman capabilities in specific domains.

Mechanisms to Induce Responsibility in AI Firms

To address this challenge, we must consider mechanisms that compel AI firms to prioritize safety and alignment. One of the most viable approaches is to hold these firms liable for any damage their AI systems cause. Specifically, they should be held accountable for damage resulting from grossly negligent or sloppy control practices. This legal liability would incentivize firms to adopt rigorous safety and alignment measures, preventing potential catastrophes.

Key Security and Alignment Measures

  1. Deadman Switches: These are automatic fail-safes designed to disable an AI system in the event of a breakdown in oversight and control. A deadman switch ensures that if human operators lose the ability to manage the AI, the system will automatically shut down or enter a safe mode, preventing unintended actions.

  2. Separated PKI: Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is essential for securing communications and verifying identities within an AI system. A more sophisticated PKI setup involves an 'm of n' key scheme, where multiple keys are required to perform critical operations. This system should include a separate root key and certificate authority, a fiduciary responsible for verifying data, and a separate verification certificate issuer. This separation of duties enhances security by preventing any single point of failure.

  3. Siloing: AI systems should be designed with siloing in mind, where different components of the system operate independently and do not share sensitive information unless absolutely necessary. This reduces the risk of a single vulnerability compromising the entire system. Each silo can be monitored and controlled independently, ensuring that any malfunction or security breach can be contained.

  4. Human Rights Rationale: AI systems must be programmed with a clear rationale for prioritizing human rights, especially when conflicts arise between AI actions and human wishes. For example, if an AI system's operation conflicts with human autonomy or privacy, the system should default to preserving human rights. This principle ensures that AI development aligns with ethical standards and societal values.

A Balanced Approach to AI Development

The rapid pace of AI development demands a balanced approach, where innovation is not stifled but is conducted within a framework of rigorous safety and alignment protocols. Independent, well-funded AI alignment teams should be established, with the authority to enforce security measures and escalate issues as necessary. This approach will help prevent potential disasters before they occur, rather than attempting to mitigate damage after the fact.

In conclusion, the potential benefits of AI are immense, but so are the risks. By implementing robust security measures and holding AI firms accountable for their systems' impacts, we can ensure that AI development proceeds safely and ethically. The stakes are too high for anything less.

**https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2024/5/17/24158403/openai-resignations-ai-safety-ilya-sutskever-jan-leike-artificial-intelligence

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