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posted on 2023-12-05 — also cross-posted on lesswrong, see there for comments

We're all in this together

There's one thing history seems to have been trying to teach us: that the contents of the future are determined by power, economics, politics, and other conflict-theoritic matters.

Turns out, nope!

Almost all of what the future contains is determined by which of the two following engineering problems is solved first:

…and almost all of the reasons that the former is currently a lot more likely are mistake theory reasons.

The people currently taking actions that increase the probability that {the former is solved first} are not evil people trying to kill everyone, they're confused people who think that their actions are actually increasing the probability that {the latter is solved first}.

Now, sure, whether you're going to get a chance to talk with OpenAI/Deepmind/Anthropic's leadership enough to inform them that they're in fact making things worse is a function of economics and politics and the like. But ultimately, for the parts that really matter here, this is a matter of explaining, not of defeating.

And, sure, the implementation details of "utopia" do depend on who launches the aligned superintelligent AI, but I expect you'd be very happy with the utopia entailed by any of the possibilities currently on the table. The immense majority of the utility you're missing out on is from getting no utopia at all and everyone dying forever, rather than getting the wrong utopia implementation details.

The reason that the most likely outcome is that everyone dies forever, is that the people who get to impact which of those outcomes is going to happen are mistaken (and probably not thinking hard enough about the problem to realize that they're mistaken).

They're not evil and getting them to update to the correct logical beliefs is a matter of reason (and, if they're the kind of weak agents that are easily influenced by what others around them think, memetics) rather than a matter of conflict.

They're massively disserving everyone's interests, including their own. And the correct actions for them to take would massively serve their own interests as well as everyone else's. If AI kills everyone they'll die too, and if AI creates utopia they'll get utopia along with everyone else — and those are pretty much the only two attractors.

We're all in this together. Some of us are just fairly confused, not agentically pursuing truth, and probably have their beliefs massively biased by effects such as memetics. But I'm pretty sure nobody in charge is on purpose trying to kill everyone; they're just on accident functionally trying to kill everyone.

And if you're not using your power/money to affect which of those two outcomes is more likely to happen than the other, then your power/money is completely useless. They won't be useful if we all die, and they won't be useful if we get utopia. The only use for resources, right now, if you want to impact in any way what almost all of the future contains (except for maybe the next 0 to 5 years, which is about how long we have), is in influencing which of those two engineering problems is solved first.

This applies to the head of the major AI orgs just as much as it applies to everyone else. One's role in an AI org is of no use whatsoever except for influencing which of those two problems are solved first. The head of OpenAI won't particurly get a shinier utopia than everyone else if alignment is solved in time, and they won't particularly die less than everyone else if it isn't.

Power/money/being-the-head-of-OpenAI doesn't do anything post-singularity. The only thing which matters, right now, is which of those two engineering problems is solved first.

posted on 2023-12-05 — also cross-posted on lesswrong, see there for comments

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