OpenAI’s Ambitious Plan to Address AI Alignment by 2027

OpenAI recently unveiled its research program on “superalignment” with a bold aim: to tackle the AI alignment challenge by 2027. The company is committing a significant 20% of its computing resources to this endeavor.

Understanding AI Alignment

AI alignment is the challenge of ensuring that the objectives of AI systems align with human values. As we approach the development of superintelligent AI, the misalignment could pose existential risks. OpenAI’s superalignment initiative is centered on this pressing concern. As stated in their introductory blog, the goal is to achieve “scientific and technical breakthroughs to steer and control AI systems much smarter than us.”

Key Players and Insights

Jan Leike, OpenAI’s head of alignment research, and Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist, are spearheading this effort. In a conversation with IEEE Spectrum, Leike delved into various aspects of the alignment challenge:

  • Definition of Alignment: Leike emphasized that aligned models should follow human intent, especially in situations where humans might not precisely define their desires. For instance, a dialog assistant should be helpful, truthful, and avoid unwanted responses.
  • ChatGPT’s Alignment: Leike believes alignment exists on a spectrum. While ChatGPT is helpful, it also has misalignments, such as biases and hallucinations.
  • Levels of Misalignment: The team aims to address various levels of misalignment, from biases in responses to preventing superintelligent AI from taking actions against humanity.
  • Interpretability: Leike highlighted the importance of understanding the inner workings of AI models. Even partial progress in interpretability can be beneficial, such as developing rudimentary lie detectors for models.
  • AI Assisting in Its Alignment: Leike is optimistic that slightly superhuman, well-aligned AI can assist in further alignment research, accelerating the process.
  • Safety Measures: As AI models become more capable, they also become potentially more dangerous. OpenAI is researching the models’ capabilities for self-exfiltration and deception to ensure they don’t pose risks.

In conclusion, OpenAI’s superalignment program is a proactive step towards ensuring that future AI systems, especially superintelligent ones, align with human values and objectives. The initiative underscores the importance of understanding, guiding, and controlling AI as it becomes an increasingly integral part of our world.

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