Friday, April 21, 2023

Time to Start a Company

     Alright, well I thought about it and autonomous agents are insane. It is pretty obvious that within a decade pretty much every single company in the United States will be using AI agents for various tasks. As I mentioned before, finance companies have risk departments that prevent individual firm collapses and industry-wide financial contagion. The fact that current companies don't have AI risk management departments is not surprising, but soon it will seem ludicrous. Within a decade, every company in the US will be using multiple AI agents. They will have to, less they lose out to competitors who are employing this transformative technology. Again, the incentives are simply much too high. The AI market will be saturated with competitors trying to make the next ChatGPT, but none will be focused on the most important part of it all: risk. Providing risk solutions rather than capability solutions is an untapped area of the market. If you run an autonomous agent, horrible things could happen. Customer data could be leaked, the AI could break various laws, or you could accidently make a lot of paperclips. Companies are terrified of risk, terrified that all of their hard work and credibility will be wiped away. And it will happen, it will happen to a few companies and it will be well publicized. But companies won't stop, because they can't. They are driven to survive and make profits, and they will underestimate the risk (as does every investment firm, and they have risk departments!).

     Insert AIS, a company that delivers risk mitigation tools and access to AI experts. Customized software platforms that estimate risk and pose solutions, or some other product I haven't thought of. Probably the easiest solution is to outsource AI researchers as consultants who look over a company's plans and provide feedback. I would not target the business of the massive players who already have AI safety groups, are rapidly building capabilities, and are aligned with gargantuan profit-driven tech giants (OpenAI, DeepMind, Anthropic). Rather, AIS would service the 99.9% of other companies in the world that are going to dive in, safety or not. 

    There is a moral hazard here. You don't want to "rubber stamp" companies and give them a false sense of security. You don't want to convince companies that otherwise would have sat out on AI to participate, because they will gladly place the blame on you and justify their uninformed decisions with your "blessing" as a backing. So this will not be an auditing firm, verifying any sort of company legal compliance or justifying behavior. Those should all be internal. Rather, it will be providing systems and knowledge to build safer and more collaborate AI. Again, these are the small fries. I am less concerned about a mid-tier publishing company building the paperclip machine, and I am convinced that they are less likely to do so if they have a risk management system. 

    The most remarkable aspect of this idea is that even if someone else adopts it and creates a superior risk solution, it is a win-win scenario. Increased competition fosters innovation, and being the first mover in this space could ignite the creation of an entire industry. An industry that I am convinced will probably make things better, or at least not make things worse. If I am instantly replaced by a more capable CEO or another company develops awesome alignment solutions, all the better for humanity. I'll gladly return to an easy lifestyle with no skin in humanity's game.

    Another remark. The Long Term Future fund (the largest fund which funds initiatives that combat ex-risk) is only $12 million dollars. That is ridiculously small. In the world of finance, that is a rounding error to $0. There are only a few hundred AI alignment researchers, and they are definitely not paid well. At this point, AI alignment is similar to other non-profit work: you are expected to make a massive financial sacrifice. Working on capabilities research will feed your family, working on AI alignment will not. As a result, there is really no incentive to go into the most important research field of all time. This needs to change. I think creating AIS will kick off a market-driven solution to this problem. People that become experts in interpretability and corrigibility and come up with novel alignment solutions will have massive value. I would pay them handsomely to work with risk mitigation for various companies, and as a result we will incentivize more individuals to enter the space. If they work forty hours a week and make a decent salary, they can spend the entirety of their time outside work contributing to the long-term value alignment cause. I don't see many downsides here, outside of the massive personal and career risk I would accumulate as a result. Well, seems at least interesting though. Would be a pretty noble way to end up on the streets. "Hey man can you spare a dollar, I blew all my savings trying to align transformative AI with human values." Would at least make for a cool story. Guess its time to start a company.

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