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[Week 1] “Four Background Claims” by Nate Soares

AGI Safety Fundamentals: Alignment

Readings from the AI Safety Fundamentals: Alignment course.



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MIRI’s mission is to ensure that the creation of smarter-than-human artificial intelligence has a positive impact. Why is this mission important, and why do we think that there’s work we can do today to help ensure any such thing? In this post and my next one, I’ll try to answer those questions. This post will lay out what I see as the four most important premises underlying our mission. Related posts include Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Five Theses” and Luke Muehlhauser’s “Why MIRI?”; this is my attempt to make explicit the claims that are in the background whenever I assert that our mission is of critical importance. #### Claim #1: Humans have a very general ability to solve problems and achieve goals across diverse domains. We call this ability “intelligence,” or “general intelligence.” This isn’t a formal definition — if we knew exactly what general intelligence was, we’d be better able to program it into a computer — but we do think that there’s a real phenomenon of general intelligence that we cannot yet replicate in code. Alternative view: There is no such thing as general intelligence. Instead, humans have a collection of disparate special-purpose modules. Computers will keep getting better at narrowly defined tasks such as chess or driving, but at no point will they acquire “generality” and become significantly more useful, because there is no generality to acquire.



Narrated for AGI Safety Fundamentals by TYPE III AUDIO.

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