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"Two-year update on my personal AI timelines" by Ajeya Cotra

AI Safety: Technical


Crossposted from the AI Alignment Forum. May contain more technical jargon than usual.

I worked on my draft report on biological anchors for forecasting AI timelines mainly between ~May 2019 (three months after the release of GPT-2) and ~Jul 2020 (a month after the release of GPT-3), and posted it on LessWrong in Sep 2020 after an internal review process. At the time, my bottom line estimates from the bio anchors modeling exercise were:[1]

  • Roughly ~15% probability of transformative AI by 2036[2] (16 years from posting the report; 14 years from now).
  • A median of ~2050 for transformative AI (30 years from posting, 28 years from now).

These were roughly close to my all-things-considered probabilities at the time, as other salient analytical frames on timelines didn’t do much to push back on this view. (Though my subjective probabilities bounced around quite a lot around these values and if you’d asked me on different days and with different framings I’d have given meaningfully different numbers.)

It’s been about two years since the bulk of the work on that report was completed, during which I’ve mainly been thinking about AI. In that time it feels like very short timelines have become a lot more common and salient on LessWrong and in at least some parts of the ML community.

My personal timelines have also gotten considerably shorter over this period. I now expect something roughly like this: