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OpenAI’s New Initiative: Steering Superintelligent AI in the Right Direction



OpenAI, a leading player in the field of artificial intelligence, has recently announced the formation of a dedicated team to manage the risks associated with superintelligent AI. This move comes at a time when governments worldwide are deliberating on how to regulate emerging AI technologies.

Understanding Superintelligent AI

Superintelligent AI refers to hypothetical AI models that surpass the most gifted and intelligent humans in multiple areas of expertise, not just a single domain like some previous generation models. OpenAI predicts that such a model could emerge before the end of the decade. The organization believes that superintelligence could be the most impactful technology humanity has ever invented, potentially helping us solve many of the world's most pressing problems. However, the vast power of superintelligence could also pose significant risks, including the potential disempowerment of humanity or even human extinction.

OpenAI's Superalignment Team

To address these concerns, OpenAI has formed a new ‘Superalignment’ team, co-led by OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike, the research lab's head of alignment. The team will have access to 20% of the compute power that OpenAI has currently secured. Their goal is to develop an automated alignment researcher, a system that could assist OpenAI in ensuring a superintelligence is safe to use and aligned with human values.

While OpenAI acknowledges that this is an incredibly ambitious goal and success is not guaranteed, the organization remains optimistic. Preliminary experiments have shown promise, and increasingly useful metrics for progress are available. Moreover, current models can be used to study many of these problems empirically.

The Need for Regulation

The formation of the Superalignment team comes as governments around the world are considering how to regulate the nascent AI industry. OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, has met with at least 100 federal lawmakers in recent months. Altman has publicly stated that AI regulation is “essential,” and that OpenAI is “eager” to work with policymakers.

However, it's important to approach such proclamations with a degree of skepticism. By focusing public attention on hypothetical risks that may never materialize, organizations like OpenAI could potentially shift the burden of regulation to the future, rather than addressing immediate issues around AI and labor, misinformation, and copyright that policymakers need to tackle today.

OpenAI's initiative to form a dedicated team to manage the risks of superintelligent AI is a significant step in the right direction. It underscores the importance of proactive measures in addressing the potential challenges posed by advanced AI. As we continue to navigate the complexities of AI development and regulation, initiatives like this serve as a reminder of the need for a balanced approach, one that harnesses the potential of AI while also safeguarding against its risks.

Alex McFarland is an AI journalist and writer exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has collaborated with numerous AI startups and publications worldwide.