Elon Musk Appoints Dan Hendrycks as Advisor to xAI Startup – Fagen wasanni

Posted: July 27, 2023 at 8:33 pm

Elon Musk has brought on Dan Hendrycks, the director of the nonprofit Center for AI Safety, as an advisor to his new startup, xAI. Hendrycks organization sponsored a Statement on AI Risk in May, signed by various AI experts, including CEOs of prominent AI research labs like OpenAI and DeepMind. The nonprofit receives most of its funding from Open Philanthropy, a nonprofit organization run by Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna. The Effective Altruism (EA) movement, to which the organization belongs, focuses on using evidence and reason to benefit humanity. EA proponents believe that preventing catastrophic scenarios caused by AI systems is essential.

Musks appointment of Hendrycks signals that well-funded AI research labs, including OpenAI, DeepMind, Anthropic, and xAI, are bringing the ideas of existential risk (x-risk) associated with AI systems to the publics attention. Although some AI researchers argue that the focus on x-risk is unnecessary, Musks choice to involve Hendrycks highlights the importance of these concerns.

AI experts like Sara Hooker, head of Cohere for AI, have criticized the attention given to x-risk, considering it a fringe topic. Mark Riedl, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, suggests that focusing on existential threats alone undermines the broader discussion surrounding AIs positive and negative impacts. And Kyunghyun Cho, a researcher and professor at NYU, expresses disappointment in the emphasis on existential risk, believing it distracts from the real issues AI poses today.

Other experts have expressed concerns about the AI research labs ties to the EA community and movements such as longtermism and transhumanism. They argue that Silicon Valleys involvement in these movements may stem from a savior complex and the desire to control the narrative around AGI and existential risk.

The tech quartet consisting of xAI, OpenAI, DeepMind, and Anthropic has varying positions on AGI and x-risk. xAI aims to engineer an AGI that can understand the universe. Elon Musk, who founded OpenAI and developed xAI, left OpenAI due to concerns about its approach to AGI safety. He believes that a smarter AGI, driven by curiosity and truth-seeking, is less likely to pose a threat to humanity.

Musk finds alignment with the EA philosophy, particularly the writings of EA originator William MacAskill. Hendrycks involvement emphasizes the influence of the EA movement on the AGI and x-risk landscape.

Overall, Musks appointment of Hendrycks underscores the growing attention given to existential risks associated with AI systems and highlights the significance of addressing these concerns for the future of AI development.

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Elon Musk Appoints Dan Hendrycks as Advisor to xAI Startup - Fagen wasanni

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