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The Artificiality of Alignment
On the stakes of AI progress and claims about AI's existential risk.
Credulous, breathless coverage of “AI existential risk” (abbreviated “x-risk”) has reached the mainstream. Who could have foreseen that the smallcaps onomatopoeia “ꜰᴏᴏᴍ” — both evocative of and directly derived from children’s cartoons — might show up uncritically in the New Yorker? More than ever, the public discourse about AI and its risks, and about what can or should be done about those risks, is horrendously muddled, conflating speculative future danger with real present-day harms, and, on the technical front, confusing large, “intelligence-approximating” models with algorithmic and statistical decision-making systems.