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Global cooperation urgently needed to govern risks of advanced AI, warns report

Sep. 06, 2023.
3 min. read Interactions

A new kind of flexible governance that can match and anticipate the pace of AI change and can provide the necessary safeguards is required, say experts in a new report focused on he transition to AGI—a distillation of interviews and collected insights from 55 global AI experts

About the Writer

Amara Angelica

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Amara Angelica is Senior Editor, Mindplex

The Millennium Project is a participatory think tank that connects futurists around the world, with 71 nodes, and collaborates to improve global foresight (credit: The Millennium Project)

A new report by The Millennium Project warns that advanced artificial intelligence systems could emerge sooner than expected, posing unprecedented risks unless prudent governance frameworks are rapidly put in place.

The report, focused on International governance Issues of the transition from Artificial Narrow Intelligence to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), is a distillation of interviews and collected insights from 55 global AI experts on 22 questions.

The experts on how to regulate AGI—AI that can handle novel situations as well as, or better than humans—say it represents an “intelligence explosion” that creates AI that surpasses human abilities, the report states.

New kind of flexible governance

“Lack of governance could lead to catastrophic outcomes, including existential threats to humanity if such systems are misaligned with human values and interests,” the report says. And “no existing governance models are adequately prepared to manage the risks and opportunities posed by artificial general intelligence (AGI).”

The report calls for rapid development of a new kind of flexible governance that can match and anticipate the pace of AI change and can provide the necessary safeguards while not stifling the promises and advance of AI.

“AGI is closer than any time before—the next advance could surpass human intelligence,” says Dr. Ilya Sutskever, co-founder of OpenAI, in the report.

“This might even happen within just a few years,” Dr. Ben Goertzel, author of AGI Revolution added. “It is more about who controls the development and use of AGI than a list of ethics.

“Alignment with human values is critical but challenging. I think we can create AGI by assembling components that already exist,” Goertzel suggested. “For example, connecting a large language model, a symbolic reasoning system, and an evolutionary learning system with the right combination architecture (such as our OpenCog Hyperon system running on SingularityNET).

“In this way, I believe, we can get an AGI with roughly human-level capability. This might even happen just a few years from now. If so, It would be capable of rewriting and improving itself—which may then lead to super-human-level AGI.”

Racing for AI supremacy

Because the benefits of AGI are so great in medicine, education, management, and productivity, corporations are racing to be first. 

AGI will increase political power, so governments are also racing to be first. 

International cooperation is essential but threatened by competitive tensions among nations and corporations.

The shared risks may compel collaboration, but overcoming distrust poses enormous challenges:

Extraordinary enforcement powers may be needed for governance to be trusted and effective globally, potentially including military capabilities.

Although controversial, proposals to limit research and development may be needed to allow time to design and implement management solutions.

The window for developing effective governance is short, demanding unprecedented collaboration.

Urgent action

The Millennium Project is calling for urgent action to create AGI governance and alignment at national and international levels before advanced AI exceeds humanity’s ability to control it safely. With stakes potentially including human extinction, the report warns we can ill afford delay in mobilizing global cooperation.

“If we don’t get an UN Convention on AGI and a UN AGI Agency to enforce rules, guardrails, auditing, and verification right, various forms of artificial superintelligence could emerge beyond our control and not to our liking,” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project. “Management of AGI could be the most difficult problem humanity has ever faced.”

This work was supported by the Dubai Future Foundation and the Future of Life InstituteThe Millennium Project is an international participatory think tank with 70 global nodes and three regional networks. Established in 1996, it has published more than 60 futures research projects based on international judgments. 

Full disclosure: I participated with the Millennium Project in this study—Amara Angelica

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