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With new grant program, OpenAI aims to outsource AI regulation

OpenAI says it’s launching a program to award ten grants of $100,000 to fund experiments in establishing a democratic process for deciding what rules AI systems should follow — “within the limits set by the law”.

The launch of the grant program comes after calls from OpenAI for an international AI regulator similar to the one that governs nuclear power. In their proposal for such a body, OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and Ilya Sutskever argued that the pace of innovation in AI is so fast that we cannot expect that existing authorities have the technology properly – a sentiment announced today. also captures.

Concretely, OpenAI says it’s looking to fund individuals, teams, and organizations to develop proof-of-concepts for a “democratic process” that could answer questions about safeguards for AI. The company wants to learn from these experiences, she says, and use them as the basis for a more comprehensive – and ambitious – process in the future.

“While these initial experiences are not (at least for now) intended to be binding on decisions, we hope they will explore issues relevant to decision-making and build new democratic tools that can more directly inform decisions in the future,” the company wrote in a blog post. article published today. “This grant represents a step toward establishing democratic processes to oversee…superintelligence.”

With the grants, provided by the nonprofit OpenAI, OpenAI hopes to establish a process that reflects the Platonic ideal of democracy: a “broadly representative” group of people exchanging opinions, engaging in discussions.” deliberate” and ultimately deciding on an outcome through a transparent process. decision-making process. Ideally, says OpenAI, the process will help answer questions such as “Under what conditions should AI systems condemn or criticize public figures, given the different opinions of groups regarding these figures?” and “How should contested viewpoints be represented in AI results?”

“The primary goal of this grant is to foster process innovation – we need improved democratic methods to govern AI behavior,” writes OpenAI. “We believe that decisions about AI behavior should be shaped by diverse perspectives reflecting the public interest.”

In the announcement post, OpenAI implies that the grant program is entirely separate from its business interests. But that’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow, given OpenAI Altman’s recent criticism of the proposed EU AI regulation. The timing also seems remarkable, following Altman’s appearance before the US Senate Congressional Committee last week, where he argued for a very specific flavor of AI regulation that would have minimal effect on OpenAI’s technology. as it exists today.

Still, even if the agenda ends up being self-serving, it’s an interesting direction to take in AI policy-making (although it does duplicate EU efforts in some obvious ways). processes” emerge – and which candidates OpenAI ends up choosing.

People can apply for the OpenAI grant program starting today — the deadline is June 24 at 9 p.m. Once the application period is over, OpenAI will select ten winners. Recipients will be required to present a concept involving at least 500 participants, publish a public report on their findings by October 20, and open the code behind their work.

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