Key idea: “We think artificial intelligence” is “the development most likely to dramatically alter the trajectory of humanity this century”, the Future Fund said.
Original author and publication date: J Oliver Conroy (The Guardian) – November 20, 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Time to focus on the emerging future to see (and connect with) the long-term future. (Both are already here, by the way.)
From the article:
Most of us don’t think of power-hungry killer robots as an imminent threat to humanity, especially when poverty and the climate crisis are already ravaging the Earth.
This wasn’t the case for Sam Bankman-Fried and his followers, powerful actors who have embraced a school of thought within the effective altruism movement called “longtermism”.
In February, the Future Fund, a philanthropic organization endowed by the now-disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur, announced that it would be disbursing more than $100m – and possibly up to $1bn – this year on projects to “improve humanity’s long-term prospects”.
The slightly cryptic reference might have been a bit puzzling to those who think of philanthropy as funding homelessness charities and medical NGOs in the developing world. In fact, the Future Fund’s particular areas of interest include artificial intelligence, biological weapons and “space governance”, a mysterious term referring to settling humans in space as a potential “watershed moment in human history”.
Out-of-control artificial intelligence was another area of concern for Bankman-Fried – so much so that in September the Future Fund announced prizes of up to $1.5m to anyone who could make a persuasive estimate of the threat that unrestrained AI might pose to humanity.
“We think artificial intelligence” is “the development most likely to dramatically alter the trajectory of humanity this century”, the Future Fund said. “With the help of advanced AI, we could make enormous progress toward ending global poverty, animal suffering, early death and debilitating disease.”
But AI could also “acquire undesirable objectives and pursue power in unintended ways, causing humans to lose all or most of their influence over the future”.
Less than two months after the contest was announced, Bankman-Fried’s $32bn cryptocurrency empire had collapsed, much of the Future Fund’s senior leadership had resigned and its AI prizes may never be rewarded.