tl;dr: I want to organize public support for a pause on the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI). The companies building these systems do not understand how they work and cannot control them. Development needs to be paused until it can be done safely. The US public is supportive of pausing AGI development until we can proceed safely, but until we make our voices heard over the AI industry lobby, out-of-their-depths politicians will listen to them, not us. Funds would go toward supporting me so I can work on this for more of my time, and paying for events, travel to organize, and incidental supplies and expenses.
With each new release of frontier machine learning models like GPT-4, we get closer to human-level general intelligence. The social implications of machines that can do human-level intellectual and creative work, like the potential for massive job loss and inequality, are disruptive enough, but the threat posed by the AGI itself could be truly catastrophic. An AGI may have goals we don't understand or perverse ways of fulfilling its goals that we don't anticipate. Experts have documented various ways that AI could overpower humanity, as well as numerous unsolved technical challenges that need to be addressed. The point of making these systems is that they are smarter than us, which means they will be able to come up with cleverer ideas than we can predict. We need to know exactly what drives them before we begin to trust machines that can outthink us.
About half of AI experts report that AI has at least a 10% chance of causing “human extinction or similarly permanent and severe disempowerment of the human species.” And polls suggest that the US public is concerned about the possibility that AI could "pose a threat to the existence of the human race” (q. 31) and just over half are already supportive of a pause. But the politicians are mainly hearing from the AI companies, who, despite acknowledging that "the bad case... is, like, lights out for all of us" (Sam Altman, CEO of industry-leader OpenAI, in an interview published 1/17/23), don't want to wait until it's safe to proceed. The people don't want to suffer or die for the sake of the AI companies' glory. Our lawmakers need to hear those voices.
I am looking for money to support myself so I can spend time raising awareness about the dangers of AGI and communicating the widespread popular support for a pause in a way that politicians will pay attention to. I will discover what exactly those methods are in this case as I go along. Organizing letter-writing parties and helping people remember to call their Senators would already be a great improvement over where we are now. Writing articles and organizing online groups could help to raise awareness and be a force multiplier. Some of the people who show up will become volunteers, another force multiplier. In-person demonstrations in support of pause-like proposals will show our representatives that this issue matters to constituents and help them to overcome the pressure from industry to let AI companies essentially self-regulate-- but we need to grow and organize the grassroots to support those activities first.