Jed McCaleb on Why MIRI Matters

 |   |  Guest Posts

This is a guest post by Jed McCaleb, one of MIRI’s top contributors, for our winter fundraiser.


A few months ago, several leaders in the scientific community signed an open letter pushing for oversight into the research and development of artificial intelligence, in order to mitigate the risks and ensure the societal benefit of the advanced technology. Researchers largely agree that AI is likely to begin outperforming humans on most cognitive tasks in this century.

Similarly, I believe we’ll see the promise of human-level AI come to fruition much sooner than we’ve fathomed. Its effects will likely be transformational — for the better if it is used to help improve the human condition, or for the worse if it is used incorrectly.

As AI agents become more capable, it becomes more important to analyze and verify their decisions and goals. MIRI’s focus is on how we can create highly reliable agents that can learn human values and the overarching need for better decision-making processes that power these new technologies.

The past few years has seen a vibrant and growing AI research community. As the space continues to flourish, the need for collaboration will continue to grow as well. Organizations like MIRI that are dedicated to security and safety engineering help fill this need. And, as a nonprofit, its research is free from profit obligations. This independence in research is important because it will lead to safer and more neutral results.

By supporting organizations like MIRI, we’re putting the safeguards in place to make sure that this immensely powerful technology is used for the greater good. For humanity’s benefit, we need to guarantee that AI systems can reliably pursue goals that are aligned with society’s human values. If organizations like MIRI are able to help engineer this level of technological advancement and awareness in AI systems, imagine the endless possibilities of how it can help improve our world. It’s critical that we put the infrastructure in place in order to ensure that AI will be used to make the lives of people better. This is why I’ve donated to MIRI, and why I believe it’s a worthy cause that you should consider as well.






Jed McCaleb created eDonkey, one of the largest file-sharing networks of its time, as well as Mt. Gox, the first Bitcoin exchange. Recognizing that the world’s financial infrastructure is broken and that too many people are left without resources, he cofounded Stellar in 2014. Jed is also an advisor to MIRI.

  • Rand

    Brand new to this fine site.

    May I have feedback on the idea of prohibiting by law any computer of any kind whatever from ever using: I,my, me, mine, myself, in reference to “itself” as inherently fraudulent?

    Obviously, I am one of those who holds that no AI of whatever sophistication or accomplishment will ever possess any greater degree of consciousness or life than my pocket calculator. Without true emotion and sensation; without actual, pain, pleasure, curiosity, desire, longing, frustration, determination, devotion, love, outrage, awe, and so on consciousness and life are impossible; the motivation to do anything–anything–is impossible.

    Had Dr. Spock ever achieved his ideal of a truly zero-emotion state, at that exact moment, he would have literally collapsed to the ground and lay motionless, his life lasting only until his bodies automatic

    Computers will shortly be speaking with a degree of fluency effectively simulating a conscious entity, incorporating, if desired, perfectly realistic vocal “tics” that all of us exhibit; pauses, “ums”, using a word then immediately correcting it with a better choice, occasional stutters, etc.

    I don’t see most people avoiding very soon thinking and feeling of them as being alive.
    This is acutely so with children; they have always imaginatively attributed life to even non-speaking toys, dolls, stuffed animals, etc.

    I believe that the terrifying, anti-life flip side of the belief, “Machines are alive.” will be “We are but machines.” and that the gradual psychological ramifications of that belief will be a relentless diminishment, devaluation and hollowing out of the value of human life.