Update December 22: Our donors came together during the fundraiser to get us most of the way to our $750,000 goal. In all, 251 donors contributed $589,248, making this our second-biggest fundraiser to date. Although we fell short of our target by $160,000, we have since made up this shortfall thanks to November/December donors. I’m extremely grateful for this support, and will plan accordingly for more staff growth over the coming year.
As described in our post-fundraiser update, we are still fairly funding-constrained. December/January donations will have an especially large effect on our 2017–2018 hiring plans and strategy, as we try to assess our future prospects. For some external endorsements of MIRI as a good place to give this winter, see recent evaluations by Daniel Dewey, Nick Beckstead, Owen Cotton-Barratt, and Ben Hoskin.
Our 2016 fundraiser is underway! Unlike in past years, we’ll only be running one fundraiser in 2016, from Sep. 16 to Oct. 31. Our progress so far (updated live):
Employer matching and pledges to give later this year also count towards the total. Click here to learn more.
MIRI is a nonprofit research group based in Berkeley, California. We do foundational research in mathematics and computer science that’s aimed at ensuring that smarter-than-human AI systems have a positive impact on the world.
2016 has been a big year for MIRI, and for the wider field of AI alignment research. Our 2016 strategic update in early August reviewed a number of recent developments:
- A group of researchers headed by Chris Olah of Google Brain and Dario Amodei of OpenAI published “Concrete problems in AI safety,” a new set of research directions that are likely to bear both on near-term and long-term safety issues.
- Dylan Hadfield-Menell, Anca Dragan, Pieter Abbeel, and Stuart Russell published a new value learning framework, “Cooperative inverse reinforcement learning,” with implications for corrigibility.
- Laurent Orseau of Google DeepMind and Stuart Armstrong of the Future of Humanity Institute received positive attention from news outlets and from Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt for their new paper “Safely interruptible agents,” partly supported by MIRI.
- MIRI ran a three-week AI safety and robustness colloquium and workshop series, with speakers including Stuart Russell, Tom Dietterich, Francesca Rossi, and Bart Selman.
- We received a generous $300,000 donation and expanded our research and ops teams.
- We started work on a new research agenda, “Alignment for advanced machine learning systems.” This agenda will be occupying about half of our time going forward, with the other half focusing on our agent foundations agenda.
We also published new results in decision theory and logical uncertainty, including “Parametric bounded Löb’s theorem and robust cooperation of bounded agents” and “A formal solution to the grain of truth problem.” For a survey of our research progress and other updates from last year, see our 2015 review.
In the last three weeks, there have been three more major developments:
- We released a new paper, “Logical induction,” describing a method for learning to assign reasonable probabilities to mathematical conjectures and computational facts in a way that outpaces deduction.
- The Open Philanthropy Project awarded MIRI a one-year $500,000 grant to scale up our research program, with a strong chance of renewal next year.
- The Open Philanthropy Project is supporting the launch of the new UC Berkeley Center for Human-Compatible AI, headed by Stuart Russell.
Things have been moving fast over the last nine months. If we can replicate last year’s fundraising successes, we’ll be in an excellent position to move forward on our plans to grow our team and scale our research activities.
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