A few months ago, I learned the expression “Eff around and find out.” I’ve been keen on it ever since, but not till this morning did I realize how well it applies to our current predicament.
In 1945, the US army conducted the Trinity test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Beforehand, the question was raised as to whether the bomb might ignite the Earth’s atmosphere and extinguish life. Nuclear physics was sufficiently developed that Emil J Konopinski and others from the Manhattan Project were able to show that it was almost [ed: almost?] impossible to set the atmosphere on fire this way. But today’s very large language models are largely in a pre-scientific period. We don’t yet fully understand how they work and cannot demonstrate likely outcomes in advance.
We must slow down the race to God-like AI by Ian Hogarth