June 5, 2024

AI Developers Call for “Right to Warn AI” to Strengthen AI Safety

A group of former and current employees from leading AI companies, including OpenAI, Anthropic, and DeepMind, have launched a petition calling for stronger whistleblower protections in the industry. The “Right to Warn AI” initiative aims to address growing concerns about the safety and responsible development of advanced AI systems. This initiative is backed by prominent AI figures like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Stuart Russell.

Combating Confidentiality Concerns and Fostering Open Communication

The petition argues that current non-disparagement agreements and confidentiality clauses stifle open communication about potential risks associated with AI development.

Whistleblower William Saunders, a former OpenAI employee, emphasizes the need for a culture that allows employees to raise concerns internally and publicly with independent experts and the public.

“Right now, the people who know the most about these powerful systems are limited in speaking out due to fear of retaliation.”

Statement from William Saunders

Proposals for a Safer AI Future

The “Right to Warn AI” petition outlines four key proposals:

  • Eliminating Non-Disparagement Clauses: This would prevent companies from silencing employees with agreements that restrict discussions on potential risks.
  • Establishing Anonymous Reporting Channels: This would allow individuals to confidentially report concerns about AI safety.
  • Protecting Whistleblowers: This would ensure employees face no repercussions for disclosing serious AI risks.

Moreover, these measures aim to cultivate a transparent environment with open dialogue. This is crucial for the safe and beneficial development of AI, according to Saunders.

Petition Follows Mounting Concerns over AGI Development

The call for stronger whistleblower protections coincides with growing anxieties surrounding the prioritization of safety in AI labs.

Furthermore, the petition specifically mentions concerns regarding the development of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which aims to create human-like intelligence in machines. Former OpenAI employee Daniel Kokotajlo voiced his worries about the “deprioritization” of safety in the race for AGI. He claimed he left the company due to a lack of responsible development practices

Additionally, Helen Toner, a former board member at OpenAI, revealed on a Ted AI podcast that Sam Altman, the company’s CEO, was fired for allegedly hiding information from the board.

Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

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