WHO IS… Eliezer Yudkowsky?
There aren’t many people who can talk about the development of AI and its impact on the future without sounding like a crank, but Eliezer Yudkowsky really has captured the imagination and attention of researchers, technologists and the general public alike.
As a writer, AI researcher, writer, and co-founder of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), Yudkowsky has dedicated his career to understanding and addressing the potential risks and ethical challenges associated with advanced AI systems.
You might have heard him on the AI Alignment podcast episodes, or the Rationally Speaking podcast where he features quite heavily, discussing his favourite subjects such as such AI safety, decision theory and human rationality.
He has also come to the attention of many with his fanfiction “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” (HPMOR). This introduced many readers to the concepts of rationality, decision theory, and AI safety. It reimagined Harry as a scientifically minded and rational thinker who uses logic, scientific methods and reasoning to solve problems and navigate the magical world he inhabits.
Yudkowsky showed a keen interest in AI from a young age. His professional interest grew when he co-founded the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) in 2000, which later became the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI). It’s mission was to ensure that advanced AI systems are developed with safety and ethical considerations in mind, to minimise potential risks and maximise benefits to humanity.
Promoting Rationality and AI Safety
Yudkowsky is a strong advocate for the importance of rationality and co-founded the LessWrong blog in 2009, which discusses the art of refining human rationality.
A particularly noteworthy contribution to the field of AI safety is his development of the concept of “Roko’s Basilisk,” a thought experiment that explores the potential risks of future superintelligent AI. This theory sparked widespread debate and controversy, further highlighting the need for a serious discussion on AI safety and ethics.
AI Alignment Research
In addition to his work on rationality and AI safety, Yudkowsky has contributed to the development of AI alignment research, which focuses on creating AI systems that are beneficial to humanity and aligned with human values. His research has laid the groundwork for a growing field of study that aims to ensure that AI technologies are developed responsibly and ethically.
Yudkowsky’s impact on the world of AI research and ethics is undeniable. Through his dedication to promoting rationality and AI safety, and his influence on the development of AI alignment research, he has played a crucial role in shaping the way we approach and understand artificial intelligence.
As it continues to advance and become increasingly integrated into our lives, the work of visionaries like Yudkowsky will remain essential in guiding us towards a future where AI systems are designed to benefit humanity and align with our values.