#77: Brian Christian on AI as a Human Problem, Part 2
Cognitive Revolution | We discuss Brian's latest book, The Alignment Problem, and how it's not AI itself we should worry about—but the underlying models on which our AI is based.
This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
I am excited to introduce my first return guest on the show, Brian Christian. I knew from the very first time we talked that I wanted to do a part two with him. This wasn’t through any great feat of perspicacity. It was primarily because we didn’t even get the opportunity to talk about his latest book, The Alignment Problem. In the first conversation, we talked about Brian’s background in poetry and computer science. We talked at length about how he became a writer and the process behind his first book, The Most Human Human. Now in this conversation we go deep on The Alignment Problem. The book’s been out for more than a year now, and it’s gotten some pretty good coverage. One of my favorite interviews Brian did was with Ezra Klein, which is definitely worth checking out as well. I tried to get aspects of Brian’s work that haven’t been covered as much in previous discussions. Overall, the book is about the development of artificial intelligence, and throughout each chapter we see AI become increasingly capable of accomplishing more nuanced tasks—and, importantly, tasks which become increasingly embedded into the fabric of our society. Whereas a lot of my interviews on Cognitive Revolution go deep on an author’s backstory, this one is very much focused on content.
And make sure to check out Brian’s new audiobook—Algorithms to Work By, available via Audible—when it comes out in February!
Books we talked about:
Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence (well, by implication… when we mentioned AI safety books that “hit you over the head” with their thesis)
Like this episode? Here’s another one to check out:
As well as my original conversation with Brian:
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