From about minute 32 of this Monday's 538 Podcast, Nate Silver & crew discuss AI politics and risk. As an outlet strongly aligned with "taking evidence and forecasting and political analysis seriously" I thought this was pretty interesting for a number of reasons, both in terms of arguments but also explicit discussion of EA community: 

  • Nate Silver making the point that this is much more important than other issues, that a 5% ex risk would be a really big deal
  • Fairly detailed and somewhat accurate description of EA community
  • Insularity of EA/AI risk community and difficulty of translating this to wider public
  • Warning shots as the primary mechanism for actual risk being lower
  • Rationality / EA community mentioned as good at identifying important things 
  • Difficulty of taking the issue fully seriously
  • In other podcast episodes Nate also mentioned he will cover AI risk in some detail in his upcoming book
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Pretty great discussion at the end of the implications of AI becoming more salient among the public!

I think saying "even a small risk of extinction is worth prioritising!" sends the wrong message. It's (usually) aimed at assuring people that they can go on as normal. What should be communicated instead is something like:

No, I'm serious. It's not a small risk, and we lack the emotional freedom to deal with it properly as a society. But this also means that we can make an actual difference by taking it seriously early. We now have a unique opportunity to influence the trajectory of public opinion because people haven't got used to it yet.

Ward - -maybe, maybe not. It's very hard to predict what messaging to the public will be most effective. I think we need to do the empirical research to better understand what works! 

Stefan Schubert. Lucius Caviola, Nadira Faber, and others have already published a few papers such as this regarding public understanding of X risk in general, and how to nudge people towards a more rational long-term view 

In my opinion, we need a bit more research funding dedicated to these PR and public perception issues.

My advice was badly targeted. I regret it. Empirical research is relevant for measuring average appeal across a variety of opinion-markets, but people also tend to overapply it in cases where they know more about their audience. Nate Silver appeals to a broad group, and my suggestion is more appropriate appealing to a niche.

Just like the most profitable strategy for a spaghetti-sauce-selling company is to offer a variety of flavours (preferably informed by factor analysis of preferences), I imagine the goal should be to have a nice mix between Eliezer-style and everyday-folk public messaging, even though the two offset each other a little.

Fair points. Any PR/market/messaging research needs to focus on the specific target market one's trying to reach; this could be the general public; it could be AI professionals; it could be EAs; it could be LessWrong rationalists. But any such issues can be turned into empirical research questions, if it might be helpful in guiding outreach.

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