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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amid rising worries regarding the development of human-level machine intelligence, a prominent Berkeley research organization has become the first to stop openly publishing all of its findings.

Why it matters: The move by the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is a break from a traditional standard of openness in computer-science research.

We’ve reported before on researchers’ questions about the right amount of openness and transparency when discussing potentially dangerous work. This is the most extreme reaction we’ve seen yet.

  • It comes as AI researchers are quietly deliberating how to react to the potential malicious use of AI.
  • MIRI worries that open publishing could aid progress toward an unchecked super-intelligent machine.
  • Today, AI researchers routinely first post their papers at Arxiv, an entirely free and open, non-peer-reviewed repository for scientific papers.

Details: MIRI — which has received funding from AI dystopians like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk’s Future of Life Institute — posted a strategy document on Thanksgiving outlining its new policy of "nondisclosed-by-default research."

  • "Most results discovered within MIRI will remain internal-only unless there is an explicit decision to release those results, based usually on a specific anticipated safety upside from their release," wrote MIRI executive director Nate Soares.
"It does seem to me to be useful that an AI research organization has taken this step, if only so that it generates data for the community about what the consequences are of taking such a step."
— Jack Clark, OpenAI policy director

OpenAI, another prominent AI research nonprofit, wrote in its charter that it expects that "safety and security concerns will reduce our traditional publishing in the future."

  • Jack Clark, OpenAI’s policy director, said the organization is still in the early stages of fulfilling the goal, but that the questions MIRI is grappling with — when it's best to keep research private — are worth debating.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - World

Russian authorities say Navalny has been transferred to hospital

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
35 mins ago - Economy & Business

The state worst hit by the pandemic

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the job facing governments was to save lives and save jobs. Very few states did well on both measures, while New York, almost uniquely, did particularly badly on both.

Why it matters: The jury is still out on whether there was a trade-off between the dual imperatives; a new analysis from Hamilton Place Strategies shows no clear correlation between the two.

The U.S. credibility chasm on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The biggest hurdle for President Biden in winning new emissions reduction commitments at this week's White House summit is America's on-again, off-again history of climate change efforts.

Why it matters: The global community is off course to meet the temperature targets contained in the Paris Climate Agreement. The White House wants the summit Thursday and Friday to begin to change that.