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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

Updated 51 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.