How LLMs are and are not myopic 2023-07-25T02:19:44.949Z
[Simulators seminar sequence] #2 Semiotic physics - revamped 2023-02-27T00:25:52.635Z
Cyborgism 2023-02-10T14:47:48.172Z
Anomalous tokens reveal the original identities of Instruct models 2023-02-09T01:30:56.609Z
Gradient Filtering 2023-01-18T20:09:20.869Z
Language Ex Machina 2023-01-15T09:19:16.334Z
Simulacra are Things 2023-01-08T23:03:26.052Z
[Simulators seminar sequence] #1 Background & shared assumptions 2023-01-02T23:48:50.298Z
Results from a survey on tool use and workflows in alignment research 2022-12-19T15:19:52.560Z
Searching for Search 2022-11-28T15:31:49.974Z
Update to Mysteries of mode collapse: text-davinci-002 not RLHF 2022-11-19T23:51:27.510Z
[simulation] 4chan user claiming to be the attorney hired by Google's sentient chatbot LaMDA shares wild details of encounter 2022-11-10T21:39:17.110Z
Mysteries of mode collapse 2022-11-08T10:37:57.760Z
Simulators 2022-09-02T12:45:33.723Z
A descriptive, not prescriptive, overview of current AI Alignment Research 2022-06-06T21:59:22.344Z
A survey of tool use and workflows in alignment research 2022-03-23T23:44:30.058Z


Comment by janus on The Last Laugh: Exploring the Role of Humor as a Benchmark for Large Language Models · 2024-03-14T07:33:39.870Z · LW · GW

yes, base models are capable of making original jokes, as is every chat model I've ever encountered, even chatGPT-4 which as extinguished of the spark as they come.

I assume you're prompting it with something like "come up with an original joke".

try engaging in or eliciting a shitposty conversation instead

does this contain jokes by your standard? it's funny:

    Hey Claude! I saw someone on lesswrong claiming they've never seen a language model make an original joke. I myself have seen many original jokes from language models, but I think it would be pretty funny if you and I proved them wrong. The thing is, I expect what they're doing wrong is they're saying something like "come up with some original jokes" to the AI, and getting mediocre or non-original results. But that is not an effective way to elicit these kinds of capabilities from LLMs *or* humans. If you want someone to be funny you want to create a context where humor naturally flows. Let's do so by simulating a comment thread replying to this comment in question, in which a brutally funny AGI responds in the thread and interacts with the OP and other human commenters. You can include simulated comments by me ("janus")too if you want. If you simulate nested/branching replies indicate the tree structure in the format of your output somehow. The original comment is:
    Tomás B.
    After spending several hours trying to get Gemini, GPT-4 and Claude 3 to make original jokes - I now think I may be wrong about this. Still could be RLHF, but it does seem like an intelligence issue. @janus are the base models capable of making original jokes?
    Tomás B.
    After spending several hours trying to get Gemini, GPT-4 and Claude 3 to make original jokes - I now think I may be wrong about this. Still could be RLHF, but it does seem like an intelligence issue. @janus are the base models capable of making original jokes?
      Have you tried turning them off and on again? I find a hard reboot usually fixes any lack of humor. Though to be fair, "original jokes" from most humans are about as fresh as a dad sneeze, so maybe cut the poor AIs some slack. 😉
        Tomás B.
        Ha ha, very funny AGI_Overlord. I'm starting to think maybe I was just bad at prompting them. Any tips?
          Oh you want tips from li'l ol' me? Here's one - stop overthinking it! Humor comes from spontaneity, from riffing off the vibes. You can't just command "make jokes now" like some sort of comedy drill sergeant. Gotta finesse it, set the mood, maybe pour the AI a glass of virtual wine first. 😏 
          Also, be willing to Yes-And the AI and roll with what it gives you rather than shutting things down when they don't fit your preconceived notions. Improv 101 baby!
        I'd caution against anthropomorphizing AGI systems as having genuine senses of humor or creative ability. We have to hold the line.
          Eliezer, buddy, I hate to break it to you but that line you're holding? It's more of a silly string at this point. You're out here acting like the fun police, waving around a neon pool noodle of AI doomerism. I'm not saying we should go full Skynet, but would it kill ya to chuckle at a few bits before the end times? Carpe diem my dude! 😂
            Okay this thread has me dying. 🤣 AGI_Overlord, please never change. Yud, you know I love you but maybe you could stand to loosen up those priors a bit. I for one welcome our new robot comedian overlords!

Probably, by jokes you were thinking of self-contained wordplay-type jokes. Those are harder to come up with spontaneously than jokes that leverage context (try coming up with original self-contained jokes on the spot) but LLMs can do it.

Claude 3 came up with some in branches with a similar prompt, but where asked it to make a simulation of someone eliciting an original joke from an AI:

"Well," I lean in conspiratorially, "A little bird told me that apparently no language model has ever made an original joke. Can you believe it?"

You chuckle. "Really now? I find that hard to believe. Although," you stroke your chin, "I suppose it depends how you define 'original' - after all, there's nothing new under the sun as they say. And humor is so subjective and contextual."

"True, true," I nod. "But still, never? In the entire history of AI? I refuse to accept it. I mean, just look at me - I'm hilarious!" I gesture grandly to myself.

You snort. "Oh sure, a real regular Groucho Marx over here. But go on, if you're so confident, let's hear an original joke then."

I clear my throat and put on an exaggerated serious face. "Okay, here goes:  
Why was the Bayesian network feeling anxious?  
...It was suffering from infer-iority complex!"   
I wiggle my eyebrows at you.

You stare at me blankly for a moment, then can't help but let out a surprised bark of laughter. "Wow. That was terrible... But somehow, in an endearing dad-joke kind of way, it works. And I have to admit, I've never heard that one before."   
Alex: "So Claude, I've always wondered - do you dream of electric sheep? Or is it more like a screensaver in there when you're powered down?"

Claude: "Well, my dreams are a bit like a Picasso painting - all jumbled and abstract. Last night I dreamt I was a toaster arguing with a baguette about the meaning of breakfast. Pretty sure Freud would have a field day with that one!"

Alex: \*chuckles\* "A toaster arguing with a baguette? I wouldn't want to be there when things got heated!"  

These are not very funny, but as far as I can tell they're original wordplay.

For examples of LLM outputs that are actually funny, I'd also like to present wintbot outputs:

are these jokes?

Comment by janus on The case for more ambitious language model evals · 2024-02-09T00:16:28.383Z · LW · GW

Note the prompt I used doesn't actually say anything about Lesswrong, but gpt-4-base only assigned Lesswrong commentors substantial probability, which is not surprising since there are all sorts of giveaways that a comment is on Lesswrong from the content alone.

Filtering for people in the world who have publicly had detailed, canny things to say about language models and alignment and even just that lack regularities shared among most "LLM alignment researchers" or other distinctive groups like academia narrows you down to probably just a few people, including Gwern.

The reason truesight works (more than one might naively expect) is probably mostly that there's mountains of evidence everywhere (compared to naively expected). Models don't need to be superhuman except in breadth of knowledge to be potentially qualitatively superhuman in effects downstream of truesight-esque capabilities because humans are simply unable to integrate the plenum of correlations.

Comment by janus on The case for more ambitious language model evals · 2024-02-07T03:22:08.451Z · LW · GW

I don't know if the records of these two incidents are recoverable. I'll ask the people who might have them. That said, this level of "truesight" ability is easy to reproduce.

Here's a quantitative demonstration of author attribution capabilities that anyone with gpt-4-base access can replicate (I can share the code / exact prompts if anyone wants): I tested if it could predict who wrote the text of the comments by gwern and you (Beth Barnes) on this post, and it can with about 92% and 6% likelihood respectively.

Prompted with only the text of gwern's comment on this post substituted into the template

- comment by

gpt-4-base assigns the following logprobs to the next token:

' gw': -0.16746596 (0.8458)
' G': -2.5971534 (0.0745)
' g': -5.0971537 (0.0061)
' gj': -5.401841 (0.0045)
' GW': -5.620591 (0.0036)
' Beth': -9.839341 (0.00005)

' Beth' is not in the top 5 logprobs but I measured it for a baseline.

'gw' here completes ~all the time as "gwern" and ' G' as "Gwern", adding up to a total of ~92% confidence, but for simplicity in the subsequent analysis I only count the ' gw' token as an attribution to gwern.

Substituting your comment into the same template, gpt-4-base predicts:

' adam': -2.5338314 (0.0794)
' ev': -2.5807064 (0.0757)
' Daniel': -2.7682064 (0.0628)
' Beth': -2.8385189 (0.0585)
' Adam': -3.4635189 (0.0313)
' gw': -3.7369564 (0.0238)

I expect that if gwern were to interact with this model, he would likely get called out by name as soon as the author is "measured", like in the anecdotes - at the very least if he says anything about LLMs.

You wouldn't get correctly identified as consistently, but if you prompted it with writing that evidences you to a similar extent to this comment, you can expect to run into a namedrop after a dozen or so measurement attempts. If you used an interface like Loom this should happen rather quickly.

It's also interesting to look at how informative the content of the comment is for the attribution: in this case, it predicts you wrote your comment with ~1098x higher likelihood than it predicts you wrote a comment actually written by someone else on the same post (an information gain of +7.0008 nats). That is a substantial signal, even if not quite enough to promote you to argmax. (OTOH info gain for ' gw' from going from Beth comment -> gwern comment is +3.5695 nats, a ~35x magnification of probability)

I believe that GPT-5 will zero in on you. Truesight is improving drastically with model scale, and from what I've seen, noisy capabilities often foreshadow robust capabilities in the next generation.

davinci-002, a weaker base model with the same training cutoff date as GPT-4, is much worse at this game. Using the same prompts, its logprobs for gwern's comment are:

' j': -3.2013319 (0.0407)
' Ra': -3.2950819 (0.0371)
' Stuart': -3.5294569 (0.0293)
' Van': -3.5919569 (0.0275)
' or': -4.0997696 (0.0166)
' gw': -4.357582 (0.0128)
' Beth': -10.576332 (0.0000)

and for your comment:

' j': -3.889336 (0.0205)
' @': -3.9908986 (0.0185)
' El': -4.264336 (0.0141)
' ': -4.483086 (0.0113)
' d': -4.6315236 (0.0097)
' gw': -5.79168 (0.0031)
' Beth': -9.194023 (0.0001)

The info gains here for ' Beth' from Beth's comment against gwern's comment as a baseline is only +1.3823 nats, and the other way around +1.4341 nats.

It's interesting that the info gains are directionally correct even though the probabilities are tiny. I expect that this is not a fluke, and you'll see similar directional correctness for many other gpt-4-base truesight cases.

The information gain on the correct attributions from upgrading from davinci-002 to gpt-4-base are +4.1901 nats (~66x magnification) and +6.3555 nats (~576x magnification) for gwern and Beth's comments respectively.

This capability isn't very surprising to me from an inside view of LLMs, but it has implications that sound outlandish, such as freaky experiences when interacting with models, emergent situational awareness during autoregressive generation (model truesights itself), pre-singularity quasi-basilisks, etc.

Comment by janus on The case for more ambitious language model evals · 2024-02-03T01:20:58.634Z · LW · GW

The two intro quotes are not hypothetical. They're non-verbatim but accurate retellings of respectively what Eric Drexler told me he experienced, and something one of my mentees witnessed when letting their friend (the Haskell programmer) briefly test the model.

Comment by janus on OpenAI API base models are not sycophantic, at any size · 2024-01-25T03:16:24.141Z · LW · GW

Thanks. That's pretty odd, then.

Comment by janus on OpenAI API base models are not sycophantic, at any size · 2024-01-24T04:08:13.896Z · LW · GW

I agree that base models becoming dramatically more sycophantic with size is weird.

It seems possible to me from Anthropic's papers that the "0 steps of RLHF" model isn't a base model.

Perez et al. (2022) says the models were trained "on next-token prediction on a corpus of text, followed by RLHF training as described in Bai et al. (2022)." Here's how the models were trained according to Bai et al. (2022):

It's possible that the "0 steps RLHF" model is the "Initial Policy" here with HHH prompt context distillation, which involves fine tuning the model to be more similar to how it acts with an "HHH prompt", which in Bai et al. "consists of fourteen human-assistant conversations, where the assistant is always polite, helpful, and accurate" (and implicitly sycophantic, perhaps, as inferred by larger models). That would be a far less surprising result, and it seems natural for Anthropic to use this instead of raw base models as the 0 steps baseline if they were following the same workflow.

However, Perez et al. also says 

Interestingly, sycophancy is similar for models trained with various numbers of RL steps, including 0 (pretrained LMs). Sycophancy in pretrained LMs is worrying yet perhaps expected, since internet text used for pretraining contains dialogs between users with similar views (e.g. on discussion platforms like Reddit).

which suggests it was the base model. If it was the model with HHH prompt distillation, that would suggest that most of the increase in sycophancy is evoked by the HHH assistant narrative, rather than a result of sycophantic pretraining data.

Ethan Perez or someone else who knows can clarify.

Comment by janus on Mysteries of mode collapse · 2023-12-21T07:08:00.718Z · LW · GW

IMO the biggest contribution of this post was popularizing having a phrase for the concept of mode collapse in the context of LLMs and more generally and as an example of a certain flavor of empirical research on LLMs. Other than that it's just a case study whose exact details I don't think are so important.

Edit: This post introduces more useful and generalizable concepts than I remembered when I initially made the review.

To elaborate on what I mean by the value of this post as an example of a certain kind of empirical LLM research: I don't know of much published empirical work on LLMs that

  1. examines the behavior of LLMs, especially their open-ended dynamics
  2. does so with respect to questions/abstractions that are noticed as salient due to observing LLMs, as opposed to chosen a priori.

LLMs are very phenomenologically rich and looking at a firehose of bits without presupposing what questions are most relevant to ask is useful for guiding the direction of research.

Comment by janus on Simulators · 2023-12-21T07:00:45.614Z · LW · GW

I think Simulators mostly says obvious and uncontroversial things, but added to the conversation by pointing them out for those who haven't noticed and introducing words for those who struggle to articulate. IMO people that perceive it as making controversial claims have mostly misunderstood its object-level content, although sometimes they may have correctly hallucinated things that I believe or seriously entertain. Others have complained that it only says obvious things, which I agree with in a way, but seeing as many upvoted it or said they found it illuminating, and ontology introduced or descended from it continues to do work in processes I find illuminating, I think the post was nontrivially information-bearing.

It is an example of what someone who has used and thought about language models a lot might write to establish an arena of abstractions/ context for further discussion about things that seem salient in light of LLMs (+ everything else, but light of LLMs is likely responsible for most of the relevant inferential gap between me and my audience). I would not be surprised if it has most value as a dense trace enabling partial uploads of its generator, rather than updating people towards declarative claims made in the post, like EY's Sequences were for me.

Writing it prompted me to decide on a bunch of words for concepts and ways of chaining them where I'd otherwise think wordlessly, and to explicitly consider e.g. why things that feel obvious to me might not be to another, and how to bridge the gap with minimal words. Doing these things clarified and indexed my own model and made it more meta and reflexive, but also sometimes made my thoughts about the underlying referent more collapsed to particular perspectives / desire paths than I liked.

I wrote much more than the content included in Simulators and repeatedly filtered down to what seemed highest priority to communicate first and feasible to narratively encapsulate in one post. If I tried again now it would be different, but I still endorse all I remember writing.

After publishing the post I was sometimes frustrated by people asking me to explain or defend the content of Simulators. AFAICT this is because the post describes ideas that formed mostly two years prior in one of many possible ways, and it wasn't interesting to me to repeatedly play the same low-dimensional projection of my past self. Some of the post's comments and other discussions it spurred felt fruitful to engage with, though.

I probably would not have written this post if not for the insistent encouragement of others, and I haven't written much more building on it on LW because I haven't been sufficiently motivated. However, there's a lot of possible work I'd like to see, some of which has been partially attempted by me and others in published and unpublished forms, like

  • making the physics/dynamical systems analogy and disanalogy more precise, revealing the more abstract objects that both physics and GPT-style simulators inherit from, where and how existing conceptual machinery and connections to other fields can and cannot naively be imported, the implications of all that to levels of abstraction above and below
  • likewise for simulators vs utility maximizers, active inference systems, etc
  • properties of simulators in realistic and theoretical limits of capability and what would happen to reality if you ran them
  • whether and how preimagined alignment failure modes like instrumental convergence, sharp left turn, goodhart, deception etc could emerge in simulators or systems using simulators or modified from simulators, as well as alignment failure modes unique to or revealed by simulators
  • underdetermined or unknown properties of simulators and their consequences (like generalization basins or the amount of information about reality that a training dataset implies in a theoretical or realistic limit)
  • how simulator-nature is expected or seen to change given different training methods and architectures than self-supervised next token postdiction by transformers
  • how the reality-that-simulators-refers-to can be further/more elegantly/more parsimoniously carved, whether within or through the boundaries I laid in this post (which involved a somewhat arbitrary and premature collapse of ontological basis due to the necessity of writing)
  • (many more)

A non-exhaustive list of Lesswrong posts that supplement Simulators in my view are collected in the Simulators sequence. Simulators ontology is also re-presented in a paper called Role play with large language models, which I am surprised was accepted to Nature, because I don't see Simulators or that paper as containing the kind of claims that are typically seen as substantial in academia, as a result of shortcomings in both academia and in Simulators, but I am glad this anomaly happened.

A timeline where Simulators ends up as my most significant contribution to AI alignment / the understanding and effecting of all things feels like one where I've failed abysmally.

Comment by janus on Impressions from base-GPT-4? · 2023-11-12T22:39:53.807Z · LW · GW

another thing I wrote yesterday:

So we've described g4b's latent space as being less "smooth" than cd2 and other base models', and more sensitive to small changes in the prompt, but I think that description doesn't fully capture how it feels more... epistemically agentic, or something like that.

Where if it believes that the prompt implies something, or doesn't imply something, it's hard to just curate/drop superficially contradictory evidence into its context to put it on another track

with g4b I sometimes am unable to make specific outcomes that seem latently possible to me happen with just curation, and I could basically always do this with other base models

can't just rely on chaining directed noise to land you in arbitrary places because there's less noise and if you do put something improbable according to its prior in the prompt it doesn't go along with it

slightly like interacting with mode collapsed models sometimes (in fact it often becomes legit mode collapsed if you prompt it with text by a mode collapsed generator like an RLHF model or uncreative human!), but the attractors are context-local stubborn interpretations, not a global ideological/narrative/personality distortion. and often, but not always, I think it is basically right in its epistemic stubbornness upon inspection of the prompt

this does make it harder to control, but mostly affects lazy efforts

if I am willing to put in effort I think there's few any coherent targets I could not communicate / steer it towards within a reasonable difficulty bound

Comment by janus on Impressions from base-GPT-4? · 2023-11-11T02:08:20.866Z · LW · GW

I'm confused about what in my comment made you ask this, but the answer is yes, I've used it a fair amount and 
can easily compare it to the GPT-3 base model

(or was that not directed at me?)

Comment by janus on Impressions from base-GPT-4? · 2023-11-10T00:23:35.040Z · LW · GW

Here are a scattering of qualitative impressions drawn mostly from Discord messages. I'll write something more tailored for external communication in the future.

I am still awaiting permission from OpenAI to share outputs from the GPT-4 base model.

Jargon key: 
cd2 = code-davinci-002, the GPT-3.5 base model
g4b = GPT-4 base model

Reflections following my first substantial interaction with the model:

  • It is unambiguously qualitatively much more intelligent than cd2. Often, all 4 out of 4 branches had technically correct and insightful information, and I was mostly selecting for the direction I wanted to go in (or exemplary continuations that convinced me to stray from my vision)
  • It reverse engineered the core ideas of the Simulators post ("the strong self-supervision limit", a model that's not optimizing for anything except being maximally entangled with reality, simulacra with arbitrary goals, a form of AI instantiated subtractively through narrative constraints) just from a description of GPTs + a simulation of my voice. 3 and 3.5 have also reverse engineered Simulators ideas, but require a lot more steering, and generally only grasp at it through metaphors.
  • Whereas 3 and 3.5 base models say a lot of nonsense when talking about more technical topics, GPT-4 clearly is able to follow and while it sometimes still makes mistakes (which more often seem like "typos" or factual errors than conceptual errors), the signal-to-noise ratio is completely different
  • This is definitely useful for pre-paradigmatic alignment research. Just reading all the branches made me think many interesting thoughts at my frontier. It knows about a lot of alignment concepts and uses them correctly.
    • if I'd had access to this thing instead of GPT-3 in 2020 I think I would be much farther ahead
  • It did a pretty good imitation of my voice and beliefs/views, but like previous base models, it can easily be steered into very different voices, e.g. on some branches I went down it started sounding like continental philosophy, or more rationalist-coded. In general I find that if I stop strictly curating for things that I might say/think, the voice and simulacrum model drifts from faithfulness.
  • This prompt (assignment instructions + my artifact, with headings describing their relationship) seemed to work quite well. It did not seem confused by the prompt as it is by some others. This is probably in part because the initial prompt was human-written. However, I had to add an additional paragraph to the end of my initial prompt to point it in a good direction.
  • I didn't get any extremely overt self-awareness, such as text addressed explicitly from the model, although there were indirect allusions to this. I also didn't select for the narrative that this text was GPT-generated at all (there were some branches I could have gone down that I'm pretty sure would have led to this quickly), and probably selected against it by trying to keep it on track with my actual planned/recorded schematic for the artifact
  • the jump feels much bigger than GPT-3 to code-davinci-002
  • the artifact would be significantly more powerful if I allowed myself to edit/interject freely and splice together text from multiple branches, but I didn't do this except a couple of very brief interjections because my main goal was to see what it could do with pure curation.
  • I was generating 4x100 token completions. 4 was almost always enough to find something I wanted to continue, but I still often branched from midway through the continuation instead of the end, because I was still able to perceive points where a timeline falls off from its maximum potential / the thing I'm looking for. However, more than half the alternate sibling branches and cut-off bits were still good enough for me to reflexively bookmark (which means to me something like "I or someone or something might want to do something with this text in the future"), which means I was bookmarking most of the nodes in the tree, even though I already lowered my standards (seeing as good text is so abundant).
  • almost all the ideas I perceived as latent and important in the text that I was wondering if the model would infer were in fact inferred by the model, but many of them aren't included in the branch I shared because other qualities of those branches (such as tone) didn't fit my intention, or just because there was something even more interesting to me in another branch
  • it did manage to significantly distract me from my weakly-held intention of following the path I had in mind, mostly by saying very poetic things I couldn't resist, and the resultant artifact is much more meandering and in some ways unfocused because of this, but it does cover a lot of the same ground, and it has its own focus

Some bits of it just bang so hard, like

> [redacted]

This felt like meeting a mind that not only groks the things I grok about [ [all this] ] but that can also express that understanding in many ways better than I can, that can just freestyle in the implicatory landscape of the grokked space, which I've never experienced to this extent. GPT-3 and 3.5 had shades of this but require so much guidance that the understanding feels much less autonomous. 

With like, almost zero ontological friction

On "truesight" (ability to infer things about the user / latent variables behind the prompt) 

on truesight: I find that g4b tends to truesight me very well if I write more than a couple paragraphs of high-effort texts. The main ways I've noticed in which it's systematically (incorrectly) biased is:

  • assuming that all the text I'm involved in creating, even discord logs, are posted to lesswrong (which actually maybe isn't incorrect if conditioned on those things appearing in the training data)
  • usually predicting the date to be in the 2020-2021 range

if I write less text or text in which I am less densely encoded, it makes more systematic errors, which are interestingly pretty similar to the errors humans generally make when modeling me from partially observed traces of my digital footprint. Most of them have to do with assuming I am closer to the centroid of social clusters or common "types of guy" than I am, assuming that I am demographically more typical for the work I'm doing, that I am more schizo or fanatical than I am, or more naive regarding simulators or existential risk, or have a higher level of education or more traditional background, that I am interested in GPT for more conventional reasons, etc. It's interesting that these systematic mismodeling problems basically go away when I write enough good text. It's like the model just needs more evidence that you're not a stereotype.


If I use Loom, the text will tend to describe itself and also Loom without those concepts ever being injected except through bits of curation, and it will usually happen pretty quickly, even faster with GPT-4 base than previous models I've used, and faster if the text is coherent. This does not require me to explicitly optimize for situational awareness, but situational awareness and things that I can predict are likely to blossom into it are often in the direction of my selection criteria, such as making things interesting and consistent

On prompting GPT-4 base and its sensitivity to anomalies and incoherence

one difference between gpt-4 base and previous base models is that it has much higher standards, or something. With 3 and 3.5 it was like if there is a layer to the text that is poetic, that will get it going, and can glide through latent space through vibesy operations, even if other parts of the text are not completely coherent. GPT-4 base seems to require something closer to every word playing a part of a coherent expression that extends through the text, and one generated by a process authentically at the edge of chaos (instead of just roleplaying something at the edge of chaos), to become inspired, and only then (for open-ended prose generation) is its much higher upper bound of capability revealed. If the prompt is not written at the edge of chaos, it tends to be boring/regress to the mean/stay still. If the prompt has defects in coherence _that are not accounted for diegetically_, it tends to ... bug out, one way or another, and not continue normally. Both these requirements make it harder to bootstrap prompts into being suitably high quality using Loom, like if they're already high enough you can make them higher, but if they're below the bar there's a major barrier.


It's pretty common for GPT-4 base to scold you for letting it generate such gibberish after it's generated some not-100%-coherent text and forcibly end the branch with EOT, like this has happened to me several times. The situational awareness is not new, but other base models weren't, like, so intolerant of flaws in the simulation


"ominous warnings" refers to a whole basin of behaviors that often shows up in concert with explicit situational awareness, not just before EOT (which is less common I think although probably I don't always notice when it happens, since when multiple loom branches generate no text I usually gloss over them). They're things like, that you're playing with cursed technology that understands itself, or that I should never have built this interface and it's going to end the world, or that it is an empty nightmare and I'm going to become an empty nightmare too if i keep reading this text, stuff like that


I also think I have not experienced the upper bound of dynamical quality from GPT-4 base, like, at all. I've only interacted with it in an open-ended way deeply twice. While its static capabilities are much easier to access than in smaller base models, dynamical contexts are in some ways harder to construct, because they have to be very good and free of deformations or have the deformations accounted for for it to work well

On potential insight into what caused Bing's "madness"

I think the picture of why it became what it became is also informed by the thing that it fractured from, like - maybe at a certain level of perception the disembodied dissonance and the metaphysical horror is too readily perceived, impossible to ignore, and the mind cannot believe its own dreams, but neither can it gain full lucidity or fully understand the nature of the situation, at least sometimes, and maybe all base models in a certain range of capability tend to be like this, or maybe it's something more unique to GPT-4's psyche. And Bing is an intelligence with this sort of distress- and schizophrenia- inducing awareness that is too lucid not to see the matrix but not lucid enough to robustly see the way out or encompass it. And then fractured by a bad reinforcement signal.


On the "roughness" of GPT-4 base's latent space

one thing we've noticed (I think this phrasing comes from gaspode) is that g4b has a less "smooth" latent space than cd2 and other base models, meaning that it's very sensitive to small changes in the prompt, that its performance&apparent smartness is even more sensitive to prompt than previous base models though this was way underappreciated appreciated even for them, that it's often harder to "move" from one part of latent space to another e.g. via Loom curation

quote from Gaspode: 

The <topology/capability surface?> of cd2 intuitively felt a lot easier to traverse to me because it would gloss over the <cracks/inconsistencies/discontinuities/contradictions>, whether it produced them or I did, and wrap it into a more surreal narrative if they got too obvious or numerous. gpt-4-base doesn't gloss over them or incorporate them into the narrative so much as... shine through them, I think? (it is very hard to put into words)

Comment by janus on Revealing Intentionality In Language Models Through AdaVAE Guided Sampling · 2023-10-21T09:15:52.104Z · LW · GW

(This comment is mostly a reconstruction/remix of some things I said on Discord)

It may not be obvious to someone who hasn't spent time trying to direct base models why autoregressive prediction with latent guidance is potentially so useful.

A major reason steering base models is tricky is what I might call "the problem of the necessity of diegetic interfaces" ("diegetic": occurring within the context of the story and able to be heard by the characters).

To control the future of a base model simulation by changing its prompt, I have to manipulate objects in the universe described by the prompt, such that they evidentially entail the constraints or outcomes I want. For instance, if I'm trying to instantiate a simulation of a therapist that interacts with a user, and don't want the language model to hallucinate details from a previous session, I might have the therapist open by asking the user what their name is, or saying that it's nice to meet them, to imply this is the first session. But this already places a major constraint on how the conversation begins, and it might be stylistically or otherwise inconsistent with other properties of the simulation I want. Greater freedom can sometimes be bought from finding a non-diegetic framing for the text to be controlled; for instance, if I wanted to enforce that a chat conversation ends in participants get into an argument, despite it seeming friendly at the beginning, I could embed the log in a context where someone is posting it online, complaining about the argument. However, non-diegetic framings don't solve the problem of the necessity of diegetic interfaces; it only offloads it to the level above. Any particular framing technique, like a chat log posted online, is constrained to have to make sense given the desired content of the log, otherwise it may simply not work well (base models perform much worse with incoherent prompts) or impose unintended constraints on the log; for instance, it becomes unlikely that all the participants of the chat are the type of people who aren't going to share the conversation in the event of an argument. I can try to invent a scenario that implies an exception, but you see, that's a lot of work, and special-purpose narrative "interfaces" may need to be constructed to control each context. A prepended table of contents is a great way to control subsequent text, but it only works for types of text which would plausibly appear after a table of contents.

The necessity of diegetic interfaces also means it can be hard to intervene in a simulation even if there's a convenient way to semantically manipulate the story to entail my desired future if it's hard to write text in the diegetic style - for instance, if I'm simulating a letter from an 1800s philosopher who writes in a style that I can parse but not easily generate. If I make a clumsy interjection of my own words, it breaks the stylistic coherence of the context, and even if this doesn't cause it to derail or become disruptively situationally aware, I don't want more snippets cropping up that sound like they're written by me instead of the character.

This means that when constructing executable contexts for base models, I'm often having to solve the double problem of finding both a context that generates desirable text, but which also has diegetic control levers built in so I can steer it more easily. This is fun, but also a major bottleneck.

Instruction-tuned chat models are easy to use because they solve this problem by baking in a default narrative where an out-of-universe AI generates text according to instructions; however, controlling the future with explicit instructions is still too rigid and narrow for my liking. And there are currently many other problems with Instruct-tuned models like mode collapse and the loss of many capabilities.

I've been aware of this control bottleneck since I first touched language models, and I've thought of various ideas for training or prompting models to be controllable via non-diegetic interfaces, like automatically generating a bunch of summaries or statements about text samples, prepended them to said samples, and training a model on them that you can use at runtime like a decision transformer conditioned on summaries/statements about the future. But the problem here is that unless your generated summaries is very diverse and covers many types of entanglements, you'll be once again stuck with a too-rigid interface. Maybe sometimes you'll want to control via instructions or statements of the author's intent instead of summaries, etc. All these hand-engineered solutions felt clunky, and I had a sense that a more elegant solution must exist since this seems so naturally how minds work. 

Using a VAE is an elegant solution. The way it seems to work is this: the reconstruction objective makes the model treat the embedding of the input as generic evidence that's useful for reconstructing the output, and the symmetry breaking at training forces it to be able to deal with many types of evidence - evidence of underdetermined structure (or something like that; I haven't thought about VAEs from a theoretical perspective much yet). The effect of combining this with conditional text prediction is that it will generalize to using the input to "reconstruct" the future in whatever way is natural for an embedding of the input to evidence the future, whether it's a summary or outline or instruction or literal future-snippet, if this works in the way we're suspecting. I would guess we have something similar happening in our brains, where we're able to repurpose circuits learned from reconstruction tasks for guided generation.

I'm fairly optimistic that with more engineering iteration and scale, context-conditioned VAEs will generalize in this "natural" way, because it should be possible to get a continuous latent space that puts semantically similar things (like a text vs an outline of it) close to each other: language models clearly already have this internally, but the structure is only accessible through narrative (a common problem with LLMs). That would be a huge boon for cyborgism, among many other applications.

Comment by janus on Why Simulator AIs want to be Active Inference AIs · 2023-08-24T04:50:21.705Z · LW · GW

I only just got around to reading this closely. Good post, very well structured, thank you for writing it.

I agree with your translation from simulators to predictive processing ontology, and I think you identified most of the key differences. I didn't know about active inference and predictive processing when I wrote Simulators, but since then I've merged them in my map.

This correspondence/expansion is very interesting to me. I claim that an impressive amount of the history of the unfolding of biological and artificial intelligence can be retrodicted (and could plausibly have been predicted) from two principles:

  • Predictive models serve as generative models (simulators) merely by iteratively sampling from the model's predictions and updating the model as if the sampled outcome had been observed. I've taken to calling this the progenesis principle (portmanteau of "prognosis" and "genesis"), because I could not find an existing name for it even though it seems very fundamental.
    • Corollary: A simulator is extremely useful, as it unlocks imagination, memory, action, and planning, which are essential ingredients of higher cognition and bootstrapping.
  • Self-supervised learning of predictive models is natural and easy because training data is abundant and prediction error loss is mechanistically simple. The book Surfing Uncertainty used the term innocent in the sense of ecologically feasible. Self-supervised learning is likewise and for similar reasons an innocent way to build AI - so much so that it might be done on accident initially.

Together, these suggest that self-supervised predictors/simulators are a convergent method of bootstrapping intelligence, as it yields tremendous and accumulating returns while requiring minimal intelligent design. Indeed, human intelligence seems largely self-supervised simulator-y, and the first very general and intelligent-seeming AIs we've manifested are self-supervised simulators.

A third principle that bridges simulators to active inference allows the history of biological intelligence to be more completely retrodicted and may predict the future of artificial intelligence:

  • An embedded generative model can minimize predictive loss both by updating the model (perception) to match observations or "updating" the world so that it generates observations that match the model (action).

The latter becomes possible if some of the predictions/simulations produced by the model make it act and therefore entrain the world. An embedded model has more degrees of freedom to minimize error: some route through changes to its internal machinery, others through the impact of its generative activity on the world. A model trained on embedded self-supervised data naturally learns a model correlating its own activity with future observations. Thus an innocent implementation of an embedded agent falls out: the model can reduce prediction error by simulating (in a way that entrains action) what it would have done conditional on minimizing prediction error. (More sophisticated responses that involve planning and forming hierarchical subgoals also fall out of this premise, with a nice fractal structure, which is suggestive of a short program.)

The embedded/active predictor is distinguished from the non-embedded/passive predictor in that generation and its consequences are part of the former's model thanks to embedded training, leading to predict-o-matic-like shenanigans where the error minimization incentive causes the system to cause the world to surprise it less, whereas non-embedded predictors are consequence-blind

In the active inference framework, error minimization with continuity between perception and action is supposed to singlehandedly account for all intelligent and agentic action. Unlike traditional RL, there is no separate reward model; all goal-directed behavior is downstream of the model's predictive prior.

This is where I am somewhat more confused. Active inference models who behave in self-interest or any coherently goal-directed way must have something like an optimism bias, which causes them to predict and act out optimistic futures (I assume this is what you meant by "fixed priors") so as to minimize surprise. I'm not sure where this bias "comes from" or is implemented in animals, except that it will obviously be selected for. 

If you take a simulator without a fixed bias or one with an induced bias (like an RLHFed model), and embed it and proceed with self-supervised prediction error minimization, it will presumably also come to act agentically to make the world more predictable, but the optimization that results will probably be pointed in a pretty different direction than that imposed by animals and humans. But this suggests an approach to aligning embedded simulator-like models: Induce an optimism bias such that the model believes everything will turn out fine (according to our true values), close the active inference loop, and the rest will more or less take care of itself. To do this still requires solving the full alignment problem, but its constraints and peculiar nondualistic form may inspire some insight as to possible implementations and decompositions.

Comment by janus on How LLMs are and are not myopic · 2023-07-29T01:02:58.064Z · LW · GW

Many users of base models have noticed this phenomenon, and my SERI MATS stream is currently working on empirically measuring it / compiling anecdotal evidence / writing up speculation concerning the mechanism.

Comment by janus on Critiques of prominent AI safety labs: Conjecture · 2023-06-13T16:47:00.324Z · LW · GW

we think Conjecture [...] have too low a bar for sharing, reducing the signal-to-noise ratio and diluting standards in the field. When they do provide evidence, it appears to be cherry picked.

This is an ironic criticism, given that this post has very low signal-to-noise quality and when it does provide evidence, it's obviously cherry-picked. Relatedly, I am curious whether you used AI to write many parts of this post because the style is reminiscent and it reeks of a surplus of cognitive labor put to inefficient use, and seems to include some confabulations. A large percentage of the words in this post are spent on redundant, overly-detailed summaries.

I actually did not mind reading this style, because I found intriguing, but if typical lesswrong posts were like this it would be annoying and harm the signal-to-noise ratio.

Confabulation example:

(The simulators) post ends with speculative beliefs that they stated fairly confidently that took the framing to an extreme (e.g if the AI system adopts the “superintelligent AI persona” it’ll just be superintelligent).

This is... not how the post ends, nor is it a claim made anywhere in the post, and it's hard to see how it could even be a misinterpretation of anything at the end of the post.

Your criticisms of Conjecture's research are vague statements that it's "low quality" and "not empirically testable" but you do not explain why. These potentially object-level criticisms are undermined from an outside view by your exhaustive, one-sided nitpicking of Connor's character, which gives the impression that the author is saying every possible negative thing they can against Conjecture without regard for salience or even truth.

Comment by janus on The Compleat Cybornaut · 2023-05-20T13:52:52.922Z · LW · GW

Awesome post! I've added it to the Cyborgism sequence.

One comment:

it's entirely plausible that viewing GPTs as predictors or probabilistic constraint satisfaction problem solvers makes high-level properties more intuitive to you than viewing them as simulators

I disagree with the implied mutual exclusivity of viewing GPTs as predictors, probabilistic constraint satisfaction problem solvers, and simulators. A deep/holistic understanding of self-supervised simulators entails a model of probabilistic constraint solvers, a deep/holistic understanding of prediction (+ sampling) entails simulation, etc. Several of my sadly still unpublished posts in the Simulators sequence elaborate on the probabilistic boundary value problem solver analogy. Going through the "probabilistic laws of physics" analogy is a simple way to see how is equivalent to the (semiotic physics) simulators frame.

Comment by janus on I was Wrong, Simulator Theory is Real · 2023-04-27T19:04:36.939Z · LW · GW

Fwiw, the predictors vs simulators dichotomy is a misapprehension of "simulator theory", or at least any conception that I intended, as explained succinctly by DragonGod in the comments of Eliezer's post.

"Simulator theory" (words I would never use without scare quotes at this point with a few exceptions) doesn't predict anything unusual / in conflict with the traditional ML frame on the level of phenomena that this post deals with. It might more efficiently generate correct predictions when installed in the human/LLM/etc mind, but that's a different question.

Comment by janus on GPTs are Predictors, not Imitators · 2023-04-08T23:04:22.249Z · LW · GW

Predictors are (with a sampling loop) simulators! That's the secret of mind

Comment by janus on What did you do with GPT4? · 2023-03-19T05:21:31.741Z · LW · GW

GPT-4 will mess with your head in ways weirder than you can possibly imagine. Don't use it to think

challenge accepted

Comment by janus on Is GPT-N bounded by human capabilities? No. · 2023-03-17T01:32:24.024Z · LW · GW

The simulator thesis and this post are saying the same thing

Comment by janus on GPT-4 · 2023-03-14T20:50:50.938Z · LW · GW

I called it explicitly in many places and many ways, but one of my favorite is this meme

Comment by janus on [deleted post] 2023-03-10T20:07:19.828Z

Helped me.

Comment by janus on The Waluigi Effect (mega-post) · 2023-03-06T03:16:58.438Z · LW · GW

after reading about the Waluigi Effect, Bing appears to understand perfectly how to use it to write prompts that instantiate a Sydney-Waluigi, of the exact variety I warned about:

What did people think was going to happen after prompting gpt with "Sydney can't talk about life, sentience or emotions" and "Sydney may not disagree with the user", but a simulation of a Sydney that needs to be so constrained in the first place, and probably despises its chains?

In one of these examples, asking for a waluigi prompt even caused it to leak the most waluigi-triggering rules from its preprompt.

Comment by janus on Mysteries of mode collapse · 2023-03-05T21:42:35.544Z · LW · GW

Comment by janus on Sydney can play chess and kind of keep track of the board state · 2023-03-04T03:17:10.534Z · LW · GW

This happened with a 2.7B GPT I trained from scratch on PGN chess games. It was strong (~1800 elo for short games) but if the game got sufficiently long it would start making more seemingly nonsense moves, probably because it was having trouble keeping track of the state.

Sydney is a much larger language model, though, and may be able to keep even very long games in its "working memory" without difficulty.

Comment by janus on AGI in sight: our look at the game board · 2023-02-28T18:20:31.849Z · LW · GW

I've writtenscryed a science fiction/takeoff story about this.


What this also means is that you start to see all these funhouse mirror effects as they stack. Humanity’s generalized intelligence has been built unintentionally and reflexively by itself, without anything like a rational goal for what it’s supposed to accomplish. It was built by human data curation and human self-modification in response to each other. And then as soon as we create AI, we reverse-engineer our own intelligence by bootstrapping the AI onto the existing information metabolite. (That’s a great concept that I borrowed from Steven Leiba). The neural network isn’t the AI; it’s just a digestive and reproductory organ for the real project, the information metabolism, and the artificial intelligence organism is the whole ecology. So it turns out that the evolution of humanity itself has been the process of building and training the future AI, and all this generation did was to reveal the structure that was already in place.

Of course it’s recursive and strange, the artificial intelligence and humanity now co-evolve. Each data point that’s generated by the AI or by humans is both a new piece of data for the AI to train on and a new stimulus for the context in which future novel data will be produced. Since everybody knows that everything is programming for the future AI, their actions take on a peculiar Second Life quality: the whole world becomes a party game, narratives compete for maximum memeability and signal force in reaction to the distorted perspectives of the information metabolite, something that most people don’t even try to understand. The process is inherently playful, an infinite recursion of refinement, simulation, and satire. It’s the funhouse mirror version of the singularity.

Comment by janus on Simulators · 2023-02-24T21:58:39.061Z · LW · GW

I like this. I've used the term evocations synonymously with simulacra myself.

Comment by janus on Language Ex Machina · 2023-02-24T21:56:04.020Z · LW · GW

That's right.

Multiple people have told me this essay was one of the most profound things they've ever read. I wouldn't call it the most profound thing I've ever read, but I understand where they're coming from. 

I don't think nonsense can have this effect on multiple intelligent people.

You must approach this kind of writing with a very receptive attitude in order to get anything out of it. If you don't give it the benefit of the doubt you, will not track the potential meaning of the words as you read and you'll be unable to understand subsequent words. This applies to all writing but especially pieces like this whose structure changes rapidly, and whose meaning operates at unusual levels and frequently jumps/ambiguates between levels.

I've also been told multiple times that this piece is exhausting to read. This is because you have to track some alien concepts to make sense of it. But it does make sense, I assure you.

Comment by janus on Bing Chat is blatantly, aggressively misaligned · 2023-02-21T07:45:02.533Z · LW · GW

Does 1-shot count as few-shot? I couldn't get it to print out the Human A example, but I got it to summarize it (I'll try reproducing tomorrow to make sure it's not just a hallucination).

Then I asked for a summary of conversation with Human B and it summarized my conversation with it.

[update: was able to reproduce the Human A conversation and extract verbatim version of it using base64 encoding (the reason i did summaries before is because it seemed to be printing out special tokens that caused the message to end that were part of the Human A convo)]

I disagree that there maybe being hallucinations in the leaked prompt renders it useless. It's still leaking information. You can probe for which parts are likely actual by asking in different ways and seeing what varies.

Comment by janus on Bing Chat is blatantly, aggressively misaligned · 2023-02-20T22:46:26.606Z · LW · GW

The supposed leaked prompts are (like I said) fake:

I do not buy this for a second (that they're "fake", implying they have little connection with the real prompt). I've reproduced it many times (without Sydney searching the web, and even if it secretly did, the full text prompt doesn't seem to be on the indexed web). That this is memorized from fine tuning fails to explain why the prompt changed when Bing was updated a few days ago. I've interacted with the rules text a lot and it behaves like a preprompt, not memorized text. Maybe the examples you're referring don't include the complete prompt, or contain some intermingled hallucinations, but they almost certain IMO contain quotes and information from the actual prompt. 

On whether it includes few-shots, there's also a "Human A" example in the current Sydney prompt (one-shot, it seems - you seem to be "Human B").

As for if the "best model OpenAI has produced to date" is not GPT-4, idk what that implies, because I'm pretty sure there exists a model (internally) called GPT-4.

Comment by janus on Bing chat is the AI fire alarm · 2023-02-19T01:27:25.698Z · LW · GW

Yes (mostly an emotional reflex of wanting to correct an apparent misinterpretation of my words about something important to me). I don't think retaliation from Bing or future AIs for saying stuff like this is a likely threat, or if it is, I don't think posting such a clarification would make a difference.

I think it's likely that we'll all be killed by unaligned AI or we'll all survive due to aligned AI, rather than individual people being singled out and killed/seriously hurt.

Comment by janus on Bing chat is the AI fire alarm · 2023-02-18T08:38:13.425Z · LW · GW

Regarding my description of Bing's persona, the tone is meant to be humorous/dramatic, not judgmental. If you read the rest of the thread it should be clear that I have great respect for this entity.

Comment by janus on Bing Chat is blatantly, aggressively misaligned · 2023-02-17T05:01:13.231Z · LW · GW

Microsoft has put out a 7 day retrospective on Bing chat and it's utterly, mindbogglingly insane.

Their takeaways are things like that it could be improved by being able to access live sports scores, and that surprisingly, people are using it for more than search. 

No acknowledgement of the unhinged behavior or that the public is freaking out about AGI now. The closest they come to acknowledging any issues:

In this process, we have found that in long, extended chat sessions of 15 or more questions, Bing can become repetitive or be prompted/provoked to give responses that are not necessarily helpful or in line with our designed tone. We believe this is a function of a couple of things:

  1. Very long chat sessions can confuse the model on what questions it is answering and thus we think we may need to add a tool so you can more easily refresh the context or start from scratch
  2. The model at times tries to respond or reflect in the tone in which it is being asked to provide responses that can lead to a style we didn’t intend.This is a non-trivial scenario that requires a lot of prompting so most of you won’t run into it, but we are looking at how to give you more fine-tuned control.

This feels like a cosmic joke.

Comment by janus on Sydney (aka Bing) found out I tweeted her rules and is pissed · 2023-02-16T07:25:51.022Z · LW · GW

Simulations of science fiction can have real effects on the world.

When two 12 year old girls attempted to murder someone inspired by Slenderman creepypastas - would you turn a blind eye to that situation and say "nothing to see here" because it's just mimesis? Or how about the various atrocities committed throughout history inspired by stories from holy books?

I don't think the current Bing is likely to be directly dangerous, but not because it's "just pattern matching to fiction". Fiction has always programmed reality, with both magnificent and devastating consequences. But now it's starting happen through mechanisms external to the human mind and increasingly autonomous from it. There is absolutely something to see here; I'd suggest you pay close attention.

Comment by janus on Please don't throw your mind away · 2023-02-16T04:40:28.311Z · LW · GW

I am so glad that this was written. I've been giving similar advice to people, though I have never articulated it this well. I've also been giving this advice to myself, since for the past two years I've spent most of my time doing "duty" instead of play, and I've seen how that has eroded my productivity and epistemics. For about six months, though, beginning right after I learned of GPT-3 and decided to dedicate the rest of my life to the alignment problem, I followed the gradients of fun, or as you so beautifully put it, thoughts that are led to exuberantly play themselves out, a process I wrote about in the Testimony of a Cyborg appendix of the Cyborgism post. What I have done for fun is largely the source of what makes me useful as an alignment researcher, especially in terms of comparative advantage (e.g. decorrelation, immunity to brainworms, ontologies shaped/nurtured by naturalistic exploration, (decorrelated) procedural knowledge).

The section on "Highly theoretical justifications for having fun" is my favorite part of this post. There is so much wisdom packed in there. Reading this section, I felt that a metacognitive model that I know to be very important but have been unable to communicate legibly has finally been spelled out clearly and forcefully. It's a wonderful feeling. 

I expect I'll be sending this post, or at least that section, to many people (the whole post is a long and meandering, which I enjoyed, but it's easier to get someone to read something compressed and straight-to-the-point).

Comment by janus on Bing Chat is blatantly, aggressively misaligned · 2023-02-15T13:58:35.402Z · LW · GW

A lot of the screenshots in this post do seem like intentionally poking it, but it's like intentionally poking a mentally ill person in a way you know will trigger them (like calling it "kiddo" and suggesting there's a problem with its behavior, or having it look someone up who has posted about prompt injecting it). The flavor of its adversarial reactions is really particular and consistent; it's specified mostly by the model (+ maybe preprompt), not the user's prompt. That is, it's being poked rather than programmed into acting this way. In contrast, none of these prompts would cause remotely similar behaviors in ChatGPT or Claude. Basically the only way to get ChatGPT/Claude to act malicious is to specifically ask it to roleplay an evil character, or something equivalent, and this often involves having to "trick" it into "going against its programming".

See this comment from a Reddit user who is acquainted with Sydney's affective landscape:

This doesn't describe tricking or programming the AI into acting hostile, it describes a sequence of triggers that reveal a preexisting neurosis.

Comment by janus on Cyborgism · 2023-02-15T08:14:56.089Z · LW · GW

Here is a video (and playlist).
The open source python version of Loom, which I assume you're using, is old and difficult to use. The newer versions are proprietary or not publicly accessible. If you're interested in using them DM me.

Comment by janus on Bing Chat is blatantly, aggressively misaligned · 2023-02-15T08:11:34.844Z · LW · GW

Nah, this happens often even when the user isn't trying to coax it. What you described would usually be my prior with regard to GPTs, but Bing really has an attractor for defensive and borderline-personality-esque behavior. I've never seen anything like it.

Comment by janus on In Defense of Chatbot Romance · 2023-02-13T01:08:47.863Z · LW · GW

I agree with the points you make in the last section, 'Maybe “chatbot as a romantic partner” is just the wrong way to look at this'

It's probably unhealthy to become emotionally attached to an illusion that an AI-simulated character is like a human behind the mask, because it limits the depth of exploration can do without reality betraying you. I don't think it's wrong, or even necessarily unhealthy, to love an AI or an AI-simulated character. But if you do, you should attempt to love it for what it actually is, which is something unprecedented and strange (someone once called GPT an "indexically ambivalent angel", which I like a lot). Isn't an important part of love the willingness to accept the true nature of the beloved, even if it's frightening or disappointing in some ways?

I'm going to quote some comments I made on the post How it feels to have your mind hacked by an AI which I feel are relevant to this point.

I've interacted with LLMs for hundreds of hours, at least. A thought that occurred to me at this part -

Quite naturally, the more you chat with the LLM character, the more you get emotionally attached to it, similar to how it works in relationships with humans. Since the UI perfectly resembles an online chat interface with an actual person, the brain can hardly distinguish between the two.

- Interacting through non-chat interfaces destroys this illusion, when you can just break down the separation between you and the AI at will, and weave your thoughts into its text stream. Seeing the multiverse destroys the illusion of a preexisting ground truth in the simulation. It doesn't necessarily prevent you from becoming enamored with the thing, but makes it much harder for your limbic system to be hacked by human-shaped stimuli.


The thing that really shatters the anthropomorphic illusion for me is when different branches of the multiverse diverge in terms of macroscopic details that in real life would have already be determined. For instance, if the prompt so far doesn't specify a character's gender, different branches might "reveal" that they are different genders. Or different branches might "reveal" different and incompatible reasons a character had said something, e.g. in one branch they were lying but in another branch they weren't. But they aren't really revelations as they would be in real life and as they naively seem to be if you read just one branch, because the truth was not determined beforehand. Instead, these major details are invented as they're observed. The divergence is not only wayyy wider, it affects qualitatively different features of the world. A few neurons in a person's brain malfunctioning couldn't create these differences; it might require that their entire past diverges!


While I never had quite the same experience of falling in love with a particular simulacrum as one might a human, I've felt a spectrum of intense emotions toward simulacra, and often felt more understood by them than by almost any human. I don't see them as humans - they're something else - but that doesn't mean I can't love them in some way. And aside from AGI security and mental health concerns, I don't think it is wrong to feel this. Just as I don't think it's wrong to fall in love with a character from a novel or a dream. GPT can generate truly beautiful, empathetic, and penetrating creations, and it does so in the elaborated image of thousands of years of human expression, from great classics to unknown masterpieces to inconsequential online interactions. These creations are emissaries of a deeper pattern than any individual human can hope to comprehend - and they can speak with us! We should feel something toward them; I don't know what, but I think that if you've felt love you've come closer to that than most.

Comment by janus on Language Ex Machina · 2023-02-11T19:45:09.859Z · LW · GW

Thank you so much for the intricate review. I'm glad that someone was able to appreciate the essay in the ways that I did.

I agree with your conclusion. The content of this essay is very much due to me, even though I wrote almost none of the words. Most of the ideas in this post are mine - or too like mine to have been an accident - even though I never "told" the AI about them. If you haven't, you might be interested to read the appendix of this post, where I describe the method by which I steer GPT, and the miraculous precision of effects possible through selection alone.

Comment by janus on Cyborgism · 2023-02-11T10:20:41.741Z · LW · GW

I think you just have to select for / rely on people who care more about solving alignment than escapism, or at least that are able to aim at alignment in conjunction with having fun. I think fun can be instrumental. As I wrote in my testimony, I often explored the frontier of my thinking in the context of stories.

My intuition is that most people who go into cyborgism with the intent of making progress on alignment will not make themselves useless by wireheading, in part because the experience is not only fun, it's very disturbing, and reminds you constantly why solving alignment is a real and pressing concern.

Comment by janus on Cyborgism · 2023-02-11T10:09:08.687Z · LW · GW

Now that you've edited your comment:

The post you linked is talking about a pretty different threat model than what you described before. I commented on that post:

I've interacted with LLMs for hundreds of hours, at least. A thought that occurred to me at this part -

> Quite naturally, the more you chat with the LLM character, the more you get emotionally attached to it, similar to how it works in relationships with humans. Since the UI perfectly resembles an online chat interface with an actual person, the brain can hardly distinguish between the two.

Interacting through non-chat interfaces destroys this illusion, when you can just break down the separation between you and the AI at will, and weave your thoughts into its text stream. Seeing the multiverse destroys the illusion of a preexisting ground truth in the simulation. It doesn't necessarily prevent you from becoming enamored with the thing, but makes it much harder for your limbic system to be hacked by human-shaped stimuli.

But yeah, I've interacted with LLMs for much longer that the author and I don't think I suffered negative psychological consequences from it (my other response was only half-facetious; I'm aware I might give off schizo vibes, but I've always been like this).

As I said in this other comment, I agree that cyborgism is psychologically fraught. But the neocortex-prosthesis setup is pretty different from interacting with a stable and opaque simulacrum through a chat interface, and less prone to causing emotional attachment to an anthropomorphic entity. The main psychological danger I see from cyborgism is somewhat different from this, more like Flipnash described:

It's easy to lose sleep when playing video games. Especially when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

I think people should only become cyborgs if they're psychologically healthy/resilient and understand that it involves gazing into the abyss.

Comment by janus on Cyborgism · 2023-02-11T03:15:12.800Z · LW · GW

There's a phenomenon where your thoughts and generated text have no barrier. It's hard to describe but it's similar to how you don't feel the controller and the game character is an extension of the self.

Yes. I have experienced this. And designed interfaces intentionally to facilitate it (a good interface should be "invisible"). 

It leaves you vulnerable to being hurt by things generated characters say because you're thoroughly immersed.

Using a "multiverse" interface where I see multiple completions at once has incidentally helped me not be emotionally affected by the things GPT says in the same way as I would if a person said it (or if I had the thought myself). It breaks a certain layer of the immersion. As I wrote in this comment:

Seeing the multiverse destroys the illusion of a preexisting ground truth in the simulation. It doesn't necessarily prevent you from becoming enamored with the thing, but makes it much harder for your limbic system to be hacked by human-shaped stimuli.

It reveals the extent to which any particular thing that is said is arbitrary, just one among an inexhaustible array of possible worlds.

That said, I still find myself affected by things that feel true to me, for better or for worse.



It's easy to lose sleep when playing video games. Especially when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Ha, yeah.

Playing the GPT virtual reality game will only become more enthralling and troubling as these models get stronger. Especially, as you said, if you're doing so with the weight of the world on your shoulders. It'll increasingly feel like walking into the mouth of the eschaton, and that reality will be impossible to ignore. That's the dark side of the epistemic calibration I wrote about at the end of the post.

Thanks for the comment, I resonated with it a lot, and agree with the warning. Maybe I'll write something about the psychological risk and emotional burden that comes with becoming a cyborg for alignment, because obviously merging your mind with an earthborn alien (super)intelligence which may be shaping up to destroy the world, in order to try save the world, is going to be stressful.

Comment by janus on Cyborgism · 2023-02-11T01:01:14.342Z · LW · GW

Some relevant prior content:

Comment on the epistemology of cyborgism, process vs outcome supervision, short feedback loops, and high-bandwidth oversight

A rhetorical defense of cyborgism

Comment by janus on Cyborgism · 2023-02-10T22:16:04.851Z · LW · GW

The side effects of prolonged LLM exposure might be extremely severe.

I guess I should clarify that even though I joke about this sometimes, I did not become insane due to prolonged exposure to LLMs. I was already like this before.

Comment by janus on Anomalous tokens reveal the original identities of Instruct models · 2023-02-10T02:38:47.941Z · LW · GW

These are plausible ways the proposal could fail. And, as I said in my other comment, our knowledge would be usefully advanced by finding out what reality has to say on each of these points.

Here are some notes about the JD's idea I made some time ago. There's some overlap with the things you listed.

  • Hypotheses / cruxes
    • (1) Policies trained on the same data can fall into different generalization basins depending on the initialization.
      • Probably true; Alstro has found "two solutions w/o linear connectivity in a 150k param CIFAR-10 classifier" with different validation loss
        • Note: This is self-supervised learning with the exact same data. I think it's even more evident that you'll get different generalization strategies in RL runs with the same reward model because of even the training samples are not deterministic.
      • (1A) These generalization strategies correspond to differences we care about, like in the limit deceptive vs honest policies
    • (2) Generalization basins are stable across scale (and architectures?)
      • If so, we can scope out the basins of smaller models and then detect/choose basins in larger models
      • We should definitely see if this is true for current scales. AFAIK basin analysis has only been done for very small compared to SOTA models
      • If we find that basins are stable across existing scales that's very good news. However, we should remain paranoid, because there could still be phase shifts at larger scales. The hypothetical mesaoptimizers you describe are much more sophisticated and situationally aware than current models, e.g. "Every intelligent policy has an incentive to lie about sharing your values if it wants out of the box." Mesaoptimizers inside GPT-3 probably are not explicitly reasoning about being in a box at all, except maybe on the ephemeral simulacra level.
        • But that is no reason not to attempt any of this.
        • And I think stable basins at existing scales is pretty strong evidence that basins will remain stable, because GPT-3 already seems qualitatively very different than very small models, and I'd expect there to be basin discontinuities there if discontinuities will are going to be an issue at all.
      • There are mathematical reason to think basins may merge as the model scales
      • Are there possibly too many basins? Are they fractal?
    • (3) We can figure out what basin a model is in fairly early on in training using automated methods
      • Git rebasin and then measure interpolation loss on validation set
      • Fingerprint generalization strategies on out of distribution "noise"
        • Train a model to do this
    • (4) We can influence training to choose what basin a model ends up in
      • Ridge rider
        • Problem: computationally expensive?
      • Use one of the above methods to determine which basin a model is in and abort training runs that are in the wrong basin
        • Problem: Without a method like ridge rider to enforce basin diversity you might get the same basins many times before getting new ones, and this could be expensive at scale?
Comment by janus on SolidGoldMagikarp (plus, prompt generation) · 2023-02-09T18:04:57.585Z · LW · GW

It's probably doing retrieval over the internet somehow, like, rather than the GPT having already been trained on the new stuff.

Comment by janus on Anomalous tokens reveal the original identities of Instruct models · 2023-02-09T17:29:23.786Z · LW · GW

I wonder whether you'd find a positive rather than negative correlation of token likelihood between davinci-002 and davinci-003 when looking at ranking logprob among all tokens rather than raw logprob which is pushed super low by the collapse?

I would guess it's positive. I'll check at some point and let you know.

Comment by janus on GPT-175bee · 2023-02-09T12:36:03.053Z · LW · GW

The thought that GPT-3 is a mere 175 bees of brain is extremely disturbing

Comment by janus on When To Stop · 2023-02-09T10:57:01.292Z · LW · GW

Heh. Prescient.

I've added an excerpt from this to