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[1804.04268] Incomplete Contracting and AI Alignment
We suggest that the analysis of incomplete contracting developed by law and economics researchers can provide a useful framework for understanding the AI alignment problem and help to generate a systematic approach to finding solutions. We first provide an overview of the incomplete contracting literature and explore parallels between this work and the problem of AI alignment. As we emphasize, misalignment between principal and agent is a core focus of economic analysis. We highlight some technical results from the economics literature on incomplete contracts that may provide insights for AI alignment researchers. Our core contribution, however, is to bring to bear an insight that economists have been urged to absorb from legal scholars and other behavioral scientists: the fact that human contracting is supported by substantial amounts of external structure, such as generally available institutions (culture, law) that can supply implied terms to fill the gaps in incomplete contracts. We propose a research agenda for AI alignment work that focuses on the problem of how to build AI that can replicate the human cognitive processes that connect individual incomplete contracts with this supporting external structure.
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3 days ago by nhaliday
Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata - John von Neumann

Comparisons between computing machines and the nervous systems. Estimates of size for computing machines, present and near future.

Estimates for size for the human central nervous system. Excursus about the “mixed” character of living organisms. Analog and digital elements. Observations about the “mixed” character of all componentry, artificial as well as natural. Interpretation of the position to be taken with respect to these.

Evaluation of the discrepancy in size between artificial and natural automata. Interpretation of this discrepancy in terms of physical factors. Nature of the materials used.

The probability of the presence of other intellectual factors. The role of complication and the theoretical penetration that it requires.

Questions of reliability and errors reconsidered. Probability of individual errors and length of procedure. Typical lengths of procedure for computing machines and for living organisms--that is, for artificial and for natural automata. Upper limits on acceptable probability of error in individual operations. Compensation by checking and self-correcting features.

Differences of principle in the way in which errors are dealt with in artificial and in natural automata. The “single error” principle in artificial automata. Crudeness of our approach in this case, due to the lack of adequate theory. More sophisticated treatment of this problem in natural automata: The role of the autonomy of parts. Connections between this autonomy and evolution.

- 10^10 neurons in brain, 10^4 vacuum tubes in largest computer at time
- machines faster: 5 ms from neuron potential to neuron potential, 10^-3 ms for vacuum tubes
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3 days ago by nhaliday
[1804.01619] Stability and Convergence Trade-off of Iterative Optimization Algorithms
The overall performance or expected excess risk of an iterative machine learning algorithm can be decomposed into training error and generalization error. While the former is controlled by its convergence analysis, the latter can be tightly handled by algorithmic stability. The machine learning community has a rich history investigating convergence and stability separately. However, the question about the trade-off between these two quantities remains open. In this paper, we show that for any iterative algorithm at any iteration, the overall performance is lower bounded by the minimax statistical error over an appropriately chosen loss function class. This implies an important trade-off between convergence and stability of the algorithm -- a faster converging algorithm has to be less stable, and vice versa. As a direct consequence of this fundamental tradeoff, new convergence lower bounds can be derived for classes of algorithms constrained with different stability bounds. In particular, when the loss function is convex (or strongly convex) and smooth, we discuss the stability upper bounds of gradient descent (GD) and stochastic gradient descent and their variants with decreasing step sizes. For Nesterov's accelerated gradient descent (NAG) and heavy ball method (HB), we provide stability upper bounds for the quadratic loss function. Applying existing stability upper bounds for the gradient methods in our trade-off framework, we obtain lower bounds matching the well-established convergence upper bounds up to constants for these algorithms and conjecture similar lower bounds for NAG and HB. Finally, we numerically demonstrate the tightness of our stability bounds in terms of exponents in the rate and also illustrate via a simulated logistic regression problem that our stability bounds reflect the generalization errors better than the simple uniform convergence bounds for GD and NAG.
papers  to-read  machine-learning  optimization  stability  heard-the-talk 
4 days ago by mraginsky

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