The Misalignment Museum opened yesterday in San Francisco. The museum describes itself on its website this way:
The Misalignment Museum is an art installation with the purpose of increasing knowledge about Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and its power for destruction and good. Our hope is to inspire and build support to formulate and enact risk mitigation measures we can take to ensure a positive future in the advent of AGI.
The development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) has dramatically accelerated scientific and technological advancement, and is rapidly bringing humanity to an unfamiliar future. As a society, we are becoming more beholden to interfacing with machines to operate and to make decisions that affect people's lives (e.g. computer aided decision-making in healthcare, criminal justice, lending). If this technology is not developed in alignment with human values and judgement, the advent of Artificial General Intelligence (AI that can understand or learn any intellectual task that a human-being can) could destabilize civilization and even lead to a destruction of humanity. It also has enormous potential to radically improve life and evolve civilization.
We are in a position to have a huge impact on the future of humanity through developing the technology and the appropriate safeguards against misaligned goals in artificial intelligence to harness its amazing possibilities. We hope to elevate public discourse and understanding of this powerful technology to inspire thoughtful collaboration, appropriate regulatory environment, and progress towards a hopeful, vibrant future.
On its opening day, WIRED published a great article about the museum, which author Khari Johnson describes as the "museum of the future AI apocalypse" and "a memorial to an imagined future in which artificial general intelligence kills most of humanity." Johnson explains the vision of the museum:
The Misalignment Museum imagines a future in which AI starts to take the route mapped out in countless science fiction films—becoming self-aware and setting about killing off humanity. Fortunately, in Kim's vision the algorithms self-correct and stop short of killing all people. Her museum, packed with artistic allegories about AI and art made with AI assistance, is presented as a memorial of humankind's future near-miss with extinction.
"It's weird, because it's such a terrifying topic, but it makes me happy people are interested," [exhibit curator Aubrey] Kim says from a coffee shop across the street. As we talk, we watch passersby peer into the gallery space—fittingly located eight blocks from the offices of OpenAI—that has a prominent "Sorry for killing most of humanity" sign along one wall.
Johnson further describes the exhibit:
The project started five months ago, shortly before ChatGPT sparked expectation in the tech industry and beyond that we are on the cusp of a wave of AI disruption and somehow closer to the nebulous concept of artificial general intelligence, or AGI. There's no consensus about the definition of AGI, but the museum calls it the ability to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human can.
Kim says the museum is meant to raise conversations about the destabilizing implications of supposedly intelligent technology. The collection is split across two floors, with more optimistic visions of our AI-infused upstairs, and dystopian ones on the lower level.
AI is clearly one of today's hottest topics of debate, intrigue, praise, and fear. This exhibit sounds terrific, and I'd love to get to San Francisco to see it. If you're in the area and want to check it out, the temporary exhibit is funded until May, 2023, and is located at 201 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94103-2312. You can find out more at their website and on their socials.