We do foundational mathematical research to ensure smarter-than-human artificial intelligence has a positive impact.
The Machine Intelligence Research Institute is a research nonprofit studying the mathematical underpinnings of intelligent behavior. Our mission is to develop formal tools for the clean design and analysis of general-purpose AI systems, with the intent of making such systems safer and more reliable when they are developed.
The field of AI has a reputation for overselling its progress. In the “AI winters” of the late 1970s and 1980s, researchers’ failures to make good on ambitious promises led to a collapse of funding and interest in AI. Although the field is now undergoing a renaissance, overconfidence is still a major fear; discussion of the possibility of human-equivalent general intelligence is still largely relegated to the science fiction shelf.
At the same time, researchers largely agree that AI is likely to begin outperforming humans on most cognitive tasks in this century. Given how disruptive domain-general AI could be, we think it is prudent to begin a conversation about this now, and to investigate whether there are limited areas in which we can predict and shape this technology’s societal impact.
Researchers at MIRI tend to be relatively agnostic about how the state of the art in AI will change over the coming decades, and how many years off smarter-than human AI systems are.