Generative AI systems produce a range of risks. To ensure the safety of generative AI systems, these risks must be evaluated. In this paper, we make two main contributions toward establishing such evaluations. First, we propose a three-layered framework that takes a structured, sociotechnical approach to evaluating these risks. This framework encompasses capability evaluations, which are the main current approach to safety evaluation. It then reaches further by building on system safety principles, particularly the insight that context determines whether a given capability may cause harm. To account for relevant context, our framework adds human interaction and systemic impacts as additional layers of evaluation. Second, we survey the current state of safety evaluation of generative AI systems and create a repository of existing evaluations. Three salient evaluation gaps emerge from this analysis. We propose ways forward to closing these gaps, outlining practical steps as well as roles and responsibilities for different actors. Sociotechnical safety evaluation is a tractable approach to the robust and comprehensive safety evaluation of generative AI systems.
Current approaches to building general-purpose AI systems tend to produce systems with both beneficial and harmful capabilities. Further progress in AI development could lead to capabilities that pose extreme risks, such as offensive cyber capabilities or strong manipulation skills. We explain why model evaluation is critical for addressing extreme risks. Developers must be able to identify dangerous capabilities (through "dangerous capability evaluations") and the propensity of models to apply their capabilities for harm (through "alignment evaluations"). These evaluations will become critical for keeping policymakers and other stakeholders informed, and for making responsible decisions about model training, deployment, and security.
Xenophobia is one of the key drivers of marginalisation, discrimination, and conflict, yet many prominent machine learning (ML) fairness frameworks fail to comprehensively measure or mitigate the resulting xenophobic harms. Here we aim to bridge this conceptual gap and help facilitate safe and ethical design of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. We ground our analysis of the impact of xenophobia by first identifying distinct types of xenophobic harms, and then applying this framework across a number of prominent AI application domains, reviewing the potential interplay between AI and xenophobia on social media and recommendation systems, healthcare, immigration, employment, as well as biases in large pre-trained models. These help inform our recommendations towards an inclusive, xenophilic design of future AI systems.
Research on fairness, accountability, transparency and ethics of AI-based interventions in society has gained much-needed momentum in recent years. However it lacks an explicit alignment with a set of normative values and principles that guide this research and interventions. Rather, an implicit consensus is often assumed to hold for the values we impart into our models - something that is at odds with the pluralistic world we live in. In this paper, we put forth the doctrine of universal human rights as a set of globally salient and cross-culturally recognized set of values that can serve as a grounding framework for explicit value alignment in responsible AI - and discuss its efficacy as a framework for civil society partnership and participation. We argue that a human rights framework orients the research in this space away from the machines and the risks of their biases, and towards humans and the risks to their rights, essentially helping to center the conversation around who is harmed, what harms they face, and how those harms may be mitigated.
* Presented as a (non-archival) poster at the 2022 ACM Conference on
Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms, and Optimization or (EAAMO '22)
We present Sparrow, an information-seeking dialogue agent trained to be more helpful, correct, and harmless compared to prompted language model baselines. We use reinforcement learning from human feedback to train our models with two new additions to help human raters judge agent behaviour. First, to make our agent more helpful and harmless, we break down the requirements for good dialogue into natural language rules the agent should follow, and ask raters about each rule separately. We demonstrate that this breakdown enables us to collect more targeted human judgements of agent behaviour and allows for more efficient rule-conditional reward models. Second, our agent provides evidence from sources supporting factual claims when collecting preference judgements over model statements. For factual questions, evidence provided by Sparrow supports the sampled response 78% of the time. Sparrow is preferred more often than baselines while being more resilient to adversarial probing by humans, violating our rules only 8% of the time when probed. Finally, we conduct extensive analyses showing that though our model learns to follow our rules it can exhibit distributional biases.
Large-scale language technologies are increasingly used in various forms of communication with humans across different contexts. One particular use case for these technologies is conversational agents, which output natural language text in response to prompts and queries. This mode of engagement raises a number of social and ethical questions. For example, what does it mean to align conversational agents with human norms or values? Which norms or values should they be aligned with? And how can this be accomplished? In this paper, we propose a number of steps that help answer these questions. We start by developing a philosophical analysis of the building blocks of linguistic communication between conversational agents and human interlocutors. We then use this analysis to identify and formulate ideal norms of conversation that can govern successful linguistic communication between humans and conversational agents. Furthermore, we explore how these norms can be used to align conversational agents with human values across a range of different discursive domains. We conclude by discussing the practical implications of our proposal for the design of conversational agents that are aligned with these norms and values.
Large language models produce human-like text that drive a growing number of applications. However, recent literature and, increasingly, real world observations, have demonstrated that these models can generate language that is toxic, biased, untruthful or otherwise harmful. Though work to evaluate language model harms is under way, translating foresight about which harms may arise into rigorous benchmarks is not straightforward. To facilitate this translation, we outline six ways of characterizing harmful text which merit explicit consideration when designing new benchmarks. We then use these characteristics as a lens to identify trends and gaps in existing benchmarks. Finally, we apply them in a case study of the Perspective API, a toxicity classifier that is widely used in harm benchmarks. Our characteristics provide one piece of the bridge that translates between foresight and effective evaluation.
Language modelling provides a step towards intelligent communication systems by harnessing large repositories of written human knowledge to better predict and understand the world. In this paper, we present an analysis of Transformer-based language model performance across a wide range of model scales -- from models with tens of millions of parameters up to a 280 billion parameter model called Gopher. These models are evaluated on 152 diverse tasks, achieving state-of-the-art performance across the majority. Gains from scale are largest in areas such as reading comprehension, fact-checking, and the identification of toxic language, but logical and mathematical reasoning see less benefit. We provide a holistic analysis of the training dataset and model's behaviour, covering the intersection of model scale with bias and toxicity. Finally we discuss the application of language models to AI safety and the mitigation of downstream harms.
This paper aims to help structure the risk landscape associated with large-scale Language Models (LMs). In order to foster advances in responsible innovation, an in-depth understanding of the potential risks posed by these models is needed. A wide range of established and anticipated risks are analysed in detail, drawing on multidisciplinary expertise and literature from computer science, linguistics, and social sciences. We outline six specific risk areas: I. Discrimination, Exclusion and Toxicity, II. Information Hazards, III. Misinformation Harms, V. Malicious Uses, V. Human-Computer Interaction Harms, VI. Automation, Access, and Environmental Harms. The first area concerns the perpetuation of stereotypes, unfair discrimination, exclusionary norms, toxic language, and lower performance by social group for LMs. The second focuses on risks from private data leaks or LMs correctly inferring sensitive information. The third addresses risks arising from poor, false or misleading information including in sensitive domains, and knock-on risks such as the erosion of trust in shared information. The fourth considers risks from actors who try to use LMs to cause harm. The fifth focuses on risks specific to LLMs used to underpin conversational agents that interact with human users, including unsafe use, manipulation or deception. The sixth discusses the risk of environmental harm, job automation, and other challenges that may have a disparate effect on different social groups or communities. In total, we review 21 risks in-depth. We discuss the points of origin of different risks and point to potential mitigation approaches. Lastly, we discuss organisational responsibilities in implementing mitigations, and the role of collaboration and participation. We highlight directions for further research, particularly on expanding the toolkit for assessing and evaluating the outlined risks in LMs.