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.
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 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.
For artificial intelligence to be beneficial to humans the behaviour of AI agents needs to be aligned with what humans want. In this paper we discuss some behavioural issues for language agents, arising from accidental misspecification by the system designer. We highlight some ways that misspecification can occur and discuss some behavioural issues that could arise from misspecification, including deceptive or manipulative language, and review some approaches for avoiding these issues.
The real world is awash with multi-agent problems that require collective action by self-interested agents, from the routing of packets across a computer network to the management of irrigation systems. Such systems have local incentives for individuals, whose behavior has an impact on the global outcome for the group. Given appropriate mechanisms describing agent interaction, groups may achieve socially beneficial outcomes, even in the face of short-term selfish incentives. In many cases, collective action problems possess an underlying graph structure, whose topology crucially determines the relationship between local decisions and emergent global effects. Such scenarios have received great attention through the lens of network games. However, this abstraction typically collapses important dimensions, such as geometry and time, relevant to the design of mechanisms promoting cooperation. In parallel work, multi-agent deep reinforcement learning has shown great promise in modelling the emergence of self-organized cooperation in complex gridworld domains. Here we apply this paradigm in graph-structured collective action problems. Using multi-agent deep reinforcement learning, we simulate an agent society for a variety of plausible mechanisms, finding clear transitions between different equilibria over time. We define analytic tools inspired by related literatures to measure the social outcomes, and use these to draw conclusions about the efficacy of different environmental interventions. Our methods have implications for mechanism design in both human and artificial agent systems.