Summary

  • We are a new research initiative working on investigating trends in machine learning and forecasting the development of transformative Artificial Intelligence
  • This work is done in close collaboration with other organizations, like Rethink Priorities and Open Philanthropy
  • We will be hiring for 2-4 full-time roles this summer – more information here

What is Epoch AI?

Epoch AI is a new research organization that works to support AI strategy and improve forecasts around the development of transformative Artificial Intelligence – AI systems that have the potential to have an effect on society as large as that of the industrial revolution.

Our founding team consists of seven members – Jaime Sevilla, Tamay Besiroglu, Lennart Heim, Pablo Villalobos, Edu Roldán, Marius Hobbhahn, and Anson Ho. Collectively, we have backgrounds in Machine Learning, Statistics, Economics, Forecasting, Physics, Computer Engineering, and Software Engineering.

Jaime Sevilla
Director

Jaime Sevilla is the director of Epoch AI. His research is focused on technological forecasting and the trajectory of AI. He has a background in Mathematics and Computer Science.

Tamay Besiroglu
Associate Director

Tamay Besiroglu is the associate director at Epoch AI. His work focuses on the economics of computing and big-picture trends in machine learning. Previously, he was a researcher at the Future Tech Lab at MIT, led strategy for Metaculus, consulted for the UK Government, and worked at the Future of Humanity Institute.

Lennart Heim
Strategy Specialist

Lennart Heim supports Epoch AI’s research and strategy. He extracts the strategy and policy implications of Epoch AI’s investigation for the AI governance community.
In his primary role, Lennart is a researcher at RAND. He leads the compute research in the Technology and Security Policy Center within RAND Global and Emerging Risks. His research interests include the role of compute in the production of AI, the compute supply chain, forecasting emerging technologies, and the security of AI systems.

Pablo Villalobos
Staff Researcher

Pablo Villalobos has a background in Mathematics and Computer Science. After spending some time as a software engineer, he decided to pivot towards AI. His interests include the economic consequences of advanced AI systems and the role of algorithmic improvements in AI progress.

Marius Hobbhahn
Research Fellow

Marius Hobbhahn builds models for AI timelines and takeoff using historical trends and his best understanding of the future.

Anson Ho
Staff Researcher

Anson Ho is a researcher at Epoch AI. He is interested in helping develop a more rigorous understanding of future developments in AI and its societal impacts. Prior to this, he completed his BSc in physics at the University of St Andrews.

Edu Roldán
Software Engineer

Edu Roldán is a software developer at Epoch AI. He maintains the website and assists with other programming tasks, helping the team to delve into research.

Our work involves close collaboration with other organizations, Open Philanthropy, and Rethink PrioritiesAI Governance and Strategy team. We are advised by Tom Davidson from Open Philanthropy and Neil Thompson. Rethink Priorities is also our fiscal sponsor.

Our mission

Epoch AI seeks to clarify when and how transformative AI capabilities will be developed.

We see these two problems as core questions for informing AI strategy decisions by grantmakers, policy-makers, and technical researchers.1

We believe that to make good progress on these questions we need to advance towards a field of AI forecasting. We are committed to developing tools, gathering data and creating a scientific ecosystem to make collective progress towards this goal.

Our research agenda

Our work at Epoch AI encompasses two interconnected lines of research:

  • The analysis of trends in machine learning. We aim to gather data on what has been happening in the field during the last two decades, explain it, and extrapolate the results to inform our views on the future of AI.

  • The development of quantitative forecasting models related to advanced AI capabilities. We seek to use techniques from economics and statistics to predict when and how AI will be developed.

These two research strands feed into each other: the analysis of trends informs the choice of parameters in quantitative models, and the development of these models brings clarity on the most important trends to analyze.

A sketch of Epoch AI’s research agenda. We plan to develop quantitative models to forecast advanced AI capabilities, and to research and extrapolate trends in machine learning.

Besides this, we also plan to opportunistically research topics important for AI governance where we are well positioned to do so. These investigations might relate to compute governance, near-term advances in AI and other topics.

Our work so far

Earlier this year we published Compute Trends Across Three Eras of Machine Learning. We collected and analyzed data about the training compute budget of >100 machine learning models across history. Consistent with our commitment to field building, we have released the associated dataset and an interactive visualization tool to help other researchers understand these trends better. This work has been featured in Our World in Data, in The Economist and at the OECD.

More recently we have published Grokking “Forecasting TAI with biological anchors” and Grokking “Semi-informative priors over AI timelines”. In these pieces, Anson Ho dissects two popular AI forecasting models. These are the two first installments of a series of articles covering work on quantitative forecasting of when we will develop transformative AI.

Diagram summarizing Ajeya Cotra’s biological anchors model.

You can see more of our work on our blog. Here is a selection of further work by Epoch AI members:

Hiring

We expect to be hiring for several full-time research and management roles this summer. Salaries range from $60,000 for entry roles to $80,000 for senior roles.

If you think you might be a good fit for us, please apply! If you’re unsure whether this is the right role for you, we strongly encourage you to apply anyway. Please register your interest for these roles through our webpage.


  1. Here is a post by Buck Shlegeris of Redwood Research which argues that takeoff speeds are highly relevant to AI Alignment research.