Steering AI to care for animals, and soon

I’m worried that animal welfare advocates might neglect the importance of AI in determining what happens to animals. More specifically, I’m worried that the value

  • {animal welfare matters}

and the true-according-to-me belief

  • {AI is going to transform and determine most of what happens on Earth}

… don’t exist in same person often enough, such that opportunities to steer AI technology toward applications that care for animals could go under-served.

Of course, we could hope that AI alignment solutions, if effective in protecting human wellbeing, would likely serve animals as well. But I’m not so sure, and I’d like to see more efforts to change the memetic landscape among present-day humans to better recognize the sentience and moral importance of of animal life, especially wild animals that we might not by default think of humanity as “responsible for”. The only concrete example I know of is the following, which seems to have had little support from or connection to EA:

  • https://​​​​ - a project using ML to translate the language of sperm whale in their natural habitat. As far as I know, they are not fully funded, could probably use support from EAs, and I think the work they’re doing is in-principle feasible from a technical perspective.

Ideally, I’d like to see a lot more support for projects like the above, which increase AI <> animal welfare bandwidth over the next 3-5 years, before more break-neck progress in AI makes it even harder to influence people and steer where technology and its applications are going.

So! If you care about animals, and are starting to get more interested in importance of AI, please consider joining or supporting or starting projects that steer AI progress toward caring more about animals. I’m sad to say my day job is not addressing this problem nearly as well or as quickly as I’d like (although we will somewhat), so I wanted to issue a bit of a cry for help — or at least, a cry for “someone should do something here”.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and thanks for reading!