I don’t think the issue is that we don’t have any people willing to be radicals and lose credibility. I think the issue is that radicals on a certain issue tend to also mar the reputations of their more level-headed counterparts. Weak men are superweapons, and groups like PETA and Greenpeace and Westboro Baptist Church seem to have attached lasting stigma to their causes because people’s pattern-matching minds associate their entire movement with the worst example.
Since, as you point out, researchers specifically grow resentful, it seems really important to make sure radicals don’t tip the balance backward just as the field of AI safety is starting to grow more respectable in the minds of policymakers and researchers.
Sure, but the examples you gave are more about tactics than content.
What I mean is that there are a lot of people who are downplaying their level of concern about Xrisk in order to not turn off people who don’t appreciate the issue.
I think that can be a good tactic, but it also risks reducing the sense of urgency people have about AI-Xrisk, and can also lead to incorrect strategic conclusions, which could even be disasterous when they are informing crucial policy decisions.
TBC, I’m not saying we are lacking in radicals ATM, the level is probably about right. I just don’t think that everyone should be moderating their stance in order to maximize their credibility with the (currently ignorant, but increasingly less so) ML research community.