It is true that we have seen over two decades of alignment research, but the alignment community has been fairly small all this time. I’m wondering what a much larger community could have done.
I start to get concerned when I look at humanity’s non-AI alignment successes and failures; we’ve had corporations for hundreds of years, and a significant portion of humanity have engaged in corporate alignment-related activities (regulation, lawmaking, governance etc, assuming you consider those forces to generally be pro-alignment in principle). Corporations and governments have exhibited a strong tendency to become less aligned as they grow. (Corporate rapsheets, if a source is needed.)
We’ve also been in the company of humans for millenia, and we haven’t been entirely successful in aligning ourselves, if you consider war, murder, terrorism, poverty, child abuse, climate change and others to be symptoms of individual-level misalignment (in addition to corporate/government misalignment).
It’s hard for me to be hopeful for AI alignment if I believe that a) humans individually can be very misaligned; b) corporations and governments can be very misaligned; and c) that AGI/ASI (even if generally aligned) will be under the control of very misaligned any-of-the-above at some point.
I think it’s great that alignment problems are getting more attention, and hope we find solid solutions. I’m disheartened by humanity’s (ironically?) poor track record of achieving solid alignment in our pre-AI endeavours. I’m glad that Bengio draws parallels between AI alignment problems and corporate alignment, individual alignment, and evolutionary pressures, because I think there is still much to learn by looking outside of AI for ideas about where alignment attempts may go wrong or be subverted.