Wouldn’t one project have more compute than the others, and thus pull ahead so long as funds lasted?
To have “more compute than all the others” seems to require already being a large fraction of all the world’s spending (since a large fraction of spending is on computers—or whatever bundle of inputs is about to let this project take over the world—unless you are positing a really bad mispricing). At that point we are talking “coalition of states” rather than “project.”
I totally agree that it wouldn’t be crazy for a major world power to pull ahead of others technologically and eventually be able to win a war handily, and that will tend happen over shorter and shorter timescales if economic and technological progress accelerate.
(Or you might think the project is a small fraction of world compute but larger than any other project, but if economies of scale are in fact this critical, then you are again suggesting a really gigantic market failure. That’s not beyond the pale, but we should be focusing on why this crazy market failure is happening.)
OK, so you agree with me about major world powers (nation-states) but still disagree about companies? I think this means we are closer together than it seemed, because I also think that decisive strategic advantage is significantly more likely to happen if a nation-state gets involved than if it’s just some private company.
I didn’t say “more compute than all the others,” I said “more compute than the others,” by which I meant more compute than any particular other project, yeah. This is consistent with a large fraction of the world’s spending being on compute already. For example, today Deepmind (citation needed) has the largest compute budget of any AI project, but their compute budget is a tiny fraction of the world’s total.
I’m not sure whether or not I’m positing a gigantic market failure. Your claim is that if compute is so important for AI technology and AI technology is so useful, the market will either fail or find ways to get a large fraction of its budget spent on a single AI project? This single project would then be a potential source of DSA but it would also be so big already that it could take over the world by selling products instead? I’m putting question marks not out of sarcasm or anything, just genuine uncertainty about what your claim is. Before I can respond to it I need to understand it.