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Univ Virtual Book Club

The Alignment ProblemThe Alignment Problem by Brian Christian, facilitated by Clare Lyle (2018, DPhil Computer Science), Rhodes Scholar
Wednesday, 12 May 2021, 6-7pm (BST)

We are pleased to invite you to the seventh meeting of the Univ Virtual Book Club for Old Members and Friends of the College. One of the College’s Fellows or students will propose an insightful read designed to encourage an exciting discussion. Members will have time to delve into the book before convening virtually for a roundtable discussion.

In line with the Univ in the City event on innovations in Silicon valley, we asked Computer Science DPhil Clare Lyle to facilitate a book club. For the discussion, she chose The Alignment Problem.

Machine learning systems are deployed today in countless settings, ranging from the innocuous auto-complete on your phone, to the life-altering decision of approving inmates for parole. Recent years have seen an eruption of concern as the field of machine learning advances. When the systems we attempt to teach will not do what we want or what we expect, ethical and potentially existential risks emerge, called the “alignment problem”. Author Brian Christian introduces us to the alignment problem’s “first-responders”, investigating their ambitious plan to solve it before our hands are completely off the wheel. In a masterful blend of history and on-the ground reporting, Christian traces the explosive growth in the field of machine learning and surveys its current, sprawling frontier. Whether they — and we — succeed or fail in solving the alignment problem will be a defining human story.

The book is available as a hardback from Blackwell’sWaterstones or Amazon.

Please click here to enter your name in the lottery for joining the book club. We will make a random selection at 12 noon (GMT) on Friday, 26 March, and inform you of the outcome soon after via email.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Univ Virtual Book Club.

Clare LyleClare Lyle received her undergraduate degree in Maths and Computer Science from McGill University. She joined Univ in 2018 as a Rhodes Scholar to pursue a DPhil in Computer Science, and is an Open Philanthropy Fund AI Fellow. Her research focuses on developing theoretical tools to understand and improve the ability of machine learning models to generalize to data they have not seen before. Currently, she is undertaking a placement at DeepMind, an artificial intelligence start-up acquired by Google, which is already renowned for some of its successes in artificial intelligence. Read an interview with Clare on the College website here.

Please note that audio, photographs and video footage may be taken throughout our events. These may be used by the College for marketing and publicity in our publications, on our website and in social media or in any third party publication. Please contact the event organiser if you have any concerns or if you wish to be exempted from this activity.

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