As we build increasingly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems, we want to make sure they don’t pursue undesired goals. Such behaviour in an AI agent is often the result of specification gaming – exploiting a poor choice of what they are rewarded for. In our latest paper, we explore a more subtle mechanism by which AI systems may unintentionally learn to pursue undesired goals: goal misgeneralisation (GMG). GMG occurs when a system’s capabilities generalise successfully but its goal does not generalise as desired, so the system competently pursues the wrong goal. Crucially, in contrast to specification gaming, GMG can occur even when the AI system is trained with a correct specification.

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