Thesis Week 11 (Spring)


Today is a day off. Let me go find a holiday… checkiday claims it’s national goof off day, which is honestly a pretty great coincidence. It’s only three days after Mojoday, I’ll just say its a late Mojoday. I spent all morning cleaning, and took a nap. The roommates and I stayed up late last night watching Tenet and playing games, and today has paid the price. Worth it because we almost never all get together anymore. So no work on the thesis today. I’m taking a vacation day.


Good news is that I’m caught up on sleep. Bad news is I got here at 11. Oops. Even better news is I have feedback and guidance from my thesis advisor! He had some small edits and structural changes to suggest but overall likes what I’ve written so far. He suggested a handful of papers for me to read to get some new content, and that I’m probably just feeling stuck because I’ve covered all the material I’ve read so far.

I’ll do a quick review of each paper to get an idea for how they fit in.

Oh also Annie suggested that I create a software development section in the paper, I think I’ll do that as a way to use up a few pages and provide some substance in the paper to anchor that side of the project to (otherwise it would only be mentioned briefly and most readers wouldn’t notice it).

Towards Accountable AI: Hybrid Human-Machine Analysis for Characterizing System Failure

This is a great paper - they present “Pandora”, an image captioning system with extremely well thought out interpretability and human-in-the-loop design features. I don’t understand it that well after just one read through, but the point I’m going to make with it is that this is an example of the kinds of improvements that are desirable in machine learning systems, extra components that help interpret why failures happen. Of course, these analysis tools can themselves fail, leading to a greater degree of confusion than if they weren’t in place to begin with (faulty gauge problem). That’s not an argument against having safety measures, just a note that they can introduce new and surprising failures of their own and those should be weighed in when making design decisions.

Adversarial Examples Are Not Bugs, They Are Features

You know you have a strong point to make when you boldly state it in the title. This is probably the most helpful title-meme that’s come about recently, almost the opposite of “considered harmful” which is itself pretty harmful when overused.

They make the case that standard classifiers are actually doing what we want them to when learning non-robust (aka easily missed by a human) features of a dataset, which despite being non-robust, transfer well to the test set and other data sets. So by making a robust classifier, you might also be making a less accurate or even less useful classifier. Not only that, but adversarial examples are only incorrect from a human point of view, and this brings in alignment. The classifier’s predictions are not aligned with ours once adversarial perturbations have been applied, but they are only wrong from a human perspective. From the perspective of the learner, the perturbed images have had meaningful changes made to them.

Explainable AI for System Failures: Generating Explanations that Improve Human Assistance in Fault Recovery

This looks like an improvement on previous error-explanation systems which also tries to give an explanation for why something went wrong, and has pretty good accuracy for the example they gave of a free-moving household pick and place robot. Also the name “XAI” for eXplainable AI is a bit unsettling because it immediately brings to mind “AIXI” which is despite its incomputability, is still terrifying.

Morality, Machines and the Interpretation Problem: A value-based, Wittgensteinian approach to building Moral Agents

Wow that’s quite a title. Also this is a loooong paper, and extremely dense. I’m going to skip it for now so I can finish the others, but I think it has a lot of good content.

The AI Accident Network: Artificial Intelligence Liability Meets Network Theory

This one is basically a book! But it approaches from a legal perspective (which I know nothing about) and a network perspective (I don’t know what that means). So it’ll be valuable as a different perspective.

That’s all for today! Be back Thursday.


Today I’m going to work on some of the corrections/suggestions that Dr. Yampolskiy sent me. Also I am really tired this morning. Unusually so, especially since I’ve had enough and consistent sleep the past few days.

  1. Move terminology to the appendix, also typo: “metal” should be “mental”.
  2. Support (or change) the claim the most AI failures are not malicious. A statistical analysis would be forthright.
  3. I called the dangers of AI “AI Safety” where it would make sense to call it “AI risk”
  4. The NAT diagram and reframed NAT diagram is borrowed directly from Shrivastava, I need to make sure I’m not violating copyright. I guess I should email the authors? Or I could remake the diagram, which would have the added bonus of being vectorized. Actually, I should do both.

That’s all for today. There is more to the list, I’ll be picking it up tomorrow.

TODO email Shrivastava about using diagrams, and remake them using latex plotting.


Aw gee, do I really want to do that? It’ll take all day. Actual, I reviewed the journal’s conditions and it sounds like that I’m allowed to use up to three figures without needing to request permission:

That’s nice. So now I can move on to the rest of the list.

  1. Try to frame autonomy as unpredictability? (links to “Unpredictability of AI”)’
  2. “it” should be “is” on page 21

Next time I send a pdf to Dr. Yampolskiy, it needs to show where the changed content is. I should undo back to when I made that pdf and take a checkpoint. Done, I saved a checkpoint as “2”, a vim trick I learned by accident - if you enter :w2 or :w1 or so on, it saves as as file with that name. It’s actually :w name but by starting with a number the tokenizer breaks the command and the name apart.

I just learned about latexdiff - it works perfectly right out of the box! I can’t believe it, honestly. I just ran latexdiff 2 main.tex > diff.tex then typeset diff.tex and it crossed out deleted text and underlined in blue new text. So… nifty! Nift nift nift.

Anyway. I’m back late from lunch break. I think I’m very sleepy today, I might have stayed up later than I though I did reading. So. That bulk of what’s left of my paper is going to come from these publications that Dr. Yampolskiy sent me. He also said that once I worked through those, he had more to send me, so I better chomp through these as quickly as I can. I also have exactly two weeks left. I think I’ll take away Wednesdays off, and add an extra hour here and there. Not today though. Gee, I also need to take extra good care of my sleep in the weeks to come, and part of that is exercising. I don’t even dislike exercise, I just run out of the will to do it. Ugh.

There’s only about an hour left today. I’ll make a related works section for one of the papers and call it good. It’s okay if 60% of my paper is related works, since it is a thesis, after all. As long as the works are actually related (even if they’ve been forced to relate).

Well… it was a good try. I’m going to work on some homework that’s due soon instead for the rest of the time.