Risk Assessment at AGI Companies: A Review of Popular Risk Assessment Techniques From Other Safety-Critical Industries
Companies like OpenAI, Google DeepMind, and Anthropic have the stated goal of building artificial general intelligence (AGI) - AI systems that perform as well as or better than humans on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. However, there are increasing concerns that AGI would pose catastrophic risks. In light of this, AGI companies need to drastically improve their risk management practices. To support such efforts, this paper reviews popular risk assessment techniques from other safety-critical industries and suggests ways in which AGI companies could use them to assess catastrophic risks from AI. The paper discusses three risk identification techniques (scenario analysis, fishbone method, and risk typologies and taxonomies), five risk analysis techniques (causal mapping, Delphi technique, cross-impact analysis, bow tie analysis, and system-theoretic process analysis), and two risk evaluation techniques (checklists and risk matrices). For each of them, the paper explains how they work, suggests ways in which AGI companies could use them, discusses their benefits and limitations, and makes recommendations. Finally, the paper discusses when to conduct risk assessments, when to use which technique, and how to use any of them. The reviewed techniques will be obvious to risk management professionals in other industries. And they will not be sufficient to assess catastrophic risks from AI. However, AGI companies should not skip the straightforward step of reviewing best practices from other industries.