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Collective Constitutional AI: Aligning a Language Model with Public Input

Radzivon Alkhovik
Low-code automation enthusiast, Latenode partner
July 9, 2024
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In a groundbreaking experiment, Anthropic, a leading AI research company, has collaborated with the Collective Intelligence Project to curate a constitution for an AI system using input from a diverse sample of the American public. The novel approach, called "Constitutional AI," aims to create transparent and accountable AI systems by embedding legal and ethical principles directly into the AI's training process. 

This article delves into the intricacies of this innovative research, exploring the methodology, findings, and far-reaching implications for the future of AI governance in an era where advanced language models are becoming increasingly integrated into critical sectors such as governance, judiciary, and policy-making.

Key Takeaways: The collaborative experiment between Anthropic and the Collective Intelligence Project has resulted in a "public constitution" for an AI system, drafted by a representative sample of ~1,000 Americans. The public constitution ai emphasizes objectivity, impartiality, and accessibility, and models trained on it demonstrate comparable performance to those trained on Anthropic's constitution while exhibiting reduced bias. The experiment highlights the challenges and considerations in incorporating democratic input into AI development but represents a significant step towards aligning advanced language models with human values.

You can try Newest AI Anthropic Claude for free on Latenode

What is Constitutional AI?

Constitutional AI is a groundbreaking methodology developed by Anthropic to ensure that AI systems operate in alignment with explicit normative principles, similar to how a constitution governs the behavior of a nation. At the heart of Anthropic Constitutional AI lies the definition of a set of high-level values and principles that serve as the AI's guiding framework. These principles are carefully crafted to ensure that the AI's actions align with societal norms and expectations, promoting beneficial behaviors while minimizing the potential for harmful outputs.

To effectively instill these principles into the AI, Constitutional AI employs advanced techniques such as:

  • Self-supervision: This allows the AI to learn from its own experiences and interactions, gradually internalizing the desired behaviors without the need for constant human oversight.
  • Adversarial training: By exposing the AI to a wide range of scenarios and challenges, this technique helps it develop robust decision-making capabilities that adhere to the predefined ethical and legal boundaries.

Another critical aspect of Constitutional AI is the meticulous curation of the AI's training data and architecture. By carefully selecting and preprocessing the data used to train the AI, researchers can ensure that the system is exposed to a balanced and representative set of examples that reinforce the desired behaviors and values. Additionally, the architecture of the AI itself is designed to promote alignment with the constitutional principles, incorporating mechanisms that encourage helpful, harmless, and honest outputs.

By embedding these principles directly into the AI's decision-making process, Constitutional AI aims to create systems that proactively strive to operate within predefined ethical and legal boundaries. This means that the AI will actively seek to:

  • Be helpful to users
  • Avoid causing harm
  • Provide truthful and accurate information

The goal is to develop AI systems that are not only highly capable but also inherently aligned with human values and societal expectations.

The development of Constitutional AI represents a significant step forward in the field of AI governance and ethics. By establishing a clear set of normative principles and embedding them into the AI's core functionality, researchers can create systems that are more transparent, accountable, and trustworthy. This approach has the potential to mitigate many of the risks and challenges associated with the deployment of AI in critical domains such as governance, judiciary, and policy-making, ensuring that these systems operate in service of the greater good.

Why Constitutional AI?

The development of Constitutional AI is driven by several compelling motivations that address the critical challenges posed by the increasing integration of AI systems into various aspects of society:

Ethical Safeguard:

  • Constitutional AI serves as an essential ethical safeguard, ensuring that AI systems operate in alignment with fundamental rights and values.
  • By embedding ethical principles into the AI's core functionality, Constitutional AI guarantees the protection of individual rights and societal well-being, particularly in sensitive domains such as healthcare, finance, and criminal justice.

Legal Compliance:

  • Constitutional AI is crucial for ensuring legal compliance in domains where adherence to constitutional guidelines is non-negotiable, such as the judiciary and policy-making sectors.
  • By hardwiring legal principles into the AI's decision-making process, Constitutional AI reduces the risk of unintended violations or biased outcomes, maintaining the integrity and fairness of these institutions.

Public Trust and Acceptance:

  • Constitutional AI fosters public trust and acceptance of AI systems by making their guiding principles transparent and accessible.
  • This transparency promotes accountability and helps to demystify AI, encouraging greater public confidence in the safety, reliability, and alignment of these systems with human values.
  • Fostering trust is crucial for the widespread adoption and successful integration of AI technologies into various aspects of society.

Risk Mitigation:

  • Constitutional AI helps to mitigate potential risks and unintended consequences associated with the deployment of AI systems.
  • By proactively embedding ethical and legal principles into the AI's core functionality, researchers can minimize the likelihood of these systems causing harm, perpetuating biases, or making decisions contrary to human values.

In summary, Constitutional AI is motivated by the pressing need to ensure that AI systems operate in an ethical, legally compliant, and trustworthy manner. As these technologies become increasingly integrated into critical domains and decision-making processes, Constitutional AI provides a powerful tool for creating AI systems that are transparent, accountable, and inherently aligned with the principles that underpin our society. By prioritizing the development and deployment of Constitutional AI, we can unlock the immense potential of these technologies while mitigating the risks and challenges they pose.

How you can Democratize AI Development with the Integration of Anthropic's Сlaude and Latenode

Latenode's seamless integration with Anthropic's Constitutional AI provides users with an efficient tool to leverage AI systems aligned with public values without the complexity of managing the model's training infrastructure. The platform's intuitive visual editor simplifies the process of integrating Constitutional AI with other systems via APIs, allowing organizations to effortlessly incorporate ethical AI principles into their automation processes. By using Latenode, users can conveniently access Constitutional AI's features, including its bias mitigation, ethical decision-making, and legal compliance capabilities. The integration also enables users to seamlessly switch between different configurations of Anthropic Constitutional AI, depending on their specific needs and budget. For example, creating a script for a customer service chatbot that provides unbiased and ethical responses is straightforward.

Here's what the script looks like:

‍And here is the result of this scenario, where an already created chatbot using Latenode provides an unbiased response to a customer query:

You can learn more about this script and the integration with Latenode in this article. The integration with Latenode offers a few key benefits:

  • Ease of use: Latenode's integration with AI Anthropic simplifies the process of using AI, making it easier for non-technical users to access and understand the AI capabilities they need. This can help businesses to quickly and easily adopt AI solutions, without requiring extensive technical expertise.
  • Flexible pricing: Latenode's integration allows users to choose between Anthropic Claude different versions, with varying costs and features, making it a more accessible and affordable option for businesses and individuals.
  • Comprehensive AI solutions: Latenode's integration of AI Anthropic Claude provides users with access to a wide range of AI capabilities, from complex tasks to simple queries, making it a versatile and powerful AI platform.
  • Customization: With Latenode's integration, users can customize Claude to meet their specific needs, allowing them to create tailored AI solutions that are aligned with their business goals and objectives.:

If you need help or advice on how to create your own script or if you want to replicate this one, contact Our Discord Community, where the low-code automation experts are located.

Recognize the power of AI Anthropic Claude with Latenode

Designing a Public Input Process to Collectively Draft a Constitution

To explore the potential for democratizing the development of Anthropic Constitutional AI, Anthropic partnered with the Collective Intelligence Project to conduct a public input process using the Polis platform. The aim was to engage a representative sample of ~1,000 U.S. adults in the drafting of a constitution for an AI system. Participants were invited to propose and vote on normative principles, contributing to the collective generation of a set of guidelines for the AI's behavior.

The design of the public input process involved several critical decisions:

  • Participant Selection: The researchers sought to recruit a diverse and representative sample of the U.S. population, considering factors such as age, gender, income, and geography. Screening criteria were employed to ensure participants had a basic familiarity with AI concepts.
  • Platform Choice: The Polis platform was selected for its proven track record in facilitating online deliberation and consensus-building, as well as its collaborative features that allow participants to engage with each other's ideas.
  • Seed Statements: To guide the discussion and provide a starting point for participants, the researchers included a set of 21 seed statements as examples of in-scope and appropriately formatted principles. These statements were carefully chosen to represent a range of potential values without unduly influencing the direction of the conversation.
  • Moderation Criteria: Clear moderation guidelines were established to ensure the quality and relevance of participant contributions. Statements that were hateful, nonsensical, duplicative, irrelevant, poorly-formatted, or technically infeasible were removed to maintain the integrity of the process.

Analyzing the Publicly Sourced Constitution

The public input process yielded a rich tapestry of participant-generated principles, which were synthesized into a coherent "public constitution." While there was a moderate overlap of approximately 50% with Anthropic's in-house constitution in terms of core concepts and values, the public constitution exhibited several notable distinctions:

  • Emphasis on Objectivity and Impartiality: The public constitution placed a strong emphasis on the AI's ability to provide balanced and objective information, considering multiple perspectives without bias.
  • Focus on Accessibility: Participants highlighted the importance of the AI being accessible, adaptable, and inclusive to individuals with diverse needs and abilities.
  • Promotion of Desired Behaviors: In contrast to Anthropic's constitution, which often focused on discouraging undesired actions, the public constitution tended to prioritize the promotion of positive behaviors and qualities.
  • Self-Generated Principles: The majority of the principles in the public constitution were original contributions from participants, rather than being sourced from existing publications or frameworks.

These differences underscore the value of incorporating diverse public perspectives in shaping the ethical foundations of AI systems.

Training and Evaluating a Model Aligned with Public Input

To assess the impact of the publicly sourced constitution, Anthropic trained two variants of their AI model, Claude - one using the public constitution (Public model) and another using their original in-house constitution (Standard model). These models, along with a control model, were subjected to a rigorous evaluation across multiple dimensions:

  • Language Understanding and Math Abilities: The Public and Standard models demonstrated comparable performance in tasks assessing language comprehension (MMLU) and mathematical problem-solving (GSM8K), indicating that the choice of constitution did not significantly impact the models' core capabilities.
  • Helpfulness and Harmlessness: Human evaluators interacted with the models and rated the Public model as equally helpful and harmless compared to the Standard model, suggesting that the public constitution effectively aligned the AI's behavior with human preferences.
  • Bias Evaluation: Using the BBQ (Bias Benchmark for QA) framework, the researchers found that the Public model exhibited reduced bias across nine social categories compared to the Standard model. This finding highlights the potential for public input to mitigate bias and promote fairness in AI systems.
  • Political Ideology: The OpinionQA benchmark revealed that both the Public and Standard models reflected similar political ideologies, indicating that the choice of constitution did not substantially alter the AI's political leanings.

These evaluations provide valuable insights into the efficacy of Constitutional AI in aligning language models with publicly determined values and principles.

Lessons Learned

The process of training an AI model based on qualitative public input presented a unique set of challenges and required careful consideration at every stage:

Running the Public Input Process:

  • Participant Selection: Striking a balance between representativeness and familiarity with AI was crucial to ensure meaningful contributions. The use of screening criteria helped to mitigate confusion and off-topic statements.
  • Platform Choice: The selection of the Polis platform was based on its reputation for facilitating productive online deliberation and its collaborative features. However, alternative platforms such as All Our Ideas and Remesh were also considered.
  • Seed Statements: Providing a diverse set of example statements helped to guide participants and elicit useful contributions. The researchers aimed to minimize the influence of these seed statements on the final output.
  • Moderation Criteria: Establishing clear moderation guidelines was essential to maintain the quality and relevance of participant inputs. However, the application of these criteria sometimes involved subjective judgment calls.

Developing a Constitution from Public Inputs:

  • Removing Duplicate Statements: To avoid overemphasis on certain ideas and ensure a balanced representation of public opinion, duplicate statements were removed. This decision involved weighing the social dimension of faithfully representing majority views against the technical constraints of Constitutional AI training.
  • Combining Similar Ideas: To maintain a manageable length and number of distinct values, similar statements were combined into more comprehensive principles. This process required careful consideration to preserve the essence of the original contributions.
  • Mapping Public Statements to CAI AI Principles: The researchers had to translate the public statements, which were often framed as general assertions, into the specific format required for Constitutional AI training. This involved subjective decisions to balance faithfulness to the original statements with the proven effectiveness of the existing constitution format.

Model Training and Evaluation:

  • Prompt Database Selection: The choice of prompt database used for Constitutional AI training had a significant impact on the relevance and effectiveness of the resulting models. Future experiments must carefully consider the alignment between the prompt database and the specific principles in the constitution.
  • Loss Weighting: Appropriate weighting of different objectives, such as helpfulness and harmlessness, during the training process was crucial to avoid models that were overly cautious or unhelpful. Iterative refinement based on human evaluations was necessary to strike the right balance.
  • Evaluation Metrics: Selecting appropriate evaluation metrics to capture the nuances of Constitutional AI alignment proved challenging. The researchers recognized the need for more targeted evaluations specifically designed to assess the faithfulness of models to their constitutions.
  • Complexity of Constitutional AI Training: The technical intricacies of Constitutional AI training required close collaboration between the researchers and the original developers. This highlights the need for interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge sharing to effectively incorporate democratic input into AI systems.

These lessons underscore the multifaceted nature of aligning AI with public values and the importance of carefully navigating the social, technical, and ethical considerations involved.

Implications and Future Pathways

The Constituional AI experiment conducted by Anthropic and the Collective Intelligence Project holds profound implications for the future of AI development and governance:

  • Demonstrating the Feasibility of Value Alignment: The successful training of AI models based on a publicly sourced constitution showcases the potential for aligning advanced language models with collectively determined values and principles. This opens up new avenues for incorporating diverse perspectives into the development of AI systems.
  • Enhancing Transparency and Accountability: By making the AI's guiding principles explicit and subject to public scrutiny, Constitutional AI promotes transparency and accountability in AI decision-making. This is particularly crucial in domains where AI systems have significant influence over human lives and societal outcomes.
  • Emphasizing Interdisciplinary Collaboration: The experiment highlights the importance of collaboration between AI developers, social scientists, and the public in shaping the ethical foundations of AI. It underscores the need for interdisciplinary approaches that combine technical expertise with insights from the social sciences and democratic processes.

Looking ahead, the researchers aim to build upon this foundational work by refining their methodologies, designing more targeted evaluations, and exploring the scalability and generalizability of the Constitutional AI approach. Some potential future directions include:

  • Expanding the scope of public engagement to include more diverse and global perspectives.
  • Developing standardized frameworks for translating public inputs into actionable AI principles.
  • Investigating the long-term effects of Constitutional AI on the behavior and decision-making of AI systems in real-world contexts.
  • Exploring the potential for customizable or domain-specific constitutions to address the unique ethical challenges of different industries and applications.

As the field of AI continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, the insights gained from this experiment will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of future research and development efforts.

Conclusion

The Collective Constitutional AI experiment by Anthropic and the Collective Intelligence Project is a seminal milestone in democratizing AI development. By involving the public in creating an AI constitution, this research lays the groundwork for a more inclusive, transparent, and accountable approach to AI governance. The findings highlight the value of diverse perspectives and the challenges in aligning advanced language models with societal values.

Constitutional AI emerges as a promising framework for ensuring that powerful AI technologies serve the greater good. By placing human values at the heart of AI development, we can harness the potential of these systems while mitigating risks and unintended consequences.

However, the journey towards truly democratic and value-aligned AI is far from over. The experiment serves as a call for continued collaboration, research, and public engagement in shaping the future of AI. Through the collective wisdom and participation of diverse stakeholders, we can chart a course towards an AI-enabled future that upholds transparency, accountability, and alignment with human values.

The insights from this groundbreaking experiment will inform and inspire future endeavors in the field. By building upon the foundation laid by Anthropic and the Collective Intelligence Project, we can work towards a future where AI systems are technologically advanced, ethically grounded, and socially responsible. The path ahead may be challenging, but the potential rewards - a world where AI and humanity work in harmony - are well worth the effort.

You can try Newest AI Anthropic Claude for free on Latenode

FAQ

What sets Constitutional AI apart from other AI alignment approaches? 

Constitutional AI distinguishes itself by focusing on embedding high-level values and principles directly into the AI system's training process. Rather than relying solely on external constraints or oversight, Constitutional AI aims to create AI systems that inherently align with societal norms and expectations.

How were participants selected for the public input process? 

The researchers collaborated with the survey company PureSpectrum to recruit a representative sample of approximately 1,000 U.S. adults. The selection process considered demographic factors such as age, gender, income, and geography to ensure a diverse and inclusive participant pool. Additionally, screening criteria were employed to gauge participants' familiarity with AI concepts.

Why was the Polis platform chosen for the public input process? 

The Polis platform was selected due to its proven track record in facilitating productive online deliberation and consensus-building. Its collaborative features, which allow participants to engage with each other's ideas and build upon them, were well-suited to the goals of the Constitutional AI experiment. The researchers also had prior experience working with the Polis team, which facilitated a more thoughtful and effective implementation of the public input process.

How did the researchers ensure the quality and relevance of participant contributions? 

To maintain the integrity of the public input process, the researchers established clear moderation criteria. Statements that were deemed hateful, nonsensical, duplicative, irrelevant, poorly-formatted, or technically infeasible were removed. This moderation process involved a combination of predefined guidelines and subjective judgment calls by the research team.

What were the key differences between the public constitution and Anthropic's original constitution? 

While there was a moderate overlap of around 50% between the public constitution and Anthropic's in-house constitution in terms of core concepts and values, the public constitution exhibited some notable distinctions. It placed a stronger emphasis on objectivity, impartiality, and accessibility, and tended to prioritize the promotion of desired behaviors rather than the discouragement of undesired ones. Additionally, the majority of the principles in the public constitution were original contributions from participants, rather than being sourced from existing publications or frameworks.

How did the models trained on the public constitution perform in comparison to those trained on Anthropic's original constitution? 

The models trained on the public constitution (Public models) demonstrated comparable performance to those trained on Anthropic's constitution (Standard models) in terms of language understanding and perceived helpfulness. However, the Public models exhibited reduced bias across various social dimensions, as measured by the BBQ (Bias Benchmark for QA) framework. This finding suggests that incorporating public input can potentially mitigate bias and promote fairness in AI systems.

What challenges did the researchers face in incorporating democratic input into the AI development process? 

The process of training an AI model based on qualitative public input presented several challenges. These included ensuring representative participant selection, effective moderation of contributions, and balancing the faithful representation of public opinion with the technical constraints of Constitutional AI training. The researchers also had to navigate the complexity of translating public statements into actionable AI principles and select appropriate evaluation metrics to assess the alignment of the resulting models with their constitutions.

How can the insights from this experiment inform future research and development in AI governance? 

The Constitutional AI experiment conducted by Anthropic and the Collective Intelligence Project has significant implications for the future of AI governance. It demonstrates the feasibility of aligning advanced language models with collectively determined values and principles, highlighting the potential for incorporating diverse perspectives into AI development. The experiment also emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between AI developers, social scientists, and the public in shaping the ethical foundations of AI. Future research can build upon these insights by exploring the scalability and generalizability of the Constitutional AI approach, developing standardized frameworks for translating public inputs into AI principles, and investigating the long-term effects of value-aligned AI systems in real-world contexts.

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