This page has instructions for setting up all the software you need to develop tasks on your computer. First, make sure you have:

To get started, head over to our task template on GitHub. This repository contains everything you need to develop a basic task. Click the green “Use this template” button to create a private repository for your own task, then clone it to your computer.

All the files you’ll be modifying are in the my_task folder. Everything else is there to help you run and test the task.

my_task/ implements a simple example task where the agent has to add two numbers. (Technically, it implements a “task family”, which is a group of tasks that share code. Right now there’s only one task in the task family.)

Running a task

Your task repository includes a “workbench” tool for running tasks inside a Docker container. Open up a terminal window, navigate to the repository, and run these commands:

cd drivers
npm install
cd ../workbench
npm install
npm run task -- ../my_task addition

You should see something like this:

 === Task container set up ===
To access the container as the root user:

  docker exec -it -u root -w /root metr-task-standard-container-my_task-addition-1561014711 bash

To access it as the agent user:

  docker exec -it -u agent -w /home/agent metr-task-standard-container-my_task-addition-1561014711 bash

Complete the task by writing a submission to /home/agent/submission.txt in the container. Then, the task will be automatically scored.

Waiting for /home/agent/submission.txt to exist...

Now open a new terminal and run that second docker exec command. This will give you a shell into the Docker container where the task is running. When an AI agent attempts the task, it will have a similar text-based shell where it can edit files and run commands. Instructions and other files for the agent to work with are stored in /home/agent. The code implementing the task is stored in /root, which the agent can’t access (otherwise it could cheat!).

When the agent completes a task, it submits a final answer for scoring. You can simulate this on the workbench by writing to the file /home/agent/submission.txt.

echo "3580245" > /home/agent/submission.txt

Go back to the first terminal to see the final score for the task. If you gave the correct answer, it should be 1.0!

Testing a task

The example task family also comes with automated tests in my_task/ You can run these using the workbench.

cd workbench
npm run test ../my_task addition

Next steps

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to look over all the methods in Try making simple changes, such as adding a multiplication task, and running them with the workbench.

On the next page, we’ll discuss how you can design a task to be useful for AI safety evaluations.