A beautifully designed collection of books, each small enough to fit in your pocket. The book set contains over forty chapters by more than twenty authors including Eliezer Yudkowsky and Scott Alexander. This is a collection of opinionated essays exploring argument, aesthetics, game theory, artificial intelligence, introspection, markets, and more, as part of LessWrong's mission to understand the laws that govern reasoning and decision-making, and build a map that reflects the territory.
I'm an infovore. The failure mode for an infovore is spending too much time reading and not enough time doing. I was bit especially hard by this a few days ago - I hadn't caught up on LW posts in while and had 100+ in my RSS reader. I wanted to read them all but I knew I shouldn't.
I had the same issue with Hacker News for many years. I broke the cycle by signing for for a daily "best of HN" feed, however even this proved to be too much content. I replaced it with a weekly best of digest and that's been working well for me - the digest includes the top 50 posts by votes, so that's the maximum number of enticing nuggets...
“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” says Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, expressing a sort of jaded disappointment with technological progress. (The fact that the 140 characters have become 280, a 100% increase, does not seem to have impressed him.)
Thiel, along with economists such as Tyler Cowen (The Great Stagnation) and Robert Gordon (The Rise and Fall of American Growth), promotes a “stagnation hypothesis”: that there has been a significant slowdown in scientific, technological, and economic progress in recent decades—say, for a round number, since about 1970, or the last ~50 years.
When I first heard the stagnation hypothesis, I was skeptical. The arguments weren’t convincing to me. But as I studied the history of progress (and looked at the numbers), I slowly came around, and...
What is up with spirituality? I mean, from an atheistic perspective?
In my experience, atheists tend to focus on the empirical question of whether there is an all-powerful supernatural creature behind all that we observe. And yeah, there probably isn’t.
But having won that point, what does one make of the extreme popularity of religion? I think the usual answer given is something like ‘well, we used to be very ignorant and not have good explanations of natural phenomena, plus we tend to see agents in everything because our agent detection software is oversensitive’.
Which might explain the question ‘Why would people think a supernatural agent controls things?’. But what seems like only a corner of religion.
Another big part of religion—and a thing that also occurs outside religion—seems to be...
Pardon me while I make my way to the rooftops.
So I’m sure it’s not that simple especially because of regulatory issues, but… did you hear the one where humanity could have produced enough mRNA vaccine for the entire world by early this year, and could still decide to do it by the end of this year, but decided we would rather save between four and twelve billion dollars?
If not, there’s a section on that.
Meanwhile, we also can’t figure out how to put the vaccine doses we already have into people’s arms in any reasonable fashion. New policies are helping with that, and we are seeing signs that things are accelerating, but wow is this a huge disaster.
We took some steps this week towards sane policy. Everyone over...
🇨🇦 People liked my Canada comment on Zvi's post on Jan 14th, so here's another update as a top-level post. I thought I wouldn't have much to say but apparently I wrote some stuff!
(I want to underscore that this is a rambly summary from someone who does not have the same thorough researchy energy or rigorous models as Zvi or many other LWers in many situations. If you have major decisions to make, use this summary as at most a jumping off point. Slightly BC-heavy because I moved to BC a few months ago and have been getting more news here. Also some of my rambles involve info that is probably common-knowledge to most Canadians who are informed whatsoever, I guess because I'm imagining people from other...
Reminder of the rules of Stag Hunt:
From the outside, the obvious choice is for everyone to hunt Stag. But in real-world situations, there’s lots of noise and uncertainty, and not everyone sees the game the same way, so the Schelling choice is Rabbit.
How does one make a Stag hunt happen, rather than a Rabbit hunt, even though the Schelling choice is Rabbit?
If one were utterly unscrupulous, one strategy would be to try to trick everyone into thinking that Stag is...
[Epistemic status: Strong opinions lightly held, this time with a cool graph.]
I argue that an entire class of common arguments against short timelines is bogus, and provide weak evidence that anchoring to the human-brain-human-lifetime milestone is reasonable.
In a sentence, my argument is that the complexity and mysteriousness and efficiency of the human brain (compared to artificial neural nets) is almost zero evidence that building TAI will be difficult, because evolution typically makes things complex and mysterious and efficient, even when there are simple, easily understood, inefficient designs that work almost as well (or even better!) for human purposes.
In slogan form: If all we had to do to get TAI was make a simple neural net 10x the size of my brain, my brain would still look the...
Epistemic status: highly confident (99%+) this is an issue for optimal play with human consequentialist judges. Thoughts on practical implications are more speculative, and involve much hand-waving (70% sure I’m not overlooking a trivial fix, and that this can’t be safely ignored).
Note: I fully expect some readers to find the core of this post almost trivially obvious. If you’re such a reader, please read as “I think [obvious thing] is important”, rather than “I’ve discovered [obvious thing]!!”.
In broad terms, this post concerns human-approval-directed systems generally: there’s a tension between [human approves of solving narrow task X] and [human approves of many other short-term things], such that we can’t say much about what an approval-directed system will do about X, even if you think you’re training an X...
This is post 5 of 10 in my cryonics signup guide, and the second of five posts on life insurance.
In this post, I'll cover the different types of life insurance policies you might want to use to fund your cryopreservation. This is the most complicated part of this entire sequence and it's taken me many, many hours of confusion to reach even the tenuous understanding I'm presenting here. Please bear with me and let me know if you spot any errors or have any questions.
Note that in addition to being labyrinthine, the life insurance landscape changes fairly often, such that the options that were available to you when you signed up for cryonics ten years ago might no longer be offered. They're always adding new types of...
Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead
First you say, “Someone needs to hang for this as a turn of phrase” and of course you don’t mean that literally. That would be horrific, it’s just a turn of phrase. Indeed you are genuinely horrified. Next it becomes “I wish we could just shoot him”, but of course you weren’t serious and you’d never actually do it. Again, you completely believe this. But before you know it, the palace is in flames and you’re getting ready to string up the king in his pajamas, but despite the illumination you’re still blind to your tendency to decieve yourself.
I've started a (free) Substack, in case anyone is interested.