Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano wrote the book Rethinking Consciousness (2019) to explain his "Attention Schema" theory of consciousness (endorsed by Dan Dennett!). If you don't want to read the whole book, you can get the short version in this 2015 article.
I'm particularly interested in this topic because, if we build AGIs, we ought to figure out whether they are conscious, and/or whether that question matters morally. (As if we didn't already have our hands full thinking about the human impacts of AGI!) This book is nice and concrete and computational, and I think it at least of... (Read more)
Imagine you're a fiddle player who primarily plays without effects, but would occasionally like to be able to play with them. What can you do?
One option is to put a pickup on the fiddle and run that into guitar pedals. This will work, but pickups generally sound much worse than clip-on mics like the ubiquitous AT PRO-35. Since you're mostly playing uneffected, you don't want to give that up.
Another option is to get a vocal effects processor. For example, I have a VoiceTone D1. These take balanced XLR from the mic, send balanced XLR to the board, and provide phantom power, so t... (Read more)
I was the Creative Director for last year’s Winter Solstice in the Bay Area. I worked with Nat Kozak and Chelsea Voss, who were both focused more on logistics. Chelsea was also the official leader who oversaw both me and Nat and had final say on disputes. (However, I was granted dictatorial control over the Solstice arc and had final say in that arena.) I legit have no idea how any one of us would have pulled this off without the others; love to both of them and also massive respect to Cody Wild, who somehow ran the entire thing herself in 2018.
While I worked with a bunch of other people on So... (Read more)
Tl;dr: I’ll try here to show how CFAR’s “art of rationality” has evolved over time, and what has driven that evolution.
In the course of this, I’ll introduce the distinction between what I’ll call “reality-revealing puzzles” and “reality-masking puzzles”—a distinction that I think is almost necessary for anyone attempting to develop a psychological art in ways that will help rather than harm. (And one I wish I’d had explicitly back when the Center for Applied Rationality was founded.)
I’ll also be trying to elaborate, here, on the notion we at CFAR have recently been tossing around about CFAR be... (Read more)
This post is an attempt at reformulating some of the points I wanted to make in “Safe exploration and corrigibility” in a clearer way. This post is standalone and does not assume that post as background.
In a previous comment thread, Rohin argued that safe exploration is currently defined as being about the agent not making “an accidental mistake.” I think that definition is wrong, at least to the extent that I think it both doesn't make much sense and doesn't describe how I actually expect current safe exploration work to be useful.
First, what does it mean for a failure to be an “accident?” Th... (Read more)
Epistemic status: I wrote this post quickly, and largely to solicit feedback on the claims I make in it. This is because (a) I’m not sure about these claims (or how I’ve explained them), and (b) the question of what I should believe on this topic seems important in general and for various other posts I’m writing. (So please comment if you have any thoughts on this!)
I’ve now read a bunch on topics related to the questions covered here, but I’m not an expert, and haven’t seen or explicitly looked for a direct treatment of the questions covered here. It’s very possible this has already been thoro... (Read more)
This post deals with the goal of avoiding or escaping being trapped in an immoral maze, accepting that for now we are trapped in a society that contains powerful mazes.
We will not discuss methods of improving conditions (or preventing the worsening of conditions) within a maze, beyond a brief note on what a CEO might do. For a middle manager anything beyond not making the problem worse is exceedingly difficult. Even for the CEO this is an extraordinarily difficult task.
To rescue so... (Read more)
This post begins the Immoral Mazes sequence. See introduction for an overview of the plan. Before we get to the mazes, we need some background first.
Meditations on Moloch
Consider Scott Alexander’s Meditations on Moloch. I will summarize here.
Therein lie fourteen scenarios where participants can be caught in bad equilibria.
Immoral Mazes are terrible places to be. Much worse than they naively appear. They promise the rewards and trappings of success. Do not be fooled.
If there is one takeaway I want everyone to get from the whole discussion of Moral Mazes, it is this:
Being in an immoral maze is not worth it. They couldn’t pay you enough. Even if they could, they definitely don’t. If you end up CEO, you still lose. These lives ar... (Read more)
Previously in sequence: Moloch Hasn’t Won, Perfect Competition, Imperfect Competition, Does Big Business Hate Your Family?, What is Life in an Immoral Maze?, Stripping Away the Protections, What is Success in an Immoral Maze?
Immoral mazes (hereafter mazes), as laid out in the book Moral Mazes, are toxic organizations. Working for them puts tremendous pressure on you to prioritize getting ahead in the organization over everything else. Middle managers are particularly affected – they are pushed to sacrifice not only all of their time, but also things such... (Read more)
So, a Living Being is composed of multiple parts who act pretty much on tandem except extreme situations like Cancer, how does that work?
Inspired by my post on problems with causal decision theory (CDT), here is a hacked version of CDT that seems to be able to imitate timeless decision theory (TDT) and functional decision theory (FDT), as well as updateless decision theory (UDT) under certain circumstances.
Call this ACDT, for (a)causal decision theory. It is, essentially, CDT which can draw extra, acausal arrows on the causal graphs, and which attempts to figure out which graph represents the world it's in. The drawback is its lack of elegance; the advantage, if it works, is that it's simple to specify and focuses attention... (Read more)
Update: Beliefs that are about the world in general, and not about yourself in particular (ie. things you don't want to say about yourself)
I’ve spent a lot of time defending LW authors’ right to have the conversation they want to have, whether that be early stage brainstorming, developing a high context idea, or just randomly wanting to focus on some particular thing.
LessWrong is not only a place for finished, flawless works. Good intellectual output requires both Babble and Prune, and in my experience the best thinkers often require idiosyncratic environments in order to produce and refine important insights. LessWrong is a full-stack intellectual pipeline.
But the 2018 Review is supposed to be late stage in that pipe... (Read more)
Previously: Eliezer's "Against Rationalization" sequence
I've run out of things to say about rationalization for the moment. Hopefully there'll be an Against Rationalization III a few years from now, but ideally some third author will write it.
For now, a quick recap to double as a table of contents:
In this post I'd basically like to collect some underappreciated points about utility functions that I've made in the comments of various places but which I thought were collecting into a proper, easily-referenceable post. The first part will review the different things referred to by the term "utility function", review how they work, and explain the difference between them. The second part will explain why -- contrary to widespread opinion on this website -- decision-theoretic utility functions really do need to be bounded.
(It's also worth noting that as a consequence, a number of the decis... (Read more)
Previously: Testing for Rationalization
One of the red flags was "disagreeing with experts". While all the preceding tools apply here, there's a suite of special options for examining this particular scenario.
Back in 2015, Ozymandias wrote:
I think a formative moment for any rationalist– our “Uncle Ben shot by the mugger” moment, if you will– is the moment you go “holy shit, everyone in the world is fucking insane.”
First, you can say “holy shit, everyone in the world is fucking insane. Ther... (Read more)
What comes to your mind when you hear the word "artificial intelligence" (or "artificial general intelligence")? And if you want to prepare the future, what should come to your mind?
It seems that when most people hear AI, they think of robots. Weirdly, this observation includes both laymen and some top academics. Stuart Russell's book (which I greatly enjoyed) is such an example. It often presents robots as an example of an AI.
But this seems problematic to me. I believe that we should dissociate a lot more AIs from robots. In fact, given that most people will neverthel... (Read more)
This post summarizes the sequence on value learning. While it doesn’t introduce any new ideas, it does shed light on which parts I would emphasize most, and the takeaways I hope that readers get. I make several strong claims here; interpret these as my impressions, not my beliefs. I would guess many researchers disagree with the (strength of the) claims, though I do not know what their arguments would be.
Over the last three months we’ve covered a lot of ground. It’s easy to lose sight of the overall picture over such a long period of time, so let's do a brief recap.
H... (Read more)