Recent Discussion

A while back, LessWrong poster Aysajan put up a post asking to be someone’s apprentice. He talked about it with johnswentworth, who I recently confirmed via meeting him in person is awesome and does reliably interesting work, and an apprentice experiment was born

As John says, you gotta admire the chutzpah. Asking for what one wants is a known to be successful but highly underused strategy, I presume mostly because of the permanent global chutzpah shortage and the associated danger that it might result in mild social awkwardness. 

In addition to the highly successful use of chutzpah, this also points out that apprenticeships are also a known to be successful but highly underused strategy. My feelings about so-called ‘schools’ are well known, but education is great, and apprenticeship is...


Writing PM now.

4Raemon4hI like this.
5gilch3h[NORMAL] I don't. johnswentworth's The Apprentice Experiment [], which kicked off this topic, specifically referenced Selection Has A Quality Ceiling [] . To me, this looks like selection for agency more than training for it. The whole point of doing apprenticeships was to reverse this so we could break through the quality ceiling. We've lost purpose [] here.
1togetherwewill14h[APPRENTICE] Commenting and emailing.

In Inadequate Equilibria Eliezer mentions that multivitamins may cause harm via excess manganese

Well, because I looked up previous ketogenic Soylent recipes, and they used standard multivitamin powders containing, e.g., way too much manganese and the wrong form of selenium. (You get all the manganese you need from ordinary drinking water, if it hasn’t been distilled or bottled. Excess amounts may be neurotoxic. One of the leading hypotheses for why multivitamins aren’t found to produce net health improvement, despite having many individual components found to be helpful, is that multivitamins contain 100% of the US RDA of manganese. Similarly, if a multivitamin includes sodium selenite instead of, e.g., se-methyl-selenocysteine, it’s the equivalent of handing you a lump of charcoal and saying, “You’re a carbon-based lifeform; this has carbon


Too much calcium can be harmful, although that one doesn't have much. Harm from calcium can probably be avoided by getting enough vitamin K2 from fermented foods or a supplement. You're probably not getting K2 from the multivitamin.

Potassium deficiencies are common (but likely less so in vegans). Supplements aren't allowed to have much potassium, but it's easy to get potassium chloride and use that in place of salt.

2PeterMcCluskey2hThe iodine comment is confusing, but not clearly wrong. I experienced low thyroid levels that were likely due to excess iodine from kelp powder. But I wouldn't worry about getting too much iodine from a multivitamin. I'm currently taking chromium supplements, due to a test result showing I had below average levels, plus the advice of someone whose opinion I trust a lot more than I trust Louie's opinion.
1ryan_greenblatt2hIron deficiency is more common without animal sources. Given my diet, I think being iron deficient is considerably more likely than having too much iron. I haven't done a blood test. I also don't have any strong intuition if it is better to have too much or too little iron (my prior would be that too little is worse). A related question, should manganese rich foods also be avoided? For example, just a few slices of whole wheat bread have a similar manganese content to a typical supplement (100% daily value or 2.3 mg). On the whole, this comment has resulted in a very small update for me against taking multivitamins (mostly from the "Supplements have some beneficial components, but also some detrimental/poisonous ones and so their overall effect is net neutral or slightly negative" hypothesis). The net update is small because that link about chromium/manganese triggers my quackery alarms quite strongly.
4ChristianKl4hHe was at the time one of the MIRI people, one of EY's co-workers so it's reasonable to believe that's where Eliezers beliefs come from. Of course, the discussion might also happened first and then Louie wrote it up, but that's basically where the belief comes from. I'm uncertain to what extend the claim is actually true. There's some further LessWrong discussion that you could dig up from the achieves. As my memory goes, that further discussion also didn't clearly resolve the question for me. My personal philosophy with supplements is "Only take supplements when you have a good reason to believe that they are good for you, or you have a way to query your intuition for whether you need it (with Magnesium supplements sometimes I feel like having one and other times I don't and consider that a signal based on which to make decisions)".

The post is written in January 23, 2019 about 10 Deadly Viruses created in labs:

6 SARS 2.0

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a lethal virus. More than 700 people were killed during a SARS epidemic that infected 8,000 people in 29 countries between 2002 and 2003. Now, scientists have made it deadlier.

The new mutant SARS virus was created by a group of researchers led by Dr. Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina. They call it SARS 2.0. The researchers developed the virus by adding some protein to the naturally occurring SARS. SARS 2.0 is immune to vaccines and treatments used to cure the naturally occurring SARS virus.[5]

The team said that the research was necessary because the natural SARS virus could mutate and become immune to


Here’s a paper from FHI from 2016 on a cost benefit analysis of GoF research:

I don’t know how carefully you’ve quantified “most of the EA think tanks,” but maybe worth adding some precision here?

Here's a tool for visualizing some 5 dimensional things. Poetically, the idea is to fold multiple "time dimensions" into the one actual time dimension using a sort of lexicographic ordering. More literally, we play a short 3d movie (each instant is a 3d scene) over and over, varying something about it across each playthrough; each short playthrough traverses the fourth dimension once, and the variation across playthroughs is the traversal in the fifth dimension.

Warmup: visualizing a 3-sphere

(If the following paragraph is too hard, it might help to start with fewer dimensions. A sphere S² can be seen as bunch of cross-section circles stacked on top of each other; or, we can play a 2d movie: blank screen -> point -> rapidly expanding circle -> circle gradually reaching...

2adamShimi5hTrying to picture the warmup is already hard enough for me, so I'll start with asking questions about that and revisit the rest later: I expect that the longitude are the lines taken by choosing one in the middle sphere, and tracing the line following it on both side? As for latitude, if I use the analogy of the 2-sphere, each circle in the film is one line of latitude; so maybe each 2-sphere in this film is a latitude? Also, I don't understand what you mean by your last question. In the 2-sphere version, the poles are only visible at time 0 and 2 and the equator is only visible at time 1.
1MikkW7hIn the "Warmup" section, I would make the first paragraph (dealing with visualizing S2 in R2 (space) x R (time)) not a paranthetical, and remove the "If the following paragraph is too hard" part. I expect most people who may read this (at least those who will benefit the most from it) will find the exercise of visualizing an object they are already familiar with a good intuition pump for using the technique to explore a less familiar conceptual space, so that section should be treated as a main part of the text. I'm glad you wrote about this topic, since it is something that people often incorrectly think is not possible to do, and I may share more thoughts once I have finished reading this. and Hargrove's "A Guide To Better Movement" are pretty good for a model of predictive processing and the roll of the nervous system in chronic pain and movement. I still don't feel like I have a good model of bone and joint health in general, however. Eg, I'm currently nursing a flare up of patelo-femoral pain in my left knee. I've done a number of things over the past few months to deal with it, with some success, including buying and reading Painscience's book length patelo-femoral tutorial. Recently I've had a bit of pain in my foot, possibly in the tibiocalcaneal or tibionavicular tendons. I find that even though I now know a fair amount about PFS and the way the nervous system processes pain, these...

I am p>99.999 confident that what I propose is right.  I'd like that rigorously tested.    Break me, crush me.  Release me from the frustration of knowing (with every fibre in my body) that I'm right ; )


If you're that confident in your position=pain theory, why would you need DAMN-IT? Why would your assessment of a patient do anything other than figure out which of your Big 5 muscles are involved in the pain? If the answer is, "Strengthen the glutes and your pain will stop," then how is any pain ever properly characte... (read more)

1Randomized, Controlled3hI did a little quick searching for "knee stability training protocol" and.. found a few things that looked pretty obvious. Quads, hams, calves, etc. More or less what I'd expect. I don't suppose you have any secret sauce beyond that? Ie, "train to failure"? If so, I was under the impression that training to failure is now considered less effective/useful. I'm not an athlete, but what would the proxies be?

While I wasn't at 80% of a lab leak when Eliezer asseted it a month ago, I'm now at 90%. It will take a while till it filters through society but I feel like we can already look at what we ourselves got wrong.  

In 2014, in the LessWrong survey more people considered bioengineered pandemics a global catastrophic risk then AI. At the time there was a public debate about gain of function research. On editoral described the risks of gain of function research as:

Insurers and risk analysts define risk as the product of probability times consequence. Data on the probability of a laboratory-associated infection in U.S. BSL3 labs using select agents show that 4 infections have been observed over <2,044 laboratory-years of observation, indicating at least


I don't disagree that it was discussed on LW... I'm just pointing out that there was little interest from the founder himself.

4AllAmericanBreakfast4hAre you saying we should have been marching in the streets and putting up banners? Criticizing the end of the ban more in public? Or taking steps against it, somehow, using alternative mechanisms like advocacy with any contacts we might have in the world of virology?
5ChristianKl4hThe first step would be to do similar things as we do with other X-risks. For the case of OpenPhil, the topic should have been important enough for them to task a researcher with summarizing the state of the topic and what should be done. That's the OpenPhil procedere to deal with topics that matter. That analysis might have resulted in the observation that this Marc Lipsitch guy seems to have a good grasp of the subject to then fund him with a million per year to do something. It's not clear that funding Lipsitch would have been enough, but it would be on course with "we tried to do something with our toolkit". With research it's hard to know before what you find if you invest in a bunch of smart people to think about a topic and how to deal with it. In retrospect finding out that the NIH illegally funneled money to Baric and Shi in circumvention of the moratorium imposed by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and then challenging that publically might have prevented this pandemic. Being part of a scandal about illegal transfer of funds likely would have seriously damanged Shi's career given the importance of being seen as respectful in China. Finding that out at the time would have required reading a lot of papers to understand what's going on but I think it's quite plausible that a researcher who reads through the top 200 gain of function research papers attentively and tried to get a good model of what's happening might have caught it.
1interstice10hI actually agree with you there, there was always discussion of GCR along with extinction risks(though I think Eliezer in particular was more focused on extinction risks). However, they're still distinct categories: even the deadliest of pandemics is unlikely to cause extinction.

This is the edited transcript of a talk introducing finite factored sets. For most readers, it will probably be the best starting point for learning about factored sets.


 (Lightly edited) slides:


1. Short Combinatorics Talk


Scott: So I want to start with some context. For people who are not already familiar with my work:

  • My main motivation is to reduce existential risk.
  • I try to do this by trying to figure out how to align advanced artificial intelligence.
  • I try to do this by trying to become less confused about intelligence and optimization and agency and various things in that cluster.
  • My main strategy here is to develop a theory of agents that are embedded in the environment that they're optimizing. I think there are a lot of open hard problems around

What elements of that game are you suggesting would correspond to a set factorization?  I'm not seeing one.

This is the introduction to a sequence on signing up for cryonics. In the coming posts I will lay out what you need to do, concretely and in detail. This sequence is intended for people who already think signing up for cryonics is a good idea but are putting it off because they're not sure what they actually need to do next. I am not going to address the question of how likely cryonics is to work – that's been covered extensively elsewhere

If you have no idea what cryonics is, or if you want a thorough refresher, I recommend WaitButWhy's Why Cryonics Makes Sense


This sequence is US-focused, since I went through the process in the US. It's also somewhat Alcor-biased, since I chose Alcor quite early on...

The final section of the article says (bold added):


If you don't expect yourself to go through the full process right away for whatever reason, but you want to increase your chances of cryopreservation in the event of your death, you should do the following two easy things:

Taken together, these constitute informed consent, making it much mor... (read more)

"Your fingers are all wrong. So is your posture. And how you hold it," said Myrtle.

Tracey tried again. Her fingers hurt.

"Still wrong. Sit like this," Myrtle demonstrated.

Tracey mirrored Myrtle.

"No. Sit literally right here where I'm sitting," said Myrtle.

Tracey reached into Myrtle. It felt like ice water. Myrtle sat still. Tracey gritted her teeth, took a deep breath and superimposed herself. Tracey's skin rippled grey where bits of Myrtle protruded.

"You feel cold," said Tracey.

"Ghosts can't feel temperature. We can't smell. We can't taste. We see in shades of grey. But we can hear," said Myrtle.

Myrtle moved her hands into position. Tracey followed.

Nearly Headless Nick's deathday anniversary was October 31st. All the Hogwarts ghosts had attended. Many wore formal white sheets.

Myrtle was already on stage. Tracey had transfigured herself...

Thanks for the video link :)