As always, cross-posted from Putanumonit.
From Tokyo to TriBeCa, people are increasingly alone. People go on fewer dates, marry less and later, have smaller families if at all. People are having less sex, especially young people. The common complaint: it’s just too hard. Dating is hard, intimacy is hard, relationships are hard. I’m not ready to play on hard mode yet, I’ll do the relationship thing when I level up.
And simultaneously, a cottage industry sprung up extolling the virtue of loneliness. Self-care, self-development, self-love. Travel solo, live solo, you do you. Wait, doesn’t that la... (Read more)
Cross-posted to the EA Forum. For an epistemic status statement and an outline of the purpose of this sequence of posts, please see the top of my prior post. There are also some explanations and caveats in that post which I won’t repeat - or will repeat only briefly - in this post.
In my prior post, I wrote:
... (Read more)
We are often forced to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty. This uncertainty can be empirical (e.g., what is the likelihood that nuclear war would cause human extinction?) or moral (e.g., does the wellbeing of future generations matter morally?). The issue
Many approaches to AI alignment require making assumptions about what humans want. On a first pass, it might appear that inner alignment is a sub-component of AI alignment that doesn't require making these assumptions. This is because if we define the problem of inner alignment to be the problem of how to train an AI to be aligned with arbitrary reward functions, then a solution would presumably have no dependence on any particular reward function. We could imagine an alien civilization solving the same problem, despite using very different reward functions to train their AIs.
Unfortunatel... (Read more)
Continuing the experiment from August, let's try another open thread for AI Alignment discussion. The goal is to be a place where researchers and upcoming research can ask small questions they are confused about, share early stage ideas and have lower-key discussions.
One thing I've noticed recently is that when someone complains about how a certain issue "just keeps happening" or they "keep having to deal with it", it often seems to indicate an unsolved problem that people may not be aware of. Some examples:
This is part 1 of a series of posts I initially planned to organize as a massive post last summer on principal-agent problems. As that task quickly became overwhelming, I decided to break it down into smaller posts that ensure I cover each of the cases and mechanisms that I intended to.
Overall, I think the trade-off between the alignment of agents and the competence of agents can explain a lot of problems to which people often think there are simple answers. The less capable an agent is (whether the agent is a person, a bureaucracy, or an algorithm) the easier it is for a principal to assess t... (Read more)
Why has there never been a "political Roko's basilisk", i.e. a bill or law that promises to punish any member of parliament who voted against it (or more generally any individual with government power, e.g. judge or bureaucrat, who did not do everything in their capacity to make it law)?
Even if unconstitutionality is an issue, it seems like the "more general" condition would prevent judges from overturning it, etc. And surely there are countries with all-powerful parliaments.
The following is a fictional dialogue building off of AI Alignment: Why It’s Hard, and Where to Start.
(Somewhere in a not-very-near neighboring world, where science took a very different course…)
ALFONSO: Hello, Beth. I’ve noticed a lot of speculations lately about “spaceplanes” being used to attack cities, or possibly becoming infused with malevolent spirits that inhabit the celestial realms so that they turn on their own engineers.
I’m rather skeptical of these speculations. Indeed, I’m a bit skeptical that airplanes will be able to even rise as high as stratospheric weather balloons anytime... (Read more)
All else being equal, arms races are a waste of resources and often an example of the defection equilibrium in the prisoner’s dilemma. However, in some cases, such capacity races may actually be the globally optimal strategy. Below I try to explain this with some examples.
1: If the U.S. kept racing in its military capacity after WW2, the U.S. may have been able to use its negotiating leverage to stop the Soviet Union from becoming a nuclear power: halting proliferation and preventing the build up of world threatening numbers of high yield weapons. Basically, the earlier you win an arms race... (Read more)
A couple of weeks ago Venkatesh challenged his followers to brainstorm at least 100 tweets on a topic via live responses. Since I’m not an expert on anything in particular, I decided to simply see if I can come up with 100 discrete pieces of life advice in a day.
This off-the-cuff game turned into perhaps the most successful creative project I’ve ever done. The thread was viewed by tens of thousands of people, received thousands of likes, and gained me hundreds of Twitter followers. I didn’t know there was such thirst for random life-advice, no... (Read more)
LessWrong seems to be a big fan of spaced-repetition flashcard programs like Anki, Supermemo, or Mnemosyne. I used to be. After using them religiously for 3 years in medical school, I now categorically advise against using them for large volumes of memorization.
[A caveat before people get upset: I think they appropriate in certain situations, and I have not tried to use them to learn a language, which seems its most popular use. More at the bottom.]
A bit more history: I and 30 other students tried using Mnemosyne (and some used Anki) for multiple tests. At my school, we have a test approximate... (Read more)
Previous post: How Escape From Immoral Mazes
Sequence begins here: Moloch Hasn’t Won
The previous posts mostly took mazes as given.
As an individual, one’s ability to fight any large system is limited.
That does not mean our individual decisions do not matter. They do matter. They add up.
Mostly our choice is a basic one. Lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from. Or not do so.
Even that is difficult. The methods of doing so are unclear. Mazes are ubiquitous. Not lending our strength to mazes, together with the goal of keeping one’s metaphorical soul intact and still putting food o... (Read more)
I am a bit confused and thought I'd rather ask and discuss here before thinking about it for long. As usual I am trying to compartmentalize, structure, make distinctions.
My confusion was triggered thinking about the evaluation function (heuristic to rate the certainty to win/loose) in chess. Clearly what it takes is all there on the board, actually the game is already decided based on that state and assuming both player play to force the best possible outcome.
Why do we need to process data when the information is obviously already in the input? (Yes, I know one can make wordy the distinct... (Read more)
Epistemic Status: Confident
This idea is actually due to my husband, Andrew Rettek, but since he doesn’t blog, and I want to be able to refer to it later, I thought I’d write it up here.
In many games, such as Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, or Dungeons and Dragons, there’s a two-phase process. First, the player constructs a deck or character from a very large sample space of possibilities. This is a particular combination of strengths and weaknesses and capabilities for action, which the player thinks can be successful against other decks/characters or at winning in the game universe. The ... (Read more)
I've been wanting to get a better example of CDT (causal decision theory) misbehaving, where the behaviour is more clearly suboptimal than it is in the Newcomb problem (which many people don't seem to accept as CDT being suboptimal), and simpler to grasp than Death in Damascus.
So consider this simple example: the player is playing against Omega, who will predict their actions. The player can take three actions: "zero", "one", or "leave".
If ever they do "leave", then the experiment is over and they leave. If they choose "zero" or "one", then Omega will predict... (Read more)
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)
This may be of interest to people interested in AI Safety. This event is part of the 2020 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy and is being sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Assured Autonomy.
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)