[Epistemic status: Argument by analogy to historical cases. Best case scenario it's just one argument among many.]
I have on several occasions heard people say things like this:
The original Bostrom/Yudkowsky paradigm envisioned a single AI built by a single AI project, undergoing intelligence explosion all by itself and attaining a decisive strategic advantage as a result. However, this is very unrealistic. Discontinuous jumps in technological capability are very rare, and it is very implausible that one project could produce more innovations than the rest of the world combined. Instead... (Read more)
Raph Koster is a game designer who's worked on old-school MUDs, Ultima Online, and Star Wars Galaxies among others. His blog is a treasure trove of information on game design, and online community building.
The vibe I get is very sequences-like (or, perhaps more like Paul Graham?). There's a particular genre I quite like of "Person with a decades of experiences who's been writing up their thoughts and principles on their industry and craft. Reading through their essays not only reveals a set of useful facts, but an entire lens through which to view things."
I'll mos... (Read more)
This November, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, an online event where participants have one month to write a 50,000-word manuscript for a novel. I'm fairly settled on the idea that I'm going to write about a person who is fairly smart, but who has no rationalist training, discovering rationalism and developing into a fully-fledged rationalist.
I'm looking for inspiration for what kind of problems they might learn to solve. How has rationalism helped you? There is no answer too big or too small. If rationalism helped you realize that you needed to divorce your spouse and chan... (Read more)
Here's the kind of thing I mean by "human working memory capacity" being "set tragically low": A 100-word sentence introducing a new concept is often annoyingly hard to wrap one's head around, compared to a longer and more "gentle" explanation.
The concept of working memory seems like a useful reduction of part of what makes intelligence work:
Most of us here think human intelligence can one day be increased a lot, because there doesn't seem to be a fundamental limit to intelligence located anywhere near human-level, but that's a non-constructive... (Read more)
This is not a well-specified question. I don't know what "agent-like behavior" or "agent-like architecture" should mean. Perhaps the question should be "Can you define the fuzzy terms such that 'Agent-like behavior implies agent-like architecture' is true, useful, and in the spirit of the original question." I mostly think the answer is no, but it seems like it would be really useful to know if true, and the process of trying to make this true might help us triangulate what we should mean by agent-like behavior and agent-like architecture.
Now I'... (Read more)
I intend to use my shortform feed for two purposes:
1. To post thoughts that I think are worth sharing that I can then reference in the future in order to explain some belief or opinion I have.
2. To post half-finished thoughts about the math or computer science thing I'm learning at the moment. These might be slightly boring and for that I apologize.
Consider the following program:
f(n): if n == 0: return 1 return n * f(n-1)
Let’s think about the process by which this function is evaluated. We want to sketch out a causal DAG showing all of the intermediate calculations and the connections between them (feel free to pause reading and try this yourself).
Here’s what the causal DAG looks like:
Each dotted box corresponds to one call to the function f. The recursive call in f becomes a symmetry in the causal diagram: the DAG consists of an infinite sequence of copies of the same subcircuit.
More generally, we can represent any Tu... (Read more)
(Or, is coordination easier in a long timeline?)
It seems like it would be good if the world could coordinate to not build AGI. That is, at some point in the future, when some number of teams will have the technical ability to build and deploy and AGI, but they all agree to voluntarily delay (perhaps on penalty of sanctions) until they’re confident that humanity knows how to align such a system.
Currently, this kind of coordination seems like a pretty implausible state of affairs. But I want to know if it seems like it becomes more or less plausible as time passes.
The following is my initial thi... (Read more)
Actually updating can be harder than it seems. Hearing the same advice from other people and only really understand it the third time (though internally you felt like you really understood the first time) seems inefficient. Having to give yourself the same advice or have the same conversation with yourself over and over again also seems pretty inefficient. Recently, I’ve had significant progress with actually causing internal shifts, and the advice.. Well, you’ve probably heard it before. But hopefully, this time you’ll really get it.
Epistemic spot checks are a series in which I select claims from the first few chapters of a book and investigate them for accuracy, to determine if a book is worth my time. This month’s subject is The Fate of Rome, by Kyle Harper, which advocates for the view that Rome was done in by climate change and infectious diseases (which were exacerbated by climate change).
This check is a little different than the others, because it arose from a collaboration with some folks in the forecasting space. Instead of just reading and evaluating claims myself, I took claims from the book and mad... (Read more)
Suppose we have a bunch of earthquake sensors spread over an area. They are not perfectly reliable (in terms of either false positives or false negatives), but some are more reliable than others. How can we aggregate the sensor data to detect earthquakes?
A “naive” seismologist without any statistics background might try assigning different numerical scores to each sensor, roughly indicating how reliable their positive and negative results are, just based on the seismologist’s intuition. Sensor i gets a score ...
This post is an exploration of a very simple worry about the concept of utility maximisers - that they seem capable of explaining any exhibited behaviour. It is one that has, in different ways, has been brought up many times before. Rohin Shah, for example, complained that the behaviour of everything from robots to rocks can be described by utility functions. The conclusion seems to be that being an expected utility maximiser tells us nothing at all about the way a decision maker acts in the world - the utility function does not constrain. This clashes with arguments that suggest, ... (Read more)
Epistemic status: I think the basic Idea is more likely than not sound. Probably some mistakes. Looking for sanity check.
The following is a way to Foom an AI while leaving its utility function and decision theory as blank spaces. You could plug any uncomputable or computationally intractable behavior you might want in, and get an approximation out.
Suppose I was handed a hypercomputer and allowed to run code on it without worrying about mindcrime, then the hypercomputer is removed, allowing me to keep 1Gb of data from the computations. Then I am handed a magic human utility... (Read more)
If we're to believe the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, or the Copenhagen Consensus Center, or apparently any of the individual geoengineering researchers who've modelled it, it's possible to halt all warming by building a fleet of autonomous wind-powered platforms that do nothing more sinister than spraying seawater into the air, in a place no more ecologically sensitive than the open ocean, and for no greater cost than 10 billion USD
(edit: I'm not sure where the estimate of 10B came from. I saw the estimate of 9B in a lot of news reports relating to CCC, ... (Read more)
This post by Alex Berger of OpenPhil outlines some shifts in thinking at OpenPhil, about what bar they set for their grantmaking. It seemed noteworthy...
[note: I'm not 100% sure I understood this framework, but here's ... (Read more)
Some people have an intuition that with free exchange of ideas, the best ones will eventually come out on top. I'm less optimistic, so I ask if that's really happening.
The alternative would be to have the same people talking about the same problems without accumulating anything. People would still make updates, but some would update in opposite directions, leaving the total distribution of ideas in the community largely unchanged. There would be occasional great ideas, but they would soon get buried in the archives, without leaving much of an impact. I have some hope we're not l... (Read more)
Epistemic Status: Pointing at early stage concepts, but with high confidence that something real is here. Hopefully not the final version of this post.
When I started studying rationality and philosophy, I had the perspective that people who were in positions of power and influence should primarily focus on how to make good decisions in general and that we should generally give power to people who have demonstrated a good track record of general rationality. I also thought of power as this mostly unconstrained resource, similar to having money in your bank account, and that we should make sure ... (Read more)