[$10k bounty] Read and compile Robin Hanson’s best posts

by Richard_Ngo1 min read20th Oct 202129 comments

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I think Robin Hanson's ideas are not read nearly as widely as they should be, in part because it's difficult to navigate his many, many blog posts (I estimate he's written 2000 of them exactly 3302 of them). So I'd like to pay someone to read through all his writings and compile the best ones into a more accessible format. The default output would be an ebook like Rationality: from AI to Zombies, containing several thematically-linked sequences of posts; possible extensions of this include adding summaries or publishing physical copies (although let me know if you have any other suggestions).

I expect this to take 1-2 months of work, and plan to pay around $10k USD (more details to be determined as we get a better idea of the scope of the project). My gmail address is richardcngo; email me with the subject line "Hanson compilation", plus any relevant information about yourself, if you might be interested in doing this.

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I will add a $1k bounty to this, since it seems like Twitter agrees this is a great idea and there should be more money in it.

This is a great idea! I would love to have this for a lot of authors on LessWrong and the EA Forum. 

I recommend splitting the role into two: curator and typesetter. 

The curator will definitely need to be a rationalist, to pick which ones, which order, what the look should be, what the back of the book should say, etc. 

Turning it into an e-book on the other hand is a specialized skill that you can get done way faster, more professionally, and cheaper by just hiring somebody on Upwork (probably cost you ~$100 or less).  Anybody theoretically can do it, but it will take you dozens of (tedious) hours and look worse than if you hire a professional who does it for a living. 

EDIT

Thanks for the replies and sorry for the inaccuracies. I initially reported 4,331 blog posts and 890k words; the real results are that Robin wrote 3,302 blog posts (thanks DominikPeters for pointing this out, and for finding these better urls) and 1.5M words.

(4,331 blog posts corresponds to all authors on overcomingbias. 890k words doesn't represent anything, because the posts were truncated when accessed from the monthly archive urls.)

# Get the real number of words from Robin
$ n_current_pages=331
$ echo https://www.overcomingbias.com/author/robin-hanson > /tmp/page_urls
$ for i in $(seq 2 $n_current_pages); do echo https://www.overcomingbias.com/author/robin-hanson/page/$i >> /tmp/page_urls; done
$ getwords() { curl $1 | pup '#content' | html2text --ignore-links | wc -w; }
$ export -f getwords
$  parallel getwords < /tmp/page_urls > /tmp/words_by_page
$ awk '{sum += $1} END {print sum}' /tmp/words_by_page
1481344

ORIGINAL

Scoping: 4331 blog posts and 890k words (for overcomingbias only).

# Number of blog posts
$ curl https://www.overcomingbias.com/archives | pup '#monthly-archives' | rg '\(\d+\)' | tr -d ' ()' | awk '{sum += $1} END {print sum}'
4331

# Rough number of words (bash)
$ curl https://www.overcomingbias.com/archives | pup '#monthly-archives a attr{href}' > /tmp/urls_monthly_archives
$ getwords() { curl $1 | pup '#content' | html2text --ignore-links | wc -w; }
$ export -f getwords
$ parallel getwords < /tmp/urls_monthly_archives > /tmp/words_per_month
$ awk '{sum += $1} END {print sum}' /tmp/words_per_month
891666

The first author archives page that throws a 404 is https://www.overcomingbias.com/author/robin-hanson/page/332, but https://www.overcomingbias.com/author/robin-hanson/page/331 exists. Each page contains 10 posts, except the last one (page 331) which contains two posts. So there are 3302 posts by Hanson.

Doesn't that include posts by other people too? Like Eliezer, for example?

Yes. So I think you'd have to use that scoping as an approximation. Maybe like 90-95% is Robins.

I think much less, maybe 50-75%. Eliezer posted a lot in the early years.

And the word count should be even less as other people's posts (like Eliezer's) are usually much longer than Hanson's.

Cool project! I was thinking along similar lines when I recently went through a bunch of his posts to find interesting ideas and collected them:

https://harsimony.wordpress.com/2021/10/20/robin-hansons-other-ideas/ 

Whoever decides to work on this project up might be able to use this as a starting point.

Are you going to update the post if you find a volunteer? (Or maybe if you have confidence that they'll do it?)

Awesome, some 2 years ago I was looking just for this. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/9mXi6QNN7udsGcDYJ/eigen-s-shortform?commentId=uTEEJHSHLjyHXHsM2 I ended up reading his book, and really liked it. Excited to be one of the early readers of these. (I hope it's as good as The Codex recollection)

So on this thread, as well, we have a post from @Richard_Ngo with some links https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/SSkYeEpTrYMErtsfa/what-are-some-of-robin-hanson-s-best-posts 

[+][comment deleted]1mo 1

Hey,
I started to work on a possible publishing pipeline. I already managed to extract all the useful data from the site and started dumping the information into a database. So I think I can handle the editorial effort, however I feel not competent enough to curate all the articles. If anyone wants to help, feel free to leave a comment for followup.

I'd be happy doing the curation part

Hey, I'm currently finalizing my pipeline. I will contact Richard till end of this week. I hope to deliver a first sketch with two or three famous post nicely formatted and an idea of how to structure the curation process efficiently.

Posts of his that made it into my Anki deck:

Hidden motives complicates incentive design. Instead of just trying to offer people more of what they want, we need to let them continue to let them pretend to want what they pretend, while actually offering them more of what they really want.
-- https://twitter.com/robinhanson/status/1084903516857094149 

Blame Holes like Plot Holes

on Signaling (again)

Interesting side point: 1/3 of movie budget goes to marketing because blockbusters are a coordination game.

Who Likes Simple Rules

Why do people dislike objective rule comparisons?

Lots of evidence that people do not like when options are objectively evaluated and the best one chosen.

Most people mainly favor discretion as a way to promote an informal favoritism from which they expect to benefit. They believe that they are unusually smart, attractive, charismatic, well-connected, and well-liked, just the sort of people who tend to be favored by informal discretion.

Explaining Regulation

What if, when societies get rich, we all feel like we have high relative status, and a decent chance to get even more, neglecting the fact that most everyone around us is also richer as well?

Elite Biases Make Policy Biases - this post contains so much about how politics works and made it click for me.

 

Not by him, but there is also the following which I found via his Twitter

The best people in a complex job are 80% better than their average colleagues -- from 80khours

And the top performer is ~2% better than the next best one.

and 

How many hours does it take to become friends

Have you verified with Robin that he is okay with this from a copyright standpoint?

Robin’s sense of honor would probably prevent him from litigating this, but that absolutely would not hold up in court.

I had also asked him personally; and I'll double-check before making any printed copies.

When writing the sequences, to what extent has Eliezer gone through topics systematically at the time of writing? To what extent has Robin done this? I'm asking because from a cursory look at his blog, it seems like there was a difference in this dimension (Robin's writing seems more all over the place).

This may make the marginal value of this project higher, but it would probably mean the result will be less coherent than the Sequences. Any thoughts on this? (I could be completely wrong.)

I would guess that the end project would be something closer to The Codex than the Sequences. And from reading Hanson a few times, there's an obvious thread that he weaves among many posts, but may be just a tad difficult to untangle. For one, I really enjoy his take on Prediction Markets

Saw this today, though people can access most of his blog posts, organizing and processing these amounts of information is a matter of high concern. While it is essential for me to investigate these kinds of information at undergrad, receiving a pay of around $10k USD for this work is really very generous ^^.

GPT-3 is that you?

Is that the new thing, saying people's comments sound like GPT-3? I kind of like it though I suspect the original person is not GPT-3.

I would find it kind of disrespectful if someone called me gpt-3, maybe gpt-15...