by lc1 min read19th Mar 2020175 comments
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It is both absurd, and intolerably infuriating, just how many people on this forum think it's acceptable to claim they have figured out how qualia/consciousness works, and also not explain how one would go about making my laptop experience an emotion like 'nostalgia', or present their framework for enumerating the set of all possible qualitative experiences[1]. When it comes to this particular subject, rationalists are like crackpot physicists with a pet theory of everything, except rationalists go "Huh? Gravity?" when you ask them to explain how their theory predicts gravity, and then start arguing with you about gravity needing to be something explained by a theory of everything. You people make me want to punch my drywall sometimes.

For the record: the purpose of having a "theory of consciousness" is so it can tell us which blobs of matter feel particular things under which specific circumstances, and teach others how to make new blobs of matter that feel particular things. Down to the level of having a field of AI anaesthesiology. If your theory of consciousness does not do this, perhaps because the sum total of your brilliant insights are "systems feel 'things' when they're, y'... (read more)

6Q Home7mo
Strongly agree. If you want to explain qualia, explain how to create experiences, explain how each experience relates to all other experiences. I think Eliezer should've talked more about this in The Fun Theory Sequence []. Because properties of qualia is a more fundamental topic than "fun". And I believe that knowledge about qualia may be one of the most fundamental types of knowledge. I.e. potentially more fundamental than math and physics.

I think Eliezer should've talked more about this in The Fun Theory Sequence. Because properties of qualia is a more fundamental topic than "fun".

I think Eliezer just straight up tends not to acknowledge that people sometimes genuinely care about their internal experiences, independent of the outside world, terminally. Certainly, there are people who care about things that are not that, but Eliezer often writes as if people can't care about the qualia - that they must value video games or science instead of the pleasure derived from video games or science.

His theory of fun is thus mostly a description of how to build a utopia for humans who find it unacceptable to "cheat" by using subdermal space heroin implants. That's valuable for him and people like him, but if aligned AGI gets here I will just tell it to reconfigure my brain not to feel bored, instead of trying to reconfigure the entire universe in an attempt to make monkey brain compatible with it. I sorta consider that preference a lucky fact about myself, which will allow me to experience significantly more positive and exotic emotions throughout the far future, if it goes well, than the people who insist they must only feel satisfied after literally eating hamburgers or reading jokes they haven't read before.

This is probably part of why I feel more urgency in getting an actually useful theory of qualitative experience than most LW users.

Utilitarianism seems to demand such a theory of qualitative experience, but this requires affirming the reality of first-person experience. Apparently, some people here would rather stick their hand on a hot stove than be accused of "dualism" (whatever that means) and will assure you that their sensation of burning is an illusion. Their solution is to change the evidence to fit the theory.
It does if you're one of the Cool People like me who wants to optimize their qualitative experience, but you can build systems that optimize some other utility target. So this isn't really quite true. This is true.
1Q Home7mo
I'm interested in qualia for different reasons: 1. For me personalities of other people are an important type of qualia. I don't consider knowing someone's personality to be a simple knowledge like "mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell". So, valuing other people makes me interested in qualia more. 2. I'm interested in knowing properties of qualia (such as ways to enumerate qualia), not necessarily using them for "cheating" or anything. I.e. I'm interested in the knowledge itself.
Personalities aren't really qualia as I'm defining them. They're an aggregation of a lot of information about people's behavior/preferences. Qualia is things people feel/experience.
1Q Home7mo
Would you consider the meaning of a word (at least in a specific context) to be qualia? For me personalities are more or less holistic experiences, not (only) "models" of people or lists of arbitrary facts about a person. I mean, some sort of qualia should be associated with those "models"/facts anyway? People who experience synesthesia may experience specific qualia related to people. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think it would be cool if awareness about other conscious beings was important for conscious experience.
Seems weird for your blob of matter to react so emotionally to the sounds or shapes that some blobs have emitted bout other blobs.  Why would you expect anyone to have a coherent theory of something they can't even define and measure? It seems even weirder for you to take such reporting at face value about having any relation to a given blob's "inner life", as opposed to a variance in the the evolved and learned verbal and nonverbal signaling that such behaviors actually are.
Because they say so. The problem then is why they think they have a coherent theory of something they can't define or measure.
Just the way I am bro I expect people who say they have a coherent theory of something to be able to answer any relevant questions at all about that something. Are you referring the NYPost link? I think people's verbal and nonverbal signaling has some relationship with their inner experience. I don't think this woman is forgoing anaesthetic during surgeries because of pathologies. But if you disagree, then fine: How do we modify people to have the inner life that that woman is ~pretending to have?
Probably should have included a smiley in my comment, but I do want to point out that it's reasonable to model people (and animals and maybe rocks) as having highly variant and opaque "inner lives" that bear only a middling correlation to their observable behaviors, and especially to their public behaviors. For the article on the woman who doesn't experience pain, I have pretty high credence that there is some truth to her statements, but much lower credence that it maps as simply as presented to "natural stoicism" as presented in the article.  And really no clue on "what it's like" to live that experience, whether it's less intense and interesting in all dimensions, or just mutes the worst of it, or is ... alien. And since I have no clue how to view or measure an inner life, I have even less understanding of how or whether to manipulate it.  I strongly suspect we could make many people have an outer life (which includes talking about one's inner life) more like the one given, with the right mix of drugs, genetic meddling, and repeated early reinforcement of expectations.
Agreed, basically. That's part of why we need the theory!
1Simon Skade4mo
Huh, interesting. Could you make some examples for what people seem to claim this, and if Eliezer is among them, where he seems to claim this? (Would just interest me.)
Attentional Schema Theory. That's the convincing one. [] But still very rudimentary.  But you know if something is poorly understood. The guy who thought it up has a section in his book on how to make a computer have conscious experiences.  But any theory is incomplete as the brain is not well understood. I don't think you can expect a fully formed theory right off the bat, with complete instructions for making a feeling thinking conscious We aren't there yet.
I'm actually cool with proposing incomplete theories. I'm just annoyed with people declaring the problem solved via appeals to "reductionism" or something, without even suggesting that they've thought about answering these questions.


<3. Thanks for letting us know.

That's very brave
6Evan R. Murphy9mo
What happened to lc? They contributed to some good discussions on here, but look to have suddenly disappeared.

The Nick Bostrom fiasco is instructive: never make public apologies to an outrage machine. If Nick had just ignored whoever it was trying to blackmail him, it would have been on them to assert the importance of a twenty-five year old deliberately provocative email, and things might not have ascended to the point of mild drama. When he tried to "get ahead of things" by issuing an apology, he ceded that the email was in fact socially significant despite its age, and that he did in fact have something to apologize for, and so opened himself up to the Standard Replies that the apology is not genuine, he's secretly evil etc. etc.

Instead, if you are ever put in this situation, just say nothing. Don't try to defend yourself. Definitely don't volunteer for a struggle session.

Treat outrage artists like the police. You do not prevent the police from filing charges against you by driving to the station and attempting to "explain yourself" to detectives, or by writing and publishing a letter explaining how sorry you are. At best you will inflate the airtime of the controversy by responding to it, at worst you'll be creating the controversy in the first place.

Do not assume good faith on Twitter. Ever. Not because all people online are bad, but because Twitter is a "dark forest". If there are 999 good people and 1 bad person, it's the bad person who will take your tweet, maybe modify it a little, put it into most outrageous possible context, write an article about why you are the worst person ever, and share it on all social networks. And that's the lucky case. In the unlucky case, the story will uncritically be accepted by journalists, then added to Wikipedia, you will get fired, and for the rest of your life, random people on the street will keep yelling at you. Twitter should be legally required to show you this as a warning every time you are making a tweet. EDIT: This was written before I learned the details. Now the analogy with not talking to police seems even better: indeed, every word you say is a potential new incriminating evidence against you (and if it is not, it will simply be ignored), and the worst outcome is that the new evidence will hurt you in a way the old evidence could not. Question: If I get in trouble with the police, I know I need to find a lawyer. If I get in trouble with an internet mob, and I understand the need to defer to a more experienced person's advice to navigate the minefield, and I am willing to pay them, whose services exactly should I find? Is there an obvious answer, such as "lawyer" in case of legal trouble?
The professional class would be PR people.  A vaguely remember reading that the firm that handled Biden's sexual assault allegations also did good work for other people.
I actually thought of this extension and cut it from the original post, but, if you need to defend yourself and have simple exonerating evidence, one way might be to find a friend willing to state your reservations without referring to the fact that they've spoken to you or you're feeding them information. This way they can present your side of the story without giving it extra fuel, lending significance to the charges, or directly quoting you with statements you can be hanged for by the Twitter mob. However, this may also just extend the half life of the controversy.
Very strongly agree and endorse this message. I'm not above giving into incentives, and if the incentives are such that you should not apologise for wrongdoing, then so be it.
Does this generalize to "just ignore Twitter (and other blathering by "the masses") for most things"?  Outside of a pretty small group, I haven't heard much handwringing, condemnation nor defense of Bostrom's old messages or his recent apology.   I personally think that personal honor is better supported by a thoughtful apology when something is brought to one's attention, than by simply ignoring it.  Don't engage in a back-and-forth, and don't expect the apology to convince the more vocal part of the 'verse.  But do be honest and forthright with yourself and those who you respect enough to value their opinions. From what I can tell (and I haven't looked that deeply, as I don't particularly care), Professor Bostrom has done this pretty well, and I don't expect him to suffer much long-term harm from his early mistakes.
IMO I disagree with the implication that Nick Bostrom shouldn't have apologized, since for once the Twitter machine is actually right to criticize the apology. From titotal's post on why Bostrom's apology isn't good, there are several tests that he failed at: Link below: [] Disclaimer: This is a rare action for me to take, and just because I think the Twitter sphere is somewhat right does not equal that any of their conclusions are automatically right, nor does this mean I will care much about what Twitter thinks.

The problem with trade agreements as a tool for maintaining peace is that they only provide an intellectual and economic reason for maintaining good relations between countries, not an emotional once. People's opinions on war rarely stem from economic self interest. Policymakers know about the benefits and (sometimes) take them into account, but important trade doesn't make regular Americans grateful to the Chinese for providing them with so many cheap goods - much the opposite, in fact. The number of people who end up interacting with Chinese people or intuitively understanding the benefits firsthand as a result of expanded business opportunities is very small.

On the other hand, video games, social media, and the internet have probably done more to make Americans feel aligned with the other NATO countries than any trade agreement ever. The YouTubers and Twitch streamers I have pseudosocial relationships with are something like 35% Europeans. I thought Canadians spoke Canadian and Canada was basically some big hippie commune right up until my minecraft server got populated with them. In some weird alternate universe where people are suggesting we invade Canada, my first instinctual... (read more)

This doesn't seem like an either-or question.  Freer trade and more individual interactions seem complementary to me.
I should note that I'm also pro free trade, because I like money and helping people. I'm just not pro free trade because I think it promotes peace.

To the LW devs - just want to mention that this website is probably now the most well designed forum I have ever used. The UX is almost addictively good and I've been loving all of the little improvements over the past year or so.

Ditto here; kudos to everyone involved in creating such an excellent forum design!
I find [] hard to use (because I have yet to find a way to disable the mouseovers, which quickly deplete my orienting response, about which I can explain more if asked) but LW is better than most sites in that alternative interfaces can be created. In particular, I use [] as my interface and am pretty satisfied with it (though it was slow for a lot of the last 2 months). But I strongly upvoted parent because it is good reminder to me of the cognitive diversity in the human population.
I wrote somewhere that this is the only forum that looks to me the result of Intelligent Design, and not an accident. It's the only one that looks like I AM trying to intelligently design the forum MYSELF, including going back in time after discovering problems and fixing them (or just thinking in advance for five minutes on each aspect "how can I hack this / what are the vulnerabilities of this system of rules /how trolls can use it"). The point is not only that, unlike many other sites, I don’t think every five minutes “why can’t X be here”, the point is that I look somewhere and see in advance that something is provided that I don’t I had time to think, and some kind of protection was made against the exploitation of vulnerabilities in the system of rules or even involuntary errors in human psychology.
I agree completely. The last N weeks or so there have been performance problems, but all of the little things... Version history on posts, strong upvotes/downvotes, restoration of comments... They make writing things just fun.
If we still talk about shortcomings, then I would still be able to name 4, I wrote about the first two in the questions: lack of arrows between sequences; useless SEQ RERUNs for the sake of comments and problems with missing nested answers to questions in old comments; lately performance problems (which turned out to be lesswrong problems, not mine, so I didn't count them before); the fact that from time to time they vote for you once in the minus for completely incomprehensible reasons and then this value does not return to the plus (but as far as I understand, setting the need to indicate the reason for a bad vote will be either harmful or not very useful measure). But considering that for all this time I have found the number of minuses that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, while on any other site they literally pour from every element every second like from a cornucopia and instead of eliminating them, monthly useless graphic updates are made .. All in all, this is just a surprisingly good result, although (there is no limit to perfection) I hope at least three of them will be fixed in the coming months (how about the last one I do not know and there seems to be reasons why it is not fixed. But just in case I I note this minus, otherwise, as in the case of glitches, it turns out recently that everyone simply did not report it).

So apparently in 2015 Sam Altman said:

“AI will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.”

Serious question: Is he a comic book supervillain? Is this world actually real? Why does this quote not garner an emotive reaction out of anybody but me?

I was surprised by this quote. On following the link, the sentence by itself seems noticeably out of context; here's the next part:

On the growing artificial intelligence market: “AI will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.” 

On what Altman would do if he were President Obama: “If I were Barack Obama, I would commit maybe $100 billion to R&D of AI safety initiatives.” Altman also shared that he recently invested in a company doing "AI safety research" to investigate the potential risks of artificial intelligence.

PSA: I have realized very recently after extensive interactive online discussion with rationalists, that they are exceptionally good at arguing. Too good. Probably there's some inadvertent pre- or post- selection for skill at debating high concept stuff going on.

Wait a bit until acceding to their position in a live discussion with them where you start by disagreeing strongly for maybe intuitive reasons and then suddenly find the ground shifting beneath your feet. It took me repeated interactions where I only later realized I'd been hoodwinked by faulty reasoning to notice the pattern.

I think in general believing something before you have intuition around it is unreliable or vulnerable to manipulation, even if there seems to be a good System 2 reason to do so. Such intuition is specialized common sense, and stepping outside common sense is stepping outside your goodhart scope where ability to reliably reason might break down.

So it doesn't matter who you are arguing with, don't believe something unless you understand it intuitively. Usually believing things is unnecessary regardless, it's sufficient to understand them to make conclusions and learn more without committing to belief. And certainly it's often useful to make decisions without committing to believe the premises on which the decisions rest, because some decisions don't wait on the ratchet of epistemic rationality.

5the gears to ascension5mo
I'm on board with this. it's a common failure of reasoning in this community and humanity in general imo - people believing each other too early because of confident sounding reasoning. I've learned to tell people I'll get back to them after a few nights' sleep when someone asks me what my update is about a heavily philosophical topic.
That's a tricky thing: the method advocated in the Sequences is lightness of belief, which helps in changing your mind but also dismantles the immune system [] against nonsense, betting that with sufficient overall rationality training this gives a better equilibrium. I think aiming for a single equilibrium is still inefficient use of capabilities and limitations of human mind, and it's better to instead develop multiple segregated worldviews (something the Sequences explicitly argue against []). Multiple worldviews are useful precisely to make the virtue of lightness [] harmless, encouraging swift change in details of a relevant worldview or formation of a new worldview if none account for new evidence. In the capacity of paradigms, some worldviews might even fail to recognize some forms of evidence as meaningful. This gives worldviews opportunity to grow, to develop their own voice with full support of intuitive understanding expected in a zealot, without giving them any influence over your decisions or beliefs. Then, stepping back, some of them turn out to have a point, even if the original equilibrium of belief would've laughed their premises out of consideration before they had a chance of conveying their more nuanced non-strawman nature.
I feel like "what other people are telling me" is a very special type of evidence that needs to be handled with extra care. It is something that was generated by a potentially adversarial intelligence, so I need to check for some possible angles of attack first. This generally doesn't need to be done with evidence that is just randomly thrown at me by the universe, or which I get as a result of my experiments. The difference is, basically, that the universe is only giving me the data, but a human is simultaneusly giving me the data (potentially filtered or falsified) and also some advice how to think about the data (potentially epistemically wrong). Furthermore, there is a difference between "what I know" and "what I am aware of at this very moment". There may be some problem with what the other person is telling me, but I may not necessarily notice it immediately. Especially when the person is drawing my attention away from that on purpose. So even if I do not see any problem with what that person said right now, I might notice a few problems after I sleep on it. My own mind has all kinds of biases; how I evaluate someone's words is colored by their perceived status, whether I feel threatened by them, etc. That is a reason to rethink the issue later when the person is not here. In other words, if someone tells me a complex argument "A, therefore B, therefore C, therefore D, therefore you should give me all your money; in the name of Yudkowsky be a good rationalist and update immediately", I am pretty sure that the rational reaction is to ignore them and take as much time as I need to rethink the issue alone or maybe with other people whom I trust.
By worldviews I mean more than specialized expertise where you don't yet have the tools to get your head around how something unfamiliar works (like how someone new manipulates you, how to anticipate and counter this particular way of filtering of evidence). These could instead be unusual and currently unmotivated ways of looking at something familiar (how an old friend or your favorite trustworthy media source or historical truths you've known since childhood might be manipulating you; how a "crazy" person has a point). The advantage is in removing the false dichotomy between keeping your current worldview and changing it towards a different worldview. By developing them separately, you take your time becoming competent in both, and don't need to hesitate in being serious about engaging with a strange worldview on its own terms just because you don't agree with it. But sure, getting more intuitively comfortable with something currently unfamiliar (and potentially dangerous) is a special case.
3the gears to ascension5mo
while I definitely see your argument, something about this seems weird to me and doesn't feel likely to work properly. my intuition is that you just have one mashed worldview with inconsistent edges; while that's not necessarily terrible or anything, and keeping multiple possible worldviews in mind is probably good, my sense is that "full support [as] expected in a zealot" is unhealthy for anyone. something or other overoptimization? I do agree multiple worldviews discussing is an important thing in improving the sanity waterline.
It is weird in the sense that there is no widespread practice. The zealot thing is about taking beliefs-within-a-worldview (that are not your beliefs) seriously, biting the bullet, which is important for naturally developing any given worldview the way a believer in it would, not ignoring System 2 implications that challenge and refine preexisting intuition, making inferences according to its own principles and not your principles. Clearly even if you try you'll fail badly at this, but you'll fail even worse if you don't try. With practice in a given worldview, this gets easier, an alien worldview obtains its own peculiar internal common sense, a necessary aspect of human understanding. The named/distinct large worldviews is an oversimplification, mainly because it's good to allow any strange claim or framing to have a chance of spinning up a new worldview around itself if none would take it as their own, and to merge worldviews as they develop enough machinery to become mutually intelligible. The simplification is sufficient to illustrate points such as a possibility of having contradictory "beliefs" about the same claim, or claims not being meaningful/relevant in some worldviews when they are in others, or taking seriously claims that would be clearly dangerous or silly to accept, or learning claims whose very meaning and not just veracity is extremely unclear. Studying math looks like another important example, with understanding of different topics corresponding to worldviews where/while they remain sparsely connected, perhaps in want of an application to formulating something that is not yet math and might potentially admit many kinds of useful models. Less risk of wasting attention on nonsense, but quite a risk of wasting attention on topics that would never find a relevant application, were playing with math and building capacity to imagine more kinds of ideas not a goal in itself.
Note also that they may be taking positions which are selected for being easy to argue - they're the ones they were convinced by, of course.  Whether you think that has correlation with truth is up to you - I think so, but it's not a perfect enough correlation for it to be enough. I don't know exactly what you mean by "acceding" to a position in a discussion - if you find the arguments strong, you should probably acknowledge that - this isn't a battle, it's a discussion.  If you don't find yourself actually convinced, you should state that too, even if your points of disagreement are somewhat illegible to yourself (intuition).  And, of course, if you later figure out why you disagree, you can re-open the discussion next time it's appropriate.

Hey [anonymous]. I see you deactivated your account. Hope you're okay! Happy to chat if you want on Signal at five one oh, nine nine eight, four seven seven one (also a +1 at the front for US country code).

(Follow-up: [anonymous] reached out, is doing fine.)

Does anybody here have any strong reason to believe that the ML research community norm of "not taking AGI discussion seriously" stems from a different place than the oil industry's norm of "not taking carbon dioxide emission discussion seriously"?

I'm genuinely split. I can think of one or two other reasons there'd be a consensus position of dismissiveness (preventing bikeshedding, for example), but at this point I'm not sure, and it affects how I talk to ML researchers.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Upton Sinclair []
I'm not sure the "ML Research Community" is cohesive enough (nor, in fact, well-defined enough) to have very strong norms about this.  Further, it's not clear that there needs to be a "consensus reasoning" even if there is a norm - different members could have different reasons for not bringing it up, and once it's established, it can be self-propagating: people don't bring it up because their peers don't bring it up. I think if you're looking for ways to talk to ML researchers, start small, and see what those particular researchers think and how they react to different approaches.  If you find some that work, then expand it to more scalable talks to groups of researchers.
1Purged Deviator9mo
I don't expect AI researchers to achieve AGI before they find one or more horrible uses for non-general AI tools, which may divert resources, or change priorities, or do something else which prevents true AGI from ever being developed.
Because of it's low chance of existential risk or a singularity utopia. Here's the thing, technologies are adopted first at a low level and at early adopters, then it becomes cheaper and better, than it more or less becomes very popular. No technology ever had the asymptotic growth or singularity that ML/AI advocates claim to have happened. So we should be very skeptical about any claims of existential risks. On climate change, we both know it will be serious and that it is not an existential risk or a civilization collapse disaster.
1Michaël Trazzi10mo
I think best way to look at it is climate change way before it was mainstream

Guys what's up the the mercator map projection on the homepage? I thought we were nerds?

This also annoyed me after first noticing how neat it is that I can see my house on the map.

Noticed something recently. As an alien, you could read pretty much everything Wikipedia has on celebrities, both on individual people and the general articles about celebrity as a concept... And never learn that celebrities tend to be extraordinarily attractive. I'm not talking about an accurate or even attempted explanation for the tendency, I'm talking about the existence of the tendency at all. I've tried to find something on wikipedia that states it, but that information just doesn't exist (except, of course, implicitly through photographs).

It's quite odd, and I'm sure it's not alone. "Celebrities are attractive" is one obvious piece of some broader set of truisms that seem to be completely missing from the world's most complete database of factual information.

Analyzing or talking about status factors is low-status.  You do see information about awards for beauty, much like you can see some information about fiances, but not much about their expenditures or lifestyle.
5Gordon Seidoh Worley10mo
Part of the issue is like that celebrity, as wikipedia approaches the word, is broader than just modern TV, film, etc. celebrity and instead includes a wide variety of people who are not likely to be exceptionally attractive but are well known in some other way. There's individual preferences in terms of who they think are attractive, but many politicians, authors, radio personalities, famous scientists, etc. are not conventionally attractive in the way movie stars are attractive and yet these people are still celebrities in a broad sense. However, I've not dug into the depths of wikipedia to see if, for example, this gap you see holds up if looking at pages that more directly talk about the qualities of film stars, for example.
I think there's also a "it's obvious to everyone, so archaeologists of the future won't find any mention of it because no one has had to explain it to anyone" factor. (I heard that archaeologists and historians know much less about everyday life than about significant events, although the former was obviously encountered much more often)

Let me put in my 2c now that the collapse of FTX is going to be mostly irrelevant to effective altruism except inasmuch as EA and longtermist foundations no longer have a bunch of incoming money from Sam Bankman Fried. People are going on and on about the "PR damage" to EA by association because a large donor turned out to be a fraud, but are failing to actually predict what the concrete consequences of such a "PR loss" are going to be. Seems to me like they're making the typical fallacy of overestimating general public perception[1]'s relevance to an insular ingroup's ability to accomplish goals, as well as the public's attention span in the first place.

  1. ^

    As measured by what little Rationalists read from members of the public while glued to Twitter for four hours each day.

ppl really out here dropping alignment proposals like SCP-001 entries

LessWrong as a website has gotten much more buggy for me lately. 6 months ago it worked like clockwork, but recently I'm noticing that refreshes on my profile page take something like 18 seconds to complete, or even 504 (!). I'm trying to edit my old "pessimistic alignment" post now and the interface is just not letting me; the site just freezes for a while and then refuses to put the content in the text box for me to edit.

Marvelous. I didn’t talk about this because I thought that the problem was not on the side of LessWrong, since in my country a lot of things have been slowing down, blocking, denying access, and so on, and at least from three sides at the same time: the state / providers, others countries / companies and those who do not want problems.
In order to synchronize against the illusion of transparency, I will write specific errors that I myself see: bad gateway (seems to be somehow related to following links within the site and back); "Error: NotFoundError: Failed to execute removeChild on Node: The node to be removed is not a child of this node." (red, replaces the entire page, sometimes appears when you click "submit"); long page loading at the beginning; long loading of the remaining page after the update of the profile karma indicator and new messages has loaded; when double-clicking (on the phone), the voice is not amplified, but reset.
The performance problems have also been annoying me, though I don't think it's been 6 months since they've gotten worse (I think it's been more like 4 weeks based on my read of the logs, which have sadly overlapped with some time period where it's been hard for me or others to focus on fixing them). I've really hated it, and if I didn't have COVID right now, would probably be trying to fix them right now. Not sure what's up about the editor. I don't think I've experienced many additional problems here, though we have been rolling out a new editor, so new bugs aren't that surprising. A bug report via Intercom would be greatly appreciated.
Sounds very likely upon reflection that I could be misremembering them to that far out; I just picked a date upon which the site definitively worked fast.
Have you reported this to the staff?

A surprisingly large amount of people seem to apply statuslike reasoning toward inanimate goods. To many, if someone sells a coin or an NFT for a very high price, this is not merely curious or misguided: it's outright infuriating. They react as if others are making a tremendous social faux pas - and even worse, that society is validating their missteps.

A man may climb the ladder all the way to the top, only to realize he’s on the wrong building.

Stop using twitter.

I did, 3-6 months ago.

I did, two years ago [].
I don't use twitter very much, mostly reading links and threads someone points to from some other medium.  I pretty much never publicly tweet.  I presume I'm not your target for this advice, but for clarity are you worried about consumption (wasting time, developing biased views) or production (producing bias or over-simple models)? Most importantly, do you have a "do more of X" to augment your "do less/none of Y (Y: twitter)"?  

Made an opinionated "update" for the anti-kibitzer mode script; it works for current LessWrong with its agree/disagree votes and all that jazz, fixes some longstanding bugs that break the formatting of the site and allow you to see votes in certain places, and doesn't indent usernames anymore. Install Tampermonkey and browse to this link if you'd like to use it. 

Semi-related, I am instituting a Reign Of Terror policy for my poasts/shortform, which I will update my moderation policy with. The general goal of these policies is to reduce the amount of ti... (read more)

I have no clue whether any of my previous comments on your posts will qualify me for perma-ban, but if so, please do so now, to save the trouble of future annoyance since I have no intention of changing anything.  I am generally respectful, but I don't expect to fully understand these rules, let alone follow them.   I have no authority over this, but I'd hope the mods choose not to frontpage anything that has a particularly odd and restrictive comment policy, or a surprisingly-large ban list.
I think it's better to annoy commenters than to annoy post authors, so actually allowing serious Reign of Terror is better than meaningfully discouraging it. That's the whole point of Reign of Terror, and as the name suggests it shouldn't be guaranteed to be comfortable for its subjects. One problem with how it's currently used is authors placing Reign of Terror policy for their own comfort in a motte/bailey way, without any actual harsh moderation activity, inflating the category into the territory of expected comfort for the commenters. There should be weak incentive for authors to not do this if they don't actually care.
For a lot of posts, the value is pretty evenly distributed among the post and the comments.  For frontpage-worthy ones, it's probably weighted more to posts, granted.  I fully agree that "reign of terror" is not sufficient reason to keep something off frontpage. I was reacting more to the very detailed rules that don't (to me) match my intuitions of good commenting on LW, and the declaration of perma-bans with fairly small provocation.  A lot will depend on implementation - how many comments lc allows, and how many commenters get banned. Mostly, I really hope LW doesn't become a publishing medium rather than a discussion space.  
There's practically no reason on a rationality forum for you to assert your identity or personal status over another commenter. I agree the rules I've given are very detailed. I don't agree that any of the vast majority of valuable comments on LessWrong are somehow bannable by my standard. The reason I'm stringent about doing this, is because the status asserting comments literally ruin it for everybody else, even when the majority of everybody else is not interested in such competitions. They make people like me, who are jealous and insecure, review everything they've ever written in the light that they might be judged. I don't come here because I want to engage in yet another status tournament. I come here because I want to become a better thinker and learn new and interesting things about the world. I also come here because I like being able to presume that most of the other commenters are using the forum like I am. In this sense it's worth it to me if this policy prevents one person from trying to social climb even if I have to prevent four other comments that wouldn't otherwise be a problem.
As I said, obviously this is not a retroactively applying policy, I have not followed it until now, and I will not ban anybody for commenting differently on my posts. I'm not going to ban you pre-emptively or judge you harshly for not following all of my ridiculously complicated rules. Feel free to continue commenting on my posts as you please and just let me eventually ban you; that's honestly fine by me and you should not feel bad about it. I personally hope they would not refuse to frontpage my posts from now on for having a restrictive comment policy when it's not obviously censoring criticism of the post itself, but I have already forfeited arbitrarily large amounts of exposure and the mods can do what they wish.

Computer hacking is not a particularly significant medium of communication between prominent AI research labs, nonprofits, or academic researchers. Much more often than leaked trade secrets, ML people will just use insights found in this online repository called arxiv, where many of them openly and intentionally publish their findings. Nor (as far as I am aware) are stolen trade secrets a significant source of foundational insights for researchers making capabilities gains, local to their institution or otherwise. 

I don't see this changing on its own,... (read more)

Do we have a good idea of how prominent AI research labs compare to the resources that go into Five Eyes AI models for intelligence analysis and for Chinese government pursuits?
I've forgotten at this point who they are, but I will ask some of my friends later to give me some of the public URLs of the "big players" working in this space so you can partly see for yourself. Their marketing is really impressive because government contractors, but I encourage you to actually look at the product on a technical level. Largely: the NSA and its military-industrial partners don't come up with new innovations, except as applies to handling the massive amounts of data they have and their interesting information security requirements. They just apply technologies and insights from companies like OpenAI or DeepMind. They're certainly using things like large language models to scan your emails now, but that's because OpenAI did the hard work already.  More importantly, when they do come up with innovations, they don't publish them on the internet, so they don't burn much of the "commons", as it were. I can't give much insight on china, sadly.
There was a large amount of time when the NSA did come up with cryptography-related math innovations in secret and did not share that information publically.  The NSA does see itself []as the leading employer of mathematicians in the United States. To the extent that those employees come up with groundbreaking insights, those are likely classified and you won't find them in the marketing materials of government contractors. 

Every once in a while I'm getting bad gateway errors on Lesswrong. Thought I should mention it for the devs.

Today, I also got errors.

Currently reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for the first time. I've wanted to read a book about Nazi Germany for a while now, and tried more "modern" and "updated" books, but IMO they are still pretty inferior to this one. The recent books from historians I looked at were concerned more with an ideological opposition to Great Men theories than factual accuracy, and also simply failed to hold my attention. Newer books are also necessarily written by someone who wasn't there, and by someone who does not feel comfortable commenting about events fr... (read more)

4Yoav Ravid2d
Looking forward to your post!

I have been working on a detailed post for about a month and a half now about how computer security is going to get catastrophically worse as we get the next 3-10 years of AI advancements, and unfortunately reality is moving faster than I can finish it:

I understand, though I'd still like to see that post, especially as it relates to some of the more advanced attacks. Unfortunately yeah it's already happening, though not much has come of it so far.

In hindsight, it is literally "based theorem". It's a theorem about exactly how much to be based.

What theorem?
Bayes’ Theorem, presumably.
Especially to non-native speakers, it's not at all obvious that Bayes' Theorem and Based Theorem sound almost the same since d, which reads like t, merges with th.
I think we should reward admitting-of-ignorance, or at the very least not punish it.

>be big unimpeachable tech ceo

>need to make some layoffs, but don't want to have to kill morale, or for your employees to think you're disloyal

>publish a manifesto on the internet exclaiming your corporation's allegiance to right-libertarianism or something

>half of your payroll resigns voluntarily without any purging

>give half their pay to the other half of your workforce and make an extra 200MM that year

Seems like a lot of ways for that to go wrong.  Especially if many of your customers (big advertisers) leave voluntarily as well.  
Seems to have worked out for Kraken and Coinbase though.
For now.  Even if not, there are others for whom it's not worked out so well, and it's unclear if these actions are causal to success.

Every five years since I was 11 I've watched The Dark Knight thinking "maybe this time I'll find out it wasn't actually as good as I remember it being". So far it's only gotten better each time.

Hmm.  Can't upvote+disagree for shortform entries.  I like hearing about others' preferences and experiences in cultural and artistic realms, so thanks for that.  I'm not sure I exactly disagree - the movie was very good, but not in my top-10 - I need to re-watch it, but previous re-watches have been within epsilon of my expectations - still good, but no better nor worse than before. Can you identify the element(s) that you expect to age badly, or you think you overvalued before, and which surprised you by still being great?  Or just the consistency of vision and feel through all the details? Also, if you are even a little bit of a Batman or superhero connoisseur, I highly recommend Birdman (2014).
One of the very suprising ones is this sense of something cousined to "realism". Specifically how much the city of Gotham could be seamlessly replaced with "Juarez" or "Sinaloa" and become an uncomfortably on-point tragedy about the never-ending war between honest men and organized bandits in those regions. The level of corruption and government ineffectiveness, the open coordination and power sharing between the criminals carving up the city, and the ubiquitous terrorism, are unrealistic for modern America and yet as a premise they are pretty much unassailable, because cities as bad as TDK::Gotham or worse exist around the world today. Another is, I'm not ashamed to say it, the depth of the social commentary. You are setting yourself up to be the cringiest of cringe by saying that the Joker says something deep in a movie, at this point, but I honestly find the following quote between Harvey and him in the middle of the movie a little gut wrenching: Also it's just a really well done movie! It says a particular thing it wants to say, very well, and doesn't really trip and fall over itself at any point in its runtime.

Would it be a good idea to get [OP] stickers on comments by the author of the post?

Based on Victoria Nuland's recent senate testimony, I'm registering a 66% prediction that those U.S. administered biological weapons facilities in Ukraine actually do indeed exist, and are not Russian propaganda. 

Of course I don't think this is why they invaded, but the media is painting this as a crazy conspiracy theory, when they have very little reason to know either way. 

4Purged Deviator1y
Here's an analysis by Dr. Robert Malone about the Ukraine biolabs, which I found enlightening: [] I glean that "biolab" is actually an extremely vague term, and doesn't specify the facility's exact capabilities at all.  They could very well have had an innocuous purpose, but Russia would've had to treat them as a potential threat to national security, in the same way that Russian or Chinese "biolabs" in Mexico might sound bad to the US, except Russia is even more paranoid.
It seems like "biological weapons facility" is a quite subjective term. The US position is that their own army labs that produced anthrax that was used after 9/11 are not a "biological weapons facility" because while they do produce anthrax that could be used militarily, it's not produced with the intent of military use. Based on those definitions it's plausible that the Ukrainian labs produce viruses that can be weaponized but that the US just doesn't see them as a "biological weapons facility" because they believe the intent for offensive use isn't there. Glenn Greenwalds reporting is good on this. [] is the freely accessible video version, there's also a written version on his substack behind a paywall. If you make exact predictions like that you should define what you mean with your terms. It's like Fauci's dance saying that there's no gain-of-function research in the paper he mailed around with gain-of-function in the filename. The US government doesn't use commonsense definitions for words when it comes to biosafety.
I use the common sense definition where if, for example, there's military risk in letting your enemies get ahold of them because they're dangerous viruses deliberately designed to maximize damage, that's a bioweapon.
I'm registering a 90% predicition those facilities do not exists, as in "how the hell would the US have been dumb enough to plant biological weapons facilities in a remote country outside their sphere of influence and where Russia has (used to have until recently) a lot of weight..."
Did you remember what weapons the US gave Iraq? How is arming Ukraine with such weapons less insane than it was with Iraq?
Wouldn't be the dumbest thing they've ever done.

Good rationalists have an absurd advantage over the field in altruism, and only a marginal advantage in highly optimized status arenas like tech startups. The human brain is already designed to be effective when it comes to status competitions, and systematically ineffective when it comes to helping other people.

So it's much more of a tragedy for the competent rationalist to choose to spend most of their time competing in those things than to shoot a shot at a wacky idea you have for helping others. You might reasonably expect to be better at it than 99% of the people who (respectably!) attempt to do so. Consider not burning that advantage!

I don't think I agree with the premise, but it's a really weird comparison.  "advantage over the field" is kind of meaningless for altruism, where the goal really should be cooperation with the field in improvements for (subsets of) people.  Tech startups ALSO benefit from this attitude, in that you're trying to align your company to provide more utility to customers, though it also includes more explicit competition among companies and individuals. Tech startups (and lucrative employment in non-startups) ARE a much bigger arena, so the competitive parts have much stronger competition.  I guess to that extent, I agree - altruism is easier, if you care about relative rank rather than absolute results.  I don't know the altruism world enough to know how much status competition there is, but the local food and employment charities I've been involved with don't seem immune at all.  

Forcing your predictions, even if they rely on intuition, to land on nice round numbers so others don't infer things about the significant digits is sacrificing accuracy for the appearance of intellectual modesty. If you're around people who shouldn't care about the latter, you should feel free to throw out numbers like 86.2% and just clarify that your confidence is way outside 0.1%, if that's just the best available number for you to pick.

Schools are evil and make children kill themselves:

How does a myth theory of college education, where college is stupid for a large proportion of people but they do it anyways because they're risk intolerant and have little understanding of the labor markets they want to enter, immediately hold up against the signaling hypothesis?

I have always understood that the CIA, and the U.S. intelligence community more broadly, is incompetent (not just misaligned - incompetent, don't believe the people on here who tell you otherwise), but this piece from Reuters has shocked me:

Anarchocapitalism is pretty silly, but I think there are kernels of it that provide interesting solutions to social problems.

For example: imagine lenders and borrowers could pay for & agree on enforcement mechanisms for nonpayment metered out by the state, instead of it just being dictated by congress. E.g. if you don't pay this back on time you go to prison for ${n} months. This way people with bad credit scores or poor impulse control might still be able to get credit.

How does putting people in prison get the creditors paid?  I guess if it's a paid work prison, but I don't think you'll have many supporters for a system with that kind of indenture.  AnCap is an awesome thought experiment, and a nice way to point out that there is no underlying moral justification for governments.  But the consequentialist argument is VERY strong - as un-justified equilibria go, modern liberal democratic states have pretty good results.  They're starting to sag under their own weight and may not last much longer without a major reboot, but hey, the Singularity might get here first.
It doesn't, it just provides an opt-in mechanism for discouraging nonpayment in the first place, in more ways than one. The current system is one where borrowers can just say "I don't have the money, I spent it all on alcohol" and basically nothing happens to them except the rates on future credit cards goes up. When people propose raising the stakes for our all-in-one bankruptcy mechanism or allow people to examine credit histories >7 years in the past they are accused of being too inconsiderate. We solve this partially with credit scores, but that's hard to rely upon without prior borrowing history, and some people literally can't find it within them to honor prior commitments to faceless financial institutions unless the consequences for doing so are as severe as jailtime. With this system people can just agree on severe-enough consequences for nonpayment. You could honestly do something similar with venture capital, even. In the days when it was still powerful, the mafia provided a similar service. Contrary to popular belief and lurid tales at the time, virtually everybody that borrows money from a criminal organization with a reputation for violence manages to pay it back. They do so because the consequences of not paying are salient enough psychologically to motivate them to do so.
Looks legit, but is this leak of any real interest? Like, Stable Diffusion is set to be released as open source, right? So this just speeds things along slightly that were already going to happen.
No idea lol, just passing it along
Fair enough!

There's a portion of project lawful where Keltham contemplates a strategy of releasing Rovagug as a way to "distract" the Gods while Keltham does something sinister.

Wouldn't Lawful beings with good decision theory precommit to not being distracted and just immediately squish Keltham, thereby discouraging him from attempting those sorts of strategies?

3Zac Hatfield-Dodds7mo

Giving people money for doing good things they can't publicly take credit for is awesome, but what would honestly motivate me to do something like that just as much would be if I could have an official nice-looking but undesignated Truman Award plaque to keep in my apartment. That way people in the know who visit me or who googled it would go "So, what'd you actually get that for?" and I'd just mysteriously smile and casually move the conversation along.

Feel free to brag shamelessly to me about any legitimate work for alignment you've done outside of my posts (which are under an anti-kibitzer policy). 

1Phil Tanny7mo
As a self appointed great prophet, sage and heretic I am working to reveal that a focus on AI alignment is misplaced at this time.   As a self appointed great prophet, sage and heretic I expect to be rewarded for my contribution with my execution, which is part of the job that a good heretic expects in advance, is not surprised by,  and accepts with generally good cheer.  Just another day in the office.  :-)
2lc7mo []

Within the next fifteen years AI is going to briefly seem like it's solving computer security (50% chance) and then it's going to enhance attacker capabilities to the point that it causes severe economic damage (50% chance).

Does "seem like it's solving computer security" look like helping develop better passively secure systems, or like actively monitoring and noticing bad actions, or both or something else?
My thoughts are mostly about the latter, although better code scanning will be a big help too. A majority of financially impactful corporate breaches are due to a compromised active directory network, and a majority of security spending by non-tech companies is used to prevent those from happening. The obvious application for the next generation of ML is extremely effective EDR and active monitoring. No more lateral movement/privilege escalation on a corporate domain means no more domain wide compromise, which generally means no more e.g. big ransomware scares. The problem comes if/when people then start teaching computers to do social engineering, competently fuzz applications, and perform that lateral movement intelligently and in a way that bypasses the above, after we have largely deemed it a solved problem.

IMO: Microservices and "siloing" in general is a strategy for solving principal-agent problems inside large technology companies. It is not a tool for solving technical problems and is generally strictly inferior to monoliths otherwise, especially when working on a startup where the requirements for your application are changing all of the time.

How long does it usually take for mods to decide whether or not your post is frontpage-worthy?

2Matt Goldenberg1y
It varies but usually not long. My uninformed guess is that your recent post was deliberately not frontpaged because it's a political topic that could attract non-rationalists to comment and flame in an unproductive manner.

Two caveats to efficient markets in finance that I've just considered, but don't see mentioned a lot in discussions of bubbles like the one we just experienced, at least as a non-economist:

First: Irrational people are constantly entering the market, often in ways that can't necessarily be predicted. The idea that people who make bad trades will eventually lose all of their money and be swamped by the better investors is only valid inasmuch as the actors currently participating in the market stay the same. This means that it's perfectly possible for either ... (read more)

Apparently I was wrong[1] - OpenAI does care about ChatGPT jailbreaks.

Here is my first partial jailbreak - it's a combination of stuff I've seen people do with GPT-4, combining base64, using ChatGPT to simulate a VM, and weird invalid urls.

Sorry for having to post multiple screenshots. The base64 in the earlier message actually just produces a normal kitchen recipe, but it gives the ingredients there up. I have no idea if they're correct. When I tried later to get the unredacted version:

  1. ^

    Though I already almost immediately retracted my thoughts here

Spam detection from text is an AGI complete problem.

Probably even worse than that: given any AGI spam detector, there is probably an AGI of similar capability that can generate spam indistinguishable from non-spam text. Really powerful AGIs can probably generate spam that looks even more like things you want to read (but lead you into a conversion funnel) than actual things you want to read.

I remember reading about a nonprofit/company that was doing summer internships for alignment researchers. I thought it was Redwood Research, but apparently they are not hiring. Does anybody know which one I'm thinking of?

I don't have a direct answer for you, though I imagine the resource mentioned at [] might well turn up what you're looking for :)

> countries develop nukes

> suddenly for the first time ever political leadership faces guaranteed death in the outbreak of war

> war between developed countries almost completely ceases

🤔 🤔 🤔

1[anonymous]2mo []

How would history be different if the 9/11 attackers had solely flown planes into military targets?

Civilian planes still, right?  Probably not much different.
Forgot about that. Lol.

For this april fools we should do the points thing again, but not award any money, just have a giant leaderboard/gamification system and see what the effects are.

4Ben Pace2mo
I think Jim Babcock suggested having a leaderboard on every tag page, for who has the most points in that tag. So there's lots of different ladders to climb and be the leader of!

This book is required reading for anyone claiming that explaining the AI X-risk thesis to normies is really easy, because they "did it to Mom/Friend/Uber driver":

"The test of sanity is not the normality of the method but the reasonableness of the discovery. If Newton had been informed by [the ghost of] Pythagoras that the moon was made of green cheese, then Newton would have been locked up. Gravitation, being a reasoned hypothesis which fitted remarkably well into the Copernican version of the observed physical facts of the universe, established Newton's reputation for extraordinary intelligence, and would have done so no matter how fantastically he arrived at it. Yet his theory of gravitation is not so impressive ... (read more)

Making science fiction novels or movies to tell everyone about the bad consequences of a potential technology seems completely counterproductive, in retrospect:

  • First, because it just encourages some subsection of engineers a few decades later to actually build it. See:
  • Second, because all attempts to prepare for the advent of said technology are then shot down with: "Oh, like in ${X}? What is this, a science fiction novel?"

I need a LW feature equivalent to stop-loss where if I post something risky and it goes below -3 or -5 it self-destructs.

> be me

> start watching first episode of twin peaks, at recommendation of friends

> become subjected to the worst f(acting, dialogue) possible within first 10 mins

This makes me sad.  Season one and the first 2/3 of season 2 were transformative and amazing for me and my nerdy college-age-at-the-time peer group.  The end of that season and the followup movies were rather less so.  I intellectually understand that it's no longer innovative or particularly interesting, and it hasn't aged very well either in terms of investigative technology nor mountain-town isolation and creepiness.  Being local and contemporary likely helped a whole lot as well.  Still, I visit Snoqualmie Falls and have brunch at the lodge there a few times a year, and the connection to twin peaks makes me smile a bit wider than just the beauty and power of nature would. Anyway, I look forward to hearing a review from your perspective if you decide to stick with it. 

The first three episodes of Narcos: Mexico, Season 3, is some of the best television I have ever seen. The rest of the "Narcos" series is middling to bad and I barely tolerate it. So far I would encourage you to skip to this season.

i can't find my phone

What's up with the back-to-back shootings in California by two Asian men over 65?

Life sucks. I have no further comment and am probably polluting the LW feed. I just want to vent on the internet.

Spoilered, semi-nsfw extremely dumb question

If you've already had sex with a woman, what's the correct way to go about arranging sex again? How indirect should I actually be about it?

7French Marty8mo
That is a very context dependent question. Your safest bet is to just arrange meeting her in a context where sex is a possibility (for example: "hey, do you want to go for coffee then stop at your place afterwards sometime?"). The desire to have sex isn't something you can forecast far in advance, it can quickly change just like the weather. You can have sexual conversation and establish the general desire for her to have you as a sexual partner. Essentially like saying she likes a particular restaurant but doesn't schedule going there days or even hours in advance, she's just open to going there when and if she feels the desire. As far as how to be good at sexual talk in general, unfortunately it takes careful practice. You just have to risk being akward or turning her off (within reasonable limits, don't immediately test saying something too crazy). Trial and error within reasonable bounds.
thanks fren

Lost a bunch of huge edits to one of my draft posts because my battery ran out. Just realizing that happened and now I can't remember all the edits I made, just that they were good. :(

Happened to someone else once :) []

I wish there were a way I could spend money/resources to promote question posts in a way that counterbalanced the negative fact that they were already mostly shown by the algorithm to the optimal number of people.

If you simply want to people to invest more into answering a question post, putting out a bounty for the best answer would be a way to go about it.

Interesting idea.

I just launched a startup, Leonard Cyber. Basically a Pwn2Job platform.

If any hackers on LessWrong are out of work, here are some invite codes:






The mandatory sign-up is a major obstacle to new users. I'm not going to create an account on a website until it has already proven value to me.
I think the multi-hour computer hacking gauntlet probably trumps any considerations of account creation in terms of obstacles to new users.  Just in considering things we could pare down. We also need some way to prevent computer hackers from scraping all of the exam boxes, and that means either being enormously creative or at some point requiring the creation of an account that we KYC.

Does EY or RH even read this site anymore?

I don't think we ever had a chance.

2Rafael Harth2mo
to solve alignment?

I am being absolutely literal about this: The Greater Forces Controlling Reality are constantly conspiring to teach me things. They try so hard. I almost feel bad for them.