by lc
1 min read19th Mar 2020311 comments
This is a special post for quick takes by lc. Only they can create top-level comments. Comments here also appear on the Quick Takes page and All Posts page.

New to LessWrong?

313 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 7:20 AM
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

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 Home1y
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 Home1y
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 Home1y
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.

Why would you expect anyone to have a coherent theory of something they can’t even define and measure?

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!
On this forum, or literally everywhere? Because for example I keep seeing people arguing with absolute conviction, even in academic papers, that current AIs and computers can't possibly be conscious and I can't figure out how they could ever know that of something that is fundamentally unfalsifiable. I envy their secret knowledge of the world gained by revelation, I guess!
1Simon Skade1y
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. Murphy2y
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.

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).

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.

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 ascension1y
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 ascension1y
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.

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 Deviator2y
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 Trazzi2y
I think best way to look at it is climate change way before it was mainstream

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.)

Guys what's up 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.
should be

Now is the time to write to your congressman and (may allah forgive me for uttering this term) "signal boost" about actually effective AI regulation strategies - retroactive funding for hitting interpretability milestones, good liability rules surrounding accidents, funding for long term safety research. Use whatever contacts you have, this week. Congress is writing these rules now and we may not have another chance to affect them.

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 Worley2y
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)

Falling birthrates is the climate change of the right:

  • Vaguely tribally valenced for no really good reason
  • Predicted outcomes range from "total economic collapse, failed states" to "slightly lower GDP growth"
  • People use it as an excuse to push radical social and political changes when the real solutions are probably a lot simpler if you're even slightly creative
I wonder what is the optimal population size, because it seems to me that most people say either "more" or "less" (and yes, it seems strongly correlated with the political tribe), but no one ever gives an exact number. I suspect there is no optional number; that the people who say "more" or "less" will keep saying that regardless. Too bad that more nuanced views, such as "let's have more good and competent people, but fewer evil and incompetent people" are definitely outside the Overton window. :D

Most justice systems seem to punish theft on a log scale. I'm not big on capital punishment, but it is actually bizarre that you can misplace a billion dollars of client funds and escape the reaper in a state where that's done fairly regularly. The law seems to be saying: "don't steal, but if you do, think bigger."

4Adam Zerner5mo
Yeah. It's really weird. And relatedly, I'm not sure about capital punishment, but it seems obvious to at least attempt to make fines proportionate to net worth or something. Ie. Bill Gates shouldn't get the same sized speeding ticket as John Doe on welfare. This feels like it'd be political policy that is low hanging fruit. I suspect that it isn't because of EMH reasons, but I don't understand the reasons why it isn't.

I don't agree with the take about net worth. The fine should just be whatever makes the state ambivalent about the externalities of speeding. If Bill Gates wants to pay enormous taxes to speed aggressively then that would work too.

3Adam Zerner5mo
Hm, I hadn't thought about it that way. I was just thinking that the goal of the fine is some combination of 1) punitive and 2) deterrent, and neither of those goals are accomplished if you fine Bill Gates $200. But yeah, I guess if you make the fine large enough such that the state is ambivalent, maybe it all works out.
Theft of any amount over a hundred or so dollars is evil and needs to be punished. Let's say you punish theft of $100 by a weekend in jail. Extrapolate that on a linear scale and you'll have criminals who non-violently stole $20,000 doing more than double the jail time that a criminal who cold-cocked a stranger and broke his jaw would get. Doesn't really make sense.
With billion dollars you can probably hire better lawyers. Do other crimes, for example murder, follow a similar pattern? Like, at some moment they might execute you, but what are they going to do if you kill 10 times more people? Can they cancel you more if you post 10 times more offensive tweets? Maybe everything is (sub-)logarithmic, because that's how people think. In which case, a group of rationalist criminals should precommit that if they get caught, they will randomly choose one of them, who will accept the blame for everything.
This isn't the source of the trend; the sentencing guidelines for fraud are actually literally, explicitly logarithmic. The government recommends directly that sentences follow a curve of 2x price --> 2 more years. There seems to be a MAX_PUNISHMENT in the justice system (we don't devolve into torture, etc.), which is reasonable. But with things like armed robbery you would get convicted for each individual count, not on a log scale. This is (I suspect) a very common strategy among even regular criminals. You can think of it like a trade between law enforcement and gangs; the government gets their clearances and avoids the potential embarassment of a partially-solved case, and the serial killers send only the John Wayne Gacy to jail.

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.

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?

In worlds where status is doled out based on something objective, like athletic performance or money, there may be lots of bad equilibria & doping, and life may be unfair, but at the end of the day competitors will receive the slack to do unconventional things and be incentivized to think rationally about the game and their place in it.

In worlds where status is doled out based on popularity or style, like politics or Twitter, the ideal strategy will always be to mentally bully yourself into becoming an inhuman goblin-sociopath, and keep hardcoded blind spots. Naively pretending to be the goblin in the hopes of keeping the rest of your epistemics intact is dangerous in these arenas; others will prod your presentation and try to reveal the human underneath. The lionized celebrities will be those that embody the mask to some extent, completely shaving off the edges of their personality and thinking and feeling entirely in whatever brand of riddlespeak goes for truth inside their subculture. 

7Bruce Lewis3mo
There's truth in what you're saying. At the same time, I feel like people have an instinctive desire for clarity over riddlespeak. I think it's the same instinct that makes people favor 4k televisions over standard definition. I think it's possible to make a twitter-like medium that discourages hardcoded blind spots.
Where is the "How much do you agree with this, separate from whether you think it's a good comment?" button when you actually need it?

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.

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)"?  

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

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

"But someone would have blown the whistle! Someone would have realized that the whistle might be blown!"

I regret to tell you that most of the time intelligence officers just do what they're told. 

Yes, if you have an illegal spying program running for ten years with thousands of employees moving in and out, that will run a low-grade YoY chance of being publicized. Management will know about that low-grade chance and act accordingly. But most of the time you as a civilian just never hear about what it is that intel agencies are doing, at least not for t... (read more)

It's worth keeping the actions of Mossad and those of Netanyahu are different. Pentagon leaks suggest that senior Mossad leadership was supporting protests against Netanyahu's policies. Former Mossad leaders also spoke out.   That they are action to give Netanyahu a poll bump and can do that without internal leaks that undermine the project seems to me unlikely.  Imagine, that the CIA would have warned Trump of a terror attack and Trump didn't act. Do you think that would be kept secret in the same way that Bush administration inaction would be kept secret?

It is hard for me to tell whether or not my not-using-GPT4 as a programmer is because I'm some kind of boomer, or because it's actually not that useful outside of filling Google's gaps.

Why not both?  For me, age and curmudgeonliness makes me reject it for not being "enough better".  I'm not sure what my standards are, but I recognize that what I've tried so far isn't perfect, but is probably somewhat faster than search and modify.  Just not ENOUGH to get me to invest the time in getting as good at it as I am at more traditional semi-plagiarism.  
2Adam Zerner7mo
You can test the latter hypothesis by trying it (more) :)
I've tried it. Here are some examples. I didn't save the original prompts and answers. 1. Use the elliptic functions provided by Matlab to calculate the length of an elliptic arc. (I already knew that there is a closed-form solution to this in terms of elliptic functions. Everyone writing an introduction to elliptic functions mentions this, but I have never seen anyone give an actual formula. The task is complicated by the existence of multiple conventions for defining these functions.) It gave some Matlab code using elliptic functions, but it was simply wrong. With some effort of my own, I eventually worked out a correct formula, and verified that it agreed with numerical integration. 1. Devise a function that maps [0,1] onto [1,∞], is strictly increasing and differentiable, and which takes a parameter specifying how late and sharp its divergence to ∞ should be. Then program it in Matlab. It produced a function that missed several of the requested properties. It also programmed it in Matlab, but given that the function was wrong, I didn't bother to see if the programming was right. I chose this problem because I'd recently needed to do that myself. It took no longer to do it right myself than to ask the LLM and determine whether it got it right — which it didn't, so that would have been wasted time. 1. I asked it how to modify an iOS app to respond to the user's dark/light mode setting. The answer it gave me I could have looked up on Google just as quickly, and Google's answer had the advantage of going directly to Apple's documentation and a WWDC presentation, sources of ground truth rather than the ungrounded vagaries of a chatbot which were not even worth reading. Score: 0/3. This is typical of the results I see from LLMs on every task they are applied to, whether mine or other people's. When I have a question, I want an answer that rings like a bell, not an LLM's leaden clunk.

If it did actually turn out that aliens had visited Earth, I'd be pretty willing to completely scrap the entire Yudkowskian implied-model-of-intelligent-species-development and heavily reevaluate my concerns around AI safety.

A lot of cosmological-type facts have this effect. That's why people are so occupied by them. 
1Nate Showell9mo
If that turned out to be the case, my preliminary conclusion would be that the hard physical limits of technology are much lower than I'd previously believed.

You don't hear much about the economic calculation problem anymore, because "we lack a big computer for performing economic calculations" was always an extremely absurd reason to dislike communism. The real problem with central planning is that most of the time the central planner is a dictator who has no incentive to run anything well in the first place, and gets selected by ruthlessness from a pool of existing apparatchiks, and gets paranoid about stability and goes on political purges.

What are some other, modern, "autistic" explanations for social dysfu... (read more)

7Zac Hatfield-Dodds8mo
I agree with your characterization of the problem with central planning, and that we don't hear much about the economic calculation problem anymore, but... "we lack a big computer for performing economic calculations" was not an absurd reason to dislike communism, it was literally true. All digital computers ever possessed by or within the Soviet Union had, in total, less FLOP/s than a single A100 GPU; it's harder to get numbers for memory but the ratio is pretty stable over time. Their techniques were also enormously less efficient than modern optimization software (MILP, SMT, etc. etc.); in benchmarks this is a bigger deal than hardware progress. Amazon routinely solves planning problems which were fundamentally intractable for any 20th century government, and has enormously more data with which to solve them. That said, I think the real real problem with central planning is that it's... central. The price mechanism plus decentralized decisionmaking turns out to be a fantastic combination for eliciting (and arguably developing) preferences, and once you get past problems like "almost everyone is starving because our economy was based on subsistence agriculture and then wrecked by invasion" that can be solved by "grow grain, make steel, pour concrete" you'd still be screwed even if your socialist central planners were implausibly competent and benevolent. You can get around that somewhat by allowing markets (post-Deng China), or elicit preference with 'shadow prices' (a regular cause of purges among Soviet economists), but in practice you keep running into the problems caused the ways that dictators take and keep power.
We have large centralized companies. For better or worse those companies don't use big computers to make economic calculations that output the company decisions at the top level.  Our political system also doesn't use big computer models to decide on economic policy. Before we had the computational capacity we might have thought that we will do that once we have it, but it turns out we don't.

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 Ravid1y
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.

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:

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.

Serial murder seems like an extremely laborious task. For every actual serial killer out there, there have to be at least a hundred people who would really like to be serial killers, but lack the gumption or agency and just resign themselves to playing video games.

Works with most crimes tbh.

I sometimes read someone on here who disagrees fiercely with Eliezer, or has some kind of beef with standard LessWrong/doomer ideology, and instinctively imagine than they're different from the median LW user in other ways, like not being caricaturishly nerdy. But it turns out we're all caricaturishly nerdy.

There is a kind of decadence that has seeped into first world countries ever since they stopped seriously fearing conventional war. I would not bring war back in order to end the decadence, but I do lament that governments lack an obvious existential problem of a similar caliber, that might coerce their leaders and their citizenry into taking foreign and domestic policy seriously, and keep them devolving into mindless populism and infighting.

To the extent that "The Cathedral" was ever a real thing, I think whatever social mechanisms that supported it have begun collapsing or at least retreating to a fallback line in very recent years. Just a feeling.

Conspiracy theory: sometime in the last twenty years the CIA developed actually effective polygraphs and the government has been using them to weed out spies at intelligence agencies. This is why there haven't been any big American espionage cases in the past ten years or so.

Either post your NASDAQ 100 futures contracts or stop fronting near-term slow takeoff probabilities above ~10%.

If I was still a computer security engineer and had never found LessWrong, I'd probably be low key hyped about all of the new classes of prompt injection and social engineering bugs that ChatGPT plugins are going to spawn.

0The Hype Doesn't Help1y
Injections don't deal with the model itself, it would be just like any other input prompt security protocol. Heck, I surely hope ChatGPT doesn't execute code with root permission.
If someone is using a GPTv4 plugin to read and respond to their email, then a prompt injection would mean being able to read other emails
0The Hype Doesn't Help1y
I didn't know you could do that. Truly dangerous times we live in. I'm serious. More dangerous because of the hype. Hype means more unqualified participation.

>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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Deviator2y
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.

"Men lift for themselves/to dominate other men" is the absurd final boss of ritualistic insights-chasing internet discourse. Don't twist your mind into an Escher painting trying to read hansonian inner meanings into everything.

In other news, women wear makeup because it makes them more attractive.

Woman also wear expensive designer handbags that men don't care at all but other women do care about.  If a woman has the choice to wear an outfit that makes her more attractive to men but makes her lose status with other women who believe that it looks slutty, she usually doesn't maximize attractiveness to men.
Women don't only care about attractiveness to men, but "women wear makeup because {some_weird_internal_psychological_thing}" is unhelpful. You are better served by the "women wear makeup for other people" heuristic, because it lets you arrive at conclusions like "women tend to apply makeup much less when they stay indoors eating cheetos".
Men lift to be able to dominate other men wouldn't be about {some_weird_internal_psychological_thing} but also about social interaction. If attractiveness were the key thing that matters you would expect a woman to wear less makeup when she goes to an event where there are only women than when she goes to an event with mixed genders. While I don't have hard statistics I don't think that's the case.
Arbitrary motivations endorsed on reflection can be found in all sorts of activities. An unusual motivation can be as genuine as any other, it's not always a usual motivation clad in self-deception. People get to decide their values.
Have you read this article on the topic? I found it to be very interesting and entertaining, the sort of reading which is enjoyable even to those who disagree with it. I can't write anything on the topic myself which isn't objectively worse than the link I've provided.

Getting "building something no one wants" vibes from the AI girlfriend startups. I don't think men are going to drop out of the dating market until we have some kind of robotics/social revolution, possibly post-AGI. Lonely dudes are just not that interested in talking to chatbots that (so they believe) lack any kind of internal emotion or psychological life, cannot be shown to their friends/parents, and cannot have sex or bear children.

3Nate Showell2mo
I agree: the capabilities of AI romantic partners probably aren't the bottleneck to their wider adoption, considering the success of relatively primitive chatbots like Replika at attracting users. People sometimes become romantically attached to non-AI anime/video game characters despite not being able to interact with them at all! There doesn't appear to be much correlation between the interactive capabilities of fictional-character romantic partners and their appeal to users/followers.
There's a parallel here with VR. Some part of peoples' intuition says that VR porn/video games has to be a Next Evolution over simple screen + keyboard interfaces, worth pouring billions of dollars into, because VR is "more immersive" or something. But actually a laptop and a USB mouse works just fine.
I wonder if we will ever have a sexbot revolution. The urge to regulate other people's sexuality seems too strong. I can imagine a future where people spend most of their time in virtual reality that allows them to do almost anything... except, if they want some sexual experience, a stern robotic voice reminds them that this would violate the Terms of Service.
I disagree. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit in the AI waifu space[1]. Lack of internal emotion or psychological life? Just simulate internal monologue. Lack of long-term memory? Have the AI waifu keep a journal. Lack of visuals? Use a LoRA fine-tuned diffusion model alongside the text chat. I'd be building my own AI waifu startup if we didn't face x-risks. It seems fun (like building your own video game), and probably a great benefit to its users. Also, lonely men will not be the only (or even primary) user demographic. Women seem to read a lot of erotica. I expect that this is an untapped market of users, one that pandering to will not make your startup look low status either. [1]: Not using the word "girlfriend" here because I'd like to use a more gender-neutral term, and "waifu" seems pretty gender-neutral to me, and to one target demographic of such services.
I think you might wind up depressed by the experience. Certainly this guy did:

It is unnecessary to postulate that CEOs and governments will be "overthrown" by rogue AI. Board members in the future will insist that their company appoint an AI to run the company because they think they'll get better returns that way. Congressmen will use them to manage their campaigns and draft their laws. Heads of state will use them to manage their militaries and police agencies. If someone objects that their AI is really unreliable or doesn't look like it shares their values, someone else on the board will say "But $NFGM is doing the same thing; we... (read more)

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.  

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 being immune to those sorts of strategies?

3Zac Hatfield-Dodds1y

Crazy how you can open a brokerage account at a large bank and they can just... Close it and refuse to give you your money back. Like what am I going to do, go to the police?

That does sound crazy.  Literally - without knowing some details and something about the person making the claim, I think it's more likely the person is leaving out important bits or fully hallucinating some of the communications, rather than just being randomly targeted.  

That's just based on my priors, and it wouldn't take much evidence to make me give more weight to possibilities of a scammer at the bank stealing account contents and then covering their tracks, or bank processes gone amok and invoking terrorist/money-laundering policies incorrectly.

Going to police/regulators does sound appropriate in the latter two cases.  I'd start with a private lawyer first, if the sums involved are much larger than the likely fees.

An attorney rather than the police, I think.

I wish I could have met my grandparents while they were still young.

Just had a conversation with a guy where he claimed that the main thing that separates him from EAs was that his failure mode is us not conquering the universe. He said that, while doomers were fundamentally OK with us staying chained to Earth and never expanding to make a nice intergalactic civilization, he, an AI developer, was concerned about the astronomical loss (not his term) of not seeding the galaxy with our descendants. This P(utopia) for him trumped all other relevant expected value considerations.

What went wrong?

Among other things I suppose they're not super up on that to efficiently colonise the universe [...] watch dry paint stay dry.

This YouTube video response was like the gateway rationalist drug for zoomers. I remember showing this to friends and family as a mindblown 12yo at the time and they just didn't get it. I'd never even played morrowind.

I think it might be a healthier to call rationality "systematized and IQ-controlled winning". I'm generally very unimpressed by the rationality skills of the 155 IQ computer programmer with eight failed startups under his belt, who quits and goes to work at Google after that, when compared to the similarly-status-motivated 110IQ person who figures out how to get a high paying job at a car dealership. The former probably writes better LessWrong posts, but the latter seems to be using their faculties in a much more reasonable way.

It depends on person 1's motivation. If his or her motivation is selfish, then I agree with you, but if the motivation is altruistic, that makes the utility of money linear, and startups are a potent way to maximize expected money.

That is the VC propaganda line, yeah. I don't think it's actually true; for the median LW-using software engineer working for an established software company seems to net more expected value than starting a company. Certainly the person who has spent the last five years of their twenties attempting and failing to do that is likely making repeated and horrible mistakes.

The math should actually be similar for what VC or EA would prefer you to do. I think the actual problem is that almost no one is altruistic enough to say: "For a sufficiently large value of X, I prefer a 1% chance of making X and a 99% chance of being homeless, over a 100% chance of living a happy middle-class life".
Not if most VCs lose money and are led astray by auctioneer's fallacy. Also not if a tertiary goal of most VCposting is to get people to quit their jobs and try, and so increase the supply of investment opportunities available to pick from.
Yeah, but even if the advice VCs give to people in general is worthless, it remains the case that (like Viliam said) once the VC has invested, its interests are aligned with the interests of any founder whose utility function grows linearly with money. And VCs usually advise the startups they've invested in to try for a huge exit (typically an IPO).

The real reason it's hard to write a utopia is because we've evolved to find our civ's inadequacy exciting. Even IRL villainy on Earth serves a motivating purpose for us.

A hobbyhorse of mine is that "utopia is hard" is a non-issue. Most sitcoms, coming-of-age stories and other "non-epic" stories basically take place in Utopia (i.e. nobody is at risk of dying from hunger or whatever, the stakes are minor social games, which is basically what I expect the stakes in real-life-utopia to be most of the time). 

It seems like "Utopia fiction is hard" problem only comes up for particular flavors of nerds who are into some particular kind of "epic" power fantasy framework with huge stakes. And that just isn't actually what most stories are about.

I definitely disagree, and I don't think this is addressing the heart of what I meant to say. Take war (& war stories) for instance. The socially acceptable thing to say about war is that it's bad. Certainly it's true that war runs with it a lot of collateral damage, and that being in a trench shelled by artillery is awful. I know of no written description of utopia that includes it as a feature. Yet a certain brand of American gets really animated by the prospect of fighting a defensive war, and gets really disappointed when they hear someone say that Taiwan is unlikely to be the flashpoint for such a conflict. I propose that some of this warlust is because most people find their lives fairly meaningless and uneventful. The possibility of contributing personally to a morally just cause, in a martial fight, is animating for them. If you remove all injustice from the world, then they lack this opportunity and feel like there'd be less worth reading about.
Try E. R. Eddison's "The Worm Ouroboros", and his "Mezentian Gate" trilogy. Or the Valhalla of Norse mythology (although as far as I know, no stories happen there, any more than they do in the Christian heaven).
I think "nobody dies from hunger" is a very low bar for utopia. Classic comedy trope "character has obvious flaws but comically unaware of them" is very-hard in utopia, because in non-transhumanist utopia they have advanced psychology and reflection training and they read The Sequences in school and in transhumanist utopia you can just fine-tune your brain. As of coming-of-age stories, "Catcher in the rye" defininetely would have troubles to be written in utopian setting. Most of classic coming-of-age stories are non-utopian bittersweet, to my taste. I'm not telling that's impossible, but it's sure a challenge for writer.
I think the problem with this is that those shows simply ditch the reality of how that world works. In practice there are plenty of things needed to make such a world function that there are decisions to be taken and conflicting interests, things those shows simply sidestep by either showing only very low stakes situations or making everyone extremely agreeable.
I agree that's true of present-day-sitcoms (which aren't going out of their way to be set in Utopia), but I'm saying the plot of the sitcoms is such that if you moved them to a (classical) Utopia, they wouldn't have to change their plots much.
0[comment deleted]6mo
One more reason is that humans have "pleasure to kill" drive, which can't be implemented in real life, but easily implemented in fiction and games. From the point of view of this drive, DOOM is utopia.
I think there's a related problem that humans are evolved to fight and compete with each other, and a LOT of us/them seem to object to engineering of human nature/behavior.  It's not clear that there IS a path to be found between people defecting and ruining the utopia and people losing their identity/individualism as they're modified to cooperate better.
I don't think a utopia where there are no humans fighting and competing with each other makes sense. That sounds really boring.
Well, if competition could be channelled as e.g. sports events involving meaningful but not strictly essential prizes, it needn't be incompatible with utopia.
That's rather my point.  Utopia is either boring or unpleasant (for the losers, which must exist, for competition and relative status measures to be meaningful).  Which makes it very hard to write or think about, except in the very abstract.
2mako yass6mo
Have you never lost a conflict and felt that it was fair and just and that you were honored to have gotten to duel with such a majestic being? And then learned from it, and become the winner in the next match? (note, am utopian fiction author)
Yes, I've participated in that kind of contest, but I wouldn't call it a conflict, and it's certainly not a likely replacement for the actual status, economic, and mating competitions that makes life interesting for most, and unpleasant for many.
4mako yass6mo
I was talking about actual status contests, economic or mating competition. It's possible to feel acceptance in loss even in the world we have today.
— Longfellow
This is related to a possible pet theory of mine, which postulates that to a large extent, utopia in quite a lot of conceptions (but not all) is fundamentally boring to us, and it's not exciting to have all your problems solved, so it's disliked disproportionately to dystopias. This especially is exacerbated by our need to remain the main character, and to have an interesting life. It's also why I think people don't have the same aversion to written dystopias/apocalypses, because they contain conflict, and in particular inequalities large enough such that the main characters (which is a big driver of human behavior) to essentially run roughshod over the NPCs/non-main characters, so it's a natural fit.
1Runaway Smyle6mo
I agree. Until faced directly with adversity or trouble, it is easy to find the possibility of danger or threat thrilling. The obvious reasoning be that as self-aware creatures we have simply grown tired of following life to survive and instead seek out experiences that make us feel alive, such as the adrenaline-inducing experiences that are far too common in our society.

Saw some today demonstrating what I like to call the "Kirkegaard fallacy", in response to the Debrief article making the rounds.

People who have one obscure or weird belief tend to be unusually open minded and thus have other weird beliefs. Sometimes this is because they enter a feedback loop where they discover some established opinion is likely wrong, and then discount perceived evidence for all other established opinions. 

This is a predictable state of affairs regardless of the nonconsensus belief, so the fact that a person currently talking to you about e.g. UFOs entertains other off-brand ideas like parapsychology or afterlives is not good evidence that the other nonconsensus opinion in particular is false.

Putting body cameras on police officers often increases tyranny. In particular, applying 24/7 monitoring to foot soldiers forces those foot soldiers to strictly follow protocol and arrest people for infractions that they wouldn't otherwise. In the 80s, for example, there were many officers who chose not to follow mandatory arrest procedures for drugs like marijuana, because they didn't want to and it was unworth their time. Not so in todays era, mostly, where they would have essentially no choice except to follow orders or resign.

Seems like the question is whether the average cop is better or worse than the written law. If better, remove the cameras. If worse, keep the cameras on.
Any cite or evidence that this is the case? My understanding is that body cams are controlled by union rules and only used for investigations. Officers still have the ability like always, to selectively enforce laws against the under classes.

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?

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!

I feel like at least throughout the 2000s and early 2010s we all had a tacit, correct assumption that video games would continually get better - not just in terms of visuals but design and narrative.

This seems no longer the case. It's true that we still get "great" games from time to time, but only games "great" by the standards of last year. It's hard to think of an actually boundary-pushing title that was released since 2018.

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

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 Tanny1y
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.  :-)

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 Goldenberg2y
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)

SPY calls expiring in December 2026 at strike prices of +30/40/50% are extremely underpriced. I would allocate a small portion of my portfolio to them as a form of slow takeoff insurance, with the expectation that they expire worthless.

Figuring out which presidential candidate to vote for is extremely difficult.

People have a bias toward paranoid interpretations of events, in order to encourage the people around them not to engage in suspicious activity. This affects how people react to e.g. government action outside of their own personal relationships, not necessarily in negative ways.

Dictators who start by claiming impending QoL and economic growth and then switch focus to their nation's "culture" are like the political equivalent of hedge funds that start out doing quant stuff and then eventually switch to news trading on Elon Musk crypto tweets when that turns out to get really hard.

I'd analogize it more to traders who make money during a bull market, except in this case the bull market is 'industrialization'. Yeah, turns out even a dictator like Stalin or Xi can look like 'a great leader' who has 'mastered the currents of history' and refuted liberal democracy - well, until they run out of industrialization & catchup growth, anyway.

Yeah that's a better one

The expected value of the future is mostly dominated by the small S-risk component.

To Catch a Predator is one of the greatest comedy shows of all time. I shall write about this.

4[comment deleted]7mo

Postmodernism and metamodernism are tools for making sure the audience knows how self aware the writer of a movie is. Audiences require this acknowledgement in order to enjoy a movie, and will assume the writer is stupid if they do not get it.

"No need to invoke slippery slope fallacies, here. Let's just consider the Czechoslovakian question in of itself" - Adolf Hitler

The greatest generation imo deserves their name, and we should be grateful to live on their political, military, and scientific achievements.

The most common refrain I hear against the possibility of widespread voter fraud is that demographers and pollsters would catch such malfeasance, but in practice when pollsters see a discrepancy between voting results and polls they seem to just assume the polls were biased. Is there a better reason besides "the FBI seems pretty competent"?

This is another case of "people arguing about scope of a fuzzy problem RATHER than how to define/measure the problem or analyze cost/benefit of mitigations".  Almost everyone deeply involved in this has a political/culture-war preference, and it seems to be the case that proposed changes seem to shift results in one direction or another, SEPARATELY from whether it reduces fraud. In fact, it's ludicrous to believe that zero fraud happens, as it's ludicrous to believe that most outcomes are driven by fraud (as opposed to non-fraudulent bullshit reasons like advertising and vote friction).  Most anti-fraud proposals ALSO raise barriers to technically-non-fraudulent-but-distasteful-to-some participation, and without being willing to discuss numbers and impact, there can be no resolution. To your actual question, I believe that watchers would notice very extreme cases of fraud at the state and national levels, though they likely miss some at local levels (where natural variance is much more possible), and they probably can't detect (and won't have sufficient evidence to convince anyone) minor or incremental cases of fraud or illegal manipulation. Controversially, an honest statistician will acknowledge that there's lots of noise in the methodology.  And honest democracy-proponents acknowledge that close races are ... close and it's not too critical for legitimacy which side wins the coinflip.  So even if fraud or biased rulings change an outcome, if it's hard to detect, it probably doesn't matter.
2Adele Lopez10mo
I think a similar type of financial fraud is often detectable via violations of Benford's law. Or more generally, it's hard to fake the right distribution. As another case of that principle, you'd expect the discrepancy between polls and results to fall within a predictable distribution if they were sampling from the same space.
But would pollsters actually, in real life detect an odd discrepancy between one district and another and loudly proclaim it as voter fraud? Do we even know if such irrelegularities have happened before?
4Adele Lopez10mo
Maybe? I was not trying to answer the object level question either way, but instead just pointing out what sort of evidence there might be that could answer this.

Connor Leahy is pretty cool

Weak-downvoted, but I'm unsure about it: feels like a statement trying to establish status of a person but in a way unrelated to truth.

I feel like using the term "memetic warfare" semi-unironically is one of the best signs that the internet has poisoned your mind beyond recognition.

2the gears to ascension1y
also known as propaganda

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

🤔 🤔 🤔


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 Pace1y
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.

The "cognition is computation" hypothesis remains mysterious. How granular do the time steps have to be in my sim before someone starts feeling something? Do I have to run the sim forward at planck intervals in order to produce qualitative experience? Milliseconds? Minutes? Can you run the simulation backwards and get spooky inverse emotions or avoid qualia entirely that way?

That sounds more like "cognition is mysterious", regardless of computation substrate.  How do you think these things work in the brain?  How many neurons or neural connections are needed to feel something?  If you chemically speed up or slow down the signal propagation, is that still viable? The answer is: we don't know.  The precise constraints and effects have not been tested, nor even explored enough to hypothesize.  However, we DO know that a chemical processor in human heads has cognition (or at least mine does; I don't want to overreach and assume yours or others'), and it's very difficult to see why a digital computation COULDN'T have the same.   That's not to say it's automatic, nor that all computations are conscious.  That part is unknown.  Possibly unknowable (given I can't even prove your consciousness to myself).

sanity is like QPU alignment

Is there a best halting oracle?

A small colony of humans is a genuinely tiny waste of paperclips. I am slightly more worried about the possibility that the acausal trade equilibrium cashes out to the AGI treating us badly because some aliens in a foreign Everett branch have some bizarre religious/moral opinions about the lives we ought to lead, than I am about being turned into squiggles.

Dogs and cats are not "aligned" to the degree that would be necessary to prevent a superintelligent dog from doing bad things. If tomorrow a new chew toy were released that made dogs capable of organizing to overthrow the government and start passing mandatory petting quotas, that would be a problem.

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 Marty2y
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 need a metacritic that adjusts for signaling on behalf of movie reviewers. So like if a movie is about race, it subtracts ten points, if it's a comedy it adds 5, etc.

A strategy that may serve some of that purpose is to look at the delta between Rotten Tomatoes' critic score ("Tomatometer", looks like it means journalists) and audience score.  Depending on your objective, maybe looking at the audience score by itself is ideal.

I wonder if the original purpose of Catholic confession was to extract blackmail material/monitor converts, similar to what modern cults sometimes do.

I wonder how a historian could answer this question. Even if it was true, someone would have to be stupid enough to write it down explicitly. On the other hand, most people were illiterate, so maybe writing itself was effectively a secret code for clergy. But even then... the priests doing this would not necessarily have to realize this; they could do it primarily to absolve the sins, and only use the blackmail as an afterthought. Also, the mere possibility of blackmail is already a power. As an argument against this, there is the concept of a "confessional secret" that is taken very seriously by Catholics. Revealing the secret would cost the priest his job at the very least; often it would also be punished by prison, historically sometimes by death. There are officially no exceptions: no matter the crime, not even if the Pope commanded you to reveal the secret. It is even considered a sin if the priest thinks too much about the contents of the confession afterwards. -- That said, I do know whether these rules were there from the very beginning, or maybe only started a few centuries later.
I realize that this is not the purpose of confession today, or even during the middle ages. Since 1000 AD its been very earnest. I just suspect it has sinister origins.

I have never met a physically fit rationalist

4Adam Zerner6mo
Interesting observation. I'm don't have strong feelings about how fit rationalists are compared to the population. I have met various fit rationalists though. * A few come to mind in the local rationalist community in Portland. * I remember one guy on the LW Slack being really into weightlifting. * Over the years, somehow I've managed to meet up with four rationalists who are really into basketball. Perhaps because I've expressed interest in basketball in my writing. It still feels like a somewhat large coincidence though, given the small amount of LessWrongers who I presume to be into basketball. Anyway, each of these people have been extremely fit. 2-3 of them have played at the college level. * jefftk strikes me as being relatively fit. I vaguely recall posts indicating he spends a lot of time running, biking, dancing, and doing a decent amount of other outdoor activities. Similar with so8res. * Once upon a time I was pretty fit. Hopefully I can become fit again. Meta: I disapprove of this being downvoted.
2Thomas Kwa6mo
They value different things, but this is not uniformly less effort on any physical activity. More than one person from my very rationalist workplace climbs v8 boulders. 
2mako yass6mo
Where you live.
Is this intended to imply something about rationalists? Maybe you should get out more. BMI 20 here, and people who have just met me sometimes say unprompted that I look athletic.
It says what it says. Obviously if there's an actual trend it raises some questions, like whether or not rationalists just tend to care less about their health, or if intellectuals find it harder to come up with internal motivation for eating less. It does seem odd to me that rationalists would be more unhealthy than their general demographic given that being physically fit is a good instrumental goal for virtually everything.
I suspect there's a True Scotsman argument embedded in the measurement behind this for one or more of "people you've met", "physically fit" and "rationalist".   I know of a number of people who are reasonably healthy and trim (but I don't know if that's "physically fit"), and who have heard of Eliezer Yudkowsky and at least some topics discussed on LW (but I don't know if they are "rationalists").
By "rationalist" I mean anybody LW-adjacent, that I've met at a meetup. By healthy I mean someone who looks like they have a BMI between 18 and 25, and exercises regularly. And I actually need to revise: when I went to India I attended a LessWrong meetup, and there were many healthy people there. So this distinction is probably limited to American rationalists, of which I'm including myself as an unhealthy example; I have a BMI of about 30.
I have. (What is your criterion for "physically fit"?)
BMI between 18 and 25. Looks like they exercise some.

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.

I don't think we ever had a chance.

2Rafael Harth1y
to solve alignment?