When a republic is considering reforming the way it elects holders of power, there are certain desirable criteria the chosen method should have: officeholders should be agreeable to all citizens, not just to a fraction of them, since maximizing agreeableness will select for competence and the desire to do right by the people; in bodies with many members (e.g. a legislature, but not a singular executive such as a president or prime minister), the various view points of the voters should be proportionately represented by the various members of the body; and ... (read more)
One potential criticism of this method is the appeal to precedence: while using party lists (modulo the similarity scores, which seems like a straightforward and uncontroversial improvement) in this way has been used to much success in the Nordic countries, approval voting is (somewhat surprisingly IMO) not well established. As far as governments go, I only know of St. Louis and Fargo, ND using approval- that is, two municipalities. One could observe the concern that we don't have much empirical data on how approval works in the real world.
One response is ... (read more)
The future may have a use for frozen people from the current era. In the future, historical humans may be useful as an accurate basis to interpret the legal documents of our era.
Original pubic meaning is a is a fairly modern mode of legal interpretation of the US Constitution. It's basis is that the language of the constitution should be interpreted the way that the original meaning of the text was when it was drafted and amended into the constitution. A similar mode of interpretation is used less commonly for statutes. It's likely that this mode of interp... (read more)
LW is quoted (in a kind of flattering way) in Simon Dedeo's awesome piece on the last Nautil.us issue. For spoiler lovers:
[...] Rationality is my ticket out. The only reason I can trust you is that you seem rational enough to talk to. But now you’re telling me that rationality is just a layer on top of the System—it’s just as irrational as the people I’m trying to escape. I don’t know which is worse: being duped by someone else’s priors, or being a biological machine.Teacher: Don’t go too far. You’re a smart kid—you can iterate faster than most. You can ma
[...] Rationality is my ticket out. The only reason I can trust you is that you seem rational enough to talk to. But now you’re telling me that rationality is just a layer on top of the System—it’s just as irrational as the people I’m trying to escape. I don’t know which is worse: being duped by someone else’s priors, or being a biological machine.
Teacher: Don’t go too far. You’re a smart kid—you can iterate faster than most. You can ma
List(s) of relevant problems
Recently I was also trying to figure out what resources to send to an economist, and couldn't find a list that existed either! The list I came up with is subsumed by yours, except:- Questions within Some AI Governance Research Ideas- "Further Research" section within an OpenPhil 2021 report: https://www.openphilanthropy.org/could-advanced-ai-drive-explosive-economic-growth- The AI Objectives Institute just launched, and they may have questions in the future
A commonly given reason for why Nordic countries tend to rank highly as desirable places to live, is because the people there are supported by a robust welfare system. In America, I've often heard it said that similar systems shouldn't be implemented, because they are government programs, and (the argument goes) government shouldn't be trusted.
This suggests the government as a potentially important point of comparison between the Nordic countries and the US. Are there features that differ between the American and Nordic governments (keep in mind that there... (read more)
Does anyone have tips on how to buy rapid tests in the US? Not seeing any on US Amazon, not seeing any in person back where I'm from. Considering buying German tests. Even after huge shipping costs, it'll come out to ~$12 a test, which is sadly competitive with US market prices.
Wasn't able to easily find tests on the Mexican and Canadian Amazon websites, and other EU countries don't seem to have them either.
I've been able to buy from the CVS website several times in the past couple months, and even though they're sold out online now, they have some (sparse) in-store availability listed. Worth checking there, Walgreens, etc. periodically.
For a long time, I found the words "clockwise" and "counterclockwise" confusing, because they are so similar to each other, and "counterclockwise" is a relatively long word at 4 syllables, much longer than similarly common words.
At some point in time, I took to calling them "dexter" and "winstar", from the Latin »dexter« and Middle English »winstre«, meaning "right" and "left", respectively. I like these words more than the usual "clockwise", but of course, new words aren't worth much of others don't know them, so this is a PSA that these are words that I ... (read more)
Counterclockwise, I've never heard anyone use it for clockwise.
I suspect that the term "cognitive" is often over/misused.
Let me explain what my understanding of the term is. I think of it as "a disagreement with behaviorism". If you think about how psychology progressed as a field, first there was Freudian stuff that wasn't very scientific. Then behaviorism emerged as a response to that, saying "Hey, you have to actually measure stuff and do things scientifically!" But behaviorists didn't think you could measure what goes on inside someone's head. All you could do is measure what the stimulus is and then how the human... (read more)
Ah, those examples have made the distinction between biases that misinform beliefs and biases of beliefs clear. Thanks!
As someone who seems to understand the term better than I do, I'm curious whether you share my impression that the term "cognitive" is often misused. As you say, it refers to a pretty broad set of things, and I feel like people use the term "cognitive" when they're actually trying to point to a much narrower set of things.
Related to call for research on evaluating alignment
Here's an experiment I'd love to see someone run (credit to Jeff Wu for the idea, and William Saunders for feedback):
Finetune a language model to report the activation of a particular neuron in text form.
E.g., you feed the model a random sentence that ends in a full stop. Then the model should output a number from 1-10 that reflects a particular neuron's activation.
We assume the model will not be able to report the activation of a neuron in the final layer, even i... (read more)
You mean a fixed point of the model changing its activations as well as what it reports? I was thinking we could rule out the model changing the activations themselves by keeping a fixed base model.
I know a lot of people through a shared interest in truth-seeking and epistemics. I also know a lot of people through a shared interest in trying to do good in the world.
I think I would have naively expected that the people who care less about the world would be better at having good epistemics. For example, people who care a lot about particular causes might end up getting really mindkilled by politics, or might end up strongly affiliated with groups that have false beliefs as part of their tribal identity.
But I don’t think that this prediction is true: I... (read more)
For example, people who care a lot about particular causes might end up getting really mindkilled by politics, or might end up strongly affiliated with groups that have false beliefs as part of their tribal identity.
These both seem pretty common, so I'm curious about the correlation that you've observed. Is it mainly based on people you know personally? In that case I expect the correlation not to hold amongst the wider population.
Also, a big effect which probably doesn't show up much amongst the people you know: younger people seem more altruistic (or at least signal more altruism) and also seem to have worse epistemics than older people.
There is probably overlap between the matter of aligning AI and the matter of aligning governments
I dreamt up the following single-winner voting system in the car while driving to Eugene, Oregon on vacation. I make no representation that it is any good, nor that it's better than anything currently known or in use, nor that's it's worth your time to read this.
Commentary and rationale will be explained at the bottom of this post
The system is a 2-round system. The first round uses an approval ballot, and the second round asks voters to choose between two candidates.
([•] indicates a constant that can be changed during implementation)
Alternative: Something like condorcet voting, where voters receive a random subset of pairs to compare. For a simple analysis, the number of pairs could be 1. (Or instead of pairs, a voter could asked to choose 'the best'.)
This Generative Ink post talks about curating GPT-3, creating a much better output than it normally would give, turning it from quite often terrible to usually pround and good. I'm testing out doing the same with this post, choosing one of many branches every few dozens of words.
For a 4x reduction in speed, I'm getting very nice returns on coherence and brevity. I can actually pretend like I'm not a terrible writer! Selection is a powerful force, but more importantly, continuing a thought in multiple ways forces you to actually make sure you're saying thin... (read more)
It occurs to me that this is basically Babble & Prune adapted to be a writing method. I like Babble & Prune.
I propose a new formal desideratum for alignment: the Hippocratic principle. Informally the principle says: an AI shouldn't make things worse compared to letting the user handle them on their own, in expectation w.r.t. the user's beliefs. This is similar to the dangerousness bound I talked about before, and is also related to corrigibility. This principle can be motivated as follows. Suppose your options are (i) run a Hippocratic AI you already have and (ii) continue thinking about other AI designs. Then, by the principle itself, (i) is at least as good as... (read more)
Ah. I indeed misunderstood, thanks :) I'd read "short-term quantilization" as quantilizing over short-term policies evaluated according to their expected utility. My story doesn't make sense if the AI is only trying to push up the reported value estimates (though that puts a lot of weight on these estimates).
Keeping stock of and communicating what you haven't understood is an underrated skill/habit. It's very annoying to talk to someone and think they've understood something, only to realize much later that they haven't. It also makes conversations much less productive.
It's probably more of a habit than a skill. There certainly are some contexts where the right thing to do is pretend that you've understood everything even though you haven't. But on net, people do it way too much, and I'm not sure to what extent they're fooling themselves.
A personal anecdote which illustrates the difference between living in a place that uses choose-one voting (i.e. FPTP) to elect its representatives, and one that uses a form of proportional representation:
I was born as a citizen of both the United States and the Kingdom of Denmark, with one parent born in the US, and one born in Denmark. Since I was born in the States with Danish blood, my Danish citizenship was provisional until age 22, with a particular process being required to maintain my citizenship after that age to demonstrate sufficient connection ... (read more)
Gotcha. My main explanation is just that the American political framework is old, having been around since the start of the modern democracy movement, and voting theory wasn't a thing people thought about back then; that, plus the particular historical reasons many countries adopted proportional representation didn't play out to the same degree in the US.
Prediction: In a month, if we look at vaccine doses administered per day in the U.S., the FDA's approval of Comirnaty will not be reflected in a subsequent increase, even temporary, exceeding 10%. Confidence: 80%
Subsequent evidence suggests I had the right idea but was overly precise in my predictions or should have tried to predict the effect over a longer period of time to avoid extreme but temporary outcomes:
In the two weeks since the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, the US's average weekly vaccination rate has declined 38%.
AGI technical domains
When I think about trying to forecast technology for the medium term future, especially for AI/AGI progress, it often crosses a bunch of technical boundaries.
These boundaries are interesting in part because they're thresholds where my expertise and insight falls off significantly.
Also interesting because they give me topics to read about and learn.
A list which is probably neither comprehensive, nor complete, nor all that useful, but just writing what's in my head: