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Covid 8/19: Cracking the Booster

I look forward to Thursdays specifically for these updates.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

This is an interesting argument!  I certainly acknowledge that if you can become non-obese via purely dietary means, that is best.

I wonder whether your analogy holds in the circumstance where dietary means have been attempted and failed, as often happens judging by the truly staggering number of posts online on this very topic-- whether becoming non-obese via medication constitutes a short-term win outweighed by long-term detriments, and whether the effects of the pills turn out to be more harmful than the original obesity it was meant to treat.

But it's not totally clear to me that you have attempted to make an affirmative case for this being true, as opposed to suggesting it as a pure hypothetical.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

Oh, Wellbutrin (bupropion) is totally a thing you can use for weight loss, and is even found in Contrave (one of the drugs I listed) for that reason.  Lesser effect, though, since its weight loss effects are additive with naltrexone.

Berberine is one I hadn't heard of before; unfortunately I can't find any articles discussing its use in weight loss.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

I suppose that's reasonable, though i will point out that this is a fully-general argument against taking any drugs long-term at all.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

Oh, I'm guessing based on purely correlational studies, with all the uncertainty and fuzziness that implies. Added a disclaimer to the relevant section to this effect, since it's worth calling out.  

That said, I'd be shocked if the whole effect was due to confounders, since there are so many negative conditions comorbid with obesity, along with the existence of some animal studies also pointing in the direction of improved lifespan with caloric restriction.

Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to run controlled studies over a human lifespan, so we end up needing to do correlational studies and control for what we can.  It seems like a bad idea to simply throw up our hands in complete epistemic helplessness and say that we don't know anything for sure; we need to act in the presence of incomplete information.

Also, re: the specific point of

Diet might fix these, while drugs might not.

Keep in mind that these drugs cause weight loss by way of causing dietary changes.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

Yup!  It's branded as "Topamax", but I've heard that some users refer to it as "Stupamax" because of the brain fog effect.  It doesn't sound awesome.

Also, it sounded like it increases probability of getting a kidney stone by a lot, though I'd need to track down the reference.  All told, feels like one of the worse options out there.

As far as I understand it, "combination" drugs don't really do anything together that each component doesn't do alone.  For example, bupropion causes weight loss if you take it alone; it just causes more when you pair it with naltrexone, which also causes weight loss.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

Also, good point about highlighting the uncertainty; I've added a disclaimer to that effect at the beginning of the section.

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

Can you give any examples of that happening, where a drug reduces lifespan but not by causing any specific fatal effect?

Perhaps vastly more people should be on FDA-approved weight loss medication

All fair points!  That said, I think extended lifespan is a very reasonable thing to expect, since IIRC from longevity research that caloric restriction extends lifespan (from animal studies); this seems like a very natural extrapolation from that.

Thoughts on Iason Gabriel’s Artificial Intelligence, Values, and Alignment

I'd be concerned that our instincts toward vengeance in particular would result in extremely poor outcomes if you give humans near-unlimited power (which is mostly granted by being put in charge of an otherwise-sovereign AGI); one potential example is the AGI-controller sending a murderer to an artificial, semi-eternal version of Hell as punishment for his crimes.  I believe there's a Black Mirror episode exploring this.  In a hypothetical AGI good outcome, this cannot occur.

The idea of a committee of ordinary humans, ems, and semi-aligned AI which are required to agree in order to perform actions does, in principle, avoid this failure mode.  Though worth pointing out that this also requires AI-alignment to be solved-- if the AGI is effectively a whatever-maximizer with the requirement that it gets agreement from the ems and humans before acting, it will acquire that agreement by whatever means, which brings up the question of whether the participation of the humans and ems is at all meaningful in this scenario.

The obvious retort is that the AGI would be a tool-ai without the desire to maximize any specific property of the world beyond the degree to which it obeys the humans and ems in the loop; the usual objections to the idea of tool-ais as an AI alignment solution apply here.

Another possible retort, which you bring up, is that the AGI needs to (instead of maximizing a specific property of the world) understand the balance between various competing human values, which is (as I understand it) another way of saying it needs to be capable of understanding and implementing coherent extrapolated volition.  Which is fine, though if you posit this then CEV simply becomes the value to maximize instead; which brings us back to the objection that if it wants to maximize a thing conditional on getting consent from a human, it will figure out a way to do that.  Which turns "AI governs the world, in a fashion overseen by humans and ems" into "AI governs the world."

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