All of Alexei's Comments + Replies

Childcare III

Congrats on the new born!

Open and Welcome Thread - May 2021

My cryptocurrency quant hedge fund is looking to hire engineers. If you're curious, PM me. :)

Why I Work on Ads

Well, I already tried recruiting you for our hedge fund, so not really. :D Although it's possible with covid there's a larger pool of remote jobs available.

But yeah, given all those constraints, it's quite possible you're in a relatively optimal position.

Why I Work on Ads

First off, kudos for putting your view up for criticism.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the opportunity cost. Putting the question of whether or not ads are good or bad aside, do you think you can find a job that creates more good in the world and pays about the same?

3jefftk5moI think it's pretty unlikely that I could be paid more working for another company given my preferences (I want to stay in Boston, I want to work a reasonable number of hours, I don't like working remotely). I think my pay would be about the same if I switched within Google Cambridge, so that's possible, though I like my team a lot and there's a replaceability argument. Did you have something specific in mind?
Open and Welcome Thread - May 2021

Very cool, this sounds a lot like my own story too. Welcome to the club!

April 2021 Deep Dive: Transformers and GPT-3

I like this format a lot: here’s what I wanted to learn, here’s what I did, here’s my proposed better method. I. A world where we learn things via an amalgamation of blog posts and videos, this seems like an efficient way of helping others learn.

I think there should be a tag for this method!

4adamShimi5moTo be fair, I doubted a bit whether this type of post was really valuable. So some sort of signaling that we as a community are interested by those might be useful.
April 2021 Deep Dive: Transformers and GPT-3

Thank you, this looks extremely useful. It’s been on my todo list to learn about transformers for a while. And this looks like a great path to follow. I commit to respond with how my learning went once I follow this guide. (Will probably be later this year.)

4adamShimi5moGlad you liked it! Good luck with your learning, I'm curious to see how my path and recommendations generalize.
AMA: Paul Christiano, alignment researcher

What are your thoughts / advice on working as an individual vs joining an existing team / company when it comes to safety research? (For yourself and for others)

7paulfchristiano5moI think the main reasons to join teams are either to do collaborative projects or to get mentorship. I think for most people one or both of those will be pretty important, and so individual work is usually a kind of stop-gap---lower barriers to entry, but if it's a good fit the expectation should be to join a larger team after not-that-long. For people who already feel well-oriented and who are interested in projects that can be done by individuals, then I think it's not a big deal either way though it can still be nice to have a closer community of people working on safety.
Young kids catching COVID: how much to worry?

Thank you for looking into this and posting about it. This question has been on my mind a lot.

4Steven Byrnes5moYou're welcome but I hope you're not taking my word for anything. Note the warning at the top :-)
Problems of evil

Strong upvote from me. I appreciate the decently broad source of quotes and I hope you've read some of that material fully. I think the question is interesting and worth serious pondering, though I'm a bit sceptical as to how much progress on it is really possible outside of individualistic discovery via something like meditation.

Father love and mother love is an interesting way of looking at it. Though it's not clear "Father Love" is actually a thing or just something we projected onto actually existing "Mother Love."

To me actually the problem of evil see... (read more)

Rising rents and appropriate responses

It’s funny you mention Texas because a lot of Bay Area people in the past few years left for Austin, Texas.

Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places

Satvik mentioned you had a way to go from hash to the source code?

2[comment deleted]5mo
4lsusr5moYou can go from hash to source code by saving the source code too in addition to saving the value. You can go from place to source code by treating source code as a value. Otherwise, hashing is a trapdoor function.
A New Center? [Politics] [Wishful Thinking]

Not sure I follow. What prevents republicans from joining democrats?

I think the point is that you get peoples opt into the party and then show during elections that this party can indeed swing votes. That’s the proof of work.

1Timothy Johnson5moSorry, let me try again, and be a little more direct. If the New Center starts to actually swing votes, Republicans will join and pretend to be centrists, while trying to co-opt the group into supporting Republicans. Meanwhile, Democrats will join and try to co-opt the group into supporting Democrats. Unless you have a way to ensure that only actual centrists have any influence, you'll end up with a group that's mostly made up of extreme partisans from both sides. And that will make it impossible for the group to function as intended.
A New Center? [Politics] [Wishful Thinking]

No I don’t have time for this unfortunately. I suppose it’s probably worth at the very least publishing this on medium and posting to relevant subreddits.

Some of the other comments have reminded me of your linkpost about digital democracy. Specifically, the idea of seeking surprising agreement which was mentioned.

In the OP, I posited that "the new center" should have a strong, simple set of issues, pre-selected to cater to people who are sick of both sides. But I think Stuart Anderson is right: it shouldn't focus so much on the battle between the two sides; it should focus on the surprising commonality between people.

As Steven Byrnes mentioned, swing voters aren't exactly moderate; rather, they tend to have... (read more)

A New Center? [Politics] [Wishful Thinking]

I like this a lot and I think it’s worth serious effort to research some of the assumptions and obvious failure points (brought up by others here, although I think half of them are not addressing the core of your proposal)

9Timothy Johnson5moI see a few other failure points mentioned, but no one has mentioned what I consider the primary obstacle - if membership in the New Center organization is easy, what prevents partisans from joining purely to influence its decisions? And if membership is hard, how do you find enough people willing to join? The key idea that makes Bitcoin work is that it runs essentially a decentralized voting algorithm. Proof-of-work means that everyone gets a number of votes proportional to the computational power that they're willing to spend. You need something similar to proof-of-work here, but I don't see any good way to implement it.
4abramdemski6moI don't have time for this. Do you? Is/should it be a priority? I have other ideas which may or may not make it more probable (which I excluded from the post out of an abundance of caution).
[LINK] Luck, Skill, and Improving at Games

Nice post. Haven’t heard of Flesh and Blood before, I’ll check it out. But yeah, poker strikes me as the fastest way to learn this skill since each “match” is so fast, especially online.

Another (outer) alignment failure story

I’m curious how brain uploading / intelligence amplification interacts with this scenario. It’s possible we would be able to keep up for longer.

9paulfchristiano6moI think the upshot of those technologies (and similarly for ML assistants) is: 1. It takes longer before you actually face a catastrophe. 2. In that time, you can make faster progress towards an "out" By an "out" I mean something like: (i) figuring out how to build competitive aligned optimizers, (ii) coordinating to avoid deploying unaligned AI. Unfortunately I think [1] is a bit less impactful than it initially seems, at least if we live in a world of accelerating growth towards a singularity. For example, if the singularity is in 2045 and it's 2035, and you were going to have catastrophic failure in 2040, you can't really delay it by much calendar time. So [1] helps you by letting you wait until you get fancier technology from the fast outside economy, but doesn't give you too much more time for the slow humane economy to "catch up" on its own terms.

For any given thing you want to do imagine what it would take to do it without Vim and it’s just more & usually more awkward key strokes.

I’d say the only place where I still use mouse is to jump to a completely random place in code.

2ChristianKl6moThis reminds me of the person with whom I was arguing about what takes how long on Anki and who was saying that his own judgement of what takes how long is superior to the Anki statistics where I know how the code works and which actually measures the time correctly. Human imagination is not good at estimating what tasks have how much latency.
6gilch6moI've found that / is still often faster for that. Not always, but often. I still use the mouse sometimes.

I think about ~1year into using vim, I thought the same thing: I’m doing the same thing, just with more quicker steps, so it feels faster. But after that I persisted and now it’s actually faster. Part of it is expanding your repertoire and memorizing it (where you don’t have to think about it at all). Also vim editor by itself I still find very clunky, but using vim shortcuts in something like PyCharm is $$$!

2ChristianKl6moHow do you know?

Nice; didn't know about ;

What will GPT-4 be incapable of?

For me it would be: gpt4 would propose a legal next move to all 1000 random chess games.

3Michaël Trazzi6moInteresting. Apparently GPT-2 could make (up to?) 14 non-invalid moves []. Also, this [] paper mentions a cross-entropy log-loss of 0.7 and make 10% of invalid moves after fine-tuning on 2.8M chess games. So maybe here data is the bottleneck, but assuming it's not, GPT-4's overall loss would be(NGPT−4/NGPT−2)0.076=(175/1.5)2∗0.016≈2x smaller than GPT-2 (cf. Fig1 [] on parameters), and with the strong assumption of the overall transfering directly to chess loss, and chess invalid move accuracy being inversely proportional to chess loss wins, then it would make 5% of invalid moves
Preventing overcharging by prosecutors

Yeah, I agree with that. But 20% seems within that range for me (especially for very bad crimes). Is 10%? Not sure.

2ChristianKl6moThe system as I proposed by design doesn't say "Prosecutors are only allowed to bring charges with at least X%" but works to let an equilibrium play out. I think this feature is very neat because it's a mechanism that doesn't work through bureaucratic rules and arbitrary cutoffs but through jurors making decisions about what's right in individual cases and the prosecutors learning from the judgements the jurors make.
Preventing overcharging by prosecutors

I would expect that many juries will automatically throw out a 10% or 20% charges because there will be people on the jury who would argue that the prosecutor thinking that there's only a 20% chance that a charge holds means that there's reasonable doubt against the charge.

So then nobody would assign low likelihood charges? I guess that’s a feature of the proposed system, but it seems like a flaw to me. (Probably minor)

4ChristianKl6moI do think that the legal standard of reasonable doubt means not assigning low likelihood charges. That's how I understand the principle of "reasonable doubt". The feature of this system it that it lets the jurors decide what they think reasonable doubt means and the system doesn't set the meaning for it.
Rationalism before the Sequences

5 for me. I read Dancing with Gods a long time ago and it’s very memorable. But had no idea about anything else.

A Semitechnical Introductory Dialogue on Solomonoff Induction

I had a related question I'm still looking for a good answer to:

Open & Welcome Thread – March 2021

About three years ago, I started a quantitative cryptocurrency hedge fund with my brother and Satvik. We have been doing pretty well, and in addition to raising more $$ this year, we have decided to expand our team. We're looking for a few potential roles:

  1.  Quants: expected background in quantitative trading + some engineering skills
  2.  Developers: at least 5+ years of experience; familiarity with AWS, ETL, data quality assurance and writing fast code are plusses
  3.  Researchers: we give you the data / problem and you do your magic; this role can be
... (read more)
A Semitechnical Introductory Dialogue on Solomonoff Induction

Anyone knows of 3rd party libraries that implement something like this?

Enabling Children

Sure, I’m interested. But like you pointed out it’s pretty difficult to pull off. One of the biggest consideration is finding the right people.

I think ThomasJ makes a good point that it might be easier to find the right “neighborhood” that already has the right kind of people.

3lincolnquirk6moDo you have a sense of where to look for the right kind of people? (Feel free to answer for yourself, rather than trying to project what I or others might want)
Fake Frameworks for Zen Meditation (Summary of Sekida's Zen Training)

Very nice! Thank you. I almost didn’t read it because from the title I expected it to be about something else. It would probably be helpful to explicitly say that this is a book summary in the post title.

4G Gordon Worley III8moI went back and forth on this. During the draft stage I originally had the title position the post as a book summary/review, but as I wrote the post it morphed into something that wasn't quite a book summary and made the decision to change the title because I thought the current one might better attract readers. Based on your comments, though, I'll split the difference and update the title to be long with a mention that it's a book review.
Reflections on the cryonics sequence

That’s awesome! Thank you for doing this.

What posts on finance would your find helpful or interesting?

What exactly do you mean by door of entry? Like a way to get into the industry? Or start trading yourself?

1max he8moI should have been more precise, I fancy a knowledge door of entry to understand finance; not a practical door, nor a career door.
The impact merge

Thanks, but these seem to be discussing pride in general. I am curious specifically about the “You have to be the one who has controlled/owed a particular choice in the ways that matter in order to be proud of it or its outcomes.” part. Do you know where you picked up that bit?

4romeostevensit8moNo idea.
What is the currency of the future? 5 suggestions.

Resources like corn and oil are typically called commodities in this context.

3ViktorThink8moThank you for the feedback, I changed it to commodities in the post.
The impact merge

Interesting! Any links / videos you’d recommend exploring that point?

4romeostevensit8moBuddhist:āna []Christian: [] and a special shout out to spiritual pride/spiritual materialism, which Milarepa likened to 'a frozen waterfall'
Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns

How likely are you to get infected from someone who has been infected a while ago (say a month) compared to a random person? What about from someone who was vaccinated?

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

Odds are the same but it’s the difference between 10 flips and a 100.

How to eradicate the desire to check time-wasting sites

Same here. That’s why I stopped using FB. And that’s currently my main filter for whether to continue engaging with something.

What confusions do people have about simulacrum levels?

Right...! I think that's a very good point on the usefulness of the model. Like, I find it interesting and useful as a model, but I don't think I've ever applied it in practice.

What confusions do people have about simulacrum levels?

Hmm it’s not that I find them confusing, and I even managed to explain them to someone who didn’t know about them. I think it just feels... too high complexity or something. Like there’s a simpler version just around the corner. Maybe I’d benefit from 3 positive and negative real life examples of each level.

6abramdemski9moI had that experience at first. A bit like some chemistry professor just told me "the stages of boiling" as if we can objectively divide things into stages from almost-boiling water to a heavy boil, and I'm like, this level of descriptive accuracy sounds like it belongs in a cooking class rather than chemistry. I also had the experience of explaining the levels to a friend. I got a "why is this important" type reaction. When I gave examples of mistakes people could make if they interpreted things at the wrong level (EG interpreting "guns don't kill people, people kill people" as a factual question rather than signalling political allegiance), my friend said something along the lines of "that's just a dumb mistake, I don't need the levels to understand that".

maybe something closer to

  • causal reality
  • social reality
  • being causal about social reality
  • being social about being causal about social reality

not there yet, but closer for me.

Pseudorandomness contest, Round 1

Can I use computer to prepare for part 1, as long as I don’t try to memorize any bit sequences?

3UnexpectedValues9moNo, sorry -- any thinking about strategy in advance must be your own thoughts. No external resources for that either.
D&D.Sci Evaluation and Ruleset

Seconded. Very happy with the solution and the resulting reflection on my attempt.

Covid 12/10: Vaccine Approval Day in America

If someone got COVID how long do they need to wait to get tested so that the test correctly identifies them as positive?

I haven't spent much time looking into it, but I recall coming across this:

In the report on the findings published May 13 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that the probability of a false negative result decreases from 100% on Day 1 of being infected to 67% on Day 4. The false negative rate decreased to 20% on Day 8 (three days after a person begins experiencing symptoms). They also found that on the day a person started experiencing actual symptoms of illness, the average false negative rate was 38%. In addition, the false

... (read more)

Note the part where it says that it’s usually passed on by a teacher. It’s entirely possible to meet this teacher in your dream; in your case, the coach.

A number of spiritual traditions have their most advanced practices in dream realms.

2Alexei10mo [] Note the part where it says that it’s usually passed on by a teacher. It’s entirely possible to meet this teacher in your dream; in your case, the coach.

You can do spoilers with >! although it's kind of finicky. 

 One problem with your strategy is that the stats follow a normal distribution. This means that there are more students with average stats. That's why your algo invests in the lowest stat: because that's the biggest delta in terms of students.

1Yoav Ravid10moThanks i updated my comment :)

My research so far:

Made graphs of stat vs prob of success. Pretty clean linear relationships between each stat and increase in success, except for dexterity. That seems to hurt.  
Checked for correlations between stats; none detected.  
Given that we can't go down in stats, I also looked at the data for students whose stats are at least as high as ours. Did linear regression on that; seems like Dex helps in this case, but there are a lot fewer samples, so I'm going to chuck it up to noise.

Going off all the data, Wis and Cha have the highest slope.

... (read more)

Do we have to spend all 10 points?


Hmm, normally I don't participate in things like these... but something about this one appeals to me. So why not! Let's give it a shot.

What are the guidelines for posting my research / insights?

2abstractapplic10moI've added some guidelines to the main post. Thanks for asking, I'm embarrassed to admit that angle didn't occur to me.
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