Angela Pretorius

Wiki Contributions


These are some of the signs that my 27 month old late-talker has invented:

-‘sit here’: taps where he wants me to sit

-‘I want a banana’: points to a picture of banana in a book, rubs his tummy then points to the fruit bowl

-‘I want to go outside’ fetches his shoes, points to his feet then runs to the door

-‘give it to me’ opens and closes hands

-‘the bin needs emptying’ runs to the kitchen bin then points to a picture of a wheelie bin

-‘please sweep up the food that I threw on the floor’ points to the dustpan and brush, then points to the food on the floor, then makes a pretend sweeping motion with his hand

Letting him make up his own gestures is much easier than attempting to teach sign language to a toddler who is too busy playing to pay any attention.

That’s what the r/slatestarcodex subreddit is for.

A few thoughts…

Have schools dropped all the fun activities so that they can spend more time catching up on the lessons missed during covid? 

The teen suicide rate was declining over the 90s and early 00s. Then the No Child Left Behind act came into effect in 2003. Then the suicide rate gradually started increasing again. It is highly plausible that the no child left behind act would cause an increase in suicides, but I’m not sure why it would cause a gradual increase over many years rather than a sudden jump in suicide rates?

Correction: Actually gas stoves are a significant source of pollution. See here

##AGI might not be conscious

###I don’t think that feedforward networks can be conscious

Integrated information theory does not allow for conscious feedforward networks.

###There is no good reason to expect AGI to be a recurrent neural network

Transformer models like GPT are basically feedforward networks [to do: check that this is correct]. Recurrent neural networks have had some successes but they are difficult to train. Whereas feedforward networks can be trained quite effectively using back-propagation. Biological neural networks are unable to implement back-propagation and instead rely on a variant of Hebbian Learning. To implement a recurrent neural network trained via Hebbian Learning on a computer wouldn’t necessarily be the best use of computational resources. AGI may very well be a feedforward network trained using back-prop.

###Anthropics All of human consciousness is about to be massively dwarfed by an enormous explosion of superintelligent, highly conscious AIs. And by some incredible co-incidence I happen to be human???

It just seems so implausible. An explosion of unconscious or minimally conscious superintelligent AIs is much more plausible.

I still think that the dopamine system is involved in psychosis.

It is quite difficult for the brainstem to reward accurate perception. If dopamine production by the brainstem is in any way dependent on information that is coming in from the neocortex rather than from the brainstem’s own sensory areas then there is the potential for things to go wrong.

One part of the neocortex might get dopamine for detecting danger, and it can rewire itself to maximise its dopamine reward by hallucinating evil spirits.

Another part of the brain might get dopamine when social status increases, and it can rewire itself to maximise its dopamine reward by finding evidence that said individual is the messiah.

Another part of the brain might get dopamine whenever it comes across a really interesting hypothesis. Of course, the most interesting hypothesis is rarely the correct one.

When my little one was a newborn he was just as happy being handled by strangers as he was with mum and dad. It was around four months that he started showing a preference for mum and dad and disliking strangers. I’m sure that he could recognise us long before the four month mark though.

Geese need to imprint from birth, whereas there is no immediate need for a baby who is not yet mobile to imprint on it’s parents. So if babies have an ‘imprinting window’ then it probably occurs later, after a baby has learnt to reliably recognise familiar faces in spite of changes in make-up or clothing.

Aside: Babies prefer to look at faces while still in the womb

Mother geese don’t change their appearance much over their lifetime. I doubt that a chick ever needs to update its mommy thought assessor.

The ‘my kid’ thought assessor in humans is easily fooled by puppies and baby rabbits. Spend a large proportion of your waking hours around a cute animal and your brainstem assumes that it is your child.

I think that psychosis can be characterised as a failure of inner alignment.

Let me explain with two examples.

  1. We all seek status, but we obviously don’t have a genetically hardwired status classifier in the brainstem. Instead the rest of the brain figures out what our social status is. When something boosts our estimated status the ventral tegmental area in the brainstem sends out a dopamine reward signal. If the brain’s inner alignment mechanisms fail then the rest of the brain maximises its dopamine reward by convincing itself that it is the messiah.
  2. The parts of the brain which detect threats get rewarded whenever they detect a threat so that they have an incentive to be vigilant to threats. If inner alignment fails then the threat detector circuits try to maximise their dopamine reward by hallucinating ghosts or snakes or whatever.

Many antipsychotics are dopamine antagonists. Dopamine antagonists don’t fix the underlying alignment failure but they trade off less psychosis for more apathy.

Brilliant article. I’m also curious about the economics side of things.

I found an article which estimates that nuclear power would be two orders of magnitude cheaper if the regulatory process were to be improved, but it doesn’t explain the calculations which led to the ‘two orders of magnitude’ claim.

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