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Train Philosophers with Pearl and Kahneman, not Plato and Kant

A big problem with "Critical thinking", at least in the UK, is that our government introduced a new school subject called "Critical thinking" in which it was much easier to do well in the exams than other subjects. This was extrem, to the point that some schools (to boost their average grades) made every student do critical thinking in addition to the normal allocation of 3 A-levels subjects. This is really extreme, every student is doing only 3 subjects each. You give them all another subject to do. If this new subject is comparable that is a 33% increase in workload - and the point is to increase the average grade in exams. But it still worked. "Critical thinking" is now a joke meme meaning "empty subject of no substance and easy passes".

To people who have been through this system saying a person "has a degre in critical thinking" sounds like a sideways way of insulting there inteligence. I think this is what diegocaleiro is refering to.

Train Philosophers with Pearl and Kahneman, not Plato and Kant

I studied a philosophy module during my undergraduate in the UK. I noticed that the course was structured very carefully so that in the exam there were two ways of succeeding. (1) Having a very good memory of who had said what, and the ability to write something "English-literature-y" about what they had said. Here I noticed a strong taste for worrying about how stylishly things were said. (2) Doing something more on the logic side of things - this felt much more natural and more precise (less wooly) to me. Now, I have been told that in most mainland European coutnires option (2) is less emphasised and its more squarely of an essay-based humanity.  

There is nothing wrong with thing (1) existing. I prefer thing (2), and clearly so do you. But I think maybe making the argument "we should drive out (1) to make more space for (2)" is wrong, and a better line is "they should be seperate courses". (Perhaps with the names "Ancient Thought" and "Modern Philosophy".)

I am surprised by how much science you bring up. I would assume that scientific advancement will only tangentially change most philosophy. Yes, we no longer think there are only 4 elements (fire, earth etc), but in a modern clasification that would be labelled a scientific theroy (an incorrect one, but still a scientific one).

Air Conditioner Repair

I don't think the post is confusing. Everyone is young once. Everyone has that time where, for the first time in their life, sorting out the gas/internet/leak/AC is their responsibility.  Many people, within the first couple of times they need to do this, get stung and learn a valuable lesson. Depending on how lucky/unlucky you are you could go a long way before encountering something like this. And, for everyone, (at least for me) the first time this happens it is a real surprise. Yes, maybe at an academic level you were able to imagine that there might be conmen out there trying to rob you - but that acadmeic understanding has no power over your perception of reality, because it has never actually intruded on your life. When you were buying stuff in shops or online you never got stung because you were comparing products/websites. This is the first time you are buying a service where the price tag wasn't agreed upon beforehand.

The sting comes fairly late in life. When you are renting its the landlord's problem.

Air Conditioner Repair

"but they hadn’t completed the necessary certificate of insurance to be let into the building" - Just a random side point. In the UK many of us hold two, simultaneous and contradictory veiws of the US. The first is "they let you do just about anything there, you can even buy a gun!". The other is "the whole place is drowning in random needless restrictions stopping you from doing basic things. You can get fined for not having and mowing a lawn!"

Needing to complete a certificate before a repair-person can even step over your doormat to just look at a problem, now that is a really giant data point on the second one.

Moses and the Class Struggle

Something is less than three percent. Or, a heart emoji followed by a percentage sign.

My favourite interpretation is that the "<3" is a heart emoji. Then the "%" sign is supposed to remind us of the comment character in eg. python.  But nothing follows the %-symbol, so the full meaning is "I love this, no comment."

Shut Up And Guess

This is incredible. As others have said the most likely explanation is that people could see the system was intended to dis-incentivise guessing and that this design intent shaped the way they saw the test.

Now I want an exam on "logic and probability" which uses this system. The surprise being that the grading system indicated is in fact a lie. You fail if you put a single "don't know". Otherwise you pass with 100%. 

(A teacher of mine at school once set us a reading test. It had a big line at the top saying "read this entire test before starting". Then there were paragraphs of text interpresed with questions about it, "How many people were in the study?". Right at the end it said "Now you have finished reading, please provide a blank sheet of paper. Do not answer any of the questions." I was stung.)

The inordinately slow spread of good AGI conversations in ML

Nice read. One thing that stood out to me was your claim that "Jetsons" AI (human level in 50-250 years, beyond later) was a riddiculous scenario. Perahps you can elaborate on why this scenario seems farfetched to you? (A lot of course hinges on the exact meaning of "human level".)

 

Deep Learning Systems Are Not Less Interpretable Than Logic/Probability/Etc

I think that you have a point, but that arguably there is some goalpost moving going on somewhere in here.

Say, some computer system recognises trees, and has something in a layer of its mathematics that roughly corresponds to its idea of tree. Maybe that idea of a tree is no further removed from the real object than my hazy thought-cloud that goes with the word "tree" - but so what? When talking about how interpretable something is to me the question is not one of distance from reality, but the distance to my concepts.

I drew a random sketch to clarify my point. Lets say each node represents "tree". So the one on the right is a real tree, the bottom one the English word tree, the top the program's idea of a tree. (We can suppose that my human idea of a tree is another node that connects with human language and reality). Interpretability is (to me) the line on the left, while much of your post is about the difficulties with the line on the bottom right.

Value is Fragile

While I think you may very plausibly be correct, there is (I think) some reasonable grounds for uncertainty. I can imagine that an advanced algorithm that performs the role of making scientific discoveries to aid in the development of technologies for the great paperclip fleet might indeed have "some one home". It maybe that this is beneficial to its effectiveness, or might be close to essential.

I can't make any strong claims about why this would be needed, only that human beings (at least me) do have "some one home", but if we didn't know about human beings are we were speculating on what organisms evolution might produce we might find ourselves postulating complex, social creatures who solve complicated tasks, but have "no one home", and we would obviously be wrong.

Ruling Out Everything Else

Nice article. It reminds me of the party game Codenames. In that game you need to indicate certain words or pictures to your teammates through word association. Everyone's very first lesson is that working out which words you do NOT intend to indicate, and avoiding them, is as big a part of gameplay as hitting the ones you do (possibly bigger).

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