All of bgold's Comments + Replies

What price would you pay for the RadVac Vaccine and why?

hah yes - seeing that great post from johnwentsworth inspired me to review my own thinking on RadVac. Ultimately I placed a lower estimate on RadVac being effective - or at least effective enough to get me to change my quarantine behavior - such that the price wasn't worth it, but I think I get a rationality demerit for not investing more in the collaborative model building (and collaborative purchasing) part of the process.

What price would you pay for the RadVac Vaccine and why?

I'm sorry I didn't see this response until now - thank you for the detailed answer!

Player vs. Character: A Two-Level Model of Ethics

I'm guessing your concern feels similar to ones you've articulated in the past around... "heart"/"grounded" rationality, or a concern about "disabling pieces of the epistemic immune system". 

I'm curious if 8 mo's later you feel you can better speak to what you see as the crucial misunderstanding?

Thiel on Progress and Stagnation

Out of curiosity what's one of your more substantive disagreements with Thiel?

Competition: Amplify Rohin’s Prediction on AGI researchers & Safety Concerns

Forecast - 25 mins

  • I thought it was more likely that in the short run there could be a preference cascade among top AGI researchers, and as others have mentioned due to the operationalization of top AGI researchers might be true already.
  • If this doesn't become a majority concern by 2050, I expect it will be because of another AI Winter, and I tried to have my distribution reflect that (a little hamfistedly).
Rereading Atlas Shrugged

Thanks for posting this. I recently reread the Fountainhead, which I similarly enjoyed and got more out of than did my teenage self - it was like a narrative, emotional portrayal of the ideals in Marc Andreessen's It's Time to Build essay.

I interpreted your section on The Conflict as the choice between voice and exit.

Solving Math Problems by Relay

The larger scientific question was related to Factored Cognition, and getting a sense of the difficulty of solving problems through this type of "collaborative crowdsourcing". The hope was running this experiment would lead to insights that could then inform the direction of future experiments, in the way that you might fingertip feel your way around an unknown space to get a handle on where to go next. For example if it turned out to be easy for groups to execute this type of problem solving, we might push ahead with competitions between teams t... (read more)

Thanks for that thorough answer! All projects are forms of learning. I find that much of my learning time is consumed by two related tasks: 1. Familiarizing myself with the reference materials. Examples: reading the textbook, taking notes on a lecture, asking questions during a lecture. 2. Creating a personalized meta-reference to distill and organize the reference materials so that it'll be faster and easier to re-teach myself in the future. Examples: highlighting textbook material that I expect I won't remember and crossing out explanations I no longer need, re-formatting concepts learned in a math class into a unified presentation format, deciding which concepts need to be made into flash cards. Those steps seem related to the challenges and strategies you encountered in this project. We know that students forget much of what they learn, despite their best efforts. I think it's wiser not to try hard to remember everything, but instead to "plan to forget" and create personalized references so that it's easy to re-teach yourself later when the need arises. I wish that skill were more emphasized in the school system. I think we put too much emphasis on trying to make students work harder and memorize better and "de-stress," and too little on helping students create a carefully thought-out system of notes and references and practice material that will be useful to them later on. The process of creating really good notes will also serve as a useful form of practice and a motivating tool. I find myself much more inclined to study if I've done this work, and I do in fact retain concepts much better if I've put in this work. Your project sounds like an interesting approach to tackle a related challenge. I'd be especially interested to hear about any efforts you make to tease out the differences between work that's divided between different people, and work that's divided between different "versions of you" at different times.
Solving Math Problems by Relay

Thanks, rewrote and tried to clarify. In essence the researchers were testing transmission of "strategies" for using a tool, where an individual was limited in what they could transmit to the next user, akin to this relay experiment.

In fact they found that trying to convey causal theories could undermine the next person's performance; they speculate that it reduced experimentation prematurely.

Better now, thanks!
ESRogs's Shortform

Thanks for posting this. Why did you invest in those three startups in particular? Was it the market, the founders, personal connections? And was it a systematic search for startups to invest in, or more of an "opportunity-arose" situation?

These were all personal connections / opportunity-arose situations. The closest I've done to a systematic search was once asking someone who'd done a bunch of angel investments if there were any he'd invested in who were looking for more money and whom he was considering investing more in. That was actually my first angel investment (Pantelligent) and it ended up not working out. (But of course that's the median expected outcome.) (The other two that I invested in that are not still going concerns were AgoraFund and AlphaSheets. Both of those were through personal connections as well.)
What are the best tools for recording predictions?

I know Ozzie has been thinking about this, because we were chatting about how to use an Alfred workflow to post to it. Which I think would be great!

What are the best tools for recording predictions?

I've spent a fair bit of time in the forecasting space playing w/ different tools, and I never found one that I could reliably use for personal prediction tracking.

Ultimately for me it comes down to:

1.) Friction: the predictions I'm most interested in tracking are "5-second-level" predictions - "do I think this person is right", "is the fact that I have a cough and am tired a sign that I'm getting sick" etc. - and I need to be able to jot that down quickly.

2.) "Routine": There are certain sites that a... (read more)

For those reading, the main thing I'm optimizing Foretold for right now, is for forecasting experiments and projects with 2-100 forecasters. The spirit of making "quick and dirty" questions for personal use conflicts a bit with that of making "well thought out and clear" questions for group use. The latter are messy to change, because it would confuse everyone involved. Note that Foretold does support full probability distributions with the guesstimate-like syntax, which prediction book doesn't. But it's less focused on the quick individual use case in general. If there are recommendations for simple ways to make it better for individuals; maybe other workflows, I'd be up for adding some support or integrations.
Is there an option for foretold to become Very Low Friction somehow? I agree with the "5 second level predictions" thing being a key issue.
How likely is it that US states or cities will prevent travel across their borders?
Answer by bgoldMar 14, 202013

The commerce clause gives the federal government broad powers to regulate interstate commerce, and in particular the the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services can exercise it to institute quarantine.

bgold's Shortform

Depression as a concept doesn't make sense to me. Why on earth would it be fitness enhancing to have a state of withdrawal, retreat, collapse where a lack of energy prevents you from trying new things? I've brainstormed a number of explanations:

    • depression as chemical imbalance: a hardware level failure has occurred, maybe randomly maybe because of an "overload" of sensation
    • depression as signaling: withdrawal and retreat from the world indicates a credible signal that I need help
    • depression as retreat: the environment has become dangerous
... (read more)
I think you're asking too much of evolutionary theory here. Human bodies do lots of things that aren't longterm adaptive -- for example, if you stab them hard enough, all the blood falls out and they die. One could interpret the subsequent shock, anemia, etc. as having some fitness-enhancing purpose, but really the whole thing is a hard-to-fix bug in body design: if there were mutant humans whose blood more reliably stayed inside them, their mutation would quickly reach fixation in the early ancestral environment. We understand blood and wound healing well enough to know that no such mutation can exist: there aren't any small, incrementally-beneficial changes which can produce that result. In the same way, it shouldn't be confusing that depression is maladaptive; you should only be confused if it's both maladaptive and easy to improve on. Intuitively it feels like it should be -- just pick different policies -- but that intuition isn't rooted in fine-grained understanding of the brain and you shouldn't let it affect your beliefs.
2Matt Goldenberg2y
On a group selection level it might make lots more sense to have certain people get into states where they're very unlikely to procreate.
How much delay do you generally have between having a good new idea and sharing that idea publicly online?

I rarely share ideas online (I'm working on that); when I do the ideas tend to be "small" observations or models, the type I can write out quickly and send. ~10mins - 1 day after I have it.

What is Success in an Immoral Maze?

I've heard that Talking Heads song dozens of times and have never watched the video. I was missing out!

bgold's Shortform

neat hadn't seen that thanks

Circling as Cousin to Rationality

I expect understanding something more explicitly - such as yours and another persons boundaries - w/o some type of underlying concept of acceptance of that boundary can increase exploitability. I recently wrote a shortform post on the topic of legibility that describes some patterns I've noticed here.

I don't think on average Circling makes one more exploitable, but I expect it increases variance, making some people significantly more exploitable than they were before because previously invisible boundaries are now visible, and can thus be attacke... (read more)

bgold's Shortform
  • Yes And is an improv technique where you keep the energy in a scene alive by going w/ the other persons suggestion and adding more to it. "A: Wow is that your pet monkey? B: Yes and he's also my doctor!"
  • Yes And is generative (creates a lot of output), as opposed to Hmm No which is critical (distills output)
  • A lot of the Sequences is Hmm No
  • It's not that Hmm No is wrong, it's that it cuts off future paths down the Yes And thought-stream.
  • If there's a critical error at the beginning of a thought that will undermine everything else
... (read more)
[Part 1] Amplifying generalist research via forecasting – Models of impact and challenges

IMO the term "amplification" fits if the scheme results in a 1.) clear efficiency gain and 2.) it's scalable. This looks like (delivering equivalent results but at a lower cost OR providing better results for an equivalent cost. (cost == $$ & time)), AND (~ O(n) scaling costs).

For example if there was a group of people who could emulate [Researcher's] fact checking of 100 claims but do it at 10x speed, then that's an efficiency gain as we're doing the same work in less time. If we pump the number to 1000 claims and the fac... (read more)

ozziegooen's Shortform

Is there not a distillation phase in forecasting? One model of the forecasting process is person A builds up there model, distills a complicated question into a high information/highly compressed datum, which can then be used by others. In my mind its:

Model -> Distill - > "amplify" (not sure if that's actually the right word)

I prefer the term scalable instead of proliferation for "can this group do it cost-effectively" as it's a similar concept to that in CS.

Distillation vs. Instillation My main point here is that distillation is doing 2 things: transitioning knowledge (from training data to a learned representation), and then compressing that knowledge.[1] The fact that it's compressed in some ways arguably isn't always particularly important; the fact that it's transferred is the main element. If a team of forecasters basically learned a signal, but did so in a very uncompressed way (like, they wrote a bunch of books about said signal), but still were somewhat cost-effective, I think that would be fine. Around "Profileration" vs. "Scaling"; I'd be curious if there are better words out there. I definitely considered scaling, but it sounds less concrete and less specific. To "proliferate" means "to generate more of", but to "scale" could mean, "to make look bigger, even if nothing is really being done." I think my cynical guess is that "instillation/proliferation" won't catch on because they are too uncommon, but also that "distillation" won't catch on because it feels like a stretch from the ML use case. Could use more feedback here. [1] Interestingly, there seem to be two distinct stages in Deep Learning that map to these two different things, according to Naftali Tishby's claims [].
bgold's Shortform

Thanks for including that link - seems right, and reminded me of Scott's old post Epistemic Learned Helplessness

The only difference between their presentation and mine is that I’m saying that for 99% of people, 99% of the time, taking ideas seriously is the wrong strategy

I kinda think this is true, and it's not clear to me from the outset whether you should "go down the path" of getting access to level 3 magic given the negatives.

Probably good heuristics are proceeding with caution when encountering new/out there ideas, remember... (read more)

bgold's Shortform
  • Why do I not always have conscious access to my inner parts? Why, when speaking with authority figures, might I have a sudden sense of blankness.
  • Recently I've been thinking about this reaction in the frame of 'legibility', ala Seeing like a State. State's would impose organizational structures on societies that were easy to see and control - they made the society more legible - to the actors who ran the state, but these organizational structure were bad for the people in the society.
    • For example, census data, standardized weights and m
... (read more)
Related: Reason as memetic immune disorder [] I like the idea that having some parts of you protected from yourself makes them indirectly protected from people or memes who have power over you (and want to optimize you for their benefit, not yours). Being irrational is better than being transparently rational when someone is holding a gun at your head. If you could do something, you would be forced to do it (against your interests), so it's better for you if you can't. But, what now? It seems like rationality and introspection is a bit like defusing a bomb -- great if you can do it perfectly, but it kills you when you do it halfways. It reminds me of a fantasy book which had a system of magic where wizards could achieve 4 levels of power. Being known as a 3rd level wizard was a very bad thing, because all 4th level wizards were trying to magically enslave you -- to get rid of a potential competitor, and to get a powerful slave (I suppose the magical cost of enslaving someone didn't grow up proportionally to victim's level). To use an analogy, being biologically incapable of reaching 3rd level of magic might be an evolutionary advantage. But at the same time, it would prevent you from reaching the 4th level, ever.
2020's Prediction Thread

I'd also encourage you to link your predictions to Foretold/Metaculus/other prediction aggregator questions, though only if you write your prediction in the thread as well to prevent link rot.

As a Schelling point, you can use this Foretold community which I made specifically for this thread.

AlphaStar: Impressive for RL progress, not for AGI progress

I watched all of the Grandmaster level games. When playing against grandmasters the average win rate of AlphaStar across all three races was 55.25%

  • Protoss Win Rate: 78.57%
  • Terran Win Rate: 33.33%
  • Zerg Win Rate: 53.85%

Detailed match by match scoring

While I don't think that it is truly "superhuman", it is definitely competitive against top players.

bgold's Shortform

I remember seeing other claims/analysis of this but don't remember where

When EY says our community he means more then just LW but the whole rationalist diaspora as well towards which Robin Hanson can be counted.
bgold's Shortform

Is the clearest "win" of a LW meme the rise of the term "virtue signaling"? On the one hand I'm impressed w/ how dominant it has become in the discourse, on the other... maybe our comparative advantage is creating really sharp symmetric weapons...

Do I understand it correctly that you believe the words "virtue signaling", or at least their frequent use, originates on LW? What is your evidence for this? (Do you have a link to what appears to be the first use?) In my opinion, Robin Hanson is more likely suspect, because he talks about signaling all the time. But I would not be surprised to hear that someone else used that idiom first, maybe decades ago. In other words, is there anything more than "I heard about 'virtue signaling' first on LW"?
bgold's Shortform

I have a cold, which reminded me that I want fashionable face masks to catch on so that I can wear them all the time in cold-and-flu season without accruing weirdness points.

Looks like the Monkey's Paw curled a finger here ...

Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform

I'm interested, and I'd suggest using for this

Hazard's Shortform Feed

I'd like to see someone in this community write an extension / refinement of it to further {need-good-color-name}pill people into the LW memes that the "higher mind" is not fundamentally better than the "animal mind"

Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform

I'd agree w/ the point that giving subordinates plans and the freedom to execute them as best as they can tends to work out better, but that seems to be strongly dependent on other context, in particular the field they're working in (ex. software engineering vs. civil engineering vs. military engineering), cultural norms (ex. is this a place where agile engineering norms have taken hold?), and reward distributions (ex. does experimenting by individuals hold the potential for big rewards, or are all rewards likely to be distributed in a normal fas... (read more)

3Daniel Kokotajlo3y
I agree. I don't think agents will outcompete tools in every domain; indeed in most domains perhaps specialized tools will eventually win (already, we see humans being replaced by expensive specialized machinery, or expensive human specialists, lots of places). But I still think that there will be strong competitive pressure to create agent AGI, because there are many important domains where agency is an advantage.
Conversation on forecasting with Vaniver and Ozzie Gooen

From a 2 min brainstorm of "info products" I'd expect to be action guiding:

  • Metrics and dashboards reflecting the current state of the organization.
  • Vision statements ("what do we as an organization do and thus what things should we consider as part of our strategy")
  • Trusted advisors
  • Market forces (e.g. price's of goods)

One concrete example is from when I worked in a business intelligence role. What executives wanted was extremely trustworthy reliable data sources to track business performance over time. In a software environment ... (read more)

Conversation on forecasting with Vaniver and Ozzie Gooen

This seems true that there's a lot of way to utilize forecasts. In general forecasting tends to have an implicit and unstated connection to the decision making process - I think that has to do w/ the nature of operationalization ("a forecast needs to be on a very specific thing") and because much of the popular literature on forecasting has come from business literature (e.g. How to Measure Anything).

That being said I think action-guidingness is still the correct bar to meet for evaluating the effect it has on the EA community. I would bite ... (read more)

I wonder whether you have any examples, or concrete case studies, of things that were successfully action-guiding to people/organisations? (Beyond forecasts and blog-posts, though those are fine to.)
Quotes from Moral Mazes

This is great, I also had struggled reading Moral Mazes and I appreciate the selected quotes.

For a more readable, modern treatment of the subject I strongly recommend Power: Why Some People Have It - And Others Don't. The author draws heavily from Moral Mazes as well as other case studies.

What is a reasonable outside view for the fate of social movements?

Off the cuff:

  • Temperance movement in the United States
  • Much of the radical left movement from the 60s to the 70s (ex. Students for a Democratic Society -> Weatherman)
  • Georgism
  • The Shakers

Another useful line of inquiry might be factoring out what success for a social movement looks like, find social movements that "succeeded", and see what happened to the social movements they were competing against.

It seems to me that they failed for different reasons.
Oops on Commodity Prices

+1 for noting mistake and for noting the importance of being bold, and asking questions and sharing models even when you're uncertain.

Your use of the Epistemic status tag - which I think /u/gwern pioneered? - seems good for balancing the value of sharing models while preventing polluting the "idea space" with potentially misleading/untrue things.

muflax was the first user I know of that used epistemic status tags.