Wiki Contributions


Distinguishing AI takeover scenarios

The focus on categorizing negative outcomes seems to obscure a lot of relevant detail. If you broaden the view to include things from non-takeover to peaceful cooperation, it would probably be evident that the boundaries are soft and scenarios near the edge aren't as definitely bad as this makes them appear. I think we might learn more about possible coexistence and how thing might turn out well if we spend less time focused on imagined disasters.

First I'd point out that scenarios like Drexler's "Reframing Superintelligence" aren't that far from the *Flash Economy* scenario, and there's probably a gradual blend across the boundary. My current thinking is similar to that, though I characterize it as AIs participating in an economy, which includes competition and cooperation. You get ahead in an economy by providing services that others are willing to pay for. If you do that for very long, you are incentivized to learn that cooperation (filling a need) is the way to garner resources that give you the ability to get more done.

Second I'd point out that there are many voices currently arguing that the largest companies of today (FANG, often) have too much power and are monopolizing societies' resources. I'd just like to contrast that with the same arguments made in earlier eras about IBM, Microsoft, AT&T, Standard Oil, big Hollywood, the railroad trusts, the A&P stores, and many others. If you have the right viewpoint, you can look at an economy where someone is earning more money than you think is just, and believe that they're going to own the world in another year if nothing is done to stop them. It's usually competition and innovation that keeps this from happening and not government or other concerted action. 

D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan

typo: serious => series in the second sentence

Lafayette: empty traffic signals

I think the crux is right-of-way. Boats and ships have elaborate rules that always establish a right-of-way that can be clearly established after the fact, so all pilots and captains adhere their behavior to their expectations about the rules. The other thing about navigation on water is that in a close encounter the boat with the right-of-way is required to follow through so the other parties can predict what they can do. This is also not true on the road, leading to the phenomenon of drivers "politely" waving you to go out of turn.


The rules of the road aren't nearly as clear. (for instance, when they give the right of way to the car that arrived earlier at an intersection, that's not decidable after the fact). 

The role of traffic lights is ensconced in the law, so pressing the button causes the lights to change, and the lights impact who has the right of way. It doesn't matter what the light thinks as long as the light changes.

Of course, I also remind myself at crosswalks that having the right-of-way is insufficient defense in an encounter between a pedestrian and a car.

Causes of a Debt Crisis—Economic

This puts things in a substantially different light than popular explanations of bubbles caused by “greed” or popping from “fear”. There is something to those too: the subprime mortgages of ‘08 were in fact greedy, bad decisions; the private wealth-hoarding after recessions can in fact delay recovery. But we can have the understanding that the economy will have some cyclical nature from these feedback loops no matter what, and ask the question: how stable could it be aside from this?

Treating greed as something that grows and shrinks over time and has a causative effect is a really bad model. It's much more useful to think as greed as a renewable resource that takes advantage of opportunities when the incentives are strong and feedback loops are weak. The subprime mortgage crisis had examples of both. The CRA and congressional interference gave banks incentives to issue more loans with weaker underwriting standards. The "greedy" borrowers were taking advantage of a situation where they could more easily get a loan than at other times. Borrowers always have a higher estimate of their ability to repay than the banks do; it is the banks responsibility to draw a line somewhere.

Anatomy, diseases and aging damage

This is orthogonal to your point, but you're conflating two different descriptions of the mechanisms of aging when you attribute "7 hallmarks of aging" to Aubrey de Grey.  Aubrey talks about seven distinct forms of damage that result from metabolic activity. There's a separate discussion that addresses 9 hallmarks, though that is less attributable to any single researcher. The framework has been adopted by the NIH, AFAR, and extensively discussed in Sinclair's book Lifespan.  

There's a fair amount of overlap between the two, but they're distinct frameworks. de Grey's theory talks about 7 distinct types of cellular damage that might be mitigated by separate interventions. (e.g. "mitochondrial mutations" by outsourcing the production of proteins, "extracellular linkages" by AGE breakers). The 9 Hallmarks approach identifies vaguer clouds of disfunction, only some of which are amenable to direct intervention. (e.g. "epigenetic alterations", "loss of proteostasis", "deregulated nutrient sensing").

Bayeswatch 5: Hivemind

Typo watch:

Collectivization is so safe that days people with epilepsy often cure themselves by joining a collective.

should be 

Collectivization is so safe that these days people with epilepsy often cure themselves by joining a collective.

"two" should be "to".

D&D.Sci May 2021: Monster Carcass Auction

I didn't get around to this until 5/15, so the answers had been revealed, but I didn't peek. I made a simple  spread sheet so I could look at all the cases by species and age. 

My bids were

1: 60,  2: 21, 3:25,  4:30,  5:47,  6:30,   7:25,  8: 18, 9:24,   10:22, 11:20, 12:19,  13: 27

MY results were:

You net a profit of 71sp

(The Expected Value of your strategy was 68sp)

Placebo effect report: chiropractic adjustment

I don't believe in chiropractic either, but I go occasionally when I have pains that conventional treatments don't help. It has probably been 20 years since my last visit, but I'd guess there have been 5-10 occasions when I went for 1 or a few sessions. Sometimes things got better faster than I expected, other times it took as long as I expected doing nothing would. 

*The placebo effect is an effect.* There's no reason to refuse to take advantage of it when other things don't seem to be working. The big benefit of the placebo effect is that it has few deleterious side effects, so it doesn't hurt to make use of it, while some drugs aren't nearly as safe.

Yet another world spirit sock puppet

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Be secretly wrong

I'm all about epistemology. (my blog is at But in order to engage in or start a conversation, it's important to take one of the things you place credence in and advocate for it. If you're wishy-washy, in many circumstances, people won't actually engage with your hypothesis, so you won't learn anything about it. Take a stand, even if you're on slippery ground.

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