Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions


Narrative Syncing

Yes, such sentences are a thing. Kendall Walton calls them "principles of generation" because, according to his analysis, they generate fictional truths (see his Mimesis as Make-Believe). Pointing at the sand and shouting "There is lava there!" we have said something fictionally true, in virtue of the game rule pronounced earlier.  "Narrative syncing" sounds like a broader set of practices that generate and sustain such truths – I like it! (I must say "principles of generation" is a bit clunky anyway – but it's also more specific. Maybe "rule decreeing utterances" would be better?).

Anyway, I could imagine naturally extending this analysis beyond make-believe games to etiquette. The principles of generation here would be generating truths of etiquette. 

And then, if you like, you could follow a (small) minority of philosophers in claiming that morality is constructed of such etiquette truths! See e.g.:
Foot, P., 1972. Morality as a system of Hypothetical Imperatives
Joyce, R., 2001. The Myth of Morality
Kalderon, M. E., 2005. Moral Fictionalism

Morality is Scary

I don't follow the reasoning. How do you get from "most people's moral behaviour is explainable in terms of them 'playing' a status game" to "solving (some versions of) the alignment problem probably won't be enough to ensure a future that's free from astronomical waste or astronomical suffering"?

More specifics:
Regarding the quote from The Status Game: I have not read the book, so I'm not sure what the intended message is but this sounds like some sort of unwarranted pessimism about ppl's moral standing (something like a claim like "the vast majority of ppl are morally ugly in this way"). There is all the difference between being able to explain most ppl's behaviour in terms of "playing a status game" (in some sense of the word "playing"), and claiming that most ppl's conscious motivation to act morally is to win at the status game. The latter claim could plausibly warrant the pessimism; the former, not. But I don't see an argument for the latter. Why is the former claim not evidence for ugliness? For the same reason that the claim "a mother's love for their child is genetically 'hard-wired'" is not evidence that a mother's love for their child is ugly (or fake, not genuine etc). Explaining the underlying causal mechanisms of a given moral behaviour is not (in general) enough to warrant a given moral judgment. (If instead the book is arguing for some sort of meta-ethical anti-realism, well, then the discussion needs to be much longer...)

Regarding your fear about morality: is the worry that if we just aggregated everyone's values we would get a lock-in to some sort of "ugly" status game? Again, we need more details on how it would implemented before we could judge whether it would ugly (or something to be scared of). But also, why are we assuming some sort of aggregation of first-order human value preferences (no matter the method of aggregation)? Assuming we're talking about AGI (and not CAIS), I always thought it strange to think we need to make sure it shares our own idealized preferences, as opposed to merely the preferences we would hope for in say, a benevolent god or something. I don't see any a priori reason to believe that the preferences/goals of a benevolent shepherd are likely to be shared with/or strongly aligned with those of the shepherd's flock (not matter how you aggregate the preferences/goals of the flock). (I suppose it depends on the nature of the species we're talking about, but whether it's sheep or humans, I maintain my skepticism). In any case, I agree with you that a lot more meta-ethics needs to be discussed in the alignment research community.

How dath ilan coordinates around solving alignment

I'm not down or upvoting, but I will say, I hope you're not taking this exercise too seriously...

Are we really going to analyze one person's fiction (even if rationalist, it's still fiction), in an attempt to gain insight into this one person's attempt to model an entire society and its market predictions – and all of this in order to try and better judge the probability of certain futures under a number of counterfactual assumptions? Could be fun, but I wouldn't give its results much credence.

Don't forget Yudkowsky's own advice about not generalizing from fictional evidence and being wary of anchoring. If I had to guess, some of his use of fiction is just an attempt to provide alternative framings and anchors to those thrust on us by popular media (more mainstream TV shows, movies etc). That doesn't mean we should hang on his every word though.