Dennis Towne

Wiki Contributions


I very much believe aligned AGI isn't going to just solve our problems overnight.  It would have to be on the absolute far end of capability for that, IMO.  Less-than-arbitrarily-powerful AGI is going to take time (years to decades) to figure out enough about biology to upload/fix our organic hardware while keeping us intact. Even for me, with my rather lax requirements about continuity (not required) and lax requirements of hardware platform (any), I expect it to take years if not decades.

Humans, barring extinction, will eventually solve aging.  My best guess at the moment is that we'll hit longevity escape velocity around 2050; this is really inconvenient for me, because I am already old. My odds of dying due to organic hardware platform failure are IMO higher than my odds of dying from AGI ruin in that time.

So from my standpoint, investing in platform maintenance (a healthy lifestyle) makes sense.  Platform failure is a substantial chunk of my probability space, and I'm old enough that there are qualify of life benefits to be had as well.

If you're only 20, AGI ruin will probably be a larger part of your probability space than platform failure. YMMV.

Unfortunately, political topics are like radiation, and pollute nearby ground as well.  Peterson is radioactive in this regard, and using him as an example means your article is radioactive as well.

Analysis of a less radioactive expert may have been a better idea - perhaps someone like Peter Attia (I think he's less radioactive?)

I'm a tech worker.  I work 40-70 hours a week, depending on incident load.  Nobody I work with or see on a regular basis works less than 40 hours a week, and some are substantially more than that.

My most cognitively productive hours are the four hours in the morning, but there's plenty of lower effort important organizational stuff to fill out the afternoons.  I think a good fraction of my coworkers are like me and don't actually need the job anymore, but we still put forth effort.

I think one of the major missing pieces of your article is "social status pressure".  Most people play the status game; they struggle to get ahead of their neighbors, even if it doesn't make any sense. They work extra hours to afford that struggle.  They demand more than the base necessities and comfort, because that's how you signal status.  It's pointless and stupid, but IMO one of the biggest issues.

As a reductionist, I view the universe as nothing more than particles/forces/quantum fields/static event graph.  Everything that is or was comes from simple rules down at the bottom.  I agree with Eliezer regarding many-worlds versus copenhagen.

With this as my frame of reference, Searle's argument is trivially bogus, as every person (including myself) is obviously a Chinese Room.  If a person can be considered 'conscious', then so can some running algorithm on a Turing machine of sufficient size.  If no Turing machine program exists that can be considered conscious when run, then people aren't conscious either.

I've never needed more than this, and I find the Chinese Room argument to be one of those areas where philosophy is an unambiguously 'diseased discipline'.

I think it would be neat to see what other versions of this look like, and possibly have an archive of these somewhere.  The question set is great.

I think you might be missing something more obvious here: tech has a huge amount of slack when it comes to money.  If I were running a tech event of similar size to what you described, I wouldn't bother charging, because it would be a waste of my time.  When you make half a million dollars a year, funding something like that yourself basically comes out of your fun budget; you don't really even think twice about it.

Yoga and new age groups though?  Not nearly as flush with cash.

Yes, the naive version of this is bad; but the point of a change like this isn't that the immediate downstream effects are bad.  The point is that the system as a whole is a giant adaptive object, and a critical part of the control loop is open.  Closing the control loop has far, far more impact than just the naive version.

Consider cause and effect down the timeline:

  • Students are allowed to default, and start defaulting.
  • Loan companies change behavior, both to work with existing loan holders (so they don't default) and be more selective about who they give loans to.
  • Loans become more likely for careers / degrees which have the ability to make money (STEM and friends), less likely for other degrees.
  • Number of students, and amount of money coming in to universities, drops.
  • Universities actually experience price pressure.  They start cost cutting and dropping less useful things, and start shifting resources to degree programs with the most students.
  • Cost of a university degree slowly drops over time due to reduced demand and reduced funding.
  • Over time, there are broader societal shifts to deemphasize the idea that "everyone needs a degree".  Trade and other schools gain more prominence.
  • Universities start experiencing increased competitive pressure with trade schools.

... and other effects.  Also, this is iterative - all of these components take time to respond and adjust to the new equilibrium, after which they will need to re-adapt.

Yes, it's not a perfect solution, and yes, there's definitely the concern that poor / disadvantaged students will have more trouble getting loans.  But compensating somewhat for this would be the price drop, additional emphasis on trade schools, and deemphasis on needing a degree for any and all jobs.

Another expected objection might be, "with all these possible changes, how do we know this will be better?"  To that I would answer:  because we know the system is at least partially broken because the control loop on it is open.  Any adaptive system with an open control loop is going to produce garbage; the first most obvious thing to do is to fix that.

For years now, it has seemed to me that one of the root problems with all this is that the control loop is open:  there's effectively no feedback controlling loan amounts or who gets granted a loan.

If I could make only one single change in this system, I would allow student loans to be discharged like any other normal debt in bankruptcy.  IMO, that was the single biggest class of mistake in this entire affair, as it removed the only 'last resort' superpower that loan takers had.

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