Epistemic Status: Rant. Very rapidly written and upon reflection uncertain if I fully endorse; Cunningham’s Law says that this is the best way to get good takes quickly.
Rationalists should win. If you have contorted yourself into alternative decision theories that leave you vulnerable to Roko's Basilisk or whatever, and normal CDT or whatever actual humans implement in real life wouldn't leave you vulnerable to stuff like this, then you have failed and you need to go back to trying to be a normal person using normal decision procedures instead of mathing your way into being "forever acausally tortured by a powerful intelligent robot.
If the average Joe on the street would not succumb to their mind being hacked by Eliezer Yudkowsky, or hell, by a late 2022 chatbot, and you potentially would (by virtue of being a part of the reference class of LessWrong users or whatever)—then you have failed and it is not obvious you can make an expected positive contribution to the field of AI risk reduction at all without becoming far more, for lack of a better word, normal. I don’t understand how people think that spending your time working on increasingly elaborate pseudophilosophical things that they then call “AI alignment” works if they are also the type of people who are highly vulnerable to getting mindhacked by ChatGPT—perhaps this is a bucket error or I’m attacking a strawman? I don’t think Eliezer or Nate or whatever would fall to this failure mode but in general the more philosophical parts of alignment to me feel worrying (and specifically I mean the MIRI-CFAR-sphere, although again maybe worried about attacking a strawman), because the potential negatives of “having people close to alignment solutions be unusually vulnerable to being hacked by AI.”
Yeah, this is basically the thing I'm terrified about. If someone has been convinced of AI risk with arguments which do not track truth, then I find it incredibly hard to believe that they'd ever be able to contribute useful alignment research, not to mention the general fact that if you recruit using techniques that select for people with bad epistemics you will end up with a community with shitty epistemics and wonder what went wrong.
Cool, I feel a lot more comfortable with your elaboration; thank you!
I feel pretty scared by the tone and implication of this comment. I'm extremely worried about selecting our arguments here for truth instead of for convincingness, and mentioning a type of propaganda and then talking about how we should use it to make people listen to our arguments feels incredibly symmetric. If the strength our arguments for why AI risk is real do not hinge on whether or not those arguments are centrally true, we should burn them with fire.
FWIW, for most people who are smart enough to get into MIT, it's reasonably trivial to get good grades in high school (I went to an unusually difficult high school, took the hardest possible courseload, and was able to shunt this to <5 hours of Actual Work a week / spent most of my class time doing more useful things).
Most people are disconnected from reality, most of the time. This is most noticeable to me when it manifests itself in scope insensitivity, but it appears in other ways too. In this case, you choosing to spend two hours walking to save costs is not a “keep in touch with reality” measure, it is a “lsusr is wasting his time” measure. Two hours of your time could be spent on things that really matter to you. Don’t quit Robotics Club if you like Robotics Club, but recognize that you do it for fuzzies and not for utils.
The average person in a developed country is probably net-neutral or even slightly net-positive to humans as a whole. I agree with you that evil happens when you are separated from the pain you inflict on other people. But your opportunity costs are real actual costs too. If you make decisions (like quitting a project) that affect lots of people because you’re constrained on not having enough hours in a day, and then waste some of the hours in a day that you do have on a misguided idea of “staying in touch with reality,” you have failed to stay in touch with reality.
Still, I think parts of your core message are really important. Evil does happen when you separate yourself from the pain you inflict, because it’s very easy to abstract it away. This is how child slavery and other moral atrocities continue. Also, it’s actually important to stay in touch with reality and not become the “longtermist Chad” or something. You stay in touch with reality by being careful about the decisions you make, being cognizant of what you’re giving up and trading off against, and yes, by being willing to be the boots on the ground whenever it’s needed. But you gain no points by doing it when it’s not, when it’s actively harmful, when your time is limited and you have more valuable things to do.
Continuing the metaphor, what the authors are saying looks to some extent similar to stochastic gradient descent (which would be the real way you minimize the distance to finish in the maze analogy.)
The concept of "world war" doesn't need to mean "most of the world's population is involved in this war," not when nuclear weapons are at stake. A nuclear exchange between NATO and Russia is world-shifting in a way that a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India is not. Calling nuclear war between major Western powers (which will almost certainly have devastating economic and physical effects on the entire world) a "world war" seems perfectly reasonable at that point, even if most of the world is not directly involved.
Every submission must be a 26-letter combination of random lowercase letters with no spaces. The entry that is closest to a randomly generated submission wins.
This list is quite good - https://mecfsroadmap.altervista.org/ Feel free to DM me if you want to chat more.