Civilization & Cooperation

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Mmmm, I attempted to acknowledge this (imo correct) point with the first bit about going from A/BSS to winter drumline or martial arts; I agree it could use more emphasis.

I don't know that it makes the advice substantially less useful; it adds an extra step of picking and choosing but beyond that I'm not seeing a big chunk made less relevant? (Since I already believed/agreed with this point while writing, and yet produced those lists anyway.)

Can you say more? Perhaps about which chunk(s)?

I've got lots and lots of notes but besides a few things randomly shared on FB have not done much in the way of formal organization.

Logan's stuff (findable on the site already linked) looks a lot like Gwern's.

Logan's description of the distinction between tasting and snacking chocolates:

I break chocolates into two categories: "snacking chocolates" and "art chocolates".

The difference between a snacking chocolate and an art chocolate is how additional attention is rewarded.

Art chocolates reward additional attention with more complex experience. If you're not offering a lot of attention, you might experience an art chocolate as sweet, bitter, and pleasant. But if you close your eyes, take your time, and listen with care and openness, all sorts of thoughts and imagined experiences will flood in, building on each other and unfolding over time. When I pay careful attention to an art chocolate and describe the experience, I have to include many details before I feel satisfied with my description, and I have to listen for a long time before I feel I've heard everything it has to say.

Snacking chocolates reward additional attention differently: with immersion in the original experience. If I got "warm lazy sunshine" in the first fifteen seconds, that's exactly what I'll get for the next two minutes. If I pay careful attention, nothing will unfold or develop. I'll sink more deeply into the feeling of "warm lazy sunshine" the whole time.

(And if I got "waxy pavement headache", well, I shouldn't wait around hoping for it to change.)

So which kind is better? That depends on what you want to do with it.

Most mass-produced chocolate—like Dove, Divine, or Tony's—is snacking chocolate. It's often delicious and sometimes complex, but it rarely goes anywhere over time.

It's basically food. It talks in short sentences made of small words to the parts of you that track your security in the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy—the parts that love extra soft beds, jumping into water, and getting a hug. What you're supposed to do with snacking chocolate is eat it. When I'm deciding how "good" a snacking chocolate is, I mostly ask myself how safe and happy I feel while immersed in my experience of eating it.

Art chocolate is basically art. It's also food, but it's food in the same way that a symphony is sound.

It's designed to cause particular emotional experiences. And like any other kind of art, it's not always all that enjoyable, especially in the first few seconds. Several of the most rewarding art chocolates I've tried would be boring and unpleasant compared to Dove if I snacked on them absentmindedly. And some of the interesting, complex experiences they offer are not experiences I like having—I once listened carefully to an art chocolate that I eventually described as, "Walking to class through the snow at 8AM with a bad hangover."

When I'm deciding how "good" an art chocolate is, I mostly ask myself whether the artist took me on a worthwhile ride. So art chocolate is the way to go only if you want to make your phenomenology a canvas for someone else's ideas.

Over the past two or three years, I have tasted approximately 250 high-quality dark chocolates from a wide variety of sources and makers. Logan and I do it as a sort of phenomenological study, mostly for fun but also a little bit for noticing/naturalism practice, really sinking into the experience and taking extensive notes.

I started distilling lists of favorites, and have put on two (of a planned three) "Ultimate tastings" in Berkeley, where I bring a curated preplanned menu of thirteen outstanding top-tier chocolates, and lead a group of ~20 people through it, first introducing the basics of "how to 'do a tasting'" and then doing taste-discuss, taste-discuss.

Logan's guide to chocolate tasting

Well, to be precise, I said a compound thing which included:

(and it's true that when you look out at the world you see a lot of people that seem pretty tribally on one side or the other)

... so I don't think I fully glossed it over. =P

I do agree that there's often a useful intermediate step for escaping the false dichotomy that's something like "do both A and ¬A." And then, once you have experiential data of each, you can see the ways that the A/¬A dichotomy was fake and not helpful.

But also I worry about people seeing sentiments like the one immediately above, and doing a fallacy-of-the-gray thing, and thinking it means something like "precision doesn't matter."

Precision (and similar stuff) does matter! It's just not the enemy of the-thing-being-called-goo.

Er. Not to vanish too far up my own navel, but the place this post lost me was when it implicitly proposed a strict dichotomy between prickles and goo, which seems like an obvious misdirect/misstep/Red Herring.

I think there's a thing where, like, many people have failed to be able to make these two things compatible in their own minds (and it's true that when you look out at the world you see a lot of people that seem pretty tribally on one side or the other), so they think of them as two necessarily separate things.

But this post reinforcing what seems to me to be a false dichotomy was pretty =/.  Like, ending it with "let's focus on especially gooey stuff that especially irritates this prickly crowd" seems counterproductive.

(I clicked through to see your other comments after disagreeing with one.  Generally, I like your comments!)

I think that EA writers and culture are less "lost" than you think, on this axis.  I think that most EA/rationalist/ex-risk-focused people in this subculture would basically agree with you that the knowledge explosion/recursive acceleration of technological development is the core problem, and when they talk about "AI safety" and so forth, they're somewhat shorthanding this.

Like, I think most of the people around here are, in fact, worried about some of the products rolling off the end of the assembly line, but would also pretty much immediately concur with you that the assembly line itself is the root problem, or at least equally important.

I can't actually speak for everybody, of course, but I think you might be docking people more points than you should.

Note: despite the different username, I'm the author of the handbook and a former CFAR staff member.

I disagree with this take as specifically outlined, even though I do think there's a kernel of truth to it.

Mainly, I disagree with it because it presupposes that obviously the important thing to talk about is nuclear weapons!

I suspect that Phil is unaware that the vast majority of both CFAR staff and prolific LWers have indeed 100% passed the real version of his test, which is writing and contributing to the subject of existential risk, especially that from artificial intelligence.

Phil may disagree with the claim that nuclear weapons are something like third on the list, rather than the top item, but that doesn't mean he's right. And CFAR staff certainly clear the bar of "spending a lot of time focusing on what seems to them to be the actually most salient threat."

I agree that if somebody seems to be willfully ignoring a salient threat, they have gaps in their rationality that should give you pause.

Marijuana is not what people intend when they say "psychedelics." For other readers who are confused: these links seem to be about LSD and psilocybin.

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