Lukas, I wish you had a bigger role in this community.
I've kept fairly up to date on progress in neural nets, less so in reinforcement learning, and I certainly agree at how limited things are now.
What if protecting against the threat of ASI requires huge worldwide political/social progress? That could take generations.
Not an example of that (which I haven't tried to think of), but the scenario that concerns me the most, so far, is not that some researchers will inadvertently unleash a dangerous ASI while racing to be the first, but rather that a dangerous ASI will be unleashed during an arms race between (a) states or criminal organizations intentionally developing a dangerous ASI, and (b) researchers working on ASI-powered defences to protect us against (a).
He might be willing to talk off the record. I'll ask. Have you had Darklight on? See http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/oul/openai_makes_humanity_less_safe/dqm8
If my own experience and the experiences of the people I know is indicative of the norm, then thinking about ethics, the horror that is the world at large, etc, tends to encourage depression. And depression, as you've realized yourself, is bad for doing good (but perhaps good for not doing bad?). I'm still working on it myself (with the help of a strong dose of antidepressants, regular exercise, consistently good sleep, etc). Glad to hear you are on the path to finding a better balance.
For Bostrom's simulation argument to conclude the disjunction of the two interesting propositions (our doom, or we're sims), you need to assume there are simulation runners who are motivated to do very large numbers of ancestor simulations. The simulation runners would be ultrapowerful, probably rich, amoral history/anthropology nerds, because all the other ultrapowerful amoral beings have more interesting things to occupy themselves with. If it's a set-it-and-forget-it simulation, that might be plausible. If the simulation requires monitoring and manual intervention, I think it's very implausible.
If my anecdotal evidence is indicative of reality, the attitude in the ML community is that people concerned about superhuman AI should not even be engaged with seriously. Hopefully that, at least, will change soon.
I'm not sure either. I'm reassured that there seems to be some move away from public geekiness, like using the word "singularity", but I suspect that should go further, e.g. replace the paperclip maximizer with something less silly (even though, to me, it's an adequate illustration). I suspect getting some famous "cool"/sexy non-scientist people on board would help; I keep coming back to Jon Hamm (who, judging from his cameos on great comedy shows, and his role in the harrowing Black Mirror episode, has plenty of nerd inside).
heh, I suppose he would agree
A guy I know, who works in one of the top ML groups, is literally less worried about superintelligence than he is about getting murdered by rationalists. That's an extreme POV. Most researchers in ML simply think that people who worry about superintelligence are uneducated cranks addled by sci fi.
I hope everyone is aware of that perception problem.