All of emanuele ascani's Comments + Replies

Thanks a lot for writing this. 

These disagreements mainly concern the relative power of future AIs, the polarity of takeoff, takeoff speed, and, in general, the shape of future AIs. Do you also have detailed disagreements about the difficulty of alignment? If anything, the fact that the future unfolds differently in your view should impact future alignment efforts (but you also might have other considerations informing your view on alignment).

You partially answer this in the last point, saying: "But, equally, one could view these theses pess... (read more)

Part of what makes it difficult for me to talk about alignment difficultly is that the concept doesn’t fit easily into my paradigm of thinking about the future of AI. If I am correct, for example, that AI services will be modular, marginally more powerful than what comes before, and numerous as opposed to monolithic, then there will not be one alignment problem, but many.

I could talk about potential AI safety principles, healthy cultural norms, and specific engineering issues, but not “a problem” called “aligning the AI” — a soft prerequisite for explainin... (read more)

I think this would be on-topic for the EA Forum too!

The audio is very appreciated, I ended up listening instead of reading. 

Quote from Second Comment: "In his first TED talk in 2005 Aubrey's message was that we have 90% chance for robust mouse rejuvenation in 10 years if $100 million per year would be invested philanthropically. We're now in 2021, 16 years from his talk, funding overall is much greater than $100 million per year, although it's not just philanthropic.


"Although it's not just philanthropic". 

You can't say that Aubrey de Grey's prediction is wrong by invalidating a piece of the antecedent in the implication. Also: he meant $100M to SENS. Currently, SENS ... (read more)

I'm disappointed by the downvotes and by the answers. I don't see any problem with this question, and the concept it points at is useful to think about.

This is utterly deranged and I'm not sure if it was meant as a joke or not, but fuck I enjoyed it, and holy shit that WebMD link is absolutely crazy. Thanks for posting.

In all seriousness: I suspect we should explore such crazy ideas at least intellectually, just because we never know where the mind could turn after having considered them.

pick every company in proportion to their market cap

I didn't know this, now it makes much more sense, thank you.

Yes, right, so to continue this line of thought: since more diversified means less risk, Gwern would want to buy VTSAX if he needs to spend that money in a relatively short time horizon. If this isn't the reason, though, from what I gathered from a personal finance book I read years ago, funds tracking S&P500 always outperformed funds tracking the entire U.S. equity market over long periods (is this actually true?). So I was curious about why Gwern made such a choice in case the reason I hypothesized (he is investing money he potentially needs shorter-term) was wrong and there are actually good reasons to buy funds tracking the total US equity market even when saving long term. 

This discussion is mostly irrelevant in practice, since the two funds track each other extremely well.  Even if it's true that the S&P500 has beaten the overall market in the past, I doubt it's statistically significant. Theoretically I can't imagine a good reason why the optimal investment answer would be "pick roughly the top 500 companies, but not exactly those, but something like that picked by a committee of people you don't know, in proportion to their market cap." VTSAX just seems simpler as it tries to approximate "pick every company in proportion to their market cap." This is also what the one mutual fund theorem in portfolio theory says one should do (if one limits oneself to US stocks only), so it has solid theoretical basis, unlike the S&P500. 
I haven't heard that claim before. My understanding was that such a claim would be improbable or cherrypicking of some sort, as a priori risk-adjusted etc returns should be similar or identical but by deliberately narrowing your index, you do predictably lose the benefits of diversification. So all else equal (such as fees and accessibility of making the investment), you want the broadest possible index.
4Matthew Barnett3y
You can't buy the S&P 500, at least not directly. Instead, you can buy funds that try to match the performance of the S&P 500 (while charging a small fee), like VFNIX and VOO. VTSAX by contrast, doesn't track the S&P 500, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. From the Vanguard website, In other words, it's more diversified than an S&P 500 fund.

Once you have dealt with signaling, one other huge problem remains. I have met just one person IRL who actually invests (my brother). Everyone else isn't aware safe investment options exist and they just put everything in the bank account. 

Also, in my experience, middle-aged and older people tend to downplay their wealth and not brag about it (why? Not entirely sure). Younger people instead seem more braggy... but most young people aren't very wealthy. This is just my experience though. I wonder if it is actually common.

3Matthew Barnett3y
I think a lot of people have made the observation that old people care less about status than young people. I'm not sure why that might be, but I could come up with some possible evolutionary explanations. My general hypothesis would probably be something like, young people have much more to lose by being low status. They want to get a promising career and have the best romantic partner. For old people, the stakes are lower.

Another angle to view this is "coming up with ideas is compulsory if you want to optimize literally everything". Bonus: when you practice holding off proposing solutions, ideas are usually better. 

True. Thanks for the good tip. I might actually implement it now that the weather and temperature are nicer.

Italy. House of 5 people. A city with around 1k cases per day for a few months. One person goes to school, sees friends, invites friends into the house. Another travels abroad or inside the country for a few days every 10 days or so and doesn't always get tested when returning. When he is in the house he also invites his girlfriend, eats out, sees friends, etc. In the microcovid test site I put 5 ppl house with 10 close contacts for lack of better options. Sounds reasonable?

Edit: Italy's vaccination rate sucks. Not gonna see a vaccine for me or anyone in the house with risky behavior till 2022

Ah... "always remain in the house" is not the right way to think about your options here. Your roommates are apparently acting about like the broader populace, and therefore have exposure rates about like the broader populace. If you want to have lower exposure rates than that, then the thing-you-need-to-do is not to always remain in the house, but rather to avoid significant exposure to your roommates.

Indeed, spending more time outside the house might be a good strategy.

My risk should be from 19% to 82% probability in the next six months. This, if I always remain in the house. In order to avoid that, I should put my life on hold and get a full-time job I dislike. And people call me exaggerated and crazy both IRL and online. Long-term consequences of Covid are what worry me the most. Idk how to deal with this tbh. Genuinely asking. 


Where do you live? At least in the US, I would find these numbers implausible. 19-82% is the background chance for a random person in the US, taking completely typical measures, to have had COVID. That definitely does not look like always remaining in the house.

Berkeley people have it good. At least they are doing this together. Imagine being a Berkeley person at heart and being in a completely anti-Berkeley environment. 

I mean, the result I would hope for in such a situation is that social pressure would accelerate the probably-true realization that this level of paranoia simply does not make sense.

I thought lvl 10 wasn't about that anymore, but you may be right

Level 10's more ground-level explanation should be something like "If I say "There's not a lion across the river." I'm getting downvoted and if I say "There's a lion across the river" I'm getting upvoted?"

I'm trying to not use the expression "trying to mind control you". But stated this way it's not that different from lvl 3. Maybe lvl 10 is lvl 3 + an explicit selection mechanism such as upvotes or downvotes. But one could argue that such incentives exist regardless of how explicit they are.

In level 3 you are signaling that you belong to a certain group. In raising awareness you are trying to get other people to do things. 

Thanks for your service, Mingyuan. 10/10.

Does the fact that Alcor is co-owner create difficulties if you want to change cryonics provider at some point? Example: new tech (e.g. aldehyde stabilized cryopreservation) gets offered somewhere else but not at Alcor, so you want to change.

It shouldn't be a problem due to Alcor's buy-back agreement (essentially Alcor agrees to relinquish control of any insurance policy within a month of your written request).

Nvm, I received confirmation and the answer was yes :)

Thank you for looking into that! I couldn't figure out the answer just by looking at the site.

From the Alcor Associate Member page:

To become an Associate Member use our Associate Membership Form to send a check, money order, or credit card information ($5 per month or $60 per year) to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, 7895 E. Acoma Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260, or call Marji Klima at (480) 905-1906 ext. 101 with your credit card information.

Or you can pay online via PayPal using the Join button below (quarterly option is not available this way). Please note that this will set up automatic recurring charges of either $5 per month or $60

... (read more)
1emanuele ascani3y
Nvm, I received confirmation and the answer was yes :)

I dont't know actually (for both questions). And I'm not sure how many billionaires like this there are.

The thing that's very unclear to me is why SENS has so little funding if that's framework is now consensus

Because they choose the most neglected (long-term/difficult/high-risk high-reward) projects within the Hallmark framework (I talked extensively about this in my posts if you want to take a peek).

Why wouldn't billionaires (outside of Thiel and Greeves) that donate money for improving health outcomes want to fund long-term/difficult/high-risk high-reward projects? Do you know whether SENS request a grant from OpenPhil?

This reminds me of the sentiment Eliezer expresses here:

When someone politely presents themselves with a careful argument, does your cultural software tell you that you're supposed to listen and make a careful response, or make fun of the other person and then laugh about how they're upset? What about when your own brain tries to generate a careful argument? Does your cultural milieu give you any examples of people showing how to really care deeply about something (i.e. debate consequences of paths and hew hard to the best one), or is everything you

... (read more)

I really really love this initiative. Reading LW in book form is just better for me. Online I get distracted and I read stuff as procrastination instead of deliberate effort. I've read the first two books of the sequences and HPMOR on Kindle and the experience is not even comparable with reading with a browser.

That's great to hear! I've spent many hours with beta versions of these books, and there really is a calm, presence and deliberateness that is hard to get on a laptop or phone. 

My posts here are basically all evaluations or considerations useful for cost-effectiveness evaluations. They are crossposted from the EA Forum. The most interesting ones for your purpose are probably: 

- A general framework for evaluating aging research. Part 1: reasoning with Longevity Escape Velocity
- Why SENS makes sense
- Evaluating Life Extension Advocacy Foundation

I don't know if this has already been discussed, but why the daily deaths in every European country are 1/10th or less of lockdown levels but daily cases are two or three times higher? In the rest of the world daily deaths still seem to follow daily cases but in the US and Japan (to a lesser extent), in which daily deaths are about half of what they were in May (which is still not as extreme as Europe). I may be unaware of other countries in which this is the case.

I think your point was valid though, I changed the title to be less strong

This is an interesting comment, I think you bring up good points.

One reason why I didn't focus much on crowdfunding is that the money that goes in there is not really LEAF's, and it's just one among many focuses they have. If an EA decides to give money to LEAF (through the recurring campaign, or through a grant, for example) that money will probably not go to a crowdfunding campaign, and would probably not make much of an impact on how they decide who to crowdfund. It would go to their other projects. When donating to a campaign you donate to the specific... (read more)

In the past, I've donated to them and supported them in Project4Awesome, but I'm not inside the org. Basically, this is a post trying to evaluate it from an EA standpoint, in a similar way I did for SENS. Their budget should be the recurring campaign and single donations (which I don't expect to be much), the interview should probably make it clearer I hope.

Edit: the post is probably not very on topic for LW, but since I crossposted my analysis of aging research from an EA standpoint I wanted to put this here too for completeness.

I searched if there was a funny cat video called "what do you mean, Fetch?" and I found this. (Not that it was necessary for meaning though - sorry if this is noise).

Yes, I would find out, but later.

I'm inclined to think that if junk media (social media, news) were only useful for news, completely disregarding them would be probably the best action. Considering every other use though, I'm inclined to think the optimal is being able to reach a compromise of 20m per day maximum, although I'm not sure if it is possible without getting addicted. If it isn't it just might be best to get away, but I'm unsure.

There haven't been historical events that prompted me to react earlier than everyone else for now (not even covid, my city has never been the center of a big enough outbreak and I just abided to the lockdown rules. I can imagine that an earlier reaction could have been better if I lived in another country/city). The historical events that are important to react early to are probably the ones that would put me/my family/everyone else around in relatively sudden danger: war, political instability, coups, dangerous diseases, and probably other stuff. Things that happened just a handful of times in now developed countries during the twentieth century (maybe they won't happen again, but...).

So you can't step away from media because you might miss some historical event that you have to react quickly too, but that's never happened? Do you think that you would find out about war, political instability, coups, dangerous diseases even if you didn't have access to any kind of media?

I wouldn't have been this nervous 5 years ago, but it seems to me that the world is socially evolving faster now, and I think it's possible not to react fast enough on a historical event. But maybe I just have become more anxious? One other thing is: many times my life changed due to great fucking information I found while farting around the Internet, but at the same time this comes with all the drawbacks Isusr rightly identified. There is also the feeling that I have witnessed society and even art evolve by staying consistently online, and stopping feels like jumping out of a train. I'm not sure how I should act.

Can you tell me how you identify what is are historical events vs just noise? How did you react to them and what would have been different if you reacted to said historical event a few days later?

Did you discover COVID-19 earlier just due to keeping up with papers?

Not at all. I got early reports from my family. When I heard China was quarantining 10 million people in Wuhan it was obvious to me the disease could become a global pandemic.

Do you keep up with news of any kind? If so, how? Don't you have fear of missing out something important which you should act upon (both good news or bad news or not even news but simply information)? Not necessarily politics or general news of course.

News is a feed of exceptional events. Important news is called "history" and is impossible to ignore. Unimportant news is called "noise" and should be tuned out. Almost all news is a waste of time due to the Lindy effect alone. Even worse, most news is subsidized by whoever wrote the press release, usually corporate or political interests. Have you ever read The Economist or Ars Technica and tried to guess what special interest group inserted each article into the publication? When these backers are corporations and political propaganda machines I find following the news makes me stupider because it draws my attention to the wrong things. While surfing news is forbidden, I do allow myself to look up specific information if I have a question I want answered. For example, I have been following COVID-19 since 2019, long before it became big news in the West. I was way ahead of the mainstream news when it came to the single most important story this year. When this virus hit the USA I acted upon it immediately. I decide for myself what information is important to follow and then I go look it up.
Not OP, but I'd be curious what important thing he should act on but miss because of this plan.

Comply's foam tips: they replace the more common tips for in-ear earphones and isolate you from the outside world much more than noise canceling. It's basically having earphones + earplugs, thanks to the foam. If you live in a noisy environment they may radically change your life for the better. You need to learn the correct procedure to fit them properly (it's easy, you can find videos on how to do it for earplugs. It is the same procedure). I recommend them for watching movies or reading/studying while listening to nature sounds.

A gaming c... (read more)

I really like this post. I think it is probably also relevant from an Effective Altruism standpoint (you identify a tractable and neglected approach which might have a big impact). I think you should probably crosspost this on the EA Forum, and think about if your other articles on the topic are apt to be published there. What do you think?

If you read my profile both here and on the EA Forum you'll find a lot of articles in which I'm trying to evaluate aging research. I'm making this suggestion because I think you are adding useful pieces.

Thanks, this is a great suggestion I hadn't thought of. I'll probably do it.

Absolutely no one had thought of that in the YouTube comment section under his interview with JRE

He would probably say that he doesn't care (he works for others, not for himself) and that alchool doesn't affect him, since people already kind of noted this and the answers were these. But tbh, this whole thing is not that interesting to me, and I would classify it as weak evidence for what he belives or not. Usually it is mainly gossip.

Wow, ok, thank you. This is useful information. I didn't take your ADHD/ADD hypothesis seriously to be honest, but now that you specify the nature of the test to diagnose it, it makes much more sense. I will research more and get tested.

No, my experience is the gameplays I have seen. From what I've seen it seems very easy to communicate (via voice chat) and interact with environments, which are also very customizable. I don't know anything beyond this.

Have you used it, and have experiences to report?

Thank you, I think I will try to pay attention if some "flickering" happens. It is a possibility.

I think you're missing the point. You can't "pay attention" to this flickering, because it occurs below the level of conscious thought. It manifests as missed cues, "stupid errors", and other seemingly unrelated phenomena. The reason I bring up ADD specifically is because one of the standard tests for it is to have the person being diagnosed sit in front of a computer and perform a routine task (like hit a button whenever a particular number pops up). The error rate is then compared to a baseline. If the error rate is significantly outside the "normal" variation, then it's a pretty clear warning sign that the person has ADD. I'm not a psychologist, and your description is obviously not enough to make a diagnosis, but your description of the way you make errors stood out to me, and that's why I suggested getting tested.

It's uncanny how sometimes we all arrive at the same conclusions privately

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Regarding "If a survey is performed, most people in the United States will say that curing aging is undesirable. 85%". One similar survey has already been done. The result depends if you specify that an unlimited lifespan would be in health and not in increasing frailty. If you do, > 40% of respondents opt for unlimited lifespan, otherwise 1%.

Would it be possible and cost-effective to release video courses at a much lower cost?

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I know this conversation is very old and Holden has matured his outlook on the subject (see Open Philanthropy's grants to aging research, and Open Philanthropy's analysis of aging research, although still dismissive of SENS), but I still want to point out what I think were the mistakes he made here.

Holden didn't seem to get how different in scope the SENS' plan is from the kind of research that a single brilliant researcher can bring forward in the traditional way. SENS needs a plethora of different therapies that would require an enti... (read more)

About life extension see SENS Research Foundation as an example of specific org very focused on the moonshot, if you don't already know it.

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