That's a fair point. I should elaborate on the concept of stagnation, to avoid giving people the wrong impression about it.
Stagnation is the fundamental liability defined by predictable limitations on people's motivations.
Like the other liabilities, stagnation is also an intrinsic aspect of conscious existence as we know it. Predictable motivations are what allow us to have identity, as individuals and as groups. Identity and stagnation are two sides of the same coin--stagnation is just what we call it when it interferes wit... (read more)
I appreciate your questions and will do my best to clarify.
The values from the section you quoted pertain to civilization as a whole. You are correct that individual motivations/desires/ambitions require other concepts to describe them (see below). I apologize for not making that clear. The "universal values" are instrumental values in a sense, because they describe a civilization in which individuals are more able to pursue their own personal motivations (the terminal values, more or less) without getting stuck.
In other wor... (read more)
Ah, that's where the anti-zombie shibboleths come in handy. People who are afraid of zombies "know" that zombies can't understand the values of regular, living people. (The zombies being a metaphor for a distorted view of one's ideological opponents.)
All I have to do is describe why being alive is good and being a zombie is bad, and that proves I'm not a zombie. That calms people down, to the point where we can explore some possible advantages of zombiehood and disadvantages of having vital function, and what we can do about that w... (read more)
That's a valid way to look at it. I used to use three axes for them: increase versus decrease, experience versus influence, and average versus variance (or "quantity versus quality").
I typically just go with the eight desires described above, which I call "motivations". It's partially for thematic reasons, but also to emphasize that they are not mutually exclusive, even within the same context.
It is perfectly possible to be both boldness-responsive and control-responsive: seeking to accomplish unprecedented things and expecting to... (read more)
That's where the deconstruction method comes in:
The first step is most important. You don't have to start by convincing someone there are no zombies. You just have to show them that you're not going to let any zombies get them. Sometimes that means making small concessions by agreeing to contingencies against hypothetical zombies.
You can tell someone that there's nothing in the dark basement, but to get them to make it five feet in to the light switch, sometimes it's most... (read more)
I count eight fundamental desires, but they can take countless forms based on context. For example, celebration might lead one person to seek out a certain type of food, while leading another person to regularly go jogging. It's the same motivation, but manifesting for two different stimuli.
Here are the eight fundamental desires:
As you say, the ability to coordinate large-scale action by decree requires a high place in a hierarchy. With the internet, though, it doesn't take authority just to spread an idea, as long it's one that people find valuable or otherwise really like. I'm not sure why adjacency has to be "proper"; I'm just talking about social networks, where people can be part of multiple groups and transmit ideas and opinions between them.
Regarding value divergence: Yes, there is conflict because of how people prioritize desires and values differently. ... (read more)
Not all human politics is low-hanging fruit, to be sure. I was thinking of issues like the economy, healthcare, education, and the environment. It seems like there are some obvious win-win improvements we can make in those contexts if we just shift the discussion in a constructive direction. We can show people there are more ideas for solutions than just the ones they've been arguing about.
It is true that the process shown in this story is not sufficient to dismantle religion. Such an undertaking requires a constructive meta-... (read more)
Most pro-choice people I have discussed the issue with are already on the same page about how personhood does not start at conception, and for similar reasons. I don't usually run the the thought experiments by them to see if our reasoning processes are the same; I should do that. I do know that some pro-choice people do think that a zygote is a "person" but that its rights do not supersede its parent's bodily autonomy, at least in the early stages.
When pro-life people brush the thought experiments and intuition pum... (read more)
You raise a good point. This story does not contain politicians who profit from playing factions against one another and maintaining polarization. It might make the story a bit more applicable to our world if there were villagers who gained social influence from being the champions of each side while never engaging in negotiation or brainstorming, and who subsequently lost that power once the villagers learned how to do those things for themselves. I may go back and add that in; thanks for the suggestion!
As for our own world, I pre... (read more)
Do you think there would be a problem with attempting to reconcile people's values on abortion?
You jest, but abortion is actually on my list of future Midmorning Zone articles. The Midmorning Zone series follows discussions between two characters representing different sides of various issues. In doing so, it demonstrates how they can use the reconciliation method to figure out constructive approaches they can collaborate on.
Part of what makes it difficult for humans to discuss abortion is the need to detangle the cultural baggage... (read more)
(Made a few cosmetic tweaks to make some sentences less awkward.)
This seems like a good analysis of how a person can use what I call the mindsets of reputation and clarification.
Reputation mindset combines the mindsets of strategy and empathy, and it deals with fortifying impressions. It can help one to be aware of emotional associations that others may have for things one may be planning to say or do. That way one can avoid unintended associations where possible, or preemptively build up positive emotional associations to counteract negative ones that can't be avoided, such as by demonstrating one un... (read more)
Logistics page here for those like me who didn't check the main page: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/TH5qNLtuEi5MRwnq6/logistics-for-the-2020-online-secular-solstice-celebration
1. Ah, now I see. Yes, removing assumptions is one good way to direct one's use of synthesis mindset. It helps with exploring the possibilities. 2. Organization can gather information efficiently, but integrating it all and catching contradictions is normally a job more suited for analysis. It's still possible to combine the two. That can end up forming strategy or something similar, or it could be viewed as using the mindsets separately to support each other. Does that make sense?
Thanks for the input!
1. You mean we can fiddle with the explicit assumptions we use with synthesis mindset? That can help, but to get the full benefit of synthesis I find it's often better to let go of explicit assumptions, and then apply other mindsets with those explicit assumptions to the results yielded by synthesis.
Otherwise our explicit assumptions may cause synthesis to miss hypotheses that ultimately point us in a helpful direction, even though the hypothesis itself violates the explicit assumptions. Sometimes the issue is that we make too m... (read more)
I confess, your comment surprised me by calling for a different epistemic standard than I figured this article required. I had to unpack and address several issues, listed below.
This post came across to me as mostly speculative but trying to be academic, I may well be wrong. Habryka in the other comment suggested that your claims have some grounding that I was not aware of. Additionally, I do not subscribe to the local lore of Eliezer's contrarianism and extreme Bayesianism. The metaphor of "reality joints", or "reality fluid", falls flat for me, as well. If you perspective is different, then feel free to disregard my comment, it's not like you and I can square our epistemic views in a comment thread.
Practice with different example problems is indeed important for helping people internalize the principles behind the skills they're learning. However, just being exposed to these problems doesn't always mean a person figures out what those principles are. Lack of understanding of the principles usually means a person finds it difficult to learn the skill and even more difficult to branch out to similar skills.
However, if we can explicitly articulate those principles in a way people can understand, such as illustrating them with analogies or ... (read more)
With finesse, it's possible to combine the techniques of truth-seeking with friendliness and empathy so that the techniques work even when the person you're talking to doesn't know them. That's a good way to demonstrate the effectiveness of truth-seeking techniques.
It's easiest to use such finesse on the individual level, but if you can identify general concepts which help you understand and create emotional safety for larger groups of people, you can scale it up. Values conversations require at least one of the parties involve... (read more)
Yes, that's exactly what I meant, and that's a great clarification. I do prefer looking at the long-term expected utility of a decision, as a sort of Epicurean ideal. (I'm still working on being able to resist the motivation of relaxation, though.)
The specific attributes I was referring to in that sentence are three out of what I call the four primary attributes:
I had only been using intensity since I ... (read more)
You raise a good point about the multiple factors that go into motivation and why it's important to address as many of them as possible.
I'm having trouble interpreting your second paragraph, though. Do you mean that humanity has a coordination problem because there is a great deal of useful work that people are not incentivized to do? Or are you using "coordination problem" in another sense?
I'm skeptical of the idea that a solution is unlikely just because people haven't found it yet. There are thousands of problems that were only solved in the past few
I'm painfully familiar with the issue of lack of group participation, since I can't even get people to show up to a meetup.
Because of that, I've been doing research on identifying the factors contributing towards this issue and how to possibly mitigate them. I'm not sure if any of this will be new to you, but it might spark more discussion. These are the first ideas that come to mind:
1. For people to be intrinsically motivated to do something, the process of working on it has to be fun or fulfilling.
2. Extrinsic motivation, as yo... (read more)
Currently, Difficult Conversations is the only book I recommend to literally all people, because it establishes the principles and practices of effective collaborative truth-seeking. If you want a good chance of persuading someone of something they are already opposed to, you have demonstrate that you understand their point of view and value their well-being. (On a similar note, I read Ender's Game in middle school and took to heart the idea of understanding your adversaries so well that you love them.)
Can the art of influencing emotions be used f... (read more)
How to actually construct the AI was not part of the scope of the essay request, as I understood it. My intention was to describe some conceptual building blocks that are necessary to adequately frame the problem. For example, I address how utility functions are generated in sapient beings, including both humans and AI. Additionally, that explanation works whether or not huge paradigms shifts occur. No amount of technical understanding is going to substitute for an understanding of why we have utility functions in the first place, and what shapes they ... (read more)
Submitting this entry for your consideration: https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/bkoeQLTBbodpqHePd/ai-goal-alignment-entry-how-to-teach-a-computer-to-love. I'll email it as well. Your commitment to this call for ideas is much appreciated!
Based on my understanding of the wide variety of human thought, there are several basic mindsets which people use to address situations and deal with problems. Many people only use the handful that come naturally to them, and the mindsets dealing with abstract reasoning are some of the least common. Abstract reasoning requires differentiating and evaluating concepts, which are not skills most people feel the need to learn, since in most cases concepts are prepackaged for their consumption. Whether these packages represent reality in any useful way is an... (read more)
Just to add some more examples, I frequently pick up on some of the following things in casual social situations:
What... (read more)
I've been afraid that most people lack abstract reasoning for quite some time. Thank you for describing the phenomenon so clearly. However, I also fear that you may be underestimating its biggest consequence in your life.
I strongly suspect that the biggest consequence of people lacking abstract reasoning isn't that different methods are required to explain concepts to pattern-matching people, but rather that most of the systems and institutions around you have been designed by people who have or had poor abstract reasoning skills, and that th... (read more)
I strongly suspect that you cannot, with a feedback loop as you describe. If you measure discontent based on social media, suffering that does not get posted to social media effectively does not exist. The AI would need a way of somehow recognizing that the social media are only its window to the discontent that exists in the world beyond, which is what it is intended to minimize. Proverbially, it would need to be able to look at the moon rather than the finger pointing to it.
I would argue that for larger, more complex projects, it seems crucial to have basic proficiency in supporting skills as well as the core skills. It is not uncommon for a person with extreme skill in one area to fail or experience diminishing marginal returns on their skill, because it is necessary but not sufficient to succeed in their goal.
Between a person with core skills for a project and one with supporting skills, the person with core skills will get better results. However, between a person with core skills and one with core and supporting skill... (read more)
Apologies in advance for the long response. Hopefully this will be worth the read.
I greatly appreciate your post because it challenges some of my own beliefs and made me reassess them. I agree that a person can get by in this world with bad epistemological hygiene. However, humans are animals that evolved to adapt behaviors for many environments. Getting by is cheap. The problem with poor epistemological hygiene (EH) isn't that a person can't get by. As I see it, there are three issues: