When life was literally full of crap

Those North Korean poop stories are out of this world.

Also I am now very curious about the population of flies over time. There must have been a massive decline in the fly population that coincided with the adoption of automobiles.

Which sources do you trust the most on nutrition advice for exercise?

Frankly I don't think it's possible yet. Or at least if it is I'm not aware of it. But I think that will change in the coming years, mostly due to dramatic drops in the cost of genetic sequencing.

Which sources do you trust the most on nutrition advice for exercise?

Frankly I don't think it's possible yet. Or at least if it is I'm not aware of it. But I think that will change in the coming years, mostly due to dramatic drops in the cost of genetic sequencing.

If you can sequence the DNA of enough people and track how what they eat and their disease prevalence or whatever outcomes you care about, you'll likely be able to suss out the contributions from various genes to a particular health outcome. This has already been done for single complex traits like height or heart disease risk. But I think the next step is tying that to inputs like diet and exercise.

Which sources do you trust the most on nutrition advice for exercise?

This may be a result of my personal bias, but my view is that the whole world of diet studies and advice often does not produce the results its consumers desire because of complex individual genetic differences that influence metabolism. And there may be additional influences from gut bacteria and epigenetics that also influence this process.

I think the long term answer to this question of "what do I eat to achieve the body composition I want" will be to get a 23 and me test and run it through some software that gives you a customized diet based on your genetic profile.

That being said, if I had to recommend any expert, I guess it would be Dr Aaron Carroll, who runs a YouTube channel named Healthcare Triage that essentially reviews research on various health-related topics.

What technologies could cause world GDP doubling times to be <8 years?

I've made the argument in a post I wrote that we will see the first genetically engineering humans in the next decade. The technique will likely be embryo selection, which results in somewhat modest trait gains even with hundreds of embryos. However, the gains made by massive embryo selection (hundreds to thousands of embryos rather than ten) are still likely to exceed the effect of even the strongest nootropics.

Human Genetic Engineering: Increasing Intelligence

I've kind of used them interchangeably throughout the post, though I prefer to use "intelligence" to describe what we are actually aiming for: increasing the ability of individuals to accomplish goals given a set of constraints. There are highly g-loaded tests such as IQ tests or SAT scores that capture g well but don't always translate to real-world performance.

Part of the challenge for any genetic engineering program will be figuring out how to robustly measure traits we want to change. IQ test are highly g-loaded, but they can be gamed. I remember reading a study (I can't find it now) showing that if you trained people on IQ test you could increase their scores by like 15 points, which shows that IQ scores can become decoupled from g. Ideally we'd like a test that can't be gamed.

Human Genetic Engineering: Increasing Intelligence


Frankly the double exponential growth claim is one of the more speculative in the post. There ARE some similarities with a field like quantum computing, where Neven's law describes how quantum computers' performance at certain tasks improves at a doubly exponential rate.

The doubly exponential rate at which, according to Neven, quantum computers are gaining on classical ones is a result of two exponential factors combined with each other. The first is that quantum computers have an intrinsic exponential advantage over classical ones: If a quantum circuit has four quantum bits, for example, it takes a classical circuit with 16 ordinary bits to achieve equivalent computational power. This would be true even if quantum technology never improved.

My assertion of doubly exponential economic growth is premised on two things: economic growth being an exponential multiple of the abilities of the beings that create it, and intelligence itself increasing exponentially as we begin to adopt genetic modification.

This obviously could turn out to be wrong.

Non-Obstruction: A Simple Concept Motivating Corrigibility

If we like dogs, will the AI force pancakes upon us?

This really paints a vivid picture of the stakes involved in solving the alignment problem.

Whence the symptoms of social media?

My assessment is that you are either unusually resistant to the manipulative tactics of social media or you haven't kept track of your usage accurately enough to write an honest self-assessment. I'd lean towards the former since you spend a lot of time on games that don't have much of the manipulative "gamification" aspects that makes social media so powerful.

But even if you aren't personally affected very much by social media manipulation, I would argue you should still be concerened. The world in which you live is increasingly shaped by content aggregation algorithms on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Ninety percent of journalists have a twitter account, and news is increasingly shaped by the interaction of journalists with each other and readers on social media. The combination of irrational groupthink on Twitter and the bad incentives of the traditional advertising model have had huge impacts on the quality of coverage and the topics of coverage. Journalists even realize this. Here's Vox Co-Founder Ezra Klein explaining why he moved to San Francisco:

Part of the reason I moved from DC to Oakland is it no longer felt like I could understand what the hell was happening to politics if I didn’t get a better handle on tech.

So many of today's politics stories are actually stories about how technology is changing politics.

I don’t think Trump, Sanders, or AOC would’ve had the rises they’ve had without Twitter. I don’t think old theories of how parties work, the role money plays, or how the media makes coverage decisions, hold now that political communication is social, algorithmic, and viral.

And it's not just politics. Life is just what we pay attention to. And what we pay attention to, increasingly, are screens.

There's really no escaping the effects of social media. Its effects are so pervasive that even if you don't use it your world view is shaped by it.

The Case for Human Genetic Engineering

Every time I read one of Scott Alexander's posts I lament my own writing abilities. He's said everything I want to say about the tradeoffs in genetic engineering with fewer words and in a more comprehensible manner.

I guess my ultimate aim in writing these posts is to convince myself and others that genetic engineering is not only desirable but possible in the near future. I guess maybe what I should be focusing on is less persuasive writing and more HOW to do it.

Though part of me despairs at the possibility of us ever pursuing such a path. Cloning is banned in nearly every country in the world in which it might be possible to create clones. This is ostensibly because cloned mammals have a much higher rate of birth defects, yet so far as I can tell there is no effort being made to reduce the likelihood of such errors. Instead it seems like the current technical problems are being used as an excuse to stop research on how to make cloning safer.

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