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This is critical, as it means that, were the network to fork, you can only stake your energy on one of the two new chains. In contrast, under proof-of-stake, your stake is duplicated in a fork.

I honestly never really thought about this before but I suppose it's worth considering. Maybe it's easier for a community to split after some controversial decision with proof of stake?

Proof of work is not really immune to it though. When the DAO hack happened on Ethereum, the chain split into Ethereum and Ethereum Classic even though the network used proof of work at the time.

Validators will continue to stake on any chain so long as it's profitable. I don't really see how proof of stake vs work changes that.

Sorry, I didn't really explain myself clearly.

I think Bitcoin's network security is unstable in the long run due to the over-reliance on money printing to subsidize it. The existing validators have strong incentives to resist moving away from proof of work due to sunk costs in ASICs. There also just seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about the lack of advantages of proof of work compared to proof of stake or other consensus mechanisms.

So unless the incentive to attack the Bitcoin network exponentially decrease over time, the fundamental protocol must be changed at some point. And maybe Bitcoin survives that anyways. I don't really know.

As for L2 scaling, last time I checked the lightning network had something like 650 transactions completed in its entire history. I really have no idea why that number is so low, but to me it indicates the product just isn't very good. Can it be improved?

Maybe. But with Bitcoin's transaction rate it would take like 1.5 years for everyone in the US to do one single transaction transferring money from Bitcoin to the lightning network. I just don't see how that scales unless you basically NEVER write to the Bitcoin blockchain.

I mean maybe that can work? It's not like people own shares of stock at the depository trust. Intermediaries work well elsewhere in the economy. But why would I want to use the lightning network? Literally the only potential upside I can think of is exposure to Bitcoin prices.

My overall impression is just that there are a dozen obvious things you could do if you wanted Bitcoin to be used as money and basically none of them are being done, so Bitcoin stakeholders must not care that much about facilitating exchange via Bitcoin. And I don't see any reason why that will change.

If you're holding Bitcoin because you believe you can sell it to someone else for the same or more in the future, then I suppose that's reasonable. It still has another 10-20x before it surpasses the total value of all gold, so perhaps there's still some alpha to be had.

But if you're holding Bitcoin because you belive it will actually function as a medium of exchange in the long run, I would re-consider your position. None of the stakeholders developing Bitcoin mining clients have any incentive to increase the functionality of the L1 layer. Most of the funding for such development comes from L2 payment networks like Lightning. They have every incentive to keep the Bitcoin protocol slow and unsuitable for payments (after all, their product is supposed to be the thing that solves that problem).

For that reason, along with the general lack of interest in innovation within the Bitcoin community, I would be extremely surprised if Bitcoin ever became a scalable payment solution.

How is it individually rational to race to AI if it's very likely to kill you?

I basically agree with the premise, though I’m not so sure that bad but not existential disasters are more likely than very good or very bad outcomes.

The only way I see us getting the global momentum necessary to ban strong AI is if it causes some huge but not existential disaster. Short of that I think the average human is too dumb and too ignorant to identify risk from AI, let alone do anything about it.

Yes, I completely understand why there is MORE interest in alignment, engineered pandemics and nuclear war. I think that is correct. But I don’t think the balance is quite right. Genetic engineering could be a meta-level solution to all those problems given enough time.

That seems like something worth working on for a larger chunk of people than those currently involved.

I’d give us 50% odds of developing the technology capable of human genetic enhancement without excess embryos in the next decade. Editing looks like the most plausible candidate, though chromosome selection also looks pretty feasible.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the question of whether discarding embryos is acceptable. Maybe I’ll write a post about this at some point, but I’ll try to give a quick summary:

  • At the time of selection, human embryos have about 100 cells. They have no brain, no heart, and no organs. They don’t even have a nervous system. If they stopped development and never grew into humans, we would give them zero moral weight. Unless you believe that the soul enters the embryo during fertilization, the moral importance of an embryo is entirely down to its potential to develop into a human.
  • The potential of any given pairing of egg and sperm is almost unchanged after fertilization. A given pairing of sperm and egg will produce the same genome every time. I don’t see a clear line at fertilization regarding the potential of a particular sperm/egg coupling.
  • Roughly a third of regular non-IVF pregnancies end in miscarriage; usually before the mother even knows she’s pregnant. The rate of miscarriage approaches 100% towards a woman’s late 40s. If embryos are morally equivalent to babies, there is a huge ongoing preventable moral disaster going on during normal conception, to the point where one could make a case that unprotected sex between 40 and menopause is immoral.

No. You might get something that works, but it will never be as good as intervening at the gamete or embryo stage simply because half the genes you’d want to change are only active during development (ie before adulthood).

I’m I get the same effects you would need really crazily advanced biotech that could somehow edit the genes and replay the development stage of life without interfering with the current functioning of the organism. I don’t see anything like that being developed in the next 50 years without some kind of strong intelligence (whether artificial or biological in nature).

That’s probably true. I’m taking a gamble that only pays off in world where biological brains matter for at least another 30 years. But given the size of the potential impact and the neglected mess, I think it is a gamble worth taking.

Strongly agree with this one. It's pretty clear from plant breeding and husbandry that one can push any given trait tens of standard deviations from its natural mean even just using brain-dead selective breeding techniques. Research from Shai Carmi, Steve Hsu and others has shown that most traits are relatively independent from another (meaning most alleles that affect one trait don't affect another trait). And most genes have a linear effect: they increase or decrease some trait by an amount, and don't require some gene-gene interaction term to model.

Together these suggest that we could likely increase positive traits in humans such as prosocial behavior, intelligence, health and others by gigantic amounts simultaneously

This is already possible to a limited degree using IVF and polygenic predictors already available. A gain of perhaps 0.2-1 standard deviations on a variety of traits is already feasible using simple embryo selection alone.

I've been working on a guide for people to do this for almost a year now. It has been an incredibly involved research project, mostly because I've spent a huge amount of time trying to quantify which IVF clinics in the US are best and how large of an advantage picking a really good one can give you.

Embryo selection to reduce disease, increase intelligence, and reduce dark tetrad traits in future generations is just such an obvious no-brainer. The expected medical savings alone are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Throw in extra earnings from a higher IQ, and reduced societal costs from less crime, greater community bonds etc and you may understand why I think genetic engineering holds such incredible promise.

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