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  • Without AGI, people keep dying at historical rates (following US actuarial tables)

Im not entirely convinced of this being the case. There are several possible pathways towards life extension including, but not limited to the use of CRISPR, stem cells, and most importantly finding a way to curb free radicals, which seem the be the main culprits of just about every aging process. It is possible that we will "bridge" towards radical life extension long before the arrival of AGI.

possibly, but is that not basically a No True Rationalist trick? I do not see a way for us to truly check that, unless we capture LW rationalists one by one and test them, but even then, what is preventing you from claiming: "eh, maybe this particular person is not a Real Rationalist but a Nerdy Hollywood Rationalist, but the others are the real deal," ad nauseam?

I definitely agree that people who consider themselves Rationalists believe themselves to be Actual Rationalists not Hollywood Rationalists. This of course leads us to the much analyzed question of "why aren't Rationalists winning?" The answers I see is that either Rationality does not lead to Winning, Or the Rationalists aren't Actual Rationalists (yet, or at all, or at least not sufficiently). 

A major case in point is that Rationalists mostly failed to convince the world about the threat posed by unrestricted AI. This means that either Rationalists are wrong about the AI threat, or bad at convincing. The second option is more likely I think, and I wager the reason Rationalists have a hard time convincing the general public is not because the logic of the argument is faulty, but because the delivery is based on clunky rhetoric and shows no attempts at well engineered charisma.

The Stevia-drink issue is likely psychological in nature not blood-sugar related. You would have to be tricked by a third party to drink a stevia soda unknowingly, and inversely, be tricked into drinking sugary soda while thinking it is stevia based; then compare the results.

In my own diet journey I noticed similar trend: knowingly eating or drinking substitutes of things I like makes my subconscious throw a tantrum and demand the real thing anyway. I think it is more about self-resentment over being tricked, than the actual taste or content.

Just giving up the thing completely, both the real thing and substitute hurts more at first, but makes it easier to form a habit (for example, replacing soda not with stevia soda but with plain water). Some minds find purposeful "asceticism" of a diet easier than "pretend abundance" of the replacement products.

some counter-arguments, in no particular order of importance:

  1. Verbal communication is quite often more succinct, because it is easier to exhaust the vocal medium, and you can see in real time your conversationists getting bored with your rambling.
  2. Verbal communication allows far more nuance carried with tone, body language, and social situation, thus often delivers the message most clearly. I find it most useful when discussing Ethics: everyone is a clinical utilitarian when typing, but far more humanistic when they see the other person's facial reaction to your words.
  3. Rhetoric and charisma do not carry well over text. Most Rationalists consider it beneficial, right until the point where they need to explain something, or convince non-Rationalists and completely lack the tools to do so. Avoiding the use of verbal rhetoric and not training your in-person charisma is the surefire way to become very unconvincing to the general audience: case in point, every attempt by explain AI Risk to "muggles" by somewhat introvert and dry-talking Rationalists.
  4. Related to point 3: conversational charisma is the main tool used by human males to woo women. By not practicing conversational charisma, Rationalists ensure they will breed themselves out of existence.
  5. Most child-rearing and education is oral communication. Without practicing it, the Rationalist will not make a good parent or a teacher, and thus, from civilizational perspective, had squandered his rationality.
  6. Rubberducking: saying things out-loud quite often leads to epiphanies, especially negative ones ("wow, my cherished idea sounds really dumb when I say it out, loud."). Writing down, and then reading your own ideas often leads to an emotional feedback loop in which you reinforce your own conviction rather than nit-picking your own idea. This leads to...
  7. Oral communication avoids the risk of Rabbit-Holes. When writing, uninterrupted, it is easy to accidentally pick a logical mistake as the crux of your whole argument, and waste hours exploring it. In conversation, your partner/opponent can snip that in the bud. 
  8. Op-Sec. Oral conversation is far less likely to get you in trouble for the things you say, unless you are being recorded. Meanwhile, a text based conversation, especially on a social platform is a Sword of Damocles always hanging over your head. Say the wrong thing, and at worst a dozen people will consider you an ass. Write and post the wrong thing, and you might, decades from now, lose your job, your social standing, or even your life. An innocent comment today might make people cancel you in 2040, or a vengeful Basilisk mulching you in 2045.

There is also the fact that we already are, effectively, controlling our own genetic pressures through culture and civilisation. Our culture largely influences our partner choice, and thus, breeding. Our medical sciences, agriculture, and urbanization takes pressure off survival. So the eugenic/dysgenic/paragenic process is in effect anyway, just... stupidly.

Some simple examples:
- agriculture pushes us to be lactose tolerant and carbohydrate dependent
- art and media dictates our sexual choices and mate choice
- education creates pressure for intelligence, but a very specific kind of one.
- in the long run, contraception methods might pressure a further evolution of our reproductive systems (ex: sooner or later, women with extremely unlikely mutations that allow them to "beat" the contraceptive pill will outbreed those who do not share such mutation. )

Im particularly interested in how our sexual culture effectively works as a secondary "blind goddess of eguenics". For likely the first time since the Neolithic (or possibly since forever), we have reached an age in which women are free to chose their male partners based on physical attraction and mental kinship, not social pressure and need for survival.  Assuming this trend continues, and we do not relapse into social conservatism, I expect a rather sudden (by evolutionary standards) shift in male choice, and thus sexual dimorphism.

Atop of that, we the rise of affordable In Vitro fertilization, we effectively are using conscious Eugenics, one specifically geared towards the needs of women and couples, rather than society at large. We are entering an age when the human male is not strictly necessary for breeding, or his offspring's survival, and thus, with the exception of the rare super-specimens who are sperm donors, men no longer fall under any evolutionary pressure, and do not really need to exist.

The decades between the moment when in-vitro becomes the norm, and the moment when artificial wombs become the norm, will be very interesting indeed.

Such communities are then easily pulverized by communities who value strong groupthink and appeal to authority, and thus are easier whipped into frenzy. 

I mostly agree with you, though I noticed if a job is mostly made of constantly changing tasks that are new and dissimilar to previous tasks, there is some kind of efficiency problem up the pipeline. Its the old Janitor Problem in a different guise; a janitor at a building needs to perform a thousand small dissimilar tasks, inefficiently and often in impractical order, because the building itself was inefficiently designed. Hence why we still haven't found a way to automate a janitor, because for that we would need to redesign the very concept of a "building", and for that we would need to optimize how we build infrastructure, and for that we would have to redesign our cities from scratch... etc, until you find out we would need to build an entire new civilization from ground up to, just to replace one janitor with a robot.
it still hints at a gross inefficiency in the system, just one not easily fixed.

There are also some mental issues among people who know about AI safety concerns, but are not researchers themselves and not even remotely capable of helping or contributing in a meaningful way.

I for one, learned about the severity of the AI threat only after my second child was born. Given the rather gloom predictions for the future, Im concerned for their safety, but there does not seem anything I can do to ensure they would be ok once the Singularity hits. It feels like I brought my kids to life just in time for the apocalypse to hit them when they are still young adults at best, and irrationally, I cannot stop thinking that Im thus responsible for their future suffering.

I noticed I also recall conversations, podcasts etc better if I was doing some kind of a manual task at the same time (like woodcarving, or just doing the dishes). My interpretation is that focusing on a conversation while immobile is under-stimulating, and thus causes the mind to wander. If one is walking, or doing something physical, its enough physical stimulation to let the mind focus on the conversation in a "railroaded" fashion, without self-distraction.

Even deeper: it feels great to match your walking/activity pace to the emotional message of the conversation. I suppose it triggers the same reaction as ASMR. I suppose its because it lets us "act out" our emotional reaction to the words, without inappropriate gesticulation etc.

Further weak evidence that walking helps with conversational cognition:

- plenty of people, without any cultural connection between them, pick up the habit of pacing around when on the phone. 

- it was a well known technique among ancient Greek philosophers and scholars to just take their students on a walk, or even a longer trip while discussing abstract subjects. Apparently it worked very well and was done this way for centuries.

- humans evolved to be semi-nomadic persistence hunters. Walking around all day is our natural state that we evolved for, sitting down for hours is not.

OTOH, I have a hunch that the kinds of jobs that select against "speed run gamer" mentality are more likely to be inefficient, or even outright bullshit jobs. In essence, speed-running is optimization, and jobs that cannot handle an optimizer are likely to either have error in the process, or error in the goal-choice, or possibly both.

The admittedly small sized sample of examples where a workplace that resisted could not handle optimization  that I witnessed were because the "work" was a cover for some nefarious shenanigans, build for inefficiency for political reasons, or created for status games instead of useful work/profit.

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