Richard Korzekwa

Researcher at AI Impacts.


Solar system colonisation might not be driven by economics

Vastly cheaper average cost for resources that can be mined in space might open up opportunities for economically valuable things that we currently won't do on account of the Earth cost of those resources. To use your glass/lake metaphor, if all we have available for water is a dozen glasses per day per person, we probably won't have much of a swimming pool or sprinkler system industry. If we find ways to pipe water from the lake, we might see much more demand for large volumes of water.

Discontinuous progress in history: an update

I agree that it would be interesting to look at evidence from further in the past or from non-Western progress.

Unfortunately, we found researching progress from before roughly 1700-1800 (and sometimes even later) to often be quite difficult. Most sources are vague, disagree with each other, or have clear signs of unreliability. Even when we have good accounts of what the state of the art was at some particular time, it was difficult to establish a progress trend leading up to it.

You're probably right that professional historians would be good at sorting some of these problems out. Usually when we did contact subject matter experts during the investigation, they could at help us to reality check out findings, but we did not try to get them to actually do work for us.

Rohin Shah on reasons for AI optimism

Neat idea!

If someone here thinks this is easy to do or that they can make it easy for us to do it, let me know.

What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world?

Those predictions are based on 80% of cases being mild. My claim is that if 90% of cases are undiagnosed, then substantially less than 20% will be severe.

What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world?

I'm also arguing that we might just have many fewer severe cases than these right-tail estimates are indicating. So far, Hubei has only had .1% of their population get confirmed cases, for example, and I think that many scenarios in which >10% of people are infected globally are ones in which the actual number of cases in Hubei is much larger than .1%.

I also think there are more reasons for expecting fewer severe cases in many parts of the world than in China, like the increased prevalence of smoking in China, relative to places like the US.

What will be the big-picture implications of the coronavirus, assuming it eventually infects >10% of the world?

I think the estimates in your links are not central estimates, even conditioning on 10% of the world being infected. The analysis in the Medium article basically assumes the worst case on every axis. So yeah, that will look pretty bad. And I think it is a good way to get a picture of what the right tail on this looks like. But it's pretty far from the most likely outcome. Mitigating factors that are ignored:

  • China got a lot better at managing the epidemic over time, and everyone can learn from that. (See the WHO report linked in the reddit post:

  • Related to the above, we're starting to get a sense of how it spreads, which should help us to slow the spread

  • Fatality rates so far may be much smaller than these worst case estimates, if the number of mild cases that were not detected is large. This is more likely to be true in Wuhan, where capacity for testing may have been stressed as well as capacity for treating. It is also more likely in the worlds where where ~50% of people become infected

  • Most published estimates of R0 are closer to the smaller end of the scale reported in that Medium article (2-2.5 from the WHO, 2-3 from JAMA, vs 1.4-3.8), and for comparison to influenza, 1.28 is on the smaller end of flu outbreak R0 estimates (~1.5 for the 2009 outbreak, and why did he use a point value with three significant figures for such an imprecisely measured thing?)

  • Any measure to slow down the virus will spread out the stress to hospitals. It's not as if we'll wake up one morning and half of all people in our town will be infected. We should be less concerned about how many people will be infected and more concerned about how many people will be infected at once.

  • Warmer weather usually makes these things less bad, which may slow the spread over the coming months

  • There is some evidence that east Asian populations are more susceptible (

If it looks like I'm reaching for arguments for not being worried, that's because I kind of am (though I do think everything I said here is true). But that's how the Medium article reads to me. It is very unlikely that all of the bad things will happen and none of the good things will happen.

AlphaStar: Impressive for RL progress, not for AGI progress

I'm not sure how surprised to be about middle of training, versus final RL policy. Are you saying that this sort of mistake should be learned quickly in RL?

AlphaStar: Impressive for RL progress, not for AGI progress

The replay for the match in that video is AlphaStarMid_042_TvT.SC2Replay, so it's from the middle of training.

Here is the relevant screen capture:

A Personal Rationality Wishlist

One thing that might be learned from bicycles is that their wonderfulness is partially contingent how you come to use them, and how much you seek out improvements in your relationship with them.

Most people ride with the saddle too low and their tire pressure too low (though recreational cyclists on road bikes will often have too much air in their tires). People tend to ride too close to the side of the road, and ride in too high of a gear (that is, they pedal too slowly). These are not universal. Many people get some or all of these things right or have good reasons for not doing them.

I'm not entirely sure why people get these things wrong so often, but it is at least partially because the wrong way feels intuitively correct, at least to begin with. And things like saddle height and gear ratio seem to have a lot to do with how the bike was configured when the person first started riding it. But all of these are things that can easily be learned from talking to experienced people, which most people never do.

So I think the lesson is: Seek out the correct ways of doing things, even in cases where you can just look at a thing and see basically how it works, so that it seems hard to get it wrong, and where it seems pretty wonderful even without help.

The unexpected difficulty of comparing AlphaStar to humans

Sorry I worded that really poorly.

It's all good; thanks for clarifying. I probably could have read more charitably. :)

That cognitive process of visual recogniton and anticipation is simply inseparable of the athleticism aspect.

Yeah, I get what you're saying. To me, the quick recognition and anticipation feels more like athleticism anyway. We're impressed with athletes that can react quickly and anticipate their opponent's moves, but I'm not sure we think of them as "smart" while they're doing this.

This is part of what I was trying to look at by measuring APM while in combat. But I think you're right that there is no sharp divide between "strategy" or being "smart" or "clever" and "speed" or being "fast" or "accurate".

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