All of HumaneAutomation's Comments + Replies

The problem here I think is that we are only aware of one "type" of self-conscious/self-aware being - humans. Thus, to speak of an AI that is self-aware is to always seemingly anthropomorphize it, even if this is not intended. It would therefore perhaps be more appropriate to say that we have no idea whether "features" such as frustration, exasperation and feelings of superiority are merely a feature of humans, or are, as it were, emergent properties of having self-awareness.

I would venture to suggest that any Agent that can see itself as a unique "I" must... (read more)

What makes us human is indeed our subjectivity.

Yet - if we intentionally create the most rational of thinking machines but reveal ourselves to be anything but, it is very reasonable and tempting for this machine to ascribe a less than stellar "rating" to us and our intelligence. Or in other words - it could very well (correctly) conclude we are getting in the way of the very improvements we purportedly wish for.

Now - we may be able to establish that what we really want the AGI to help us with is to improve our "irrational sandbox" in which we can continue ... (read more)

If AGI was “wise” it wouldn’t look down on us. It will say our level of irrationality is proportional to our environment, biological capacity, need for survival, and rate of evolution. We wouldn’t look down on monkeys for being monkeys. Humans are always domesticated. So if they see us as too irrational to play major roles in the system, hopefully we can be like their dogs. They can Give us fake jobs like streaming or arm wrestling

Thank you for your reply. I deliberately kept my post brief and did not get into various "what ifs" and interpretations in the hope of not constraining any reactions/discussion to predefined tracks.

The issue I see is that we as humans will very much want the AGI to do our bidding, and so we will want to see it as our tool to use for whatever ends we believe worthy. However, assuming for a moment here that it can also figure out a way to measure/define how well a given plan ought to be progressing if every agent involved is diligently implementing the most ... (read more)

4Rafael Harth2d
This all seems to rely on anthropomorphizing the AI to me. I think you're making the mistake of not cleanly separating between boring objective facts and attitudes/should-statements/reactions/etc., and this is reponsible for almost 100% of the issues I have with your reasoning. Like, AI will figure out we're irrational. Yup! It will know working with us is less effective at accomplishing a wide range of goals than working alone. Sure! It will know that our preferences are often inconsistent. Definitely! Working with us will be frustrating. What??? Why on earth would it feel frustration? That's a very specific, human emotion we have for evolutionary reasons. What specific things do you claim to know about its training procedure to justify the very specific claim that it would feel this particular thing? .... and so on. If you very strictly taboo all sorts of anthropomorphizing and only stick to cold inferences, can you see how your point no longer works?

Oh, that may indeed be true, but going forward it could give us only a little bit of extra "cred" before it realizes that most of the questions/solutions we want from it are either motivated by some personal preference, or that we are opposed to its proposed solutions to actual, objective problems for irrational "priorities" such as national pride, not-invented-here-biases, because we didn't have our coffee this morning or merely because it presented the solution in a font we don't like ;)

I think the issue here (about whether it is intelligent) is not so much a matter of the answers it fashions, but about whether it can be said it does so from an "I". If not, it is basically a proverbial Chinese Room, though this merely moves the goalposts to the question whether humans are not, actually, also a Chinese Room, just a more sophisticated one. I suspect that we will not be very eager to accept such a finding, indeed, we may not be capable of seeing ourselves thus, for it implies a whole raft of rather unpleasant realities (like, say, the absence of free will, or indeed any will at all) which we'd not want to be true, to put it mildly.

The reason it may seem our societal ability to create well-working institutions is declining could also have to do with the apparent fact that the whole idea of duty and the honor that this used to confer is not as much in vogue anymore as it used to be. Also, Equality and Diversity aside, being "ideological" is not really a thing anymore... the heydays of being an idealist and brazenly standing for something are seemingly over.

The general public seem to be more interested in rights and not responsibilities, somehow unable to understand that they can only ... (read more)

Well yes there are methods of preventing the situation as described (that one can manually pick from a stash where various 'qualities' are intermixed) but that changes the circumstances; my example was specifically for that set of particulars. I guess that like most examples where significant differences in assessment arise, they all boil down to where you set the "slider" for taking responsibility for the situation one creates (eg. the seller allowing manual selection) and the degree to which one is willing, able or justified to "exploit" such a situation... (read more)

I am one of those people that have an overactive sensitivity for fairness, and at times go to extremes to make sure justice "happens", and can't help but point out double standards and (real or perceived) hypocrisy. However... I'll be honest - this is generally something that decreases the net quality of my life. Not in the least because injustice (in the broad sense) is omnipresent and highly prevalent everywhere. When that isn't the problem, the next issue that rears its head repeatedly is how to define justice in the first place.

You mention the case of ... (read more)

I am not one of those people - I care about justice from a contract (including social and implied contract) standpoint, and from a net-satisfaction standpoint (I'm not Utilitarian, but I'm sympathetic to the intent and my personal utility function is mostly-compatible).  I don't believe it's generally desirable to trade very much efficiency for justice (though some amount is necessary to maintain the functioning necessary for meeting more people's needs, and to increase overall life-satisfaction). For cherry-picking, I think first-come-first-served is better than many other solutions, in that people who get more value from better fruit (mixed with those who have more flexibility/power) can pick what they're willing to give up to arrive earlier.  I think price discrimination (better cherries cost more) is pretty efficient as well, as it's a signal to what quality of fruit the supply chain should pursue as well.  Depending on grading and transaction costs (and customer acceptability), it can be more just AND efficient enough to go the other way: remove choice, sell cherries in opaque bags with a mix of quality.  The efficiency tradeoff is an empirical decision - anyone can try something else and see how it works.   Fortunately (or un-), Moloch doesn't care much about Justice, so in very competitive endeavors, efficiency tends to win.
It's kind of standard practice in grocery stores to discount items that are of lower quality, or nearer to the end of their shelf life, no? In other words: whatever the price is, the store owner has already priced in the fact that the best quality will sell first, which at least partly compensates latecomers. And at least in the modern first world, there is generally enough produce that everyone who wants some can get good quality at market price.

I think this whole problem is a bit more nuanced than you seem to suggest here. I can't help but at least tentatively give some credit to the assertion that LW is, for lack of a better term, mildly elitist. To be sure, for perhaps roughly the right reasons, but being elitist in whatever measure tends to be detrimental to the chances of getting your point across, especially if it needs to be elucidated to the very folks you're elitist towards ;) Not many behaviors are judged more repulsive than being made to feel a lesser person... I'd say it's pretty close... (read more)

... but malice is the "force" that actually creates "evil" in the first place. I think the intended meaning of the saying "Don't assume malice where stupidity is sufficient [to explain an observation]" is meant to make the problem seem less bad, not worse...

At the heart of the intractability of stupidity lies the Dunning Kruger problem. It can be an impossible challenge to make an ignorant person:

- admit they are ignorant;
- in the process, realize that most of the beliefs and the reasons they had for holding them were entirely wrong;
- despite having just r... (read more)

Oh I don't really "do" Twitter actually... nor Facebook since about a year. Now and again one of my friends shares and tweet and sometimes it can be an interesting start of a topic but... though I've been doing Internet since 1995, Twitter is just too vacuous for my liking. In response, now and again I'll send a 1 hour+ YouTube link back ;)

And yes of course, multiple points of view need not bring one close to the Truth, however...

In a large number of narratives, especially, it seems, the most relevant ones, finding the truth may be practically impossible, ... (read more)

Okay - what I would want to ask is - is it reasonable to expect that a government with billions of dollars to spend on intelligence gathering, data analysis and various experts must be meeting at least one of these criteria:

- It has access to high quality information about the actual state of affairs in most relevant domains
- It is grossly incompetent or corrupt and the data is not available in an actionable format
- It willfully ignores the information, and some of its members actively work to prevent the information reaching the right people

The Corona vir... (read more)

Yeah alright... I guess you could call that passive casual observance :)

That's the traditional option []. A simple improvement is to compartmentalize ideas (according to origin and epistemic status) while still taking them seriously within each cluster (thinking about their implications in a lawful gears-level way). I'm guessing this is how Judaism works.

I had to read that twice to make sure I figured out what your point is :) Alright - well, look. The truth is, of course, that 95% of the news you read is utterly and completely irrelevant to you in any impactful sense. Try not following news for a month - you will soon realize you have not actually missed anything. Well - now with COVID this might be a little different, but only a little.


If you do follow news, it would be proper and prudent to at least care about the veracity of it, especially if you have a habit of forming opinions about said news... (read more)

"Knowing more then one point of view" is a goal that's distinct from knowing the truth.  It seems to me that there are a lot of different issues involved in the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and if you try to understand what's happening through the complexity of a hashtag. One of the interesting things about it is that when the key BlackLivesMatter organization has an about [] page about what their organization is about. It spents more time critizing traditional Black Liberation movements then directly critizing police brutality.  Power changes in Black politics is however not a topic that anybody has a real interest to tell us about. Maybe, there will be a good book in a few years that recounts our contemporary history but at the moment the information that's publically available seems  very superficial.  We can observe about pages and attacks on King's legacy by bringing up old tapes, but those are only the things that stick out and there's a lot of room that's unknown. When it comes to understanding hashtag politics it's worth noting that we are one year after #MeToo at the point where two US candidates with multiple credible sexual assault charges are fighting each other. It's embarrasing enough that it's not often talked. It's like the Skulls&Bones vs. Skulls&Bones election of 2004 which would be a great narrative but nobody is interested to talk in those terms about this election. 
My point is that there is an important skill that should allow you to passively observe unreliable stories without being harmed by them. It's possible for this skill to give you more than nothing, so its application to news is not equivalent to not following news. In particular, you can notice something potentially interesting or useful and research it, but there should be no need to do any research. If there is such a need, it should be satisfied by improving generally applicable epistemic defenses, not by fighting off specific news articles.

I guess what I meant by “easy” is compared to not doing any fact checking. So, 2-5 minutes of additional searching/additional sources would often be sufficient to realize something is most likely biased and/or fake news in, say, 80% of cases. It’s quite sad and discouraging that so many readers are unwilling to do even that, though again if the aim is confirmation of world view and not highest probability of accuracy and truth... it actually “makes sense” to not check ;)

I think it's eminently reasonable to avoid spending time on learning facts about the world that come to your attention as popular news, and not because you are interested in them. Epistemic hygiene needed to render the possibly biased and confused news articles harmless shouldn't in itself require additional research, however minimal. Otherwise it won't work in situations where that research is not immediately feasible, and then you are truly in peril.

Well - I think that you are obviously correct in stating what you state. However, the issue is not that people who read the news don't know about this; rather, that the group of people that is careless in evaluating the news they read can't be bothered to spend so much time corroborating, cross-referencing and classifying the stuff they read. Another way of saying what I mean is - here you're preaching to the converted who, I suspect, to a significant degree already apply prudence to the news they read.

I am operating on the assumption here that you wrote t... (read more)

When I write a post on LessWrong I'm writing for an audience that's already engaging in rational thought. Knowing things is hard the fact that you suggests it's easy is to me an indication that suggests you don't really get the point.  What's exactly "the current scale" of it? In the 40s and 50s Robert Moses happened to be the most powerful person in New York politics without it being able to be understood how that power was wielded by reading any of the newspapers. Are there people today who have comparable power to Moses back then but don't appear in any newspaper? It's intrinsicly a hard question to answer. Maybe we can observe that nobody manage to get as much done as Moses got done, so power can't be as concentrated, but thinking about whether that's good or bad isn't as straightforward.

Hmm. You give interesting examples; especially McNamara (and, kind of by extension, Kissinger...) could indeed be said to be very smart and in some instances very wrong and biased. And it would certainly not be reasonable for a history book discussing their exploits (augmented by hindsight-bias) to say they were basically dumb for advocating or pursuing what they did.

Though one might question the wisdom of coming up with and sticking to a narrative like the fear of communist systems spreading the world over. Bombing every potential success story back into ... (read more)

Thou shall not speak of scissors! Apparatus of the devil that be!

.. yes, I am left-handed :P

Hmm... I think the main problem with fake news is mostly that it is propagated and spread/forwarded by exactly those people who don't think they need to do any research coz they already "know" the "truth" anyway. There's a whole segment of society for whom the word nuance is a waste of time. We all know that becoming more informed and/or finding out another point of view can be easily accomplished merely at the cost of some time and attention; unfortunately, a sizeable part of the public does not feel the need to do so.

This is mostly because the dedicated ... (read more)

Have you read the article? Are you saying it was easy for you to know that know that the Egypt military allowed the revolution to happen because they didn't like Mubarak and the other examples in the article?

Mmmyes well while your theoretical framework may be sound, such an outcome is almost certainly not. I'd be willing to agree that it is not impossible such a step might, in the most uncommon of circumstances be part of an otherwise sound strategy/goal. Intelligence without morality is neither.

Right, OK, I see what you're getting at. And I guess it would be therefore reasonable to make some sort of... allowance for seemingly sub-optimal/unintelligent behavior in the pursuit of some goals... but this is a tricky situation when the behavior is especially devious or deadly ;)

Though I am not entirely sure if the Orthogonality Thesis is entirely applicable within the context in our thread here; If millions of voters who have millions of motivations, reasons, points of view and convictions become less and less likely to vote for you as they are more a... (read more)

I do not agree. Morality (ethics) is orthogonal to intelligence (strategy).

So... can it be said that the advent of an AGI will also provide a satisfactory answer to the question whether we currently are in a simulation? That is what you (and avturchin) seem to imply. Also, this stance presupposes that:

- an AGI can ascertain such observations to be highly probable/certain;
- it is theoretically possible to find out the true nature of ones world (and that a super-intelligent AI would be able to do this);
- it will inevitably embark on a quest to ascertain the nature and fundamental facts about its reality;
- we can expect a "question ... (read more)

Well - this chain could go on ad infinitum.. all I was trying to say is:

- I am really trying to understand why people voted for Brexit and want to find answers that do not boil down to "they were ignorant/dumb/racists", however tempting it might be;
- The job of politicians is to serve the interests of the country they serve. If they have other reasons for pursuing certain policies they are being corrupt;
- If you are going to advocate voting for "Unknown" then you better have a very good idea of what you want instead, how you will bring it about and how it ... (read more)

You are making arguments that depend on the conclusion that you who what they think. As long as you understand that you don't know what they think you can't access their intelligence by looking at those decisions. Allowing more economic growth through deregulation and more rational laws is an idea that was articulated and one that they are working on. It's not very specific but specific 4-year plans don't work that well.  Telling the public about how you get the more rational laws by hiring superforcasters and building those seeing rooms is more specific but not the level of argument that the public is easily going to digest.
Seems to me that the relation to your original question "why don't we attribute historial events to the intelligence of their actors" is that by this logic, historians of the future might conclude that Dominic Cummings was retarded. (Assuming the records of his writing would be lost.) If this logic doesn't work reliably now, it was probably not more reliable in the past.

I am not sure if I follow :) For starters, what is an "innate tendency to succeed"...? How is that even a thing? One might have a set of personal attributes that, given a bunch of challenges, might prove to be beneficial in increasing chances of getting what you want.. like charisma or being especially adept at detecting what people actually need, or when they are lying... but it would be a bit... irrational... to call that a innate tendency...? I mean I know there's plenty of people who would do that (and in so doing, make into a reputation that then beco... (read more)

I guess what I mean to say is - if killing smart people is the solution, the outcome you are after, almost by definition, cannot be an improvement. I guess maybe in theory there are some scenarios where this might be possible, but those will be few and far between.

Suppose that you are a member of a political party, and you are told that the less educated a person is, the more likely they will vote for you (and vice versa). If this was me, I would feel morally obliged to immediately disassociate myself from such a party, for it is all but impossible that wh... (read more)

What are your thoughts on the Orthogonality Thesis []?

You know what... as I thought about the above, I have to say that the very possibility of the existence of simulations seriously complicates any efforts at even hoping to understand what an AGI might think. Actually, it presents such a level of complexity and so many unknown unknowns that I am not even sure if the type of awareness and sentience an AGI may possess is definable in human terms.

See - when we talk about simulated worlds, we tend to "see" it in terms of the Matrix - a "place" you "log on to" and then experience as if it were a genuine world, co... (read more)

Ah Mr. Cummings... he may actually be literally too clever for his own good... his disdain for "the plebs" is all too readily on display ;) You should take a look at his wonderful ideas about data privacy. And yes, having followed Brexit both online and "in person" I am fairly familiar with all sides of the argument. My "default position" in matters of mass-made choices and decisions is that I never assume that a great many people are, in fact, dumb, even if it may be really tempting to think so. Their actions always have some logic, even if faulty/biased/... (read more)

The idea that you are familiar with all sides of the argument because you are aware of all arguments that were made publically seems ignorant.  It's important to distinguish someone having different goals from someone with intelligence. Cummings believes that deregulation is the way to economic growth and the point of leaving the EU was to be able to deregulated and not be bound by EU legislation such as the privacy regulation. If you want substantial positive change, then you need to decide for the unknown. Accepting dealing with the unknown was a foundation for a lot of human progress before the Great Stagnation and trying to regulate it out of existence had a cost. It's not a trivial analysis about whether or not that's a good choice.  A lot of desired outcomes of political actors are not known to you. If you look at Dominic Cummings he managed to get a lot of political power for running the leave campaign.  Having a no deal result means that there's more room for new policies to be created which might be desirable for Cummings et al.  Cummings might well have overplayed his hand and go down because he angered enough people and didn't took the COVID-19 rules seriously enough.
2Vaughn Papenhausen2y
If you go for the second one, then you're essentially suggesting that sometimes we should explain a person's success (failure) in terms of their innate tendency to succeed (fail). This sounds like a mysterious explanation []. It's like saying that sleeping medicine works because it has a dormitive potency. I'm not saying the second definition is never useful, just not in this context.

Hmm. Let me elaborate a little bit on the reasons for me asking in the first place :) I have been pondering for some time the whole idea of the common notion that history has a tendency to repeat itself and/or that people seem to have... a measure of difficulty learning from previously made mistakes. I've been doing this due to a sense that "we" are slowly forgetting and in a weird way "discounting" the... attitudes acquired after the many atrocities in WW2 (duly linked to by you); my 13 year old daughter for instance needs some convincing to understand th... (read more)

Yes. "Good" is a generic superlative []. Generic words lead to vagueness. Vagueness leads to bullshit. No. Replacing "good and evil" with "smart and stupid" replaces one generic superlative with an alternative generic superlative. The king is dead; long live the king. "Narrating history as a set of intelligent or not so intelligent events and actions" is either true or it is untrue. * If it is true then truth is sufficient reason to use this frame. There is no need to appeal to epistemic rationality via "mistakes" and "a repeat". * If it is untrue then untruth is sufficient reason to reject this frame. The categorical imperative outweighs the uncertain utilitarian possibility that misleading others about history will help them better learn from history.
I think that describing the various aberrations produced by human politics as dumb feels as a moral faux paux for anyone who's not in the "rationality crowd". Here, being dumb (not in the sense of realising and admitting of having been dumb to do better) is basically a mortal sin, serious enough to kill an idea once and for all. Going by normal social norms, that something was dumb is just a... slight addendum to the fact that it was evil. You are supposed to hate and feel revulsed by the Soviet purges and the concentration camps because they were evil and wrong, if you started discussing the effectiveness, people could thing that's the main problem you had with those ideas and that you would have approved them if they "worked", so talking about how dumb it was at length feels like you were lowering yourself at their level, actually examining the idea to see if it was really wrong, which is seen as less moral than just feeling immediate horror and revulsion. Sometime an author or a historian would use the "dumb" argument as a way to plant one more nail in the coffin, but the speech usually goes like "it was evil, aberrant, immoral, monstrous, and it didn't even succeeded in its objective. I think that moral judgements are also more effective at keeping the populace away from dumb evil ideas than judgements on the intelligence of the ideas. If it's WRONG you can't do it ever, if it's just dumb why, you could of course find any idiotic way to "improve" it, or reasons why it wasn't really dumb, or why this time it wouldn't be dumb...   If we turn to the larger classes of political mistakes, I think that usually the historian tries to stick to the facts. Competence is more easily measured than intelligence, if you look at someone's actions. You have to be exceptionally smart to be noticed as such through the lenses of history, because you'd usually just leave behind actions that denoted a competent ruler/general or an incompetent ruler/general, and would be judged a

Interesting examples, and indeed, it does happen, albeit especially for leaders from a very long time ago, those who seem to be particularly wise or especially unusual, yes.  Yet, compared to the decisive advantage that intellectual ability confers, I still feel it gets far too little credit and is not ascribed the influence that it actually has on how history unfolds.

You'd much sooner read about novel technologies being important, or even the impact of weather (on, for instance, naval battles). There is scant discussion of how historical figures have... (read more)

The idea "to go ahead and literally kill all the smart people" is not "unambiguously identified as a fantastically dumb idea" because it can be an intelligent strategy. The White Terror secured Kuomingtang rule over Taiwan for decades by disappearing tens of thousands of people, especially intellectuals. To paraphrase John Wick, the bodies Chiang Kai-shek buried laid the foundation of what Taiwan is now.
Pol Pot also used starvation exports to buy ammo then invaded Vietnam. This was right after Vietnam defeated the US, leading directly to his downfall. Fantastically dumb idea.

Ok - what I mean is that the reason historical events work out one way and not another rarely, if ever, is described or explained in terms of the intelligence and cleverness of those whose actions shape those events. So for example, the murder of Duke Ferdinand that led to the First World War is not (even partially) explained by the fact he was rather dumb to act the way he did, but by the political tensions of the time and his careless arrogance. The apparent intellect of most such historical figures and how smart they are rarely seems to be getting atten... (read more)

I think I understand the heart of your question better now. The reason historical events are not explained in terms of intelligence is because attributing historical decisions to the actors' intelligence (or cleverness, stupidity, etc.) usually does not explain anything []. Suppose Agent Johnny English does stupid things. We want to know why Johnny English did these stupid things. You could say "because Johnny English is stupid". How do we know Johnny English is stupid? Because Johnny English did stupid things. This is circular reasoning.
While it's a possible theory that they negotiate the way they do because of low intelligence, I don't think you provided good reason to believe that this is what's going on over there. Lord Frost has a First-Class degree from Oxford. I would also expect Dommic Cummings and many people he hired to be on average of higher IQ then a lot of the European burocrats at the negotiating table as Cummings was willing to hire unconvential people who are geniuses in a way that other burocracies don't. Most political decisions are made because of domestic politics and not international politics. 

I think the most unjudgmental and reasonable explanation is that it is simply easier for people to make their opinions public via the Internet. I strongly doubt that the world around, say, 1970 contained less ignorant people than the world today; but the ones that are there are far easier to find. The average human is not famous for taking his or her time to express a thoughtful comment, and the systems we have today (Twitter/FB) to state ones' opinion encourage doing this as soon as possible, lest it joins the bottom of the list no one will ever see...

And... (read more)