It's explained in the "A Tale of Two Phases" section. Life on Earth-like planets evolves through two major phases: a "Dinosaur Phase" focused on physical prowess and a "Human Phase" centered on intellectual capabilities. Transitions between these phases are considered to be rare and may require cataclysmic events like meteor impacts. Due to these constraints, intelligent life capable of technological communication is exceedingly rare in the galaxy.
The equation lays it all out rather succinctly, giving N=8.25 as the number of planets in our galaxy that have reached the "Human Phase". Although the numbers used were extremely forgiving, with other estimates bringing the number down to only 2 or 3 planets.
I personally find the zoo hypothesis to be merely a convenient hand-wave instead of an actual attempt to answer the question. It relies on three assumptions that cannot be taken for granted. The first is that other intelligent life exists in the first place. The second is that they must necessarily be more technologically advanced than us. The third and final assumption is that they would share our moral values to the point that they would leave an underdeveloped civilization alone.
I agree that the structure of the post is underwhelming. I've already done significant rewrites to the overall presentation that I plan to finish and post soon. This was more of an early draft that I felt was at least polished enough to share.
As far as the standard Drake Equation goes, I can see how it might be tempting to say this entire hypothesis is simply covered by fi. However, I think that there is a significant level of nuance and detail that is glossed over by such a generalization. It might be fair to say that I have merely attempted to provide a sub-component or a refinement of the Drake Equation, but I believe there is great value to be found in a more detailed proposal.
Regarding both Dissolving the Fermi Paradox and Grabby Aliens, I think there might have been an issue with how I presented this post, much to your earlier point. The Human Phase Hypothesis doesn't conflict with either of those perspectives, instead it provides a framework for understanding precisely why we might be rare or early. While it's certainly useful to make observations about our current place in the universe, I think coming to an understanding as to how we got here in the first place (and the relative difficulty through which such a process is realized) is equally important.
I appreciate you reading through the post, in any case.
I think most people on LW try to keep their speculations to a minimum mainly to avoid embarrassment for when they don't come true. I have no such worries when it comes to this technology specifically, since the outcome is so obvious that it would be more unlikely for it to not happen.
While I'm not certain about any particular other content that might scratch the same itch, I definitely plan to write more posts on other topics similar to this one.
There's nothing stopping people from making fan films at the current moment, generally with the limitation that it isn't put up for sale. I would find them being able to shut down progress on this tech dubious at best, but certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
It's important to consider the idea that these models could also be used in tandem with actual footage as a cheap alternative to the modern CGI pipeline. Instead of paying hundreds of artists to painstakingly make your CGI alien world, you could ask a future model to inpaint the green screens with an alien world that it generates.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if we soon see an update to DALL·E similar to the instruct series for GPT-3. Not a total reworking, but a significant enough change that it produces improved results.
I could sit here and speculate on potential workarounds, but you're probably correct. It makes sense that if you want to place yourself in movies, you would need to first build a comprehensive model of yourself for the AI to work with. Fortunately, this is the kind of thing you'd only need to do once.
Eliezer should have taken Cotra up on that bet about "will someone train a 10T param model before end days" considering one already exists.