More Is Different for AI

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When only a couple thousand copies you probably don't want to pay for the speedup, eg even going an extra 4x decreases the number of copies by 8x.

I also think when you don't have control over your own hardware the speedup schemes become harder, since they might require custom network topologies. Not sure about that though

While I am not close to this situation, I felt moved to write something, mostly to support junior researchers and staff such as TurnTrout, Thomas Kwa, and KurtB who are voicing difficult experiences that may be challenging for them to talk about; and partly because I can provide perspective as someone who has managed many researchers and worked in a variety of research and non-research organizations and so can more authoritatively speak to what behaviors are 'normal' and what patterns tend to lead to good or bad outcomes. Caveat that I know very little about any internal details of MIRI, but I am still reasonably confident of what I'm saying based on general patterns and experience in the world.

Based on reading Thomas Kwa's experience, as well as KurtB's experience, Nate Soares' behavior is far outside any norms of acceptable behavior that I'd endorse. Accepting or normalizing this behavior within an organization has a corrosive effect on the morale, epsistemics, and spiritual well-being of its members. The morale effects are probably obvious, but regarding epistemics, leadership is significantly less likely to get useful feedback if people are afraid to cross them (psychological safety is an important concept here). Finally, regarding spirit, normalizing this behavior sends a message to people that they aren't entitled to set boundaries or be respected, which can create far-reaching damage in their other interactions and in their image of themselves. Based on this, I feel very worried for MIRI and think it should probably do a serious re-think of its organizational culture.

Since some commenters brought up academia and the idea that some professors can be negligent or difficult to work with, I will compare Nate's behavior to professors in CS academia. Looking at what Thomas Kwa described, I can think of some professors who exhibit individual traits in Thomas' description, but someone who had all of them at once would be an outlier (in a field that is already welcoming to difficult personalities), and I would strongly warn students against working with such a person. KurtB's experience goes beyond that and seems at least a standard deviation worse; if someone behaved this way, I would try to minimize their influence in any organization I was part of and refuse to collaborate with them, and I would expect even a tenured faculty to have a serious talking-to about their behavior from colleagues (though maybe some places would be too cowardly to have this conversation), and for HR complaints to stack up.

Nate, the best description I can think of for what's going on is that you have fairly severe issues with emotional regulation. Your comments indicate that you see this as a basic aspect of your emotional make-up (and maybe intimately tied to your ability to do research), but I have seen this pattern several times before and I am pretty confident this is not the case. In previous cases I've seen, the person in question expresses or exhibits and unwillingness to change up until the point that they face clear consequences for their actions, at which point (after a period of expressing outrage) they buckle down and make the changes, which usually changes their own life for the better, including being able to think more clearly. A first step would be going to therapy, which I definitely recommend. I am pretty confident that even for your own sake you should make a serious effort to make changes here. (I hope this doesn't come across as condescending, as I genuinely believe this is good advice.)

Along these lines, for people around Nate who think that they "have" to accept this behavior because Nate's work is important, even on those grounds alone setting boundaries on the behavior will lead to better outcomes.

Here is an example of how an organization could set boundaries on this behavior: If Nate yells at a staff member, that staff member no longer does ops work for Nate until he apologizes and expresses a credible commitment to communicate more courteously in the future. (This could be done in principle by making it opt-in to do continued ops work for Nate if this happens, and working hard to create a real affordance for not opting in.)

The important principle here is that Nate internalizes the costs of his decisions (by removing his ability to impose costs on others, and bearing the resulting inconvenience). Here the cost to Nate is also generally lower than the cost that would have been imposed on others (inflating your own bike tire is less costly than having your day ruined by being yelled at), though this isn't crucial. The important thing is Nate would have skin in the game---if he still doesn't change, then I believe somewhat more that he's actually incapable of doing so, but I would guess that this would actually lead to changes. And if MIRI for some reason believes that other people should be willing to bear large costs for small benefits to Nate, they should also hire a dedicated staff to do damage control for him. (Maybe some or all of this is already happening... I am not at MIRI so I don't know, but it doesn't sound this way based on the experiences that have been shared.)

In summary: based on my own personal experience across many organizations, Nate's behavior is not okay and MIRI should set boundaries on it. I do not believe Nate's claim that this is a fundamental aspect of his emotional make-up, as it matches other patterns in the past that have changed when consequences were imposed, and even if it is a fundamental aspect he should face the natural consequences of his actions. These consequences should center on removing his ability to harm others, or, if this is not feasible, creating institutions at MIRI to reliably clean up after him and maintain psychological safety.

I don't see it in the header in Mobile (although I do see the updated text now about it being a link post). Maybe it works on desktop but not mobile?

Is it clear these results don't count? I see nothing in the Metaculus question text that rules it out.

Mods, could you have these posts link back to my blog Bounded Regret in some form? Right now there is no indication that this is cross-posted from my blog, and no link back to the original source.

Dan spent his entire PhD working on AI safety and did some of the most influential work on OOD robustness and OOD detection, as well as writing Unsolved Problems. Even if this work is less valued by some readers on LessWrong (imo mistakenly), it seems pretty inaccurate to say that he didn't work on safety before founding CAIS.

Melanie Mitchell and Meg Mitchell are different people. Melanie was the participant in this debate, but you seem to be ascribing Meg's opinions to her, including linking to video interviews with Meg in your comments.

I'm leaving it to the moderators to keep the copies mirrored, or just accept that errors won't be corrected on this copy. Hopefully there's some automatic way to do that?

Oops, thanks, updated to fix this.

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