All of jtolds's Comments + Replies

Given that AGI seems imminent and there's no currently good alignment plan, is there any value to discussing what it might take to keep/move the most humans out of the way? I don't want to discourage us steering the car out of the crash, so by all means we should keep looking for a good alignment plan, but seat belts are also a good idea?

As an example: I don't particularly like ants in my house, but as a superior intellect to ants we're not going about trying to exterminate them off the face of the Earth, even if mosquitoes are another story. Exterminating... (read more)

When someone says they have anecdotes but want data, I hear an opportunity for crowdsourcing.

Perhaps a community blog is the wrong tool for this? What if we had a tool that supported tracking rationalist intervention efficacy? People could post specific interventions and others could report their personal results. Then the tool would allow for sorting interventions by reported aggregate efficacy. Maybe even just a simple voting system?

That seems like it could be a killer app for lowering the bar toward encouraging newcomers and data-poor interventions from getting posted and evaluated.

I'm a little curious too. It's been a while since this was posted.

It's clear that there's enough interest in this and enough people think this is a good idea that there will at least be some small market of products like this long term. I think that's not really a debate.

However, what I am incredibly interested in is why this is so polarizing? It seems like people either go "hmm, yeah, okay, yes" or "OMG NO". Why?

While I probably would not have predicted it a priori, it is in-retrospect-not-surprising that people have more visceral reactions to food than to many other things.
strong status quo bias, as well as cultural inhibitions. Same reason people are all like EW you eat BUGS?!

Reminds me of _why

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Kickstarter actually rejected them. :(

More here

He actually spent the first two months on a Soylent-only diet, and only recently added social eating. I think he said something in his three month blog post about a week he spent eating normal food, and he ended up feeling way crappier.

Sure. But 2 months is not long enough. Some unaccounted-for vitamin with a long half-life or a low requirement could give deficiency symptoms after 4 months but not 2. Also, people on restrictive diets post all the time about how crappy they feel when they reintroduce something. For him to slide comfortably into the explanation "thus my product makes me feel better than restaurant food" is typical of such dieters' enthusiasm. Although bad restaurant food does exist, much of the digestive upset people experience when going out to eat is simply down to overeating, late eating, or alcohol.
That was also a week he spent travelling. Sleeping away from home, long plane/car rides, irregular schedule, and all the other attendant discomforts are quite enough to throw me off my game, even without dietary shifts.

There's kind of a growing movement around Rob Rhinehart's Soylent thing, dunno if you folks have heard of this.

Basically, he got tired of making food all the time and tried to figure out the absolute minimum required chemical compounds required for a healthy diet, and then posted the overall list, and has now been roughly food free for three months, along with a bunch of other people.

It seems awesome to me and I'm hoping this sort of idea becomes more prevalent. My favorite quote from him I can't now find, but it's something along the lines of "I enjo... (read more)

Further discussion:

Some people thrive for decades (including Stephen Hawking) tube fed with nutritionally complete enteral formulas. Semi-annual blood tests pick up any deficiencies, and supplements are added if needed. Several companies make "Soylent", the one I am familiar with is Abbott Nutrition.

That sounds particularly appealing to someone like me who outright forgets to be hungry. It seems I shall now be looking into this.
Is there more to the Soylent thing than mixing off-the-shelf protein shake powder, olive oil, multivitamin pills, and mineral supplement pills and then eating it?

This is interesting. For years I've blended together various ingredients (mostly stuff like broccoli, lentils, sweet pepper, ricotta, canned tuna, olive oil, various grains and nuts such as flax, sesame, hazelnut, sunflower), balanced these for macro and micro-nutrients using cron-o-meter, further optimized along various axes such as cost, taste, ease of use, ease of preparation, packaging, cleaning up etc. Food is primarily something I do to feed myself in the end, and I dislike it when there's too much fluff.

I'd be more wary of mixing together purified/r... (read more)

As a vegetarian, I'm also excited at this. And as, y'know, a LW-type-person, obviously.
Does anyone know what the time-line is on vitamin deficiencies? I mean might this be like cigarettes - increases your risk of something going wrong massively but only becomes apparent years down the line when you're already screwed.
I'm also trying making a total food replacement this summer. Recommendation for people trying to make their own: start by buying just the macronutrients (oil / carbs / protein), and finding a blend you'll be okay with consuming. It's unlikely that the micronutrients will make it appreciably tastier, so if you can't find one you like without putting the micronutrients in it then you should abort. (The micronutrients represent a far more significant capital outlay, if you buy the ingredients separately rather than going with a multivitamin.)
Soylent Orange (with new and improved recipe. Okay, I just added marmite, but it's significantly more nutritionally complete than before) This is a less radical version of the idea using store bought ingredients to achieve roughly the same ends.
Yes! There will be a Kickstarter soon and I can't wait.
This looks like it might solve several food problems I've been having. (Not wanting to interrupt work to get food, being hungry but not wanting any particular food, and needing to eat every 2-3 hours to keep my blood sugar under control. That last one is mainly a problem because eating in the middle of class or a meeting looks weird, and I could probably get away with a drink more easily.) I might try something like it this summer, probably while eating normal food once or twice a day to reduce the risk.

I find this incredibly fascinating. Especially the ability to save hours every day from not needing to eat. If the guy doesn't die after a year or so, I'm definitely trying this out.

Great! Perhaps we could stage a meetup.

Thank you for all your replies! I guess I should figure out how to turn on email notifications or something.

A few thoughts.

1) Yes, if cost goes down, then this becomes much more palatable, I agree. However, I didn't mean to strictly imply monetary cost. But yes, overall, a great point. Driving costs down sounds like a reasonable goal.

2) As a few of you pointed out, you're absolutely right that I should be consistent in my claims about selfishness - if the cost of cryonics is equal to that of buying a house, then either I should not buy a house or my object... (read more)

I am against cryonics, and here's why (though I would love to hear a rebuttal):

Cryonics seems inherently, and destructively, to the human race, grossly selfish. Not only is cryonics a huge cost that could be spent elsewhere helping others, nature and evolution thrive on the necessity of refreshing the population of each species. Though it's speculation, I would assign the probability of evolution continuing to work (and improve) on the human race as pretty high - what gain does the human species have in preserving humans from the 21st century indefinitely,... (read more)

Improve humans in what respect? Do you think that high intelligence is positively correlated in modern society with number of offspring? How about moral character? More attractive people are certainly seen as more sexually desirable, but do they have more children? Evolution doesn't improve species, it increases their fitness within a particular environment, and it only does so in response to selection pressure. It doesn't matter how wildly successful a person with an IQ of 220 would be, if people with higher IQs do not have better odds of producing surviving offspring, evolution will not make humans smarter, and the same goes for any other measure you might apply to the worth of a person. In any case, most of the difference between a person now and several generations from now will not be genetic, unless we start tinkering around with human genomes ourselves. Other adaptation mechanisms, such as memes and technology, change much faster.
We can do gene therapy to update the 21st century humans to 23rd century humans.
I just made a small calculation : The number of deaths in the US is about 2.5 million per year. The cost of cryonics is about $30000 per "patient" with the Cryonics Institute. So if everyone wanted to be frozen, it would cost 75 billion dollars a year, about 0.5% of the US GDP, or 3% of the healthcare spending. This neglects the economies of scales which could greatly reduce the price. So even with a low probability of success, cryonics seems to be a good choice.

I would assign the probability of evolution continuing to work (and improve) on the human race as pretty high

Then you probably don't understand evolution very well. Evolution doesn't "improve" things, it makes more of whatever survives and reproduces.

Based on the current trends, I'd say we' re evolving in the direction of "too dumb to use birth control".

I find it strange that no one seems to be arguing what my answer is; I want to be cryopreserved because my primary value is my life. In any situation where A is certain death and B is any probability of life, I choose B. This is why your argument is irrelevant given my utility function.
Thank you for all your replies! I guess I should figure out how to turn on email notifications or something. A few thoughts. 1) Yes, if cost goes down, then this becomes much more palatable, I agree. However, I didn't mean to strictly imply monetary cost. But yes, overall, a great point. Driving costs down sounds like a reasonable goal. 2) As a few of you pointed out, you're absolutely right that I should be consistent in my claims about selfishness - if the cost of cryonics is equal to that of buying a house, then either I should not buy a house or my objection is elsewhere. I think this comes back to the problem of not considering monetary cost solely. I don't object to buying a house as much, even for the same monetary cost, because presumably I am alive and am productively helping society (at least, I would hope so). As far as vacations to the Bahamas go, yeah, I'm not sure I would choose to take said vacation for similar reasons (seems real selfish to me). So perhaps I'm somewhat consistent (ha). 3) True, evolution does not have a human-style "goal" in mind, and perhaps we have beaten evolution in the sense that it no longer will continue to produce productive results, or at least as productive as our technological advancements can achieve. So, that's definitely a fair point. 4) My feeling on death is that your time is your time, but I guess in retrospect I have no more reason to feel that way than anyone has to feel that they should avoid death. Certainly the point that there is no real reason the current life expectancy is what it is is a good one. So, all, excellent points, well taken. I think I am to the point where my objection to cryonics is only a little above my objection to vacations in the Bahamas. :) Which is to say, still strong - I can understand that others are likely to want to do so, but I doubt I will be encouraging anyone, much less planning trips of my own.
Cryonics is a cost, yes, but living is a cost as well. Is spending my money on cryonics more or less selfish than a 2-week vacation in the Bahamas every year for 10 years? In both cases, my money supports an economy, and I get a benefit --a recharge, in the latter, a possible regeneration in the former-- that will enhance my contribution to society.
While I agree with you to some extent, I believe I can play devil's advocate. Is it clear that progress through evolution is optimal? Evolution is insensible and doesn't consistently result in linear progress (e.g., we could be wiped out by a virus). In any case, relying on evolution is futile: we seem to be at a new stage of pattern formation where cultural and technical evolution is working at a far greater pace than generational, genetic evolution. Evolution, and any plans that it might have had for us, is falling to the wayside. This is not to say that a 70-100 year lifespan is ideal. We spend so much of our productive lifetimes learning, it seems we could be much more productive if the working sector had more productive years before retirement. What is the value of the group if the individual doesn't matter? Death is something hanging over us that causes a lot of misery, fear and anxiety. Death is a very unpleasant consequence for sentient beings -- I would argue that it should never have been allowed to happen, this combination of sentience and mortality. Wouldn't it be good to fix that problem for all sentient beings, now and in the future?
Getting from "cryonics might interfere with natural selection" to "cryonics is bad" requires crossing a large inferential distance, with plenty of caveats along the way. Evolution has its own ideas about what is better, and they are often things that humanity would consider worse. Genetic engineering might replace evolution entirely. This argument is valid - money spent on cryonics might be better spent on charity. But it isn't valid at all price points. For example, if cryonics cost only $100, then even the small benefit to future anthropologists would be worth it. And the cost gets cheaper as time passes and technology improves, so eventually it will be cheap enough to be worth it; the only question is, how cheap is cheap enough?

Cryonics seems inherently, and destructively, to the human race, grossly selfish. Not only is cryonics a huge cost that could be spent elsewhere helping others

It is not very expensive (and could get even cheaper — see Cryonics Wants To Be Big), and many of its supporters see it in a primarily humanitarian sense (advocating that it be easily and cheaply available to everyone, not just being concerned with having it themselves).

Also, as for "spent elsewhere helping others": there are charities that can reliably save a life for between $200 and $... (read more)

I agree that evolution will continue for the human race, though I think a lot of it will become memetic rather than. However, it's hard to tell what's an improvement and what isn't. I admit to concerns about increased no-pause longevity-- the same people could stay in charge for a very long time. Institutions are less likely to get refreshed with new ideas. Cryonics is relatively safe for that problem-- people aren't going to be able to sustain power if they're gone for decades. (Or at least there's some interesting science fiction work to be done figuring out how they could.) My assumption is that revived people will be a smallish part of the population, and will add variety by keeping old points of view from getting lost. In particular, artists aren't fungible, and I think it would be an advantage to continue to get new works from the good ones.
If the next couple centuries of human evolution are anything like the last several dozen, the only way we'll be "improved" by evolution is the addition of a few more disease immunities. If they're not it will probably be because (a) we can just directly modify the geonome, and what nature would take millions of years to get around to artifice can do nigh-immediately or (b) some sort of terrible disaster has occured (and even then most of the selective forces will just be for immunities.) I think it's hard to dispute that there are more pressing uses of limited resources than cryonics. But this is an argument against frivolties in general. It's reasonable to say "we should rob the rich and give to the poor, so that more resources are expended on food and basic medicine than smartphones and frozen heads," if that's where your values lie, but "cryonics is more objectionable than smartphones" doesn't follow.

I agree, cryonics is selfish. But no more so than lots of other things people indulge themselves in, like buying a house. It would be hypocritical to single out cryonics specifically, using this criterion as justification. This is not your true rejection.

oh no! i was totally scrolling down to post hi when i saw this.

I put high five day in my calendar as the 19th of april, and so I was super stoked for tomorrow. who knew it was the third thursday? not me. :( what a bummer

also, hi!

As a newcomer, I would find this tremendously useful. I clicked through the wiki links on noteworthy articles, but often find there are a lot of assumptions or previously discussed things that go mentioned but unexplained. Perhaps this would help.