Kaj_Sotala

Sequences

Concept Safety
Multiagent Models of Mind
Keith Stanovich: What Intelligence Tests Miss

Comments

What is the strongest argument you know for antirealism?

It seems very hard for me to imagine how one could create a procedure that wasn't biased towards a particular value system. E.g. Stuart Armstrong has written about how humans can be assigned any values whatsoever - you have to decide what parts of their behavior are because of genuine preferences and what parts are because of irrationality, and what values that implies. And the way you decide what's correct behavior and what's irrationality seems like the kind of a choice that will depend on your own values. Even something like "this seems like the simplest way of assigning preferences" presupposes that it is valuable to pick a procedure based on its simplicity - though the post argues that even simplicity would fail to distinguish between several alternative ways of assigning preferences.

Of course, just because we can't be truly unbiased doesn't mean we couldn't be less biased, so maybe something like "pick the simplest system that produces sensible agents, distinguishing between ties at random" could arguably be the least biased alternative. But human values seem quite complex; if there was some simple and unbiased solution that would produce convergent values to all AIs that implemented it, it might certainly have something in common with what we call values, but that's not a very high bar. There's a sense in which all the bacteria share the same goal, "making more (surviving) copies of yourself is the only thing that matters", and I'd expect the convergent value system to end up as being something like that. That has some resemblance to human values, since many humans also care about having offspring, but not very much.

What is the strongest argument you know for antirealism?

My position is something like "I haven't yet seen anyone compellingly both define and argue for moral realism, so until then the whole notion seems confused to me".

It is unclear to me what it would even mean for a moral claim to actually be objectively true or false. At the same time, there are many evolutionary and game-theoretical reasons for why various moral claims would feel objectively true or false to human minds, and that seems sufficient for explaining why many people have an intuition of moral realism being true. I have also personally found some of my moral beliefs changing as a result of psychological work - see the second example here - which makes me further inclined to believe that moral beliefs are all psychological (and thus subjective, as I understand the term).

So my argument is simply that there doesn't seem to be any reason for me to believe in moral realism, somewhat analogous to how there doesn't seem to be any reason for me to believe in a supernatural God.

What are your favorite examples of adults in and around this community publicly changing their minds?

As far as I understand, "I changed my mind about the claims in the paper" isn't usually considered a reason to withdraw. Withdrawal is something like an attempt to retract the fact that you ever made a claim in the first place, and reserved for things like outright fraud or very serious mistakes in data collection that invalidate the whole analysis. 

Spoiler-Free Review: Monster Train

25 hours played, this game has been growing on me as well. Though I too would like it if there was more room for creative improvisation, as in Slay the Spire, rather than strict optimization. A lot of the units have just outright fun concepts, and it would be nice if mixing and matching them more freely would make gameplay sense. 

At 220 hours played and with Covenant 25 wins on 14 of the base game's 20 possible class pairings, I don't feel this way anymore. Improvisation and relentless optimization aren't opposed; the need for relentless optimization just requires me to improvise better. It just required getting familiar enough with the mechanics and cards to be able to do that.

Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension

Is it disagreeing with the OP's original premise of "lifting the patents doesn't do anything", or with my inference of "if lifting the patents doesn't do anything, then it won't change future drug company behavior either"? I'm not sure how I'd tell, but I'd presume the more near-term premise of "lifting the patents does(n't) do anything" would have a bigger effect on immediate stock prices.

Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension

That still makes the OP sound rather extreme, though:

If you do not think school’s primary nature is ‘child prison’ and/or that those running it are pro-children, then you have new data your model needs to somehow explain. 

"The people running the school system genuinely think that school is for education and learning, and are happy to have found an option that would allow children to keep learning even on days when they otherwise wouldn't have" seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation, even if one disagrees with that reasoning.

Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension

The Biden administration’s latest strategy for the pandemic is to suspend the vaccine patents without compensation. Our life expectancies are lower than they were last week. [...]

Many people have this idea that all the knowledge and skill required to produce the vaccines lies in the patents. Once you lift the patents, lots of other companies can go start producing vaccines. Except, that’s not actually true because

  1. The vaccines require technical expertise not included in the patents, which is expensive and slow to transfer, and which would also transfer valuable knowledge that can be used for other R&D and other production and thus which the vaccine producers are not going to transfer without compensation.
  2. Moderna explicitly already said they wouldn’t enforce the patents, and no one really expected the others to either.

Read that second one again, if it’s new to you. The greedy capitalists whose rights you took away without compensation were already voluntarily giving those rights away. If there was already clearly no intent to enforce the patents, what good does lifting those patents do?

It feels odd to me to simultaneously argue that patents were unimportant and unenforced anyway so this will produce no benefit, and that the decision to suspend patents will hurt the drug companies so much that in the future they have less of an incentive to invest in drug development?

Seems like "this will kill people" is premised on the assumption that the next time something like COVID happens, drug companies will remember what happened last so will be less incentivized to invest. But if the thing that they remember the next time is "governments did this purely symbolic gesture that didn't really affect our profits in any way but made their voters happier", then it would seem like they should have no particular reason to act any different?

My Journey to the Dark Side

Similar. I also pretty strongly think that e.g. many of the core beliefs driving our behavior have nothing to do with their stated reasons and are actually social strategies. But the whole hemisphere thing, as well as the vehemence that Ziz has around her moral views, don't seem compelling to me. They give me a strong vibe of themselves being derived from some unacknowledged emotional strategy she has going on, rather than reflecting any kind of real truth.

All is fair in love and war, on Zero-sum games in life

More specifically, interpersonal interaction has both a dominance dimension ("of status, dominance, power, ambitiousness, assertiveness, or control") and a warmth dimension ("of agreeableness, compassion, nurturant, solidarity, friendliness, warmth, affiliation or love"). Dominance is zero-sum, but warmth is not.

Cultures also vary in how much they emphasize the dominance and warmth dimensions. In more "status-flat" cultures (such as the Nordic countries), social conventions tend to de-emphasize status differences, making relative status less important and letting the warmth dimension matter more.

It seems interesting to me that I feel like I mostly encounter arguments such as "status is zero-sum so we can't ever make everyone happy" expressed by people from non-Nordic countries. The notion always seemed unintuitive to me, and I don't think that the reason is just "Kaj personally pays less attention to dominance status" since I do feel pretty sensitive to it. Rather, it feels like a significant part of it is Finnish culture just not caring about dominance status that much, relative to warmth, making it hard for me to see why the zero-sumness of status should necessarily be a significant problem.

Why I Work on Ads

From the perspective of users, I think the internet would be essentially unusable unless you subscribed to a few standard services, which would then have harmful levels of leverage. 

I wonder about that: before third-party services started popping up, internet service providers and nonprofits used to offer more services that are now offered by third parties. E.g. your ISP used to give you an e-mail account and website space, and services such as Usenet and IRC functioned in a decentralized fashion, with servers being hosted by universities, ISPs and others. That model won't work for everything, but it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to imagine services such as social media and search shifting to a more decentralized model if advertising was banned. (Decentralized social media networks such as Diaspora already exist; I'm under the impression that the main reason they're not used more is that network effects create too much lock-in to existing, more centralized services.)

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