Kaj_Sotala's Comments

Five Ways To Prioritize Better

Curated. This kind of systematic prioritization mindset is a very important part of instrumental rationality and is applied a lot e.g. CFAR, but not discussed half as much on LW. This post also distinguishes itself by systematically covering multiple subsets of that skill and having concrete fictional illustrations that draw on real conversations with people; I quite like this approach to trying to actually convey the underlying mindset.

Noise on the Channel
Literal unironic object-level question: why do so many people think this is a good social setting? Maybe the noise serves an important social function I'm not seeing?

A little while back, I was reading this article which talks, among other things, about how COVID restrictions will change the atmosphere in restaurants. I thought that the writer would say something like "having fewer customers at a time will make it harder for restaurants to profit, but will contribute to a less crowded and pleasantly quiet atmosphere for those customers that can get seats". Instead I got this, which sounds like the author actively enjoys the noise:

Empty space is bad enough for downtown restaurants, where thin margins require filling every square inch with paying customers. But at a deeper level, these adaptations will create a whole new ambience, making restaurants more awkward, more expensive, and less fun. One of the joys of getting a drink in a crowded space is the soundtrack of a hundred strangers’ conversations humming underneath the intimacy of a private exchange. Social-distance dining prohibits the thrum of a full house.

Thinking about it, some people even use artificial crowd noises to help them work, so that sound may feel actively enjoyable to many.

GPT-3 Fiction Samples

I'm not sure how exactly reasoning should be defined and whether that part really requires reasoning or not. But if it's just very advanced and incredible recognition and mimicry abilities, it still shifts my impression of what can be achieved using just advanced and incredible recognition and mimicry abilities. I would previously have assumed that you need something like reasoning for it, but if you don't, then maybe the capacity for reasoning is slightly less important than I had thought.

GPT-3 Fiction Samples

My largest update came from the bit where it figured out that it was expected to produce Harry Potter parodies in different styles. Previously GPT had felt cool, but basically a very advanced version of a Markov chain. But the HP thing felt like it would have required some kind of reasoning.

What's Your Cognitive Algorithm?
Is your claim "this is insufficient – you still need working memory and the ability to model scenarios, and currently we don't know how to do that, and there are good reasons to think that throwing lots of data and better reward structures at our existing algorithms won't be enough to cause this to develop automatically via Neural Net Magic?"

So at this point I'm pretty uncertain of what neural nets can or can not learn to do. But at least I am confident in saying that GPT isn't going to learn the kinds of abilities that would be required for actually fighting fires, as it is trained and tested on a fundamentally static task, as opposed to one that requires adapting your behavior to a situation as it develops. For evaluating at progress on those, projects like AlphaStar look like more relevant candidates.

I don't feel confident in saying whether some combination of existing algorithms and training methods could produce a system that approached the human level on dynamic tasks. Most people seem to agree that we haven't gotten neural nets to learn to do good causal reasoning yet, so my understanding of the expert consensus is that current techniques seem inadequate... but then the previous expert consensus would probably also have judged neural nets to be inadequate for doing many of the tasks that they've now mastered.

How ought I spend time?

Whether they feel motivating/exciting/interesting enough for me to actually carry them out. Things like "will this have an impact on anything" do get factored into that, e.g. completely pointless activities often feel less interesting. But my conscious mind only catches glimpses of that calculation, so I wouldn't call it "reasoning".

Don't Make Your Problems Hide
There are other approaches too. Many people believe in using meditation to better integrate their thoughts and feelings and desires, for instance.

Worth noting that at least some styles of meditation can also make the problems hide. As with CFAR/CBT techniques, some of the issues get dissected and resolved, but others may just get reburied deeper.

GPT-3 Fiction Samples

Okay, my intuitions for AI timelines just shifted to put considerably more probability on the short end.

Spoiler-Free Review: Monster Train
Note that I still say Class here rather than Class Pair. In my experience, you lean into one or the other theme, and use only a little from the other. There are good units and a few good spells everywhere, but you can’t mix multiple card-intensive themes if you want to win.

This feels often true, but I just noticed that Hellhorned/Remnant can work really well together. Spam imps for their effects, let them die / kill them off with Inferno or Imp-portant Work, then reform them and repeat.

Had a particularly enjoyable Covenant 9 run ( monstertrain://runresult/21069f33-c51b-4b3f-b12a-a22a6c4c7c52 ) where I also lucked into having Flicker's Liquor and it was just insane, all of my heavy hitters on the top floor and the lower floors swarming with imps and dregs. I was mostly playing them for their effects and didn't even care if they killed enemies (because the top floor would have taken care of anyone anyway), but they had been reformed so many times that they actually dealt significant damage on their own. Infernos helped too, and many enemy waves never even made it to the top. Seraph was consuming spells but my Impish Scholars meant that that didn't really even matter: often the consumed spell would already be back in my hand before the turn was over. At best I was playing something like four copies of Onehorn's Tome (with a total of two copies in my deck) a turn, and the battle was over before it ever even got to the final wave.

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