All of LRudL's Comments + Replies

That line was intended to (mildly humorously) make the point that we realise and are aware that there are many other serious risks in the popular imagination. Our central point is that AI x-risk is grand civilisational threat #1, so we wanted to lead with that, and since people think many other things are potential civilisational catastrophes (if not x-risks) we thought it made sense to mention those (and also implicitly put AI into the reference class of "serious global concern"). We discussed, and got feedback from several others, on this opener and whil... (read more)

I just want to clarify that referencing Vladimir Putin works very well for explaining x-risk/vulnerable world hypothesis/inadequate equilibria to most people. I have done it and it is often very helpful. In DC, talking like that is hazardous to one's career, and I made that mistake a couple times in my first year in DC. People in DC in general should worry about talking about things that seem popular on the internet; I've had people decide they didn't want to talk to me (blank stare) after I mentioned Big Data, because to them it was just a buzzword used by people who don't know what they're talking about. That's an extreme case and the best rule of thumb is to avoid talking about politicians or political parties, especially strong emotions regarding political parties or politicians.

This is an interesting point, I haven't thought about the relation to SVO/etc. before! I wonder whether SVO/SOV dominance is a historical quirk, or if the human brain actually is optimized for those.

The verb-first emphasis of prefix notation like in classic Lisp is clearly backwards sometimes. Parsing this has high mental overhead relative to what it's expressing:

(reduce +
        (filter even?
               (take 100 fibonacci-numbers)))

I freely admit this is more readable:


Clojure, a modern Lisp dia... (read more)

In my experience the sense of Lisp syntax being idiosyncratic disappears quickly, and gets replaced by a sense of everything else being idiosyncratic.

The straightforward prefix notation / Lisp equivalent of return x1 if n = 1 else return x2 is (if (= n 1) x1 x2). To me this seems shorter and clearer. However I admit the clarity advantage is not huge, and is clearly subjective.

(An alternative is postfix notation: ((= n 1) x1 x2 if) looks unnatural, though (2 (3 4 *) +) and (+ 2 (* 3 4)) aren't too far apart in my opinion, and I like the cause->effect rel... (read more)

Hmm, neither lisp nor python feel natural to me, but I understand that it is just a matter of getting used to. On the other hand, for all JS faults, its style of lambda and filter/map/reduce felt natural to me right away.

Since some others are commenting about not liking the graph-heavy format: I really liked the format, in particular because having it as graphs rather than text made it much faster and easier to go through and understand, and left me with more memorable mental images. Adding limited text probably would not hurt, but adding lots would detract from the terseness that this presentation effectively achieves. Adding clear definitions of the terms at the start would have been valuable though.

Rather than thinking of a single example that I carried throughout as yo... (read more)

Regarding the end of slavery: I think you make good points and they've made me update towards thinking that the importance of materialistic Morris-style models is slightly less and cultural models slightly more.

I'd be very interested to hear what were the anti-slavery arguments used by the first English abolitionists and the medieval Catholic Church (religion? equality? natural rights? utilitarian?).

Which, evidently, doesn't prevent the usual narrative from being valid in other places, that is, countries in which slavery was still well accepted finding the

... (read more)

Thank you for this very in-depth comment. I will reply to your points in separate comments, starting with:

According him, the end of the feudal system in England, and its turning into a modern nation-state, involved among other things the closing off and appropriation, by nobles as a reward from the kingdom, of the former common farmlands they farmed on, as well as the confiscation of the lands owned by the Catholic Church, which for all practical purposes also served as common farmlands. This resulted in a huge mass of landless farmers with no access to la

... (read more)

Thanks for the link to Sarah Constantin's post! I remember reading it a long time ago but couldn't have found it again now if I had tried. It was another thing (along with Morris's book) that made me update towards thinking that historical gender norms are heavily influenced by technology level and type. Evidence that technology type variation even within farming societies had major impacts on gender norms also seems like fairly strong support for Morris' idea that the even larger variation between farming societies and foragers/industrialists can explain ... (read more)