Martín Soto

Mathematical Logic graduate student, interested in AI Safety research for ethical reasons.

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That's a pity to hear, since undoubtedly any dietary change or improvement does require some thought (and we also should think about our dietary health regardless of them). That said, I do generally feel the required effort, thought, and money are way less than mainstream opinion usually pictures.

Regarding effort and thought, my experience (and that of all almost all vegans I've known who didn't suffer of already-present unrelated health issues) was that the change did required some effort and thought the first months (getting used to cooking ~15 nutritious comfort vegan meals, checking the labels, possibly visiting your nutritionist for the first time), but it quickly became a habit, as customary as following an omnivore diet.

And regarding money, the big bulk of a healthy vegan diet aren't meat substitutes, processed burgers etc., but vegetables, legumes, cereals... some of the cheapest products you can buy, especially when compared to meat. So a healthy vegan diet is indeed usually cheaper than an omnivore diet, even including the B12 supplementation, which is really cheap, and maybe even including the sporadic nutritionist visit and blood testing (in case they're not already part of your public health/medical plan), unless doctor visits are absurdly expensive in your country.

Tbh I'm not that passionate, I feel like I'm just doing the necessary minimum to stay completely healthy?

Anyway, of course! But most are just really basic reviews/explainers that are one google search away, to get the big picture of what you need. Some of these are:

And regardless of these resources you should of course visit a nutritionist (even if very sporadically, or even just once when you start being vegan) so that they can confirm the important bullet points, whether what you're doing broadly works, and when you should worry about anything. (And again, anecdotically this has been strongly stressed and acknowledged as necessary by all vegans I've met, which are not few).

The nutritionist might recommend yearly (or less frequent) blood testing, which does feel like a good failsafe. I've been taking them for ~6 years and all of them have turned out perfect (I only supplement B12, as nutritionist recommended).

I guess it's not that much that there's some resource that is the be-all end-all on vegan nutrition, but more that all of the vegans I've met have forwarded a really positive health-conscious attitudes, and stressed the importance of this points.

I've also very sporadically engaged with more extensive dietary literature, but mainly in Spanish (for example, Lucía Martínez's Vegetarianos con ciencia).

Nice! I guess I was just worrying about framing, since most people who see this will only skim, and they might get the impression that veganism per se induces deficiencies, instead of un-supplemented veganism (especially since I've already seen a comment about fixing this with non-vegan products, instead of the usual and recommended vegan supplementation).

It's scarce and mostly extremely low quality.

And totally agree. Nonetheless, I do think available reviews can be called rich in comparison to a 5 or 20 person study.

I don't doubt your anecdotal experience is as you're telling it, but mine has been completely different, so much so that it sounds crazy to me to spend a whole year being vegan, and participating in animal advocacy, without hearing mention of B12 supplementation. Literally all vegans I've met have very prominently stressed the importance of dietary health and B12 supplementation. Heck, even all the vegan shitposts are about B12!

comparing [~vegans who don't take supplements] to [omnivores who don't take supplements] will give the clearest data

Even if that might be literally true for scientific purposes (and stressing again that the above project clearly doesn't have robust scientific evidence as its goal), I do think this won't be an accurate representation of the picture when presented to the community, since most vegans do supplement [citation needed, but it's been my extensive personal and online experience, and all famous vegan resources I've seen stress this], and thus you're comparing the non-average vegan to the average omnivore, giving a false sense of imbalance against veganism. As rational as we might try to be, framing of this kind matters, and we all are especially emotional and visceral with regards to something as intimate and personal as our diet. On average, people raised omnivores have strong repulsion towards veganism (so much so as to override ethical concerns), and I think we should take that into account.

Thanks for this post! I'm guessing the main drive for this project is just compellingly exemplifying that nutrient deficiency is also present in the rationalist community, so as for more people to treat their dietary health seriously? Even though there's no a priori reason to expect nutrient deficiency not to happen amongst non-dietary-conscious rationalists.

I say that because (and sorry for maybe being blunt) the sample size is so small compared to the rich existing literature on this topic, that this feels more like an emotionally compelling "take care of yourself" advice than any scientifically relevant discovery.

On a related note:

The ideal subject was completely vegan, had never put any effort or thought into their diet, and was extremely motivated to take a test and implement changes.

I don't understand why the target subject here should be people who have never put any effort or thought into their diet. That way you don't get relevant evidence about the prevalence of iron deficiency among veg*ns, but only the almost trivial conclusion that people who don't take any care of their dietary health have some deficiencies.

Erik has already pointed out some problems in the math, but also

Formal definition: Same as for the attractor sequence, but for a positive Lyapunov coefficient.

I'm not sure this feels right. For the attractor sequence, it makes sense to think of the last part of the sequence as the attractor, that to which is arrived, and to think of the "structural properties incentivizing attraction" lying there. On the contrary, it would seem like the "structural properties incentivizing chaos" should be found at the start of the sequence (after which different paths wildly diverge), instead of in one of such divergent endings. Intuitively it seems like a sequence should be chaotic just when its Lyapunov exponent is high.

On another note, I wonder whether such a conceptualization of language generation as a dynamical system can be fruitful even for natural, non-AI linguistics.

I share this intuition that the solution as stated is underwhelming. But from my perspective that's just because that key central piece is missing, and this wasn't adequately communicated in the available public resources about PreDCA (even if it was stressed that it's a work in progress). I guess this situation doesn't look as worrisome to Vanessa simply because she has a clearer picture of that central piece, or good motives to believe it will be achievable, which she hasn't yet made public. Of course, while this is the case we should treat optimism with suspicion.

Also, let me note that my a priori understanding of the situation is not

let's suppose amazing theory will solve imperfect search, and then tackle the other inner misalignment directly stemming from our protocol

but more like

given our protocol, we have good mathematical reasons to believe it will be very hard for an inner optimizer to arise without manipulating hypothesis update. We will use amazing theory to find a concrete learning setup and prove/conjecture that said manipulation is not possible (or that the probability is low). We then hope the remaining inner optimization problems are rare/few/weak enough as for other more straightforward methods to render them highly unlikely (like having the core computing unit explicitly reason about the risk of inner optimization).

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