All of MathiasKB's Comments + Replies

chinchilla's wild implications

I don't think the real world is good enough either.

The fact that humans feel a strong sense of the tetris effect, suggest to me that the brain is constantly generating and training on synthetic data.

Aka dreams?

Another issue with greenwashing and safetywashing is that it gives people who earnestly care a false impression that they are meaningfully contributing.

Despite thousands of green initiatives, we're likely to blow way past the 1.5c mark because the far majority of those initiatives failed to address the core causes of climate change. Each plastic-straw ban and reusable diaper gives people an incorrect impression that they are doing something meaningful to improve the climate.

Similarly I worry that many people will convince themselves that they are doing som... (read more)

we should be very sceptical of interventions whose first-order effects aren't promising.

This seems reasonable, but I think this suspicion is currently applied too liberally. In general, it seems like second-order effects are often very large. For instance, some AI safety research is currently funded by a billionaire whose path to impact on AI safety was to start a cryptocurrency exchange. I've written about the general distaste for diffuse effects and how that might be damaging here; if you disagree I'd love to hear your response.

In general, I don't think ... (read more)

I’m worried about this too, especially since I think it’s surprisingly easy here (relative to most fields/goals) to accidentally make the situation even worse. For example, my sense is people often mistakenly conclude that working on capabilities will help with safety somehow, just because an org's leadership pays lip service to safety concerns—even if the org only spends a small fraction of its attention/resources on safety work, actively tries to advance SOTA, etc.

"A Generalist Agent": New DeepMind Publication

The primary question on my mind is something like this:

How much retraining is needed for Gato to learn a new task? Given a task, such as "Stack objects and compose a relevant poem" which combines skills it has already learned, yet is a fundamentally different task, does it quickly learn how to perform well at it?

If not, then it seems Deepmind 'merely' managed to get a single agent to do a bunch of tasks we were previously only able to do with multiple agents. If it is also quicker at learning new tasks in similar domains, than an agent trained solely to do it, then it seems like a big step towards general intelligence.

Getting GPT-3 to predict Metaculus questions

Hi Niplav, happy to hear you think that.

I just uploaded the pkl files that include the pandas dataframes for the metaculus questions and GPT's completions for the best performing prompt to github. Let me know if you need anything else :)

Thanks a lot!
Beyond micromarriages

I think wife rolls of the tongue uniquely well here due to 'wife' rhyming with 'life', creating the pun. Outside of that I don't buy it. In Denmark, wife-jokes are common despite wife being a two syllable word (kone) and husband-jokes are rare despite husband being a one syllable word (mand).

My model of why we see this has much more to do with gender norms and normalised misogyny than with catchiness of the words.

Beyond micromarriages

Good point, though I would prefer we name it Quality Adjusted Spouse Years :)

but it's such a good pun!

On the Devil's Advocate side: "Wife" just rolls off the tongue in a way "husband" doesn't. That's why we have "wife guys" and "my wife!" jokes, but no memes that do much with the word "husband". (Sometimes we substitute the one-syllable word "man", as in "it's raining men" or "get you a man who can do both".) You could also parse "wife years" as "years of being a wife" from the female perspective, though of course this still fails to incorporate couples where no wife-identifying person is involved. it doesn't work well in a technical sense, but it remains very catchy.

+1, you could make it Quality Adjusted Wedded Years if you want to keep the acronym.

(That's what I thought it stood for when you (= Richard) first told me about it)

5x5 Go Board

Fantastic to see this wonderful game be passed onto a new generation!

Political Office for Beginners?

I can't speak specifically about American politics, but I work for the equivalent of the democrats in the European Parliament and participate actively in municipal politics, which probably carries some resemblance.

The biggest barrier you have to overcome is getting your political party to agree you would be the best person to represent them in office. Join the political party you feel most closely aligned with and start showing up for its local events. You'll be surprised at the influence you can have on local politics just by showing up.

Your most difficul... (read more)

I personally do understand how political careers work in Berlin where I'm living, but I don't think you can easily transfer that to the US. In a political system where the local political party controls the list of candidates, it's indeed central to interact with the local party. In the US you frequently have situations where there are primaries that determine the candidates of a given party which produces different incentives. That dramatically reduces the political power of the actual political parties. One example is that it was advantageous for Obama to end Dean's 50 state strategy that provided local funding all over the US because Obama didn't have direct control over the party. Obama campaign created their own campaign structures independent from the democratic party that could then be used more directly to mobilize for the interests of the Obama administration.
Hey, thanks for the insight. The running in-line with a political party is a great point for anyone in America. The successes of third-party candidates are rare enough, that the rational first step to take is probably always joining one of the two parties.
What would you like from How valuable would it be to you?

My analysis was from no exercise to regular high intensity exercise. There's probably an 80/20 in between, but I did not look into it.

2Adam Zerner8mo
Gotcha, thanks.
What would you like from How valuable would it be to you?

For what it's worth hastily made a spreadsheet and found that regular heavy exercise was by far the largest improvement I could make to my life expectancy. Everything else paled in comparison. That said I only evaluated interventions that were relevant to me. If you smoke, I imagine quitting would score high as well.

2Adam Zerner8mo
Good to know, thanks! My understanding is that with exercise, going from nothing to something has a huge benefit, but after that the returns diminish pretty rapidly. I'm being very qualitative here, but maybe eg. going from something to solid exercise is decent, and then solid to intense is small. Does that match what you found?
Politics is way too meta

For me, this perfectly hits the nail on the head.

This is a somewhat weird question, but like, how do I do that?

I've noticed multiple communities fall into the meta-trap, and even when members notice it can be difficult to escape. While the solution is simply to "stop being meta", that is much harder said than done.

When I noticed this happening in a community I am central in organizing I pushed back by bringing my own focus to output instead of process hoping others would follow suit. This has worked somewhat and we're definitely on a better track. I wonder what dynamics lead to this 'death by meta' syndrome, and if there is a cure.

When you're actually a little curious, you might start by using a search engine to find a decent answer to your question. At least, if it's the sort of question for which that would work. Maybe even look for a book to read? But, maybe we should acknowledge that much of the time we aren't actually curious and are just engaging in conversation for enjoyment? In that case, cheering on others who make an effort to research things and linking to their work is probably the best you can do. Even if you're not actually curious, you can notice people who are, and you can look for content that's actually about concrete things. For example, my curiosity about the history of politics in Turkey is limited, so while I did read Scott Alexander's recent book review and some responses with interest, I'm not planning on reading an actual book on it. I don't think he's all that curious either, since he just read one book, but that's going further than me.
Heel-and-toe drumming

Really cool concept of drumming with your feet while playing another instrument.

I think it would be really cool to experiment with different trigger sounds. The muscles in your foot severely limits the nuances available to play, and trying to imitate the sounds of a regular drum-set will not go over well.

I think it is possible to achieve much cooler playing, if you skip the idea of your pedals needing to imitate a drum-set entirely. Experiment with some 808 bass, electric kicks, etc.

Combining that with your great piano playing would create an entirely new feel of music, whereas it can easily end up sounding like a good pianist struggling to cooperate with a much worse drummer

If you look at the video where I'm playing piano I'm using electronic drum sounds, though I still want to play around and figure out ones I like better. Here's what this is eventually going to fit with: []
Why indoor lighting is hard to get right and how to fix it

I spent 5 minutes searching for replacements to the various products recommended and my search came up empty.

Is there someone who has put together the needed list of bright lighting products on I tried doing it myself and ended up hopelessly confused. What I'm asking for is eg. two desk lamps and corresponding light bulbs that live up to the criteria.

I'll pay $50 to the charity of your choice, if I make a purchase based off your list.

Things are allowed to be good and bad at the same time

And there doesn’t need to be an “overall goodness” of the job that would be anything else than just the combination of those two facts.

There needs to be an "overall goodness" that is exactly equal to the combination of those two facts. I really like the fundamental insight of the post. It's important to recognize that your mind wants to push your perception of the "overall goodness" to the extremes, and that you shouldn't let it do that.

If you now had to make a decision on whether to take the job, how would you use this electrifying zap help you make the decision?

My current feeling is that I'd probably take it. (The job example was fictional, as the actual cases where I've used this have been more personal in nature, but if I translate your question to those contexts then "I'd take it" is what I would say if I translated the answer back.)
Should we write more about social life?

I would strongly prefer a Lesswrong that is completely devoid of this.

Half the time it ends up in spiritual vaguery, of which there's already too much on Lesswrong. The other half ends up being toxic male-centric dating advice.

Inner Alignment: Explain like I'm 12 Edition

For those who, like me, have the attention span and intelligence of a door hinge the ELI5 edition is:

Outer alignment is trying to find a reward function that is aligned with our values (making it produce good stuff rather than paperclips)

Inner alignment is the act of ensuring our AI actually optimizes the reward function we specify.

An example of poor inner alignment would be us humans in the eyes of evolution. Instead of doing what evolution intended, we use contraceptives so we can have sex without procreation. If evolution had gotten its inner alignment right, we would care as much about spreading our genes as evolution does!

To what extent is GPT-3 capable of reasoning?

GPT-3's goal is to accurately predict a text sequence. Whether GPT-3 is capable of reason, or whether we can get it to explicitly reason is two different questions.

If I had you read Randall Munroe's book "what if" but tore out one page and asked you to predict what will be written as the answer, there's a few good strategies that come to mind.

One strategy would be to pick random verbs and nouns from previous questions and hope some of them will be relevant for this question as well. This strategy will certainly do better than if yo... (read more)

Six economics misconceptions of mine which I've resolved over the last few years

I don't get the divestment argument, please help me understand why I'm wrong.

Here's how I understand it:

If Bob offers to pay Alice whatever Evil-Corp™ would have paid in stock dividends in exchange for what Alice would have paid for an Evil-Corp™ stock, Evil-Corp™ has to find another buyer. Since Alice was the buyer willing to pay the most, Evil-Corp™ now loses the difference between what Alice was willing to pay and the next-most willing buyer, Eve, is willing to pay.

Is that understanding correct, or am I missing... (read more)

So I think the divestment argument that Buck is making is the following:

Assume there are 25 investors, from Alice to Ysabel. Each investor is risk-averse, and so is willing to give up a bit of expected value in exchange for reduced variance, and the more anticorrelated their holdings, the less variance they'll have. This means Alice is willing to pay more for her first share of EvilCorp stock than she is for her second share, and so on; suppose EvilCorp has 100 shares, and the equilibrium is that each investor has 4 shares.

Suppose now Alice decides th... (read more)

Self-Predicting Markets

As Benjamin Graham put it:

in the short run, the market is a voting machine; in the long run, the market a weighing machine.

The unexpected difficulty of comparing AlphaStar to humans

I think that's a very fair way to put it, yes. One way this becomes very apparent, is that you can have a conversation with a starcraft player while he's playing. It will be clear the player is not paying you his full attention at particularly demanding moments, however.

Novel strategies are thought up inbetween games and refined through dozens of practice games. In the end you have a mental decision tree of how to respond to most situations that could arise. Without having played much chess, I imagine this is how people do chess openers do as wel... (read more)

I think the abstract question of how to cognitively manage a "large action space" and "fog of war" is central here.

In some sense StarCraft could be seen as turn based, with each turn lasting for 1 microsecond, but this framing makes the action space of a beginning-to-end game *enormous*. Maybe not so enormous that a bigger data center couldn't fix it? In some sense, brute force can eventually solve ANY problem tractable to a known "vaguely O(N*log(N))" algorithm.

BUT facing "a limit that forces meta-cognition"... (read more)

The unexpected difficulty of comparing AlphaStar to humans

Before doing the whole EA thing, I played starcraft semi-professionally. I was consistently ranked grandmaster primarily making money from coaching players of all skill levels. I also co-authored a ML paper on starcraft II win prediction.

TL;DR: Alphastar shows us what it will look like when humans are beaten in completely fair fight.

I feel fundamentally confused about a lot of the discussion surrounding alphastar. The entire APM debate feels completely misguided to me and seems to be born out of fundamental misunderstandings of what it means to be good at ... (read more)

I think you're right when it comes to SC2, but that doesn't really matter for DeepMind's ultimate goal with AlphaStar: to show an AI that can learn anything a human can learn. In a sense AlphaStar just proves that SC2 is not balanced for superhuman ( [] ) micro. Big stalker army shouldn't beat big Immortal army. In current SC2 it obviously can with good enough micro. There are probably all sorts of other situations where soft-scissor beats soft-rock with good enough micro. Does this make AlphaStar's SC2 performance illegitimate? Not really? Tho in the specific Stalker-Immortal fight, input through an actual robot looking at an actual screen and having to cycle through control groups to check HP and select units PROBABLY would not have been able to achieve that level of micro. The deeper problem is that this isn't DeepMind's goal. It just means that SC2 is a cognitively simpler game than initially thought(note, not easy, simple as in a lot of the strategy employed by humans is unnecessary with sufficient athletic skill). The higher goal of AlphaStar is to prove that an AI can be trained from nothing to learn the rules of the game and then behave in a human-like, long term fashion. Scout the opponent, react to their strategy with your own strategy etc. Simply bulldozing the opponent with superior micro and not even worrying about their counterplay(since there is no counterplay) is not particularly smart. It's certainly still SC2, it just reveals the fact that SC2 is a much simpler game(when you have superhuman micro).
Interesting point. Would it be fair to say that, in a tournament match, a human pro player is behaving much more like a reinforcement learning agent than a general intelligence using System 2 [] ? In other words, the human player is also just executing reflexes he has gained through experience, and not coming up with ingenious novel strategies in the middle of a game. I guess it was unreasonable to complain about the lack of inductive reasoning and game-theoretic thinking in AlphaStar from the beginning since DeepMind is a RL company, and RL agents just don't do that sort of stuff. But I think it's fair to say that AlphaStar's victory was much less satisfying than AlphaZero, being not only unable to generalize across multiple RTS games, but also unable to explore the strategy space of a single game (hence the incentivizing of use of certain units during training). I think we all expected seeing perfect game sense and situation-dependent strategy choice, but instead blink stalkers is the one build to rule them all, apparently.

I think your feelings stem from you considering it to be enough If AS simply beats human players while APM whiners would like AS to learn all the aspect of Starcraft skill it can reasonably be expected to learn.

The agents on ladder don't scout much and can't react accordingly. They don't tech switch midgame and some of them get utterly confused in ways a human wouldn't. Game 11 agent vs MaNa couldn't figure out it could build 1 phoenix to kill the warp prism and chose to follow it with 3 oracles (units which cant shoot at flying units). The ladder agents d

... (read more)
Sunny's Shortform

"Science confirms video games are good" is essentially the same statement as "The bible confirms video games are bad" just with the authority changed. Luckily there remains a closer link between the authroity "Science" and truth than the authority "The bible" and truth so it's still an improvement.

Most people still update their worldview based upon whatever their tribe as agreed upon as their central authority. I'm having a hard time critisising people for doing this, however. This is something we all do! ... (read more)

1Sunny from QAD3y
Oh yes, that's certainly true! My point is that anybody who has the floor can say that science has proven XYZ when it hasn't, and if their audience isn't scientifically literate then they won't be able to notice. That's why I lead with the Dark Ages example where priests got to interpret the bible however was convenient for them.
Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method

I really like this line of thinking. I don't think it is necessarily opposed to the typical map-territory model, however.

You could in theory explain all there is to know about the territory with a single map, however that map would become really dense and hard to decipher. Instead having multiple maps, one with altitude, another with temperature, is instrumentally useful for best understanding the territory.

We cannot comprehend the entire territory at once, so it's instrumentally useful to view the world through different lenses and see what new ... (read more)

Not in terms of other maps, but in terms of its predictive power: Something is more useful if it allows you to more accurately predict future observations. The observations themselves, of course, go through many layers of processing before we get a chance to compare them with the model in question. I warmly recommend the relevant SSC blog posts: [] [] [] []
Announcing the Center for Applied Postrationality

Believing the notion that one can 'deconfuse' themself on any topic, is an archetypal mistake of the rationalist. Only in the spirit of all things that are essential to our personal understanding, can we expect our beliefs to conform to the normality of our existence. Asserting that one can know anything certain of the physical world is, by its definition, a foolhardy pursuit only someone with a narrow and immature understanding of physicality would consider meaningful.

Believing that any 'technique' could be used to train ones mind in t... (read more)

Is that you, GPT2?