Matthew Barnett

Just someone who wants to learn about the world. I think about AI risk sometimes, but I still have a lot to learn.

I also change my views often. Anything I wrote that's more than 10 days old should be treated as potentially outdated.

Matthew Barnett's Comments

An alarm bell for the next pandemic

The thing I regret the most was not explicitly debunking myths that were common back in the early days. For example, a lot of people told me that this was just going to disappear like SARS. But I actually had got my hands on a dataset and SARS looked way different. There was little reason to believe it was like SARS.

I also didn't give people financial advice because I'm very averse to doing stuff like that, and I thought people would generally just say that I'm "trying to beat the market" against a common consensus that beating the market was impossible. Though once stuff started happening, I started to try my hand at it.

Has LessWrong been a good early alarm bell for the pandemic?
January 29th on the EA Forum

For vanity reasons, I'm going to point out that it was actually the 26th.

The case for C19 being widespread

The idea is that the context surrounding this pandemic is unique.

The case for C19 being widespread

Many LW people have now taken the view that the market is not efficient when it comes to black swan events.

The case for C19 being widespread

I think what ignoranceprior was originally asking was, given all the information you know, what is your best estimate of the infection fatality rate? Best estimate in this case implies adjusting for ways that some research can be wrong, and taking into account the rebuttals you've read here.

The case for C19 being widespread

If you can predict the result of the data ahead of time, that seems very important for making decisions (eg. predicting stock market moves).

The case for C19 being widespread
The accuracy of similar tests for influenza is generally 50–70%.

I don't think these tests are similar. See here,

All of the coronavirus tests being used by public health agencies and private labs around the world start with a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, which can detect tiny amounts of a virus’s genetic material. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has RNA as its genetic material. That RNA must first be copied into DNA. “That’s a lengthy part of the process, too,” says Satterfield, adding 15 to 30 minutes to the test.
[...]
Many doctors’ offices can do a rapid influenza test. But those flu tests don’t use PCR, Satterfield says. Instead, they detect proteins on the surface of the influenza virus. While the test is quick and cheap, it’s also not nearly as sensitive as PCR in picking up infections, especially early on before the virus has a chance to replicate, he says. By the CDC’s estimates, rapid influenza tests may miss 50 percent to 70 percent of cases that PCR can detect. The low sensitivity can lead to many false negative test results.
The case for C19 being widespread
This paper was written by an international team of highly cited disease modellers who know about the Diamond Princess and have put their reputation on the line to make the case that this the hypothesis of high infections rate and low infection fatality might be true.

Yes, but when you actually read the paper (I read some parts), it says that their model is based on an assumption of low IFR, and in itself did not argue for low IFR (feel free to prove me wrong here).

The case for lifelogging as life extension

This concept apparently goes back at least as far as Robert Ettinger, the originator of cryonics. From his seminal book introducing cryonics,

We normally think of information about the body as being preserved in the body - but this is not the only possibility. It is conceivable that ordinary written records, photographs, tapes, etc. may give future technicians enough clues to fill in missing or damaged areas in the brain of the frozen.
The time will certainly come when the brain's method of coding memories is thoroughly understood, and messages can be "read" directly from nervous tissue, and also "read" into it. It is not likely that the relation will be a simple one, nor will it necessarily even be exactly the same for every brain; nevertheless, by knowing that the frozen had a certain item of information, it may be possible to infer helpful conclusions about the character of certain regions in his brain and its cells and molecules.
Similarly, a mass of detailed information about what he did may allow advanced physiological psychologists to deduce important conclusions about what he was, once more providing opportunity to fill in gaps in brain structure.
It follows that we should all make reasonable efforts to obtain and preserve a substantial body of data concerning what we have seen, heard, felt, thought, said, written, and done in the course of our lives. These should probably include a battery of psychological tests. Encephalograms might also be useful.
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