All of Milan Cvitkovic's Comments + Replies

(How) should we pursue human longevity?

Really useful, thank you!  Although you seem to only disagree with two "root cause" errors haha - were there other errors included in "most of this"?

I read the posts you linked to.  I really like your homeostasis argument - I'll try to add it to my writeup soon.

If I understand you right, you're saying that:
     high degree of correlation between symptoms of aging (even when controlling for age) => one true independent root cause or shared intermediate

But I don't see why the situation can't be closer to a fully-connected graph of... (read more)

6johnswentworth1yI'm also generally skeptical of the throw-stuff-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach to pharmaceutical discovery, but that's for separate reasons [] . In particular, if the stuff doesn't stick, then we don't gain anything; "phenotypic" search requires that we get lucky and hit the target, and doesn't give us any way to "move closer" to a solution based on what we see. That's fine if our search space is small enough (in particular if it's low-dimensional), but biological systems are not that simple. (I'm also skeptical of the effectiveness of many existing pharmaceuticals found through this sort of search. It reeks of p-hacking potential, and I have little doubt that pharma companies are very good at p-hacking. Although I would also guess that it's gotten less problematic in more recent years, as I hear clinical trial standards have tightened up somewhat. That said, there do seem to be some kinds of interventions which are "easy" to stumble upon, in the sense that there's a ton of things which work - like antiinflammatories or antibiotics.) Thanks! :) If there's a bunch of causes hooked up to a bunch of effects, then there shouldn't be any reason for all the causes to push the effects in the same directions. It's entirely plausible that two different causes both have some impact on Alzheimers, cancer, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, arthritis, cataracts, and sarcopenia. But it's pretty suspicious if two different causes both increase the risk of every single one of those things - if we had a complete graph with random weights on all the connections, then some factors should push some diseases up, while others should push down. Instead, we see a variety of mutations/interventions (like progerias, calorie restriction, etc) which all push most of these things in the same direction, which pretty strongly suggests that they're operating through the same pathway. Sta
References that treat human values as units of selection?

Thanks, Charlie!

Modifying yourself to want bad things is wrong in the same sense that the bad things are wrong in the first place...

I definitely agree with this, and have even written about it previously. Maybe my problem is that I feel like "find the best values to pursue" is itself a human value, and then the right-or-wrong-value question becomes the what-values-win question.

References that treat human values as units of selection?

Thank you! Carl Shulman's post still seems written from the some-values-are-just-better-than-others perspective that's troubling me, but your 2009 comment is very relevant. (Despite future-you having issues with it.)

The question "which values, if any, we should try to preserve" you wrote in that comment is, I think, the crux of my issue. I'm having trouble thinking about it, and questions like it, given my "you can't talk about what's right, only what wins" assumption. I can (try to) think about whether a pa... (read more)

2jefallbright2yWhat could it possibly mean, to say that something is "better", except from some perspective, within some context? What could it possibly mean to say that something is "right" (in principle), other than from some larger perspective, within a larger context? It's always perspectival--the illusion of objectivity arises because you share your values, fine-grained and deeply hierarchical, due to your place as a twig on a branch on a tree rooted in the mists of a common physics and with a common evolutionary trajectory. Of course you share values with your neighboring twigs, and you can find moral agreement by traversing the tree of evolutionarily instilled values back toward the trunk to find a branch that supports you and your neighboring agents, but from what god-like point of view could they ever be "objective"?
Is value drift net-positive, net-negative, or neither?

I would argue that the concept of value drift (meaning "a change in human values from whatever they are currently") isn't really sensible to talk about. Here's a reductio argument to that effect: Avoiding bad value drift is as important as solving value alignment:

It's hard to compare values on their "goodness". I prefer to think of them as phenotypes and compare them on their adaptive benefits to agents that hold them. Afte... (read more)