All of Nora_Ammann's Comments + Replies

Maps of Maps, and Empty Expectations

Glad to hear it seemed helpful!

FWIW I'd be interested in reading you spell out in more detail what you think you learnt from it about simulacra levels 3+4.

Re "writing the bottom line first": I'm not sure. I think it might be, but at least this connection didn't feel salient, or like it would buy me anything in terms of understanding, when thinking about this so far. Again interested in reading more about where you think the connections are. 

To maybe say more about why (so far) it didn't seem clearly relevant to me: "Writing the bottom line first", to ... (read more)

3romeostevensit6dI meant that empty expectations are another anchor for antidoting writing the bottom line first. As for simulacra levels: This highlights how we switch abstraction levels when we don't know how to solve a problem on the level we're on. This is a reasonable strategy in general that sometimes backfires.
How do we prepare for final crunch time?

Regarding "Staying grounded and stable in spite of the stakes": 
I think it might be helpful to unpack the vritue/skill(s) involved according to the different timescales at which emergencies unfold. 

For example: 

1. At the time scale of minutes or hours, there is a virtue/skill of "staying level headed in a situation of accute crisis". This is the sort of skill you want your emergency doctor or firefighter to have. (When you pointed to the military, I think you in part pointed to this scale but I assume not only.)

From talking to people who do ... (read more)

On the nature of purpose

Re language as an example: parties involved in communication using language have comparable intelligence (and even there I would say someone just a bit smarter can cheat their way around you using language). 

Mhh yeah so I agree these examples of ways in which language "fails". But I think they don't bother me too much? 
I put them in the same category as "two agents with good faith sometimes miscommunicate - and still, language overall is pragmatically", or "works good enough". In other words, even though there is potential for exploitation, that ... (read more)

On the nature of purpose

a cascade of practically sufficient alignment mechanisms is one of my favorite ways to interpret Paul's IDA (Iterated Distillation-Amplification)

Yeah, great point!

On the nature of purpose

However, I think its usefulness hinges on ability to robustly quantify the required alignment reliability / precision for various levels of optimization power involved. 

I agree and think this is a good point! I think on top of quantifying the required alignment reliability "at various levels of optimization" it would also be relevant to take the underlying territory/domain into account. We can say that a territory/domain has a specific epistemic and normative structure (which e.g. defines the error margin that is acceptable, or tracks the co-evolutionary dynamics). 


Nora_Ammann's Shortform

Pragmatically reliable alignment
[taken from On purpose (footnotes); sharing this here because I want to be able to link to this extract specifically]

AI safety-relevant side note: The idea that translations of meaning need only be sufficiently reliable in order to be reliably useful might provide an interesting avenue for AI safety research. 

Language works, evidenced by the striking success of human civilisations made possible through advanced coordination which in return requires advanced communication. (Sure, humans miscommunicate what feels like a w... (read more)

The Inner Workings of Resourcefulness

The question you're pointing at is definitely interstinterestinging. A Freudian, slightly pointed way of phrasing it is something like: are human's deepest desires, in essence, good and altruistic, or violent and selifsh? 

My guess is that this question is wrong-headed. For example, I think this is making a mistake of drawing a dichotomy and rivalry between my "oldest and deepest drives" and "reflective reasoning", and depending on your conception of which of these two wins, your answer to the above questions ends up being positive or negative. I don't... (read more)

The feeling of breaking an Overton window

[I felt inclined to look for observations of this thing outside of the context of the pandemic.]

Some observations: 

I experience this process (either in full or the initial stages of it) for example when asked about my work (as it relates to EA, x-risks, AI safety, rationality and the like), or when sharing ~unconventional plan (e.g. "I'll just spend the next few months thinking about this") when talking to e.g. old friends from when I was growing up, people in the public sphere like a dentist, physiotherapist etc. This used to be also somewhat the cas... (read more)

On the nature of purpose

As far as I can tell, I agree with what you say - this seems like a good account of how the cryptophraher's constraint cashes out in language. 

To your confusion: I think Dennett would agree that it is Darwianian all the way down, and that their disagreement lies elsewhere. Dennet's account for how "reasons turn into causes" is made on Darwinian grounds, and it compels Dennett (but not Rosenberg) to conclude that purposes deserve to be treated as real, because (compressing the argument a  lot) they have the capacity to affect the causal world.

Not sure this is useful?

On the nature of purpose

I'm inclined to map your idea of "reference input of a control system" onto the concept of homeostasis, homeostatic set points and homeostatic loops. Does that capture what you're trying to point at?

(Assuming it does) I agree that that homeostasis is an interesting puzzle piece here. My guess for why this didn't come up in the letter exchange is that D/R are trying to resolve a related but slightly different question: the nature and role of an organism's conscious, internal experience of "purpose". 

Purpose and its pursuit have a special role in how hu... (read more)

2Richard_Kennaway3moI would map "homeostasis" onto "control system", but maybe that's just a terminological preference. The internal experience of purpose is a special case of internal experience, explaining which is the Hard Problem of Consciousness, which no-one has a solution for. I don't see a reason to deny this sort of purpose to animals, except to the extent that one would deny all conscious experience to them. I am quite willing to believe that (for example) cats, dogs, and primates have a level of consciousness that includes purpose. The evolutionary explanation does not make any predictions. It looks at what is, says "it was selected for", and confabulates a story about its usefulness. Why do we have five fingers? Because every other number was selected against. Why were they selected against? Because they were less useful. How were they less useful? They must have been, because they were selected against. Even if some content were put into that, it still would not explain the thing that was to be explained: what is purpose? It is like answering the question "how does a car work?" by expatiating upon how useful cars are.
On the nature of purpose

In regards to "the meaning of life is what we give it", that's like saying "the price of an apple is what we give it". While true, it doesn't tell the whole story. There's actual market forces that dictate apple prices, just like there are actual darwinian forces that dictate meaning and purpose.

Agree; the causes that we create ourselves aren't all that governs us - in fact, it's a small fraction of that, considering physical, chemical, biological, game-theoretic, etc. constraints. And yet, there appears to be an interesting difference between the causes t... (read more)

On the nature of purpose

I'm confused about the "purposes don't affect the world" part. If I think my purpose is to eat an apple, then there will not be an apple in the world that would have otherwise still been there if my purpose wasn't to eat the apple. My purpose has actual effects on the world, so my purpose actually exists.

So, yes, basically this is what Dennett reasons in favour of, and what Rosenberg is skeptical of. 

I think the thing here that needs reconciliation - and what Dennett is trying to do - is to explain why,  in your apple story, it's justified to use... (read more)

On the nature of purpose

Thanks :)

> I will note that I found the "Rosenberg's crux" section pretty hard to read, because it was quite dense. 

Yeah, you're right - thanks for the concrete feedback ! 

I wasn't originally planning to make this a public post and later failed to take a step back and properly model what it would be like as a reader without the context of having read the letter exchange. 

I consider adding a short intro paragraph to partially remedy this.  

3jacobjacob4moMakes sense! An intro paragraph could be good :)
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.)

While I'm not an expert, I did study political science and am Swiss. I think this post paints an accurate picture of important parts of the Swiss political system. Also, I think (and admire) how it explains very nicely the basic workings of a naturally fairly complicated system.

If people are interested in reading more about Swiss Democracy and its underlying political/institutional culture (which, as pointed out in the post, is pretty informal and shaped by its historic context), I can recommend this book: (read more)

Should I self-variolate to COVID-19
Are there any existing variolation projects that I can join?

FWIW, there is this I know of:

That said, last time I've got an update from them (~1 month ago), any execution of these trials was still at least a few months away. (You could reach out to them via the website for more up to date information.) Also, there is a limited number of places where the trials can actually take place, so you'd have to check whether there is anything close to where you are.

(Meta: This isn't necessarily an endoresement of your main qusetion.)

Epistea Summer Experiment (ESE)

That's cool to hear!

We are hoping to write up our current thinking on ICF at some point (although I don't expect it to happened within the next 3 months) and will make sure to share it.

Happy to talk!