All of nykos's Comments + Replies

Why not donate to people promoting neocolonialism, if you are really concerned about efficient malaria eradication and the well-being of Black people? I for one refuse to donate any amount of money to treat symptoms rather than causes, at least in in the case of strangers; it is an inefficient allocation of resources.

I'm all for efficient allocation of resources, but could you describe more why you think distribution of insecticide-treated antimalarial nets is inefficient? (I'm not sure what neocolonialism entails, and am even less sure after trying to read the wikipedia article.)

If I were a scientist, I would ask for evidence of the existence of omega-level beings before further considering the questions. We can of course debate how many Omega-level beings are there on the tip of a pin, but I believe our limited time in this Universe is better spent asking different kinds of questions.

Maybe the forces of human nature make the future in some sense inevitable, conspiring to keep the long-term probability of eutopia very low?

If you took a freezing, dirty European peasant in winter ca. 1000 AD, and transported him to 0 AD Rome and its public thermae, he would also be heading towards eutopia - only in the 'wrong' direction of time. The worship of many gods in particular would probably strike him as horrifying.

If you transported Thomas Carlyle through time to the present, he would be horrified and disgusted, probably also frightened. But he ... (read more)

I do think Progressive like memes would have developed in a non-Christian descended implementation of what is often called The Cathedral

I think this is quite likely to be the case, since Progressivism (which one might think of as "altruism gone rampant") might actually emerge in time from the mating patterns and the resulting genetic structure of a population.

hbd* chick has built a compelling case with rather high quality scholarship over the past few years and I strongly recommend her blog. You shouldn't however neglect other forms of selection that have shaped humans recently and are relevant to the question. For example see Peter Frosts' arguments on genetic pacification and the fall of the Roman Empire. Peter Frost thinks Christianity served as both a symptom and a cause, exasperating the trend to domestication causing decline when faced with less pacified peoples. A similar argument can be made about the fall of societies due to outbreeding which I won't touch for now... If you are familiar with hbd* chick you should also be familiar with just how darn important Christianity was rearranging mating patterns in Western Eurasia in the form of the Catholic Church reducing inbreeding. Low inbreeding also probably reduces the barrier to entry for Christianity in the first place. So the critics of Christianity might be still right, no Christianity no Progressivism. Not because of pure memetics but because of the feedback between memetic evolution and genetic evolution. We know which one is faster. Perhaps it would also mean no industrial revolution, but the Chinese civlization would probably have pressed forward eventually. Maybe state control would need to wane again (see The Discourses on Salt and Iron if you want to be particularly depressed about the potential of human societies to respond to reasoned argumentation and learn from history) or if perhaps particularly large invasion of relatively competent barbarians might be needed to shake things up again. It is unfortunately an unanswerable question for now whether we would see in a post-industrial alternative history China altered so, the resurgence of a progressivism quite as virulent as ours growing out of something like Mohism.

What are the experimental predictions of the various string theories?

Have any of those been experimentally verified so far?

Is belief in string theory paying any rent?

Well, we should find supersymmetry. Beyond that...

What about individual IQ? It's not at all clear that learning methods yield uniform results across the bell curve. What might work for a 130+ IQ individual may not work for a 110 IQ individual - and vice-versa.

Intelligent people are more likely to think on the consequences when deciding to have a child. But there is a prisoner's dilemma type of situation here:

One reason smart people forego reproduction is because they might feel children make them more unhappy overall for at least the first few years (a not unreasonable assumption). Or simply because they are not religious (smart religious people do still have lots of children) As a consequence, in 20 years, the average IQ of that society will fall (bar some policy reversals encouraging eugenic breeding, or adva... (read more)

The Flynn effect contradicts this, and not just superficially in that IQ scores have been rising for the last 20 years and the next 20 years aren't going to be that different, but that it points to a strong non-genetic component of IQ. The cultures who become wealthy and have fewer children have pretty much the same code as cultures that are a little behind, same within countries. Lastly, 20 years is barely a single generation. You'd have to pretty much wipe out large sections of the population to see a 1 generation change.
IQ reverts to the mean across generations.
It doesnt follow that it has to go down. It could also stay stable. After all - all the bright people that do not reproduce have parents somewhere. So there are people produced by parents who are not in the mental cluster that prevents them from reproduction.

I do not understand how this has anything to do with FAI

It has to do because FAI is currently a branch of pure philosophy. Without constant experimental feedback and contact with reality, philosophy simply cannot deliver useful results like science can.

This is not in fact "simple" to do. It's not even clear what level of details will be needed- just a neural network? Hormones? Glial cells? Modelling of the actual neurons?

Are there any other current proposals to build AGI that don't start from the brain? From what I can tell, people don't e... (read more)

Is a "vegetative-state life-support cripple" a person at all?

Is your question/objection rhetorical, or did you just not understand the A Human's Guide to Words sequence? Taboo "person", and if that doesn't work, taboo "raise children", and if that still doesn't work, taboo "no matter the IQ" or "can do" or "reasonably well" or even the entire list of symbols that is generating the confusion. I objected and gave a thought experiment to illustrate the falsifiability of one specific assertion, which can be nothing else than what I believed you meant by that list of symbols, based on my prior beliefs on what the symbols represented in empirical conceptspace. If you question my objection on the grounds of using a symbol incorrectly, then you should question the symbol usage, not the objection as a whole through a straw-manned assertion built with your different version of the symbol.

Discussion of intelligence enhancement via reproductive biotechnology can occur smoothly here, e.g. in Wei Dai's post and associated comment thread several months ago. Looking at those past comments, I am almost certain that I could rewrite your comment to convey the same core points and yet have it be upvoted.

I think your comment was relatively ill-received because:

1) It threw in a number of other questionable claims on different topics without extensive support, rather than focusing on one at a time, and suggested very high confidence in the agglomerati... (read more)

I didn't downvote you, but I can see why someone reasonably might. Off the top of my head, in no particular order: 1. Whole brain emulation isn't the consensus best path to general AI. My intuition agrees with yours here, but you don't show any sign that you understand the subtleties involved well enough to be as certain as you are. 2. Lots of problematic unsupported assertions, e.g. "intelligent people generally have less children than those on the left half of the Bell curve", "[rich people] are also more likely to have above-average IQs, else they wouldn't be rich", and "[violence and docility are] in the genes and the brain that they produce". 3. Eugenics!?! 4. Ok, fine, eugenics, let's talk about it. Your discussion is naive: you assume that IQ is the right metric to optimize for (see Raising the Sanity Waterline for another perspective), you assume that we can measure it accurately enough to produce the effect you want, you assume that it will go on being an effective metric even after we start conditioning reproductive success on it, and your policy prescriptions are socially inept even by LW standards. 5. Also, it's really slow. That seems ok to you because you don't believe that we'll otherwise have recursive self-improvement in our lifetimes, but that's not the consensus view here either. I'm not interested in debating any of this, I just wanted to give you an outside perspective on your own writing. I hope it helps, and I hope you decide to stick around.

I concede that, under some really extreme environmental conditions, any genetic advantages would be canceled out. So, you might actually be right if the IQ 80 mother is really bad. Money should be provided to poor families by the state, but only as long as they raise their child well - as determined by periodic medical checks. Any person, no matter the IQ, can do one thing reasonably well, and that is to raise children to maturity.

But I believe you are taking the importance of parenthood way too far, and disregarding the hereditarian point of view too easi... (read more)

This statement is obviously false and obviously falsifiable. Insert example of vegetative-state life-support cripple "raising a child" (AKA not actually doing anything and having an effective/apparent IQ of ~0, perhaps even dying as soon as the child touches something they weren't supposed to). At this point, a rock would be just as good at raising a child. At least the child can use the rock to kill a small animal and eat it.
IQ, sure. What he does with it? That's another story. I shudder to think what a Feynman could have done in service of some strict agenda he'd been trained into.

The society will be listening to its Einsteins and Feynmans once they band together and figure out how to use the dark arts to take control of the mass-media and universities away from their present owners and use them for their own, more enlightened goals. Or at least ingratiate themselves before the current rulers. They could promise to build new bombs or drones, for example. As for not being interested in solving FAI and these kinds of problems, that's really not a very convincing argument IMO. Throughout history, in societies of high average IQ and a c... (read more)

You assume they'd want to band together, and you also underestimate modern entertainment; Dwarf Fortress, for example. You also assume they'd care to -share- the products of their curiosity with a brain-dead society.
I do not understand how this has anything to do with FAI This is not in fact "simple" to do. It's not even clear what level of details will be needed- just a neural network? Hormones? Glial cells? Modelling of the actual neurons? Are you sure you understand what FAI actually refers to? In particular, with p~~1, no living human qualifies as Friendly; even if they did, we would still need to solve several open problems also needed for FAI (like ensuring that value systems remain unchanged during self-modification) for a Friendly Upload to remain Friendly. With regards to your claims regarding HBD, eugenics, etc: Evolution is a lot weaker than you think it is, and we know a lot less about genetic influence on intelligence than you seem to think. (See eg here or here.) Such a program would be incredibly difficult to get implemented, and so is probably not worth it.
A Feynman raised by an 80 IQ mother... wouldn't be Feynman
Before you build a new crop of them, first you should probably make sure society is even listening to its Einsteins and Feynmans, or that the ones you have are even interested in solving these problems. It does no good to create a crop of supergeniuses who aren't interested in solving your problems for you and wouldn't be listened to if they did.

Good luck explaining Bayes' law to people with IQs below 90.

Rationalism may not be heritable, but intelligence surely is.

Let's face it, LessWrong and rationalism in general appeal mostly to people with at least 1 SD above average IQ.

Given that the burden of proof regarding the equality of intelligence of human populations that have evolved in reproductive isolation from each other for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years, and in radically different environments (of varying survival difficulty), lies with the egalitarians claiming that all human populations have the same intelligence distribution - I'd say that this article doesn't even belong on LessWrong.

What we need instead is either: a) An article explaining natural selection to those who don't understand where people who ... (read more)

More quotes by Mencius Moldbug:

When they say things like "in cognitive science, Bayesian reasoner is the technically precise codeword that we use to mean rational mind," they really do mean it. Move over, Aristotle!

Of course, in Catholicism, Catholic is the technically precise codeword that they use to mean rational mind. I am not a Catholic or even a Christian, but frankly, I think that if I had to vote for a dictator of the world and the only information I had was whether the candidate was an orthodox Bayesian or an orthodox Catholic, I'd go

... (read more)
I just facepalmed the hardest I've ever done while reading Unqualified Reservations. That is, not very hard - Mencius is nothing if not a charming and polite author - but still. Maybe he really ought to read at least one Sequence!

If the attacker, whenever he pulls a red ball out of the urn, puts it back and keeps pulling until he gets a blue ball, the Bayesian "rational mind" will conclude that the urn is entirely full of blue balls.

Surely the actual Bayesian rational mind's conclusion is that the attacker will (probably) always show a blue ball, nothing to do with the urn at all.

Even though his prescription may be lacking (here is some criticism to neocameralism: ), his description and diagnosis of everything wrong with the world is largely correct. Any possble political solution must begin from Moldbug's diagnosis of all the bad things that come with having Universalism as the most dominant ideology/religion the world has ever experienced.

One example of a bad consequence of Universalism is the delay of the Singularity. If you, for example, want to find out why Jews are m... (read more)

Not proven. It seems to me that people wildly overdo even the prejudices they have evidence for, so we don't know how much is lost due to excessive prejudice compared to how much is lost due to insufficient prejudice.
There's an important question here: WHY do you think people dislike that so much that they're willing to subvert entire fields of knowledge to censor those inquiries? Please ponder that carefully and answer without any mind-killed screeds, ok? (I'm not accusing you in advance, it's just that I've read about enough such hostile denunciations from the "Internet right" who literally say that "Universalists/The Left/whoever" simply Hate Truth and like to screw with decent society. Oh, and the "Men's Rights" crowd often suggests that those who fear inequality like that just exhibit pathetic weak woman-like thinking that mirrors their despicable lack of masculinity in other areas. And Cthulhu help you if you are actually a woman who thinks like that! Damn, I can't stand those dickheads.) Of course, I'd like others here to also provide their perspective on probable reasons for such behavior! Don't pull any punches; if it just overwhelmingly looks like people with my beliefs are underdeveloped mentally and somewhat insane, I'll swallow that - but avoid pettiness, please.
After reading that sentence, I expected some rather radical eugenics advocacy. Then I followed that link and saw that all those suggestions (except maybe for cloning, but we can hardly know about that in advance) are really "nice" and inoffensive. Seriously, I think that if even I, who's pretty damn orthodox and brainwashed - a dyed-in-the-wool leftist, as it is - haven't felt a twinge - than you must be overestimating how superstitious and barbaric an educated Universalist is in regards to that problem.

Universalism is the reason why common-sense proposals like those of Greg Cochran will never be official policy.

From the Greg Cochran link:

A government with consistent and lasting policies could select for intelligence and achieve striking results in a few centuries, maybe less. But no state ever has, and no existing government seems interested.

It's worth pointing out that at least part of the opposition to government-run eugenics programs is rational distrust that the government will not corrupt the process. If a country started a program of tax b... (read more)

And yet, it's the "Universalist" system that allows Jews to not get exterminated. I think the cognitive and epistemological flaws of "Universalism" kinda makes some people ignore the fact that it's the system that also allows the physical existence of heretics more than any other system in existence ever yet has. Was (non-Universalist) Nazi Germany more open to accepting Jew-produced science than the "Universalist" West was? Or is the current non-Universalist Arab world more open to such? Were the previous feudal systems better at accepting atheists or Jewish people? Which non-universalist (and non-Jewish) system was actually better than "Universalism" at recognizing Jewish contributions or intelligence, that you would choose to criticize Universalism for being otherwise? Or better at not killing heretics? Let's keep it simple -- which non-Universalist nation has ever been willing to allow as much relative influence to Jewish people as Universalist systems have? As for Moldbug's diagnosis, I'm unimpressed with his predictive abilities: he predicted Syria would be safe from revolt, right, because it was cozying up to Iran rather than to America? He has an interesting model of the world but, much like Marxism, I'm not sure Moldbuggery has much predictive capacity.
My impression is that we aren't terribly good yet at understanding how traits which involve many genes play out, whether political correctness is involved or not.

Scientific progress, economic growth and civilization in general are proportional to the number of intelligent people and inversely proportional to the number of not-so-smart people.

That seems a little bit simplistic. How many problems have been caused by smart people attempting to implement plans which seem theoretically sound, but fail catastrophically in practice? The not-so-smart people are not inclined to come up with such plans in the first place. In my view, the people inclined to cause the greatest problems are the smart ones who are certain th... (read more)

I agree and have for some time, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. Especially this is I think terribly important: But currently there is nothing remotely approaching an actionable political plan, so I advocated doing what little good one can despite Cryptocalvinism's iron grasp on the minds of a large fraction of mankind. As Moldbug says Universalism has no consistent relation to reality. A truly horrifying description of reality if it is accurate, since existential risk reduction eventually will become entangled with some ideologically charged issue or taboo. I wish I could be hopeful but my best estimate is that humanity is facing a no win scenario here.

To achieve the Singularity in as fast a time as possible, we need not only money, but lots of smart, hard-working people (who will turn out to be mostly White and Asian males). The thing is, those traits are to a large part genetic; and we know that Ashkenazi Jews are smarter on average than other human groups. I am writing this at the risk of further inflating Eliezer's already massive ego :)

So, an obvious interim solution until we get to the point of enhancing our intelligence through artificial, non-genetic means (or inventing a Seed AI) is to populari... (read more)

How confident are you in our ability, supposing everyone mysteriously possessed the will to do so or we somehow implemented such a program against people's wills, to implement a eugenics program that resulted in, say, as much as a 5% improvement in either the maximum measured intelligence and conscientiousness in the population, or as much as a 5% increase in the frequency of the highest-measured I-and-C ratings (or had some other concretely articulated target benefit, if those aren't the right ones) in less than, say, five generations?
Resorting to several generations of breeding for intelligence doesn't seem like a very good strategy for getting things done in "as fast a time as possible."

The actual bottom line is that, as a potential confounding factor that might prevent a singularity from ever happening, dysgenic decline is even less of a threat than global warming. But thanks for playing!

I have to say, I've seen SIAI and Yudkowsky criticized as wasting their time & money many times before, but I think this is the first time I've seen someone identify the waste as a waste of eugenics!

I think that it pays to be rationally ignorant. It is an economic fact that the more people specialize, the more they get paid and the chance of making a significant contribution in their particular field increases. You can't achieve your best in being a doctor if you spend valuable time reading textbooks about Western philosophy or quantum computing instead of reading textbooks about diseases. There is a saying capturing this thought: "jack of all trades and master of none". Sure, there are some fields such as AI at the intersection of many scie... (read more)

The saying actually goes 'jack of all trades and a master of none, though oft better than a master of one'. There are quite a few insights and improvements that are obvious with cross-domain expertise, and much of the new developments nowadays pretty much are merging of two or more knowledge domains - bioinformatics as a single, but not nearly only example. Computational linguistics, for example - there are quite a few treatises on semantics written by linguists that would be insightful and new for computer science guys handling also non-linguistic knowledge/semantics projects.
I have a gut feeling that there are lots of low-hanging fruit that could be picked by people reading more widely and applying the tools of one discipline into another. For instance, Aubrey de Grey claims that because he had a computer science background, he was able to start contributing new content to biology after studying for the field for only a very short time. There might be simple, obvious ways of expanding a field by bringing in new tools of analysis from another field, but none of this happens because most people only specialize in their own field. I'm also reminded of this discussion: Working on the intensive margin seems to me to be what happens if you specialize too deeply in just one field or two (economics and math in this example), while work on the extensive margin requires you to read widely or otherwise become familiar of new areas to which your standard tools to be applied to.