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Facebook's recommendation algorithm causing thousands of teenage girls to kill themselves


Can I get a link or two to read more about this incident?

2Daniel Kokotajlo1y
It's not so much an incident as a trend. I haven't investigated it myself, but I've read lots of people making this claim, citing various studies, etc. See e.g. "The social dilemma" by Tristan Harris. There's an academic literature on the subject now which I haven't read but which you can probably find by googling. I just did a quick search and found graphs like this: Presumably not all of the increase in deaths is due to Facebook; presumably it's multi-causal blah blah blah. But even if Facebook is responsible for a tiny fraction of the increase, that would mean Facebook was responsible for thousands of deaths.

One assumption that stands out to me as a little questionable is the idea that Cindy will, with infinite simulated time to think, eventually manage to come up with a solution to the alignment problem. (This is compounded by the fact that she's regularly brain-wiped and can only preserve insights by cramming them into the 1 gigabyte of scratch paper afforded to her.)

1GB of text is a lot. Naively, that's a billion letters, much more if you use compression. Or you could maybe just do some kind of magic with the question containing a link to a wiki on the (simulated) internet? If you have infinite time, you can go the monkeys on typewriters route - one of them will come up with something decent, unless an egregore gets them, or something. Though that's very unlikely to be needed - assuming that alignment is solvable by a human level intelligence (this is doing a lot of work), then it should eventually be solved.

It just occurred to me that this post serves as a fairly compelling argument in favor of a modest epistemology, which in 2017 Eliezer wrote a whole book arguing against. ("I think I'm doing this for the good of the tribe, but maybe I'm just fooling myself" is definitely an "outside view".) Eliezer, have you changed your mind since writing this post? If so, where do you think your past self went awry? If not, how do you reconcile the ideas in this article with the idea that modest epistemology is harmful?