Purged Deviator
Clackamas, OR 97015, USA


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The Parable Of The Talents

Imagine if processors were rated like IQ. Imagine if instead of clock speed, number of cores, FLOPS, or whatever else, computers just had a Processing Quotient, or PQ, that just told you where an individual computer's performance on a few benchmark tests sat, simply as a percentage of computers it performed better than.

Would that or would than not be completely fudging usless?

Bayesians vs. Barbarians

I think you may have waded into the trees here, before taking stock of the forest.  By which I mean that this problem could definitely use some formalization, and may be much more important than we expect it to be.  I've been studying the ancient Mongols recently; their conquests tested this, and their empire had the potential to be a locked-in dystopia type of apocalypse, but they failed to create a stable internal organizational structure.  Thus, a culture that optimizes for both conquest & control, at the expense of everything else, could be an existential threat to the future of humanity.  I think that merits rationalist research.

So, in a superfight of Rationalists vs Barbarians, with equal resources, we can steelman the opposition by substituting in that "Barbarians" means a society 100% optimized toward conquering others & taking all their stuff, at the expense of not being optimized toward anything else.  In this case, what would the "Rationalist" society be, and how could they win?  Or at least not lose?

I am going to go check if there are other articles which have developed this thought experiment this already.

Purged Deviator's Shortform

Whom/what an agent is willing to do Evil to, vs whom/what it would prefer to do Good to, sort of defines an in-group/out-group divide, in a similar way to how the decision to cooperate or defect does in the Prisoner's Dilemma.  Hmmm...

Purged Deviator's Shortform

you enjoy peacefully reading a book by yourself, and other people hate this because they hate you and they hate it when you enjoy yourself

The problem with making hypothetical examples, is when you make them so unreal as to just be moving words around.  Playing music/sound/whatever loud enough to be noise pollution would be similar to the first example.  Less severe, but similar.  Spreading manure on your lawn so that your entire neighborhood stinks would also be less severe, but similar.  But if you're going to say "reading" and then have hypothetical people not react to reading in the way that actual people actually do, then your hypothetical example isn't going to be meaningful.

As for requiring consciousness, that's why I was judging actions, not the agents themselves.  Agents tend to do both, to some degree.

Purged Deviator's Shortform

The first paragraph is equivalent to saying that "all good & evil is socially constructed because we live in a society", and I don't want to call someone wrong, so let me try to explain...

An accurate model of Good & Evil will hold true, valid, and meaningful among any population of agents: human, animal, artificial, or otherwise. It is not at all depentent on existing in our current, modern society. Populations that do significant amounts of Good amongst each other generally thrive & are resilient (e.g. humans, ants, rats, wolves, cells in any body, many others), even though some individuals may fail or die horribly. Populations which do significant amounts of Evil tend to be less resilient, or destroy themselves (e.g. high crime areas, cancer cells), even though certain members of those populations may be wildly successful, at least temporarily.

This isn't even a human-centric model, so it's not "constructed by society". It seems to me more likely to be a model that societies have to conform to, in order to exist in a form that is recognizeable as a society.

I apologize for being flippant, and thank you for replying, as having to overcome challenges to this helps me figure it out more!

Purged Deviator's Shortform

For self-defense, that's still a feature, and not a bug. It's generally seen as more evil to do more harm when defending yourself, and in law, defending youself with lethal force is "justifyable homicide", it's specifically called out as something much like an "acceptable evil". Would it be more or less evil to cause an attacker to change their ways without harming them? Would it be more or less evil to torture an attacker before killing them?

"...by not doing all the Good..." In the model, it's actually really intentional that "a lack of Good" is not a part of the definition of Evil, because it really isn't the same thing. There are idiosyncracies in this model which I have not found all of yet. Thank you for pointing them out!

Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform

I do agree for the most part. Robotic warfare which can efficiently destroy your opponent's materiel, without directly risking your own materiel & personnel is an extremely dominant strategy, and will probably become the future of warfare. At least warfare like this, as opposed to police actions.

Unwitting cult leaders

I kinda wonder if this is what happened with Eliezer Yudkowsky, especially after he wrote Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality?

Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform

From things I have previously heard about drones, I would be uncertain what training is required to operate them, and what limitations there are for weather in which they can & cannot fly.  I know that being unable to fly in anything other than near-perfect weather conditions has been a problem of drones in the past, and those same limitations do not apply to ground-based vehicles.  

lc's Shortform

Here's an analysis by Dr. Robert Malone about the Ukraine biolabs, which I found enlightening:


I glean that "biolab" is actually an extremely vague term, and doesn't specify the facility's exact capabilities at all.  They could very well have had an innocuous purpose, but Russia would've had to treat them as a potential threat to national security, in the same way that Russian or Chinese "biolabs" in Mexico might sound bad to the US, except Russia is even more paranoid.

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