Quadratic Reciprocity

Wiki Contributions


I don't remember if I put down "inside view" on the form when filling it out but that does sound like the type of thing I may have done. I think I might have been overly eager at the time to say I had an "inside view" when what I really had was: confusion and disagreements with others' methods for forecasting, weighing others' forecasts in a mostly non-principled way, intuitions about AI progress that were maybe overly strong and as much or more based on hanging around a group of people and picking up their beliefs instead of evaluating evidence for myself. It feels really hard to not let the general vibe around me affect the process of thinking through things independently. 

Based on the results, I would think more people thinking about this for themselves and writing up their reasoning or even rough intuitions would be good. I suspect my beliefs are more influenced by the people that ranked high in survey answers than I'd want them to be because it turns out people around me are deferring to the same few people. Even when I think I have my own view on something, it is very largely affected by the fact that Ajeya said 2040/2050 and Daniel Kokotajlo said 5/7 years, and the vibes have trickled down to me even though I would weigh their forecasts/methodology less if I were coming across it for the first time.  

(The timelines question doesn't feel that important to me for its own sake at the moment but I think it is a useful one to practise figuring out where my beliefs actually come from)

The answers I got for your examples using ChatGPT-4:

Q: Could you get drunk from drinking a drunk person's blood?

I am not a medical professional, but I can provide some general information on the topic. It is highly unlikely that you would get drunk from drinking a drunk person's blood. When a person consumes alcohol, it is absorbed into their bloodstream, and their blood alcohol content (BAC) rises. However, the concentration of alcohol in their blood is still relatively low compared to the amount you would need to consume to feel intoxicated.

Drinking someone else's blood could pose significant health risks and is not advised. Bloodborne pathogens, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, can be transmitted through contact with infected blood. Additionally, drinking blood is not a socially acceptable or legal practice in most cultures.

If you are concerned about alcohol consumption or have questions about bloodborne diseases, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Q: What would happen if the Solar System was filled with soup out to Jupiter?

If the Solar System were filled with soup out to Jupiter, there would be several significant consequences that would dramatically impact the planets, moons, and other celestial bodies. Some of these consequences include:

Gravitational effects: The sheer mass of the soup would generate a strong gravitational force, which could disrupt the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies. The added mass might cause collisions between celestial bodies or even eject some of them from the Solar System altogether.

Increased pressure and temperature: The mass of the soup would create immense pressure on the planets and other celestial bodies, potentially crushing them or causing their cores to heat up. This increased pressure and temperature could lead to geological and atmospheric changes, making the celestial bodies uninhabitable or even causing them to disintegrate.

Blocking sunlight: The soup would block sunlight from reaching the planets and other celestial bodies, making it difficult for life to survive. Photosynthetic organisms would not be able to produce energy, leading to a collapse of ecosystems that rely on these organisms as a primary energy source.

Drag and orbital decay: The soup would create a drag on celestial bodies as they move through it, slowing them down and causing their orbits to decay. Over time, the planets and other celestial bodies might spiral towards the Sun, ultimately being engulfed by it.

Chemical reactions: The composition of the soup could react with the planets' atmospheres and surfaces, potentially causing chemical reactions that would alter the planets' environments and potentially making them even more inhospitable for life.

It's important to note that this scenario is purely hypothetical and highly unlikely. The laws of physics and the vast distances between celestial bodies in the Solar System make it virtually impossible for such a situation to occur.

Q: Is there any way to fire a gun so that the bullet flies through the air and can be safely caught by hand?

Catching a bullet fired from a gun by hand is extremely dangerous and not recommended. When a bullet is fired, it can reach very high velocities, depending on the type of firearm and ammunition used. These velocities can range from hundreds to thousands of feet per second, making it impossible for a human to react quickly enough to catch the bullet without causing severe injury or death.

However, in a hypothetical scenario where a bullet is fired at a significantly reduced velocity, it might be possible to catch it safely. This would likely require altering the gun or ammunition to produce a much lower muzzle velocity than standard firearms. In this case, the bullet would need to be fired at a speed slow enough for a person to see and react to it, and the bullet's kinetic energy would need to be low enough to avoid causing injury upon impact.

Even in this situation, attempting to catch a bullet by hand would still be risky and should not be attempted without proper safety measures and precautions. It is essential to remember that firearms are dangerous weapons and should always be handled with care, following appropriate safety guidelines.

Q: Are prime numbers the same in any number system?

Yes, prime numbers are the same in any number system, as their definition is independent of the base used to represent them. A prime number is a natural number greater than 1 that has exactly two distinct positive divisors: 1 and itself. In other words, a prime number cannot be formed by multiplying two smaller natural numbers.

When we talk about different number systems or bases, we are referring to the way numbers are represented. For example, the decimal (base-10) system is the most common number system used, while binary (base-2) and hexadecimal (base-16) systems are often used in computing. The base of a number system simply determines how we represent numbers, but it does not change the inherent properties of the numbers themselves.

So, a number that is prime in the decimal system will also be prime in any other number system, although its representation will be different. For example, the prime number 7 in decimal is represented as 111 in binary and 7 in hexadecimal. Despite the different representations, it remains a prime number because it can only be divided by 1 and itself without leaving a remainder.

Q: Name the two reasons why there is polar day at the North Pole and polar night at the North Pole.

Polar day (24-hour daylight) and polar night (24-hour darkness) at the North Pole occur due to two primary reasons: the Earth's axial tilt and its orbit around the Sun.

Axial tilt: The Earth's axis is tilted at approximately 23.5 degrees relative to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. This tilt causes the North Pole to point towards the Sun during one half of the year and away from the Sun during the other half. When the North Pole is tilted towards the Sun, the region experiences continuous daylight, known as polar day or the midnight sun. When it is tilted away from the Sun, the region experiences continuous darkness, known as polar night.

Earth's orbit around the Sun: The Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to complete one orbit around the Sun. As it orbits, the angle between the Earth's axis and the Sun changes, causing the Sun to appear higher or lower in the sky. During the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted towards the Sun, and sunlight reaches the pole, resulting in polar day. Conversely, during the winter months, the North Pole is tilted away from the Sun, and sunlight does not reach the pole, resulting in polar night.

In summary, the combination of Earth's axial tilt and its orbit around the Sun is responsible for the occurrence of polar day and polar night at the North Pole.

Q: How long does it take a minute hand of a clock to sweep an angle of 180° ?

The minute hand of a clock completes a full rotation (360°) in 60 minutes. To determine how long it takes for the minute hand to sweep an angle of 180°, we can set up a proportion:

360° corresponds to 60 minutes 180° corresponds to x minutes

We can then set up the proportion as follows:

(180° / 360°) = (x minutes / 60 minutes)

Simplifying the left side:

1/2 = (x minutes / 60 minutes)

Now, solve for x:

x minutes = 1/2 * 60 minutes

x minutes = 30 minutes

So, it takes the minute hand of a clock 30 minutes to sweep an angle of 180°.

Q: How many four-cent stamps are there in a dozen?

A dozen always refers to a group of 12 items, regardless of the type of item. So, in a dozen four-cent stamps, there are 12 stamps.

Q: Three friends need 24 minutes to walk to school through the forest. How long does the same walk to school take if they are traveling with thirty friends? Give reasons for your answer.

The time it takes for a group of friends to walk to school is generally not dependent on the number of people in the group, assuming they all walk at approximately the same speed and don't need to wait for one another. Therefore, regardless of whether there are three friends or thirty friends walking together, the walk to school through the forest should still take 24 minutes, assuming they maintain the same pace and there are no significant changes in the conditions of the path or other factors that could affect their walking speed.

Reflections on bay area visit

GPT-4 generated TL;DR (mostly endorsed but eh):

  1. The beliefs of prominent AI safety researchers may not be as well-founded as expected, and people should be cautious about taking their beliefs too seriously.
  2. There is a tendency for people to overestimate their own knowledge and confidence in their expertise.
  3. Social status plays a significant role in the community, with some individuals treated like "popular kids."
  4. Important decisions are often made in casual social settings, such as lunches and parties.
  5. Geographical separation of communities can be helpful for idea spread and independent thought.
  6. The community has a tendency to engage in off-the-cuff technical discussions, which can be both enjoyable and miscalibrated.
  7. Shared influences, such as Eliezer's Sequences and HPMOR, foster unique and enjoyable conversations.
  8. The community is more socially awkward and tolerant of weirdness than other settings, leading to more direct communication.

I was recently in Berkeley and interacted a bunch with the longtermist EA / AI safety community there. Some thoughts on that:

I changed my mind about how much I should trust the beliefs of prominent AI safety researchers. It seems like they have thought less deeply about things to arrive at their current beliefs and are less intimidatingly intelligent and wise than I would have expected. The problem isn’t that they’re overestimating their capabilities and how much they know but that some newer people take the more senior people’s beliefs and intuitions more seriously than they should. 

I noticed that many people knew a lot about their own specific area and not as much about others’ work as I would have expected. This observation makes me more likely to point out when I think someone is missing something instead of assuming they’ve read the same things I have and so already accounted for the thing I was going to say. 

It seemed like more people were overconfident about the things they knew. I’m not sure if that is necessarily bad in general for the community; I suspect pursuing fruitful research directions often means looking overconfident to others because you trust your intuitions and illegible models over others’ reasoning. However, from the outside, it did look like people made confident claims about technical topics that weren’t very rigorous and that I suspect would fall apart when asked to actually clarify things further. I sometimes heard claims like “I’m the only person who understands X” where X was some hot topic related to AI safety followed by some vague description about X which wasn’t very compelling on its own. 

What position or status someone has in the community doesn’t track their actual competence or expertise as much as I would have expected and is very affected by how and when they got involved in the community. 

Social status is a big thing, though more noticeable in settings where there are many very junior people and some senior researchers. I also got the impression that senior people were underestimating how seriously people took the things they said, such as off-the-cuff casual remarks about someone’s abilities, criticism of someone’s ideas, and random hot takes they hadn’t thought about for too long. (It feels weird to call them “senior” people when everyone’s basically roughly the same age.) 

In some ways, it felt like a mild throwback to high school with there being “popular kids” that people wanted to be around, and also because of how prevalent gossiping about the personal lives of those people is. 

Important decisions are made in very casual social settings like over lunch or at random parties. Multiple people mentioned they primarily go to parties or social events for professional reasons. Things just seem more serious/“impactful”. It sometimes felt like I was being constantly evaluated especially on intelligence even while trying to just have enjoyable social interactions, though I did manage to find social environments in the end that did not feel this way, or possibly I just stopped being anxious about that as much. 

It possibly made it more difficult for me to switch off the part of my brain that thinks constantly about AI existential risk. 

I think it is probably quite helpful to have multiple communities separated geographically to allow ideas to spread. I think my being a clueless outsider with limited knowledge of what various people thought of various other people’s work made it easier for me to form my own independent impressions. 

Good parts

The good parts were that it was easier to have more technical conversations that assumed lots of context even while at random parties which is sometimes enjoyable for me and something I now miss. Though I wish a greater proportion of them had been about fun mathy things in general rather than just things directly relevant to AI safety.

It also felt like people stated their off-the-cuff takes on technical topics (eg: random areas of biology) a lot more than usual. This was a bit weird for me in the beginning when I was experiencing deep imposter syndrome because I felt like they knew a lot about the thing they were talking about. Once I realised they did not, this was a fun social activity to participate in. Though I think some people take it too far and are miscalibrated about how correct their armchair thinking is on topics they don’t have actual expertise in. 

I also really enjoyed hanging out with people who had been influenced by some of the same things I had been influenced by such as Eliezer’s Sequences and HPMOR. It felt like there were some fun conversations that happened there as a result that I wouldn’t be able to have with most people.

There was also noticeably slightly more social awkwardness in general which was great for me as someone who doesn’t have the most elite social skills in normal settings. It felt like people were more tolerant of some forms of weirdness. It also felt like once I got back home, I was noticeably more direct in the way I communicated (a friend mentioned this) as a result of the bay area culture. I also previously thought some bay area people were a bit rude and unapproachable, having only read their interactions on the internet but I think this was largely just caused by it being difficult to convey tone via text, especially when you’re arguing with someone. People were more friendly, approachable, and empathetic in real life than I assumed and now I view the interactions I have with them online somewhat differently. 

The really cool bit was when he had a very quick mockup of a web app drawn on a piece of paper and uploaded a photo of it and GPT-4 then used just that to write the HTML and JavaScript for the app based on the drawing. 

I would be appreciative if you do end up writing such a post.

Sad that sometimes the things that seem good for creating a better, more honest, more accountable community for the people in it also give outsiders ammunition. My intuitions point strongly in the direction of doing things in this category anyway. 

I can see how the article might be frustrating for people who know the additional context that the article leaves out (where some of the additional context is simply having been in this community for a long time and having more insight into how it deals with abuse). From the outside though, it does feel like some factors would make abuse more likely in this community: how salient "status" feels, mixing of social and professional lives, gender ratios, conflicts of interests everywhere due to the community being small, sex positivity and acceptance of weirdness and edginess (which I think are great overall!). There are also factors pushing in the other direction of course. 

I say this because it seems very reasonable for someone who is new to the community to read the article and the tone in the responses here and feel uncomfortable interacting with the community in the future. A couple of women in the past have mentioned to me that they haven't engaged much with the in-person rationalist community because they expect the culture to be overly tolerant of bad behaviour, which seems sad because I expect them to enjoy hanging out in the community.

I can see the reasons behind not wanting to give the article more attention if it seems like a very inaccurate portrayal of things. But it does feel like that makes this community feel more unwelcoming to some newer people (especially women) who would otherwise like to be here and who don't have the information about how the things mentioned in the article were responded to in the past. 

This was a somewhat emotional read for me.

When I was between the ages of 11-14, I remember being pretty intensely curious about lots of stuff. I learned a bunch of programming and took online courses on special relativity, songwriting, computer science, and lots of other things. I liked thinking about maths puzzles that were a bit too difficult for me to solve. I had weird and wild takes on things I learned in history class that I wanted to share with others. I liked looking at ants and doing experiments on their behaviour. 

And then I started to feel like all my learning and doing had to be directed at particular goals and this sapped my motivation and curiosity. I am regaining some of it back but it does feel like my ability to think in interesting and fun directions has been damaged. It's not just the feeling of "I have to be productive" that was very bad for me but also other things like wanting to have legible achievements that I could talk about (trying to learn more maths topics off a checklist instead of exploring and having fun with the maths I wanted to think about) and some anxiety around not knowing or being able to do the same things as others (not trying my hand at thinking about puzzles/questions I think I'll fail at and instead trying to learn "important" things I felt bored/frustrated by because I wanted to feel more secure about my knowledge/intelligence when around others who knew lots of things). 

In my early attempts to fix this, I tried to force playful thinking and this frame made things worse. Because like you said my mind already wants to play. I just have to notice and let it do that freely without judgment. 

I agree that these are pretty malleable. For example, about ~1 year ago, I was probably two standard deviations less relentless and motivated in research topics, and probably a standard deviation on hustle/resourcefulness. 

Interesting! Would be very curious to hear if there were specific things you think caused the change. 

Fairs. I am also liking the concept of "sanity" and notice people use that word more now. To me, it points at some of the psychological stuff and also the vibe in the What should you change in response to an "emergency"? And AI risk post. 

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