Radford Neal

Wiki Contributions


"A fight between ‘Big Tech’ and ‘Silicon Valley’..."

I'm mystified.  What are 'Big Tech' and 'Silicon Valley' supposed to refer to? My guess would have been that they are synonyms, but apparently not...

The quote says that "according to insider sources" the Trudeau government is "reportedly discussing" such measures.  Maybe they just made this up.  But how can you know that?  Couldn't there be actual insider sources truthfully reporting the existence of such discussions?  A denial from the government does not carry much weight in such matters.  

There can simultaneously be an crisis of immigration of poor people and a crisis of emigration of rich people.

I'm not attempting to speculate on what might be possible for an AI.  I'm saying that there may be much low-hanging fruit potentially accessible to humans, despite there now being many high-IQ researchers. Note that the other attributes I mention are more culturally-influenced than IQ, so it's possible that they are uncommon now despite there being 8 billion people.

I think you are misjudging the mental attributes that are conducive to scientific breakthroughs. 

My (not very well informed) understanding is that Einstein was not especially brilliant in terms of raw brainpower (better at math and such than the average person, of course, but not much better than the average physicist). His advantage was instead being able to envision theories that did not occur to other people. What might be described as high creativity rather than high intelligence.

Other attributes conducive to breakthroughs are a willingness to work on high-risk, high-reward problems (much celebrated by granting agencies today, but not actually favoured), a willingness to pursue unfashionable research directions, skepticism of the correctness of established doctrine, and a certain arrogance of thinking they can make a breakthrough, combined with a humility allowing them to discard ideas of theirs that aren't working out. 

So I think the fact that there are more high-IQ researchers today than ever before does not necessarily imply that there is little "low hanging fruit".

"Suppose that, for k days, the closed model has training cost x..."

I think you meant to say "open model", not "closed model", here.

Regarding Cortez and the Aztecs, it is of interest to note that Cortez's indigenous allies (enemies of the Aztecs) actually ended up in a fairly good position afterwards.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlaxcala

For the most part, the Spanish kept their promise to the Tlaxcalans. Unlike Tenochtitlan and other cities, Tlaxcala was not destroyed after the Conquest. They also allowed many Tlaxcalans to retain their indigenous names. The Tlaxcalans were mostly able to keep their traditional form of government.

R is definitely homoiconic.  For your example (putting the %sumx2y2% in backquotes to make it syntactically valid), we can examine it like this:

 > x <- quote (`%sumx2y2%` <- function(e1, e2) {e1 ^ 2 + e2 ^ 2})
> x
`%sumx2y2%` <- function(e1, e2) {
   e1^2 + e2^2
> typeof(x)
[1] "language"
> x[[1]]
> x[[2]]
> x[[3]]
function(e1, e2) {
   e1^2 + e2^2
> typeof(x[[3]])
[1] "language"
> x[[3]][[1]]
> x[[3]][[2]]


> x[[3]][[3]]
   e1^2 + e2^2

And so forth.  And of course you can construct that expression bit by bit if you like as well.  And if you like, you can construct such expressions and use them just as data structures, never evaluating them, though this would be a bit of a strange thing to do. The only difference from Lisp is that R has a variety of composite data types, including "language", whereas Lisp just has S-expressions and atoms.

"Why is there basically no widely used homoiconic language"

Well, there's Lisp, in its many variants.  And there's R.  Probably several others.

The thing is, while homoiconicity can be useful, it's not close to being a determinant of how useful the language is in practice.  As evidence, I'd point out that probably 90% of R users don't realize that it's homoiconic.

Your post reads a bit strangely. 

At first, I thought you were arguing that AGI might be used by some extremists to wipe out most of humanity for some evil and/or stupid reason.  Which does seem like a real risk.  

Then you went on to point out that someone who thought that was likely might wipe out most of humanity (not including themselves) as a simple survival strategy, since otherwise someone else will wipe them out (along with most other people). As you note, this requires a high level of unconcern for normal moral considerations, which one would think very few people would countenance.

Now comes the strange part... You argue that actually maybe many people would be willing to wipe out most of humanity to save themselves, because...  wiping out most of humanity sounds like a pretty good idea!

I'm glad that in the end you seem to still oppose wiping out most of humanity, but I think you have some factual misconceptions about this, and correcting them is a necessary first step to thinking of how to address the problem.

Concerning climate change, you write: "In the absence of any significant technological developments, sober current trajectory predictions seem to me to range from 'human extinction' to 'catastrophic, but survivable'".

No. Those are not "sober" predictions. They are alarmist claptrap with no scientific basis. You have been lied to. Without getting into details, you might want to contemplate that global temperatures were probably higher than today during the "Holocene Climatic Optimum" around 8000 years ago.  That was the time when civilization developed.  And temperatures were significantly higher in the previous interglacial, around 120,000 years ago.  And the reference point for supposedly-disastrous global warming to come is "pre-industrial" time, which was in the "little ice age", when low temperatures were causing significant hardship. Now, I know that the standard alarmist response is that it's the rate of change that matters.  But things changed pretty quickly at the end of the last ice age, so this is hardly unprecedented. And you shouldn't believe the claims made about rates of change in any case - actual science on this question has stagnated for decades, with remarkably little progress being made on reducing the large uncertainty about how much warming CO2 actually causes.

Next, you say that the modern economy is relatively humane "under conditions of growth, which, under current conditions, depends on a growing population and rising consumption. Under stagnant or deflationary conditions it can be expected to become more cutthroat, violent, undemocratic and unjust."

Certainly, history teaches that a social turn towards violence is quite possible. We haven't transcended human nature.  But the idea that continual growth is needed to keep the economy from deteriorating just has no basis in fact.  Capitalist economies can operate perfectly fine without growth.  Of course, there's no guarantee that the economy will be allowed to operate fine.  There have been many disastrous economic policies in the past.  Again, human nature is still with us, and is complicated. Nobody knows whether social degeneration into poverty and tyranny is more likely with growth or without growth.

Finally, the idea that a world with a small population will be some sort of utopia is also quite disconnected from reality.  That wasn't the way things were historically. And even if it was, it woudn't be stable, since population will grow if there's plenty of food, no disease, no violence, etc. 

So, I think your first step should be to realize that wiping out most of humanity would not be a good thing. At all. That should make it a lot easier to convince other people not to do it.

It probably doesn't matter, but I wonder why you used the name "Sam" and then referred to this person as "she".  The name "Sam" is much more common for men than for women. So this kicks the text a bit "out of distribution", which might affect things. In the worst case, the model might think that "Sam" and "she" refer to different people.

Load More