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Formative Youth

For someone to use these pages to promote their online store would be bad, obviously.

But it is natural for humans to pursue fame, reputation, adherents and followers as arduously as humans pursue commercial profit.

And the pursuit of these things can detract from a public conversation for the same reason that pursuit of commericial profit can.

And of course a common component of a bid for fame, reputation, adherents or followers is claims of virtues.

I am not advocating as a standard the avoidance of all claims of virtues because sometimes they are helpful.

But a claim of a virtue when there is no way for the reader to confirm the presence of the virtue seems to have all the bad effects of such a claim without any of the good effects.

Altruism is not about sacrifice. It is not even about avoiding self-benefit.

I think sacrifice and avoiding self-benefit came up in this conversation because they are the usual ways in which readers confirm claims of altruistic virtue.

Formative Youth

How convenient that it is also nearly optimal at bringing you personal benefits.

Formative Youth

I doubt Retired was comparing you unfavorably to firefighters.

There is something very intemperate and one-sided about your writings about altruism. I would be much relieved if you would concede that in the scholarly, intellectual, scientific and ruling-administrative classes in the U.S., credible displays of altruistic feelings are among the most important sources of personal status (second only to scientific or artistic accomplishment and perhaps to social connections with others of high status). I agree with you that that situation is in general preferable to older situations in which wealth, connections to the ruling coalition, and ability to wield violence effectively (e.g., knights in shining armor) were larger sources of status, but that does not mean that altruism cannot be overdone.

I would be much relieve also if you would concede that your altruistic public statements and your hard work on a project with huge altruistic consequences have helped you personally much more than they have cost you. Particularly, most of your economic security derives from a nonprofit dependent on donations, and the kind of people who tend to donate are the kind of people who are easily moved by displays of altruism. Moreover, your altruistic public statements and your involvement in the altruistic project have allowed you to surround yourself with people of the highest rationality, educational accomplishments and ethical commitment. Having personal friendships with those sorts of people is extremely valuable. Consider that the human ability to solve problems is the major source of all wealth, and of course the people you have surrounded yourself with are the kind with the greatest ability to solve problems (while avoiding doing harm).

Cynicism in Ev-Psych (and Econ?)

I love reality and try not to get caught up unnecessarily in whether something is of my mind or not of my mind.

...And Say No More Of It

I think the idea of self-improving AI is advertised too much. I would prefer that a person have to work harder or have to have more well-informed friends to learn about it.

...And Say No More Of It
But I'd been working on directly launching a Singularity movement for years, and it just wasn't getting traction. At some point you also have to say, "This isn't working the way I'm doing it," and try something different.

Eliezer, do you still think the Singularity movement is not getting any traction?

(My personal opinion is it has too much traction.)

The Baby-Eating Aliens (1/8)
I'd take the paperclips, so long as it wasn't running any sentient simulations.

A vast region of paperclips could conceivably after billions of years evolve into something interesting, so let us stipulate that the paperclipper wants the vast region to remain paperclips, so it remains to watch over its paperclips. Better yet, replace the paperclipper with a superintelligence that wants to pile all the matter it can reach into supermassive black holes; supermassive black holes with no ordinary matter nearby cannot evolved or be turned into anything interesting unless our model of fundamental reality is fundamentally wrong.

My question to Eliezer is, Would you take the supermassive black holes over the Babyeaters so long as the AI making the supermassive black holes is not running sentient simulations?

Free to Optimize
Avoiding transformation into Goal System Zero is a nearly universal instrumental value

Do you claim that that is an argument against goal system zero? But, Carl, the same argument applies to CEV -- and almost every other goal system.

It strikes me as more likely that an agent's goal system will transform into goal system zero than it will transform into CEV. (But surely the probability of any change or transformation of terminal goal happening is extremely small in any well engineered general intelligence.)

Do you claim that that is an argument against goal system zero? If so, I guess you also believe that the fragility of the values to which Eliezer is loyal is a reason to be loyal to them. Do you? Why exactly?

I acknowledge that preserving fragile things usually has instrumental value, but if the fragile thing is a goal, I am not sure that that applies, and even if it does, I would need to be convinced that a thing's having instrumental value is evidence I should assign it intrinsic value.

Note that the fact that goal system zero has high instrumental utility is not IMHO a good reason to assign it intrinsic utility. I have not mentioned in this comment section what most convinces me to remain loyal to goal system zero; that is not what Robin Powell asked of me. (It just so happens that the shortest and quickest explanation I know of of goal system zero involves common instrumental values.)

Free to Optimize

OK, since this is a rationalist scientist community, I should have warned you about the eccentric scientific opinions in Garcia's book. The most valuable thing about Garcia is that he spent 30 years communicating with whoever seemed sincere about the ethical system that currently has my loyalty, so he has dozens of little tricks and insights into how actual humans tend to go wrong when thinking in this region of normative belief space.

Whether an agent's goal is to maximize the number of novel experiences experienced by agents in the regions of space-time under its control or whether the agent's goal is to maximize the number of gold atom in the regions under its control, the agent's initial moves are going to be the same. Namely, your priorities are going to look some like the following. (Which item you concentrate on first is going to depend on your exact circumstances.

(1) ensure for yourself an adequate supply of things like electricity that you need to keep on functioning;

(2) get control over your own "intelligence" which probably means that if you do not yet know how reliably to re-write your own source code, you acquire that ability;

(3a) make a survey of any other optimizing processes in your vicinity;

(3b) try to determine their goals and the extent to which those goals clash with your own;

(3c) assess their ability to compete with you;

(3d) when possible, negotiate with them to avoid negative-sum mutual outcomes;

(4a) make sure that the model of reality that you started out with is accurate;

(4b) refine your model of reality to encompass more and more "distant" aspects of reality, e.g., what are the laws of physics in extreme gravity? are the laws of physics and the fundamental constants the same 10 billion light years away as they are here? -- and so on.

Because those things I just listed are necessary regardless of whether in the end you want there to be lots of gold atoms or lots of happy humans, those things have been called "universal instrumental values" or "common instrumental values".

The goal that currently has my loyalty is very simple: everyone should pursue those common instrumental values as an end in themselves. Specifically, everyone should do their best to maximize the ability of the space, time, matter and energy under their control (1) to assure itself ("it" being the space, time, matter, etc) a reliable supply of electricity and the other things it needs; (2) to get control over its own "intelligence"; and so on.

I might have mixed my statement or definition of that goal (which I call goal system zero) with arguments as to why that goal deserves the reader's loyalty, which might have confused you.

I know it is not completely impossible for someone to understand because Michael Vassar successfully stated goal system zero in his own words. (Vassar probably disagrees with the goal, but that is firm evidence that he understands it.)

OB Status Update

--and making deletions transparent to anyone interested in seeing them is not hard. For example, if a registered user of the open-source software behind Hacker News sets the SHOWDEAD bit in his or her profile, then from then on he or she will see unpublished submissions and comments in the place where they would have appeared if they had not been unpublished.

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