All of Richard_Hollerith2's Comments + Replies

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.

Bu... (read more)

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

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 prefer... (read more)

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

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.

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.)

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 interes... (read more)

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 go... (read more)

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 ... (read more)

--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.

Robin, my most complete description of this system of valuing things consists of this followed by this. Someone else wrote 4 books about it, the best one of which is this.

Eliezer seems to do most of the moderation

It does not seem that way from where I am standing: although I comment more on posts by Eliezer than on posts by Robin and although I am one of the most persistent critics of Eliezer's plans and moral positions, none of my comments on Eliezer's posts were unpublished, but 3 of my comments on Robin's posts were.

Note that I do not think Robin did anything wrong. Contrary to what many commentators believe, unpublishing comments is necessary IMHO to keep the quality of the comments high enough that busy thoughtful p... (read more)

Richard, that's a good point . . . - but then what should I believe about markets and investments, conditioned on scientific and technological progress having been slower than expected?

Well, if you have been misled into believing that scientific progress having been slower than expected entails economic production falling or stagnating, then you will tend to have assigned too high a value to investment strategies or hedging strategies that bet on the performance of the economy as a whole (e.g., shorting index funds). So, perhaps look for more specific b... (read more)

Mirror neurons and the human empathy-sympathy system play a central role in my definition of consciousness, sentience and personhood or rather my dissolving the question of what is consciousness, sentience and personhood.

Eliezer, there was rapid scientific progress in late-1600s Western Europe even though wealth per capita was vastly lower than current levels. Ditto scientific and technological progress in Victorian England. Could it be that the reason you believe that an economic slump would stall R & D is that the global public-opinion apparatus has fooled you and those you have trusted on this issue? "But it is necessary for scientific progress," might have been a convenient false argument to convince certain sectors of public opinion whose are sceptical about other arguments about the need for pro-growth policies.

Buffy lives in Sunnydale, not Sunnyvale.

For if all goes well, the question "What is fun?" shall determine the shape and pattern of a billion galaxies.

I object to most of the things Eliezer wants for the far future, but of all the sentences he has written lately, that is probably the one I object to most unequivocally. A billion galaxies devoted to fun does not leave Earth-originating intelligence at lot to devote to things that might be actually important.

That is my dyspeptic two cents.

Not wanting to be in a rotten mood keeps me from closely reading this series on fun and the earlie... (read more)

Julian Morrison, thanks for that hypothesis!

Modifying yourself that way would just demonstrate that you value the means of fun more than the ends. Even if you could make that modification, would you?

Yes, Ben Jones, I sincerely would. (I also value the means of friendship, love, sex, pleasure, health, wealth, security, justice, fairness, my survival and the survival of my friends and loved ones more than the ends. I have a very compact system of terminal values. I.e., very few ultimate ends.)

I am fully aware that my saying that I value friendship as a means to an end rather than an end in itself... (read more)

Julian, I agree: becoming a wirehead who will never again have a external effect aside from being a recipient of support or maintenence is no better than just shooting yourself under my system of valuing things.

Keep questioning, ShardPhoenix. And note that Eliezer never answered your question, namely, if you can modify yourself so that you never get bored, do you care about or need to have fun?

Sure, everyone living now has to attend to their own internal experience, to make sure that they do not get too bored, too sad or too stuck in another negative emotional state -- just like everyone living now has to make sure they have enough income -- and that need for income occupies the majority of the waking hours of a large fraction of current humanity.

But why would n... (read more)

Amphetamine (Ritalin, Adderall) did not help me on net, and I took >~30 mg Adderall on many days, once went up to 60 mg and tried it in combination with a benzodiazapine. Point is that I explored a wide variety of doses, including 7.5 mg, 10, 15, 20 mg / day.

Moreover, besides alcohol, amphetamine has the highest correlation with violent behavior of any drug, and even behavior that suggest that one might become violent has a significant change of very costly socioeconomic consequences.

So, John Maxwell, is electing officials important work that necessitates valuing truth over happiness? Going to school-board meetings? Raising children?

The self help route. I've seen good bloggers succumb to it. Please don't go there.

Will the writer of that please explain why? I take it that the warning is against using self help advice in one's own life -- not against writing about it in a blog.

To summarize, Michael Vassar offers Bison on the Great Plains as evidence that maybe farming was not clearly superior to hunting (and gathering) in the number of humans a given piece of land could support. Well, here is a quote on the Bision issue:

The storied Plains Indian nomadic culture and economy didn’t emerge until the middle of the eighteenth century. Until they acquired powerful means to exploit their environment—specifically the horse, gun, and steel knife—Indians on the plains were sparsely populated, a few bands of agrarians hovering on the m
... (read more)

Michael Vassar: excavation reveals that native Americans habitually stampeded bison herds over a cliff, yielding vastly more meat than they could use, so perhaps your estimate of the efficiency with which hunters were able to utilize bison meat is overoptimistic?

Douglas Knight: no, I cannot point to actual calorie counting, and maybe I misremember.

When I was reading about the spread of farming across Europe, starting about 7000 years ago, it was asserted that most European land could support 100 times as many farmers as hunters. I was left with the impression that that was determined by counting calories in the game on the land versus the calories in the crops that were grown back then. If farming was not able to support manyfold more people per acre, then we are without an explanation of why the hunters of Europe were unable to stop the spread of the farmers across Europe. The hunters would have... (read more)

Earlier on this page Eliezer writes,

I have sometimes been approached by people who say "How do I convince people to wear green shoes? I don't know how to argue it," and I reply, "Ask yourself honestly whether you should wear green shoes; then make a list of which thoughts actually move you to decide one way or another; then figure out how to explain or argue them . . .

That piece of advice is also in Eliezer's "Singularity Writing Advice" where I saw it in 2001. I decided to adhere to it and for what it is worth have never regretted the decision. It works as far as I can tell even for my outre moral beliefs.

The concept of a resource can be defined within ordinary decision theory: something is a resource iff it can be used towards multiple goals and spending it on one goal makes the resource unavailable for spending on a different goal. In other words, it is a resource iff spending it has a nontrivial opportunity cost. Immediately we have two implications: whether or not something is a resource to you depends on your ultimate goal and (2) diving by resources spent is useful only for intermediate goals: it never makes sense to care how efficiently an agent uses its resources to achieve its ultimate goal or to satisfy its entire system of terminal values.

I could teach any deciduous tree to play grandmaster chess if only I could communicate with it. (Well, not the really dumb ones.)

Allbright slipped in. (Mine was a reply to Matthew C.)

Well, OK, but your anti-reductionism is still wrong.

Hal asks good questions. I advise always minding the distinction between personal success (personal economic security, reputation, esteem among high-status people) and global success (increasing the probability of a good explosion of engineered intelligence) and suggest that the pernicious self-deception (and blind spots) stem from unconscious awareness of the need for personal success. I.e., the need for global success does not tend to distort a person's perceptions like (awareness of) the need for personal success does.

Like I keep on saying, I have a different moral framework than most, but I come to the same conclusions on unethical means to allegedly ethical ends.

Because I don't even know what I want from that future.

Well, I hope you will stick around, MichaelG. Most people around here IMHO are too quickly satisifed with answers to questions about what sorts of terminal values properly apply even if the world changes drastically. A feeling of confusion about the question is your friend IMHO. Extreme scepticism of the popular answers is also your friend.

Eliezer writes, "In general, beliefs require evidence."

To which Peter replies, "In general? Which beliefs don't?"

Normative beliefs (beliefs about what should be) don't, IMHO. What would count as evidence for or against a normative belief?

Evidence that would substantially inform a simulation of the enforcement of those beliefs. For example, history provides pretty clear evidence of the ultimate result of fascist states/dictatorships, partisan behaviour, and homogeneous group membership The qualities found in this projected result is highly likely to conflict with other preferences and beliefs. At that point, the person may still say 'Shut up, I believe what I want to believe.' But that would only mean they are rejecting the evidence, not that the evidence doesn't apply.
8Robert Miles11y
In isolation, almost certainly nothing, but you can play normative beliefs against one another. If you can demonstrate that a person's normative belief is inconsistent with another of their normative beliefs, that demonstrates that one of them must be 'false'. You can't check them against reality directly, but they must still be consistent.

I, too, am down with the mammals. I don't mind seeing whole galaxies transformed into clouds of superintelligent matter and energy and dedicated to mammalian happiness and mammalian preference.

I have yet to see a satisfactory definition of fun applicable to minds (or agents or optimization processes) very different from mammalian (or vertebrate) minds. And I suspect I will not be seeing one any time soon.

Post-nanotech, the nanotech practices the virtues of rationality or it fails to achieve its goals.


For a superhuman AI to stop you and your friends from launching a competing AI, it suffices for it to take away your access to unsupervised computing resources. It does not have to kill you.

Andrix, if it is just a recoiling from that, then how do you explain Stalin, Mao, etc?

Yes, Nancy, as soon as an AI endorsed by Eliezer or me transcends to superintelligence, it will probably make a point of preventing any other AI from transcending, and there is indeed a chance that that will entail killing a few (probably very irresponsible) humans. It is very unlikely to entail the killing of millions, and I can go into that more if you want.

The points are that (1) self-preservation and staying in power is easy if you are the only superintelligence in t... (read more)

I disagree. Killing people to stop them doing bad stuff is only necessary given insufficient resources to prevent them from doing the bad stuff in a nicer way. If the FAI makes the tradeoff that expending those resources isn't worth it, then it doesn't sound very friendly to me.

But, Nancy, the self-preservation can be an instrumental goal. That is, we can make it so that the only reason the AI wants to keep on living is that if it does not then it cannot help the humans.

It is refreshing to read something by Eliezer on morality I completely agree with.

And nice succinct summary by Zubon.

I imagine it might be difficult to find a room for people to mill around in.

Well, the restaurant in which we met was crowded, so I suggest a less crowded restaurant.

I'm not going to the Summit or the meetup, but will meet one-on-one with anyone for discussion of rationality or AI ethics especially if the meeting can be in San Francisco or anywhere within walking distance of a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.

Oh by the way, one thing I did not like about the last Bay Area meetup was that three extroverted people dominated the conversation at the big, 12-person round table at which I sat. That meetup was at a crowded restaurant. If there had been more room to move around, it would have been easier for me to contrive to hear from some of the less-extroverted attendees.

They're still pretty awful, IMHO.

He says he isn't ready to write code. If you don't try to code up a general artificial intelligence you don't succeed, but you don't fail either.

Would people stop saying that! It is highly irresponsible in the context of general AI! (Well, at least the self-improving form of general AI, a.k.a., seed AI. I'm not qualified to say whether a general AI not deliberately designed for self-improvement might self-improve anyways.)

Noodling around with general-AI designs is the most probable of the prospective causes of the extinction of Earth-originating intel... (read more)

I too thought Nesov's comment was written by Eliezer.

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