Manifesto of the Silent Minority

Is the "[REDACTED]" in the belief as submitted?

Survey of Deviant Ideas

Will you be posting the anonymous beliefs?

Working in Virtual Reality: A Review

Here's a discussion of someone who didn't find working in VR particularly usable

The hyperlink is missing.

Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities

Eliezer covers this in the article:

Should we penalize computations with large space and time requirements?  This is a hack that solves the problem, but is it true?

And he points out:

If the probabilities of various scenarios considered did not exactly cancel out, the AI's action in the case of Pascal's Mugging would be overwhelmingly dominated by whatever tiny differentials existed in the various tiny probabilities under which 3^^^^3 units of expected utility were actually at stake.


Consider the plight of the first nuclear physicists, trying to calculate whether an atomic bomb could ignite the atmosphere. Yes, they had to do this calculation! Should they have not even bothered, because it would have killed so many people that the prior probability must be very low?The essential problem is that the universe doesn't care one way or the other and therefore events do not in fact have probabilities that diminish with increasing disutility.

There is also a paper, which I found and lost and found again and lost again, which may just have been a blog post somewhere, to the effect that in a certain setting, all computable unbounded utility functions must necessarily be so dominated by small probabilities of large utilities that no expected utility calculation converges. If someone can remind me of what this paper was I'd appreciate it.

ETA: Found it again, again. "Convergence of expected utilities with algorithmic probability distributions", by Peter de Blanc.

Ongoing free money at PredictIt

Where is this money coming from? Who is taking the other side of these bets?

Confucianism in AI Alignment

You are proposing "make the right rules" as the solution. Surely this is like solving the problem of how to write correct software by saying "make correct software"? The same approach could be applied to the Confucian approach by saying "make the values right". The same argument made against the Confucian approach can be made against the Legalist approach: the rules are never the real thing that is wanted, people will vary in how assiduously they are willing to follow one or the other, or to hack the rules entirely for their own benefit, then selection effects lever open wider and wider the difference between the rules, what was wanted, and what actually happens.

It doesn't work for HGIs (Human General Intelligences). Why will it work for AGIs?

BTW, I'm not a scholar of Chinese history, but historically it seems to me that Confucianism flourished as state religion because it preached submission to the Legalist state. Daoism found favour by preaching resignation to one's lot. Do what you're told and keep your head down.

Stupid Questions October 2020

The geodesics aren't lines in space, but in space-time. For the ball to fall through the Earth and back to its starting point takes about 5000 seconds, during which time light goes about 1.5 billion km. So a graph in space-time will be a sine wave whose period is 1.5 billion km and whose amplitude is 6400 km, a ratio of about 250000 to 1. The graph has very low curvature everywhere.

It is the same for the Earth's orbit round the Sun. It is not the spatial path of the orbit that is a geodesic, but the helical path it traces out in space-time. In one revolution it travels one year into the future, equivalent to a distance of a light-year. As a handy way of visualising this, the ratio of a light-year to an AU (astronomical unit, the radius of the Earth's orbit) is about the same as a mile to an inch. So in space-time the orbit can be visualised as a helix formed by wrapping a piece of string around a cylinder two inches thick and a mile long, which makes just a single turn over that distance. The curvature of this path is much lower than the spatial curvature of the orbital path.

Should we use qualifiers in speech?

“I am inclined to think—” said I.

“I should do so,” Sherlock Holmes remarked impatiently.

Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Valley of Fear"

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