I scheduled a conversation with Evan based on this post and it was very helpful. If you're on the fence, do it! For me, it was helpful as a general career / EA strategy discussion, in addition to being useful for thinking about specifically Long-Term Future Fund concerns.
And I can corroborate that Evan is indeed not that intimidating.
"I'm tempted to recommend this book to people who might otherwise be turned away by Rationality: From A to Z."
Within the category of "recent accessible introduction to rationality", would you recommend this Pinker book, or Julia Galef's "Scout Mindset"? Do thoughts on the pros and cons of each, or who would benefit more from each?
Thanks for collecting these things! I have been looking into these arguments recently myself, and here are some more relevant things:
Thank you for writing about this. It's a tremendously interesting issue.
I feel qualitatively more conscious, which I mean in the "hard problem of consciousness" sense of the word. "Usually people say that high-dose psychedelic states are indescribably more real and vivid than normal everyday life." Zen practitioners are often uninterested in LSD because it's possible to reach states that are indescribably more real and vivid than (regular) real life without ever leaving real life. (Zen is based around being totally present for real life. A Zen master meditates eyes open.) It is not unusual for proficient meditators to describe mystical experiences as at least 100× more conscious than regular everyday experience.
I'm very curious about the issue of what it means to say that one creature is "more conscious" than another--or, that one person is more conscious while meditating than while surfing Reddit. Especially if this is meant in the sense of "more phenomenally conscious". (I take it that you do mean "more phenomenally conscious", and that's what you are saying by invoking the hard problem. But let me know if that's not right). Can you say more about what you mean? Some background:
Pautz (2019) has been influential on my thinking about this kind of talk about 'more conscious' or 'level of conscious' or 'degree of consciousness'. Pautz distinguishes between many consciousness-related things that certainly do come in degrees.
On the one hand, we have certain features of the particular character of phenomenally conscious experiences:
And then there is a 'global' feature of a creature's phenomenal consciousness:
In light of this, my questions for you:
Finally: this post has inspired me to be more ambitious about exploring the broader regions of consciousness space for myself. ("Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different." -William James). And for that, I am grateful.
Tons of handy stuff here, thanks!
I love the sound of Cold Turkey. I use Freedom for my computer, and I use it less than I otherwise would because of this anxious feeling, almost certainly exaggerated but still with a basis in reality, that whenever I start a full block it is a Really Big Deal and I might accidentally screw myself over - for example, if I suddenly remember I have to do something else. (Say, I'm looking for houses and it turns out I actually need to go look something up). But Cold Turkey, I'd just block stuff a lot more freely without the anxiety - I'll know if I really need something I can unlock it. All while having the calm that comes from Twitter not being immediately accessible.
I also find the Freedom interface really terrible and that trivial inconvenience can keep me from starting blocks.
How often would you say you spend time-you-don't-endorse after unlocking something with the N random characters? Is it pretty effective at keeping you in line?
I enjoyed reading this and skimming through your other shortforms. I’m intrigued by this idea of using the short form as something like a journal (albeit a somewhat public facing one).
Any tips, if I might want to start doing this?
How helpful have you found it?
Any failure modes?
Jonathan Simon is working on such a project: "What is it like to be AlphaGo"?
[disclaimer: not an expert, possibly still confused about the Baldwin effect]
A bit of feedback on this explanation: as written, it didn’t make clear to me what makes it a special effect. “Evolution selects for genome-level hardcoding of extremely important learned lessons.” As a reader I was like, what makes this a special case? If it’s useful lesson then of course evolution would tend to select for knowing it innately - that does seem handy for an organism.
As I understand it, what is interesting about the Baldwin effect is that such hard coding is selected for more among creatures that can learn, and indeed because of learning. The learnability of the solution makes it even more important to be endowed with the solution. So individual learning, in this way, drives selection pressures. Dennett’s explanation emphasizes this - curious what you make of his?
I'm very intrigued by "prosthetic human voice meant for animal use"! Not knowing much about animal communication or speech in general, I don't even know what this mean. Could you say a bit more about what that would be?
Welcome, David! What sort of math are you looking to level up on? And do you know what AI safety/related topics you might explore?