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You're using a different word "utility" than I am here. There are at least three definitions of that word. I'm using the one from hedonic utilitarianism (since that's what most EAs identify as), not the one from decision theory (e..g., "expected utility maximization" as a decision theory), and not the one from economics (rational agents maximizing "utility"). 

If we want to look at general principles rather than specific cases, if the original post had not contained a bunch of serious misinformation (according to evidence that I have access to) then I would have been much more sympathetic to not delaying.

But the combination of serious misinformation + being unwilling to delay a short period to get the rest of the evidence I find to be a very bad combination.

I also don’t think the retaliation point is a very good one, as refusing to delay doesn’t actually prevent retaliation.

I don’t find the lost productivity point is particularly strong given that this was a major investigation already involving something like 150 hours of work. In that context, another 20 hours carefully reviewing evidence seems minimal (if it’s worth ~150 hours to investigate it’s worth 170 to ensure it’s accurate presumably)

Guarding against reality distortion fields is an interesting point I hadn’t thought of until Oliver brought it up. However, it doesn’t seem (correct me if I’m wrong) that Ben felt swayed away from posting after talking to nonlinear for 3 hours - if that’s true then it doesn’t seem like much of a concern here. I also think pre-committing to a release date helps a bit with that.

Hi all, I wanted to chime in because I have had conversations relevant to this post with just about all involved parties at various points. I've spoken to "Alice" (both while she worked at nonlinear and afterward), Kat (throughout the period when the events in the post were alleged to have happened and afterward), Emerson, Drew, and (recently) the author Ben, as well as, to a much lesser extent, "Chloe" (when she worked at nonlinear). I am (to my knowledge) on friendly terms with everyone mentioned (by name or pseudonym) in this post. I wish well for everyone involved. I also want the truth to be known, whatever the truth is.

I was sent a nearly final draft of this post yesterday (Wednesday), once by Ben and once by another person mentioned in the post.

I want to say that I find this post extremely strange for the following reasons:

(1) The nearly final draft of this post that I was given yesterday had factual inaccuracies that (in my opinion and based on my understanding of the facts) are very serious despite ~150 hours being spent on this investigation. This makes it harder for me to take at face value the parts of the post that I have no knowledge of.  Why am I, an outsider on this whole thing, finding serious errors in the final hours before publication? That's not to say everything in the post is inaccurate, just that I was disturbed to see serious inaccuracies, and I have no idea why nobody caught these (I really don't feel like I should be the one to correct mistakes, given my lack of involvement, but it feels important to me to comment here since I know there were inaccuracies in the piece, so here we are).

(2) Nonlinear reached out to me and told me they have proof that a bunch of claims in the post are completely false. They also said that in the past day or so (upon becoming aware of the contents of the post), they asked Ben to delay his publication of this post by one week so that they could gather their evidence and show it to Ben before he publishes it (to avoid having him publish false information). However, he refused to do so.

This really confuses me. Clearly, Ben spent a huge amount of time on this post (which has presumably involved weeks or months of research), so why not wait one additional week for Nonlinear to provide what they say is proof that his post contains substantial misinformation? Of course, if the evidence provided by nonlinear is weak, he should treat it as such, but if it is strong, it should also be treated as such. I struggle to wrap my head around the decision not to look at that evidence. I am also confused why Ben, despite spending a huge amount of time on this research, apparently didn't seek out this evidence from Nonlinear long ago.

To clarify: I think it’s very important in situations like this not to let the group being criticized have a way to delay publication indefinitely. If I were in Ben’s shoes, I believe what I would have done is say something like, “You have exactly one week to provide proof of any false claims in this post (and I’ll remove any claim you can prove is false) then I’m publishing the post no matter what at that time.” This is very similar to the policy we use for our Transparent Replications project (where we replicate psychology results of publications in top journals), and we have found it to work well. We give the original authors a specific window of time during which they can point out any errors we may have made (which is at least a week). This helps make sure our replications are accurate, fair, and correct, and yet the teams being replicated have no say over whether the replications are released (they always are released regardless of whether we get a response).

It seems to me that basic norms of good epistemics require that, on important topics, you look at all the evidence that can be easily acquired.

I also think that if you publish misinformation, you can't just undo it by updating the post later or issuing a correction. Sadly, that's not the way human minds/social information works. In other words, misinformation can't be jammed back into the bottle once it is released. I have seen numerous cases where misinformation is released only later to be retracted, in which the misinformation got way more attention than the retraction, and most people came away only with the misinformation. This seems to me to provide a strong additional reason why a small delay in the publication date appears well worth it (to me, as an outsider) to help avoid putting out a post with potentially substantial misinformation. I hope that the lesswrong/EA communities will look at all the evidence once it is released, which presumably will be in the next week or so, in order to come to a fair and accurate conclusion (based on all the evidence, whatever that accurate final conclusion turns out to be) and do better than these other cases I’ve witnessed where misinformation won the day.

Of course, I don't know Ben's reason for jumping to publish immediately, so I can't evaluate his reasons directly.

Disclaimer: I am friends with multiple people connected to this post.  As a reminder, I wish well for everyone involved, and I wish for the truth to be known, whatever that truth happens to be. I have acted (informally) as an advisor to nonlinear (without pay) - all that means, though, is that every so often, team members there will reach out to me to ask for my advice on things.

Note: I've updated this comment a few times to try to make my position clearer, to add some additional context, and to fix grammatical mistakes.

The way you define values in your comment:

"From the AI "engineering" perspective, values/valued states are "rewards" that the agent adds themselves in order to train (in RL style) their reasoning/planning network (i.e., generative model) to produce behaviours that are adaptive but also that they like and find interesting (aesthetics). This RL-style training happens during conscious reflection."

is just something different than what I'm talking about in my post when I use the phrase "intrinsic values." 

From what I can tell, you seem to be arguing:


[paraphrasing] "In this one line of work, we define values this way", and then jumping from there to "therefore, you are misunderstanding values," when actually I think you're just using the phrase to mean something different than I'm using it to mean. 


Hi Caerulea-Lawrence, thanks for your comment. The reason we say: "If you don’t understand that worldview, then you’ll be unable to predict what these groups will do. You will also struggle to communicate with them in a way that they care about, or persuade them to do things differently." is not because we are trying to convince anyone to have a particular worldview with this piece - it's because we are trying to motivate people to see other perspectives even if they are still stuck in their own perspective. That is, there are instrumental reasons to try to see things from other people's perspectives, even if you are convinced you're 100% right and they are totally wrong.


I wonder what about this piece makes you think we're trying to use it to promote a particular worldview? The intention of the piece is precisely the opposite - to promote understanding multiple world views (and learning what the different worldviews have to offer).

A major goal in this piece is to try to be fair to every worldview without advocating for any worldview in particular.  This is hard to do, and it's possible we failed in specific ways - if you have specific examples of us being unfair to a worldview, please let us know, and if you make a case we find convincing that we've given short shrift to that perspective we'll change it.  We've already done that based on past feedback on this piece (updating a few of the descriptions based on feedback from people who hold that worldview). We're trying to describe each worldview in a way that most of the people who hold that view agree with and endorse the way we describe it.

Many hundreds of people read this piece, and whenever we received feedback from people who identified with one of the worldviews, if they believed their views were being misrepresented, we made adjustments in line with their feedback when we felt that the case they made was convincing (but like we acknowledged in the piece, we're not going to be covering everyone's perspective here). Your characterization of what the world looks like from the point of view of a Social Justice Advocate seems like something that a Social Justice Advocate would genuinely disagree with.

I'm surprised you see this as coming from a conservative perspective, because neither Amber nor I are conservatives. You're right that there are lots of other views that are not addressed in this piece. We focused on a small list of some of the most popular views, and of course, any one individual will have some differences in opinion with the world view that best represents them, as we mentioned in the piece.

Thanks for the cost estimates on producing transcripts, that's helpful! 

Oh whoops, that was definitely a mistake on my part, I meant to include that one, sorry for the oversight! I updated the post!

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