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Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

Right, not sure how that escaped my mind.

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

My 8-months-ago self would be surprised to learn that the US average COVID-19 deaths/day has risen again to 1,300 deaths/day. I don't understand why this happened. Does anyone know? Is it a combination of vaccine and/or natural immunity not lasting? Or is it that there are still a lot of unvaccinated people? Or were my estimates of how many Americans had been infected so far too high?

Josh Jacobson's Shortform

A related question I've never seen the data on: How much more dangerous is driving at night than driving during the day? (per mile driven)

Josh Jacobson's Shortform

Perhaps the accurate way to say Romeo's point is that time spent driving through intersections is (much) more dangerous than time spent driving on roads, highways, etc.

Is the potential astronomical waste in our universe too small to care about?

Wei, insofar as you are making the deal with yourself consider that in the world in which it turns out that the universe could support doing at least 3^^^3 ops you may not be physically capable of changing yourself to work more toward longtermist goals than you would otherwise. (I.e. Human nature is such that making huge sacrifices to your standard of living and quality of life negatively effects your ability to work productively on longtermist goals for years.) If this is the case, then the deal won't work since one part of you can't uphold the bargain. So in the world in which it turns out that the universe can support only 10^120 ops you should not devote less effort to longtermism than you would otherwise, despite being physically capable of devoting less effort.

In a related kind of deal, both parts of you may be capable of upholding the deal, in which case I think such deals may be valid. But it seems to me that you don't need UDT-like reasoning and the deal future to believe that your future self with better knowledge of the size of the cosmic endowment ought to change his behavior in the same way as implied by the deal argument. Example: If you're a philanthropist with a plan to spend $X of your wealth on shortermist philanthropy and $X on longtermist-philanthropy when you're initially uncertain about the size of the cosmic endowment because you think this is optimal given your current beliefs and uncertainty, then when you later find out that the universe can support 3^^^3 ops I think this should cause you to shift how you spend your $2X to give more toward longtermist philanthropy just because the longtermist philanthropic opportunities now just seem more valuable. Similarly, if you find out that the universe can only support 10^120, then you ought to update to giving more toward short-termist philanthropy.

So is there really a case for UDT-like reasoning plus hypothetical deals our past selves could have made with themselves suggesting that we ought to behave differently than more common reasoning suggests we ought to behave when we learn new things about the world? I don't see it.

The unexpected difficulty of comparing AlphaStar to humans

How many years do you think it will be until we see (in public) an agent which only gets screen pixels as input, has human-level apm and reaction speed, and is very clearly better than the best humans?

Respondents had a median prediction of two years and an expertise-weighted mean prediction of a little less than four years.

It's now been about two years and this hasn't happened yet. It seems like that might just be the case because DeepMind stopped work on this?

Predict responses to the "existential risk from AI" survey

I agree. For me, the clarification note completely changed my interpretation of the question (and the answer I would give to my understanding of the question). I decided to record my answer as 50% for this reason.

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

It seems troubling that one of the most upvoted COVID-19 post on LessWrong is one that argued for a prediction that I think we should score really poorly.

I agree. FWIW, I strong-downvoted this post in December. I think this is the first LW post that I have strong-downvoted before.

Additionally, I commented on it (and on threads where this post was shared elsewhere, e.g. on Facebook) to explain my disagreement with it, and recorded ~the lowest forecast of anyone who submitted their forecast here that there'd be a 4th wave in the US in 2021.

What I failed to do was offer to bet here on the 4th wave question. I think the only time that I tried to make a bet on this topic was in a discussion on Facebook (set to friends-only) that began with "Well, it's time to pull the fire alarm on the UK mutation." I commented on the post on 12/26/20 with the following:

Would you be interested in operationalizing a bet on this? (If you don't think its good practice to bet money on COVID infections/cases/deaths or otherwise aren't interested in betting money, we can just make it a reputational bet.)

I get the sense that like Zvi you are being too pessimistic about how bad the new strain will be for the US relative to how bad thing would have been even without the new strain.

However, the bet never came to fruition.

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

In this post Zvi doesn't try to forecast how many infections/cases/deaths there would be in the US without this new strain (unless I missed it... it is a long post). Yet he really should, because doing so will lead one to realize that the US is likely going to be at or close to herd immunity by ~May-June anyway, so a new transmissible strain that becomes dominant in the US around that same period can't plausibly make as huge of a difference as Zvi seems to be saying in this post.

Good Judgment's median estimate for "How many total cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. will be estimated as of 31 March 2021?" is ~130M currently. And Good Judgment's median estimate for "When will enough doses of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine(s) to inoculate 100 million people be distributed in the United States?" is ~May 1st currently. https://goodjudgment.io/covid/dashboard/

Assuming that 20% of vaccines go to people who had already been infected, this would mean that by May, approximately ~220M people (220M = ~140M + 0.8*100M) the US will be immune, or about 66% of the population. This could easily be higher or lower, but the point is that we're going to be at or close to herd immunity by the time Zvi says this new viral strain would start becoming dominant in the US.

In short, the news would be much worse if this new viral strain had spread to the degree that it has now several months ago. But in reality, I think we'll be at or close to herd immunity already by the time it becomes prominent, so it won't make that much of a difference.

EDIT: I misread Zvi's piece initially and mistakenly thought he wrote that that the new strain wouldn't become dominant in the US until May. I now see that he says "Instead of that being the final peak and things only improving after that, we now face a potential fourth wave, likely cresting between March and May, that could be sufficiently powerful to substantially overshoot herd immunity." Taking this view as true instead makes me see the new strain as significantly worse news: specifically, this two-month shift might be sufficient to make an additional ~10-15% of the population get infected/sick before herd immunity is reached. (I still think the post title is overblown, but still this is a significant update for me.)

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