[Question] What’s your big idea?

At any one time I usu­ally have be­tween 1 and 3 “big ideas” I’m work­ing with. Th­ese are gen­er­ally broad ideas about how some thing works with many im­pli­ca­tions for how the rest of the whole world works. Some big ideas I’ve grap­pled with over the years, in roughy his­tor­i­cal or­der:

  • evolution

  • ev­ery­thing is computation

  • su­per­in­tel­li­gent AI is de­fault dangerous

  • ex­is­ten­tial risk

  • ev­ery­thing is information

  • Bayesian rea­son­ing is op­ti­mal reasoning

  • evolu­tion­ary psychology

  • Get­ting Things Done

  • game theory

  • de­vel­op­men­tal psychology

  • pos­i­tive psychology

  • phenomenology

  • AI al­ign­ment is not defined pre­cisely enough

  • ev­ery­thing is con­trol sys­tems (cy­ber­net­ics)

  • epistemic circularity

  • Bud­dhist en­light­en­ment is real and possible

  • perfection

  • pre­dic­tive cod­ing grounds hu­man values

I’m sure there are more. Some­times these big ideas come and go in the course of a week or month: I work the idea out, maybe write about it, and feel it’s wrapped up. Other times I grap­ple with the same idea for years, feel­ing it has loose ends in my mind that mat­ter and that I need to work out if I’m to un­der­stand things ad­e­quately enough to help re­duce ex­is­ten­tial risk.

So with that as an ex­am­ple, tell me about your big ideas, past and pre­sent.

I kindly ask that if some­one an­swers and you are think­ing about com­ment­ing, please be nice to them. I’d like this to be a ques­tion where peo­ple can share even their weirdest, most wrong-on-re­flec­tion big ideas if they want to with­out fear of be­ing down­voted to oblivion or sub­ject to crit­i­cism of their rea­son­ing abil­ity. If you have some­thing to say that’s nega­tive about some­one’s big ideas, please be nice and say it as clearly about the idea and not the per­son (vi­o­la­tors will have their com­ments deleted and pos­si­bly banned from com­ment­ing on this post or all my posts, so I mean it!).

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