I am currently a nuclear engineer with a focus in nuclear plant safety and probabilistic risk assessment. I am also an aspiring EA, interested in X-risk mitigation and the intersection of science and policy.
I always thought it would be great to have one set of professors do the teaching, and then a different set come in from other schools just for a couple weeks at the end of the year to give the students a set of intensive written and oral exams that determines a big chunk of their academic standing.
Here’s a market, not sure how to define linchpin but we can at least predict whether he’ll be part of it.
I can now get real-time transcripts of my zoom meetings (via a python wrapper of the openai api) which makes it much easier to track the important parts of a long conversation. I tend to zone out sometimes and miss little pieces otherwise, as well as forget stuff.
That’s fair, most of them were probably never great teachers.
You are attributing a lot more deviousness and strategic boldness to the so-called deep state than the US government is organizationally capable of. The CIA may have tried a few things like this in banana republics but there’s just no way anybody could pull it off domestically.
Professors being selected for research is part of it. Another part is the tenure you mentioned—some professors feel like once they have tenure they don’t need to pay attention to how well they teach. But I think a big factor is another one you already mentioned: salaries. $150k might sound like a lot to a student, but to the kind of person who can become a math or econ professor at a top research university this is… not tiny but not close to optimal. They are not doing it for the money. They are bought in to a culture where the goal is building status in academic circles, and that’s based on research.
I also think you’ve had some bad luck. I had a lot of good professors and a handful of bad ones as an undergrad (good school but not a research university) and in grad school maybe a little more equal between good professors and those who didn’t care much. But even in the latter cases, I rarely felt like I didn’t learn anything. It just took a little more effort on my part to read the book if the lectures were a snooze (and yes, there were a few profs whose voices could literally put me to sleep in an instant).
But that sort of singularity seems unlikely to preserve something as delicately balanced as the way that (relatively well-off) humans get a sense of meaning and purpose from the scarcity of desirable things.
I think our world actually has a great track record of creating artificial scarcity for the sake of creating meaning (in terms of enjoyment, striving to achieve a goal, sense of accomplishment). Maybe “purpose” in the most profound sense is tough to do artificially, but I’m not sure that’s something most people feel a whole lot of anyway?
I’m pretty optimistic about our ability to adapt to a society of extreme abundance by creating “games” (either literal or social) that become very meaningful to those engaged in them.
Excellent, I think I will give something like that a try
I know this is an old thread but I think it’s interesting to revisit this comment in light of what happened at Twitter. Musk did, in fact, fire a whole lot of people. And he did, in fact, unban a lot of conservatives without much obvious delay or resistance within the company. I’m not sure how much of an implication that has about your views of the justice department, though. Notably, it was pretty obvious that the decisions at Twitter were being made at the top, and that the people farther down in the org chart had to implement those decisions or be fired. That sort of thing is less often true in government, especially when the actions are on the far end of questionably legal.
Let’s take NSA surveillance of American phone records as an example—plenty of people felt that it was unconstitutional. Without getting into any details, the end result was that it ended up being a political decision whether this sort of thing is acceptable. As far as I know, nobody at the NSA got fired, let alone charged, for allowing such a program. Contrast that with convincing someone to bury the results of an autopsy. They know perfectly well that if that comes out they’ll be charged with a crime; formal authority is basically useless. Even if that person is generally loyal to the organization, that loyalty is contingent on a belief that the agency’s goals are aligned with the person’s goals. And that alignment can change very quickly. Then the person in charge is left with the option of threatening to fire people (do you know how hard it is to fire a civil servant?) or maybe just not promote them (until the next administration comes around), and even that would require a paper trail that I don’t think they would risk. Soft power can go very far, but almost never as far as covering up a murder.
Thanks! I’d love to hear any details you can think of about what you actually do on a daily basis to maintain mental health (when it’s already fairly stable). Personally I don’t really have a system for this, and I’ve been lucky that my bad times are usually not that bad in the scheme of things, and they go away eventually.
I’m not sure how I would work it out. The problem is that presumably you don’t value one group more because they chose blue (it’s because they’re more altruistic in general) or because they chose red (it’s because they’re better at game theory or something). The choice is just an indicator of how much value you would put on them if you knew more about them. Since you already know a lot about the distribution of types of people in the world and how much you like them, the Bayesian update doesn’t really apply in the same way. It only works on what pill they’ll take because everyone is deciding with no knowledge of what the others will decide.
In the specific case where you don’t feel altruistic towards people who chose blue specifically because of a personal responsibility argument (“that’s their own fault”), then trivially you should choose red. Otherwise, I’m pretty confused about how to handle it. I think maybe only your level of altruism towards the blue choosers matters.
Doesn’t “trembling hand” mean it’s a stable equilibrium even if there are?
I mean definitely most people will not use a decision procedure like this one, so a smaller update seems very reasonable. But I suspect this reasoning still has something in common with the source of the intuition a lot of people have for blue, that they don’t want to contribute to anybody else dying.
Sure, if you don’t mind the blue-choosers dying then use the stable NE.
People are all over the place but definitely not 50⁄50. The qualitative solution I have will hold no matter how weak the correlation with other people’s choices (for large enough values of N).
If you make the very weak assumption that some nonzero number of participants will choose blue (and you prefer to keep them alive), then this problem becomes much more like a prisoner’s dilemma where the maximum payoff can be reached by coordinating to avoid the Nash equilibrium.
I think optimizer-type jobs are a modest subset of all useful or non-bullshit office jobs. Many call more for creativity, or reliably executing an easy task. In some jobs, basically all the most critical tasks are new and dissimilar to previous tasks, so there’s not much to optimize. There’s no quick feedback loop. It’s more about how reliably you can analyze the new situation correctly.
I had an optimizing job once, setting up computers over the summer in college. It was fun. Programming is like that too. I agree that if optimizing is a big part of the job, it’s probably not bullshit.
But over time I’ve come to think that even though occasional programming is the most fun part of my job, the inscrutable parts that you have to do in a vacuum are probably more important.
I think one of the major purposes of selecting employees based on a college degree (aside from proving intelligence and actually learning skills) is to demonstrate ability to concentrate over extended periods (months to years) on boring or low-stimulation work, more specifically reading, writing, and calculation tasks that are close analogues of office work. A speedrun of a video game is very different. The game is designed for visual and auditory stimulation. You can clearly see when you’re making progress and how much, a helpful feature for entering a flow state. There is often a competitive aspect. And of course you don’t have to read or write or calculate anything, or even interact with other people in a productive way. Probably the very best speed runners are mostly smart people who could be good at lots of things, because that’s true of almost any competition. But I doubt skill at speedrunning otherwise correlates much with success at most jobs.
The math doesn’t necessarily work out that way. If you value the good stuff linearly, the optimal course of action will either be to spend all your resources right away (because the high discount rate makes the future too risky) or to save everything for later (because you can get such a high return on investment that spending any now would be wasteful). Even in a more realistic case where utility is logarithmic with, for example, computation, anticipation of much higher efficiency in the far future could lead to the optimal choice being to use essentially the bare minimum right now.
I think there are reasonable arguments for putting some resources toward a good life in the present, but they mostly involve not being able to realistically pull off total self-deprivation for an extended period of time. So finding the right balance is difficult, because our thinking is naturally biased to want to enjoy ourselves right now. How do you “cancel out” this bias while still accounting for the limits of your ability to maintain motivation? Seems like a tall order to achieve just by introspection.
Positive externalities is a bit of an odd way to phrase it—if it’s just counting up the economic value (i.e. price) of the fossil fuels, doesn’t it also disregard the consumer surplus? In other words, they’ve demonstrated that the negative externalities of pollution outweigh the value added on the margin, but if we were to radically decrease our usage of fossil fuels then the cost of energy (especially for certain uses with no good substitute, as you discussed above) would go way up, and the tradeoff on the margin would look very different.