I should say, these shifts have not been anything like an unmitigated failure, and I don’t now believe were worth it just because they caused me to be more socially connected to x-risk things.
Had a little trouble parsing this, especially the second half. Here’s my attempted paraphrase:
I take you to be saying that: 1) the shifts that resulted from engaging with x-risk were not all bad, despite leading to the disorienting events listed above, and 2) in particular, you think the shifts were (partially) beneficial for reasons other than just that they led you to be more socially connected to x-risk people.
Is that right?
This seems like useful advice for how to engage with Circling, etc., but I’m not sure how it responds to what Said wrote in the parent comment.
Is the idea that it would be okay if Circling asks the wrong questions when dealing with cases of potential betrayal (my quick summary of Said’s point), because Circling is just practice, and in real life you would still handle a potential betrayal in the same way?
But if Circling is just practice, isn’t it important what it trains you to do? (And that it not train you to do the wrong things?)
(FWIW, I don’t share the objection that Said raises in the parent comment, but my response would be more like Raemon’s here, and not that Circling is just practice.)
If the total willingness to risk of people who believe “Judy will believe X on reflection” is lower than the value of Alice’s time
I guess my request of philosophers (and the rest of us) is this: when you are using an every day term like “free will” or “consciousness”, please don’t define it to mean one very specific thing that bakes in a bunch of philosophical assumptions. Because then anyone who questions some of those assumptions ends up arguing whether the thing exists. Rather than just saying it’s a little different than we thought before.
It’d be like if we couldn’t talk about “space” or “time” anymore after Einstein. Or if half of us started calling ourselves “illusionists” w.r.t. space or time. They’re not illusions! They exist! They’re just a little different than we thought before.
(See also this comment, and remember that all abstractions are leaky!)
Semi-relatedly, I’m getting frustrated with the term “illusionist”. People seem to use it in different ways. Within the last few weeks I listened to the 80k podcast with David Chalmers and the Rationally Speaking podcast with “illusionist” Keith Frankish.
Chalmers seemed to use the term to mean that consciousness was an illusion, such that it means we don’t really have consciousness. Which seems very dubious.
Frankish seemed to use the term to mean that many of the properties that other philosophers think our consciousness has are illusory, but that of course we are conscious.
From listening to the latter interview, it’s not clear to me that Frankish (who, according to Wikipedia, is “known for his ‘illusionist’ stance in the theory of consciousness”) believes anything different from the view described in this post (which I assume you’re classing as “representationalism”).
Maybe I’m just confused. But it seems like leading philosophers of today still haven’t absorbed the lesson of Wittgenstein and are still talking past each other with confusing words.
Hmm, maybe I’m missing something basic and should just go re-read the original posts, but I’m confused by this statement:
So what we do here is say “belief set A is strictly ‘better’ if this particular observer always trusts belief set A over belief set B”, and “trust” is defined as “whatever we think belief set A believes is also what we believe”.
In this, belief set A and belief set B are analogous to A[C] and C (or some c in C), right? If so, then what’s the analogue of “trust… over”?
If we replace our beliefs with A[C]’s, then how is that us trusting it “over” c or C? It seems like it’s us trusting it, full stop (without reference to any other thing that we are trusting it more than). No?
Now put the two together, and you get an “attention schema”, an internal model of the activity of the GNW, which he calls attention.
To clarify, he calls “the activity of the GNW” attention, or he calls “an internal model of the activity of the GNW” attention?
My best guess interpretation of what you’re saying is that it’s the former, and when you add “an internal model of” on the front, that makes it a schema. Am I reading that right?
Notably, we need to trust A[C] even over our own beliefs, that is, if A[C] believes something, we discard our position and adopt A[C]’s belief.
To clarify, this is only if we (or the process that generated our beliefs) fall into class C, right?
I definitely imagine looking at a graph of everyone’s performance on the predictions and noticing a cluster who are discontinuously much better than everyone else. I would be surprised if the authors of the piece didn’t imagine this as well.
Some evidence against this is that they described it as being a “power law” distribution, which is continuous and doesn’t have these kinds of clusters. (It just goes way way up as you move to the right.)
If you had a power law distribution, it would still be accurate to say that “a few are better than most”, even though there isn’t a discontinuous break anywhere.
EDIT: It seems to me that most things like this follow approximately continuous distributions. And so whenever you hear someone talking about something like this you should assume it’s continuous unless it’s super clear that it’s not (and that should be a surprising fact in need of explanation!). But note that people will often talk about it in misleading ways, because for the sake of discussion it’s often simpler to talk about it as if there are these discrete groups. So just because people are talking about it as if there are discrete groups does not mean they actually think there are discrete groups. I think that’s what happened here.
If you graphed “jump height” of the population and 2% of the population is Superman, there would be a clear discontinuity at the higher end.
But note that the section you quote from Vox doesn’t say that there’s any discontinuity:
Tetlock and his collaborators have run studies involving tens of thousands of participants and have discovered that prediction follows a power law distribution.
A power law distribution is not a discontinuity! Some people are way way better than others. Other people are merely way better than others. And still others are only better than others.
“Philip Tetlock discovered that 2% of people are superforecasters.” When I read this sentence, it reads to me like “2% of people are superheroes”
I think the sentence is misleading (as per Scott Alexander). A better sentence should give the impression that, by way of analogy, some basketball players are NBA players. They may seem superhuman in their basketball ability compared to the Average Joe. And there are a combination of innate traits as well as honed skills that got them there. These would be interesting to study if you wanted to know how to play basketball well. Or if you were putting together a team to play against the Monstars.
But there’s no discontinuity. Going down the curve from NBA players, you get to professional players in other leagues, and then to division 1 college players, and then division 2, etc. Somewhere after bench warmer on their high school basketball team, you get to Average Joe.
So SSC and Vox are both right. Some people are way way better than others (with a power law-like distribution), but there’s no discontinuity.
Looks like he’s getting some pushback:
Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, will not be allowed to bypass Whitehall’s usual recruitment processes when recruiting “weirdos” and “misfits” for Downing Street jobs, No 10 has said.
Cummings has been criticised by employment lawyers and unions after posting a rambling 2,900-word blogpost calling for people with “odd skills” to circumvent the usual rules in applying for jobs as special advisers and officials in government.
The prime minister’s spokesman insisted the post was aimed only at seeking “expressions of interest” and that civil servants would still be appointed within the usual tight procedures of the civil service.
also confused why their list of achievements contains (or consists entirely of) Brexit
He also had a hand in keeping Britain on the pound instead of the euro, back in 1999-2002.
To me it seems like the original strategy behind Brexit referendum was simply “let’s make a referendum that will lose, but it will give us power to convert any future complaints into political points by saying ‘we told you’”.
My understanding is that this was David Cameron’s strategy. But others, like Daniel Hannan and Dominic Cummings, actually wanted the UK out of the EU.
In Cummings’ case, his (stated) reason was that he thought the UK government was in need of major reform, and the best odds for reforming it seemed to require first withdrawing from the EU. (See the section in this blog post labeled, “Why do it?”)
Driving away other writers with annoyingness also constrains the flow of information. Trade-offs abound!
Why should Said be the one to change, though?
Good question. When there are conflicts over norms, it’s not obvious how to resolve them in general. I suppose the easy, though less preferred, solution would be some kind of appeal to the will of the majority, or to an authority. The harder, but better, way would be an appeal to a deeper set of shared norms. I’m not sure how tractable that is in this case though.
What happens if you reframe your reaction as, “He’s surprised, but surprise is the measure of a poor hypothesis—the fact that he’s so cluelessly self-centered as to not be able to predict what other people know means that I should have higher status”?
This is in fact often my reaction. But I will note that neither social attacks nor the writings of clueless self-centered people are particularly fun to read. (Especially not when it seems to be both.)
That may be stating it overly harshly. I do think Said is an intelligent person and often has good points to make. And I find it valuable to learn that others are getting a lot of value from his comments.
The signal to noise (not exactly the right term) ratio has not seemed particularly favorable to me though. But perhaps there’s yet some different reframing that I could do to be less frustrated (in addition to whatever changes Said might make).
Said is doing something similar, so I see it as a valuable contribution.
I appreciate hearing this counterpoint.
I wish there was a way to get the benefit of Said’s pointed questioning w/o readers like me being so frustrated by the style. I suspect that relatively subtle tweaks to the style could make a big difference. But I’m not exactly sure how to get there from here.
For now all I can think of is to note that some users, like Wei Dai, ask lots of pointed and clarifying questions and never provoke in me the same kind of frustration that many of Said’s comments do.
while defending Said, who is a super valuable commenter
Just wanted to note that, as a person who often finds Said’s style off-putting, I appreciate reading this counterpoint from you.
EDIT: In my ideal world, Said can find a way to still be nitpick-y and insistent on precision and rigor in a way that doesn’t frustrate me (and other readers) so much. I am unfortunately not exactly sure how to get to there from here.
I agree, but as I put it in the great-grandparent comment:
I want to clarify that asking about the meanings of particular words is not the main thing I’m talking about (even though that was the example at the top of this whole thread).
It’s more a pattern of expressing surprise / indignation as a rhetorical move. Here is an example, where he’s not asking for clarification, but still doing the surprise / indignation thing.
You might think that comment is perfectly fine, and even from my perspective in any one single comment, it’s often no big deal. But when surprised indignation is basically your tone in seemingly almost every thread, I eventually find it annoying.
May as well blame the disabled for dastardly forcing us to waste money on wheelchair ramps
I do not believe that Said is unable to generate hypotheses in all the cases where he expresses bafflement / indignation. I believe it is (at least partially) a rhetorical move.
If people pretended to need wheelchairs to prove a point, we’d be right to blame them for forcing us to spend resources on them.