Yes, but not super vividly? Like, there’s definitely a spectrum—you have people with aphantasia, and then on the other end you have my sister, who can build a 3D model of a sculpture in her mind, make various changes to it, and then construct it out of clay. My mental imagery is much weaker than that, more like vague impressions with some visual component, or images that are definitely there but fade when I look them head on (like stars).
I’m not sure if this counts but: the experience you describe as “a vivid sensation of my own presence” is something I only have rarely, in flashes, and it always freaks me out. It’s happened to me periodically for my whole life, and I’ve come to believe it falls under the label of dissociation.
Most of the time, I walk around basically on autopilot. I have feelings and wants, and I can introspect and remember things, but I’m not paying attention to the fact that it’s myself doing those things; I just do them. This is very qualitatively different from what it’s like to dissociate. When I dissociate, I am very aware that I am a brain in a body, that there’s something it’s like to be me and not anybody else, that everything around me was constructed by humans, etc. This sounds more like the “vivid sensation” you talked about, but I’m not sure. If so, I don’t entirely lack the qualia of consciousness, but I don’t have it most of the time, and it freaks me out when I do have it.
I really liked this, thank you for writing it.
Perhaps a nitpick, but I feel like the building of trust is being treated less as a sacred value, and more as a quantity of unknown magnitude, with some probability that that magnitude could be really high (at least >$1672, possibly orders of magnitude higher). Doing a Fermi is a trivial inconvenience that I for one cannot handle right now; since it is a weekday, maybe others feel much the same.
Oh wow, I did not realize how ambiguous the original wording was.
I preemptively counter-offer whatever amount of money tcheasdfjkl would pay in order for this hypothetical person not to press the button.
Wasn’t totally sure when I wrote it, but now firmly yes.
(I have launch codes and am happy to prove it to you if you want.)
Hmmm, I feel like the argument “There’s some harm in releasing the codes entrusted to me, but not so much that it’s better for someone to die” might prove too much? Like, death is really bad, I definitely grant that. But despite the dollar amount you gave, I feel like we’re sort of running up against a sacred value thing. I mean, you could just as easily say, “There’s some harm in releasing the codes entrusted to me, but not so much that it’s better for someone to have a 10% chance of dying”—which would naïvely bring your price down to $167.20.
If you accept as true that that argument should be equally ‘morally convincing’, then you end up in a position where the only reasonable thing to do is to calculate exactly how much harm you actually expect to be done by you pressing the button. I’m not going to do this because I’m at work and it seems complicated (what is the disvalue of harm to the social fabric of an online community that’s trying to save the world, and operates largely on trust? perhaps it’s actually a harmless game, but perhaps it’s not, hard to know—seems like the majority of effects would happen down the line).
Additionally, I could just counter-offer a $1,672 counterfactual donation to GiveWell for you to not press the button. I’m not committing to do this, but I might do so if it came down to it.
Although at that point you’re basically just making Peter Special :P
Well, Raemon said it’s 1-3 months of work, but I’m a bit concerned that those 1-3 months might not start for another year or so, due to the LW team being busy as heck with a bunch of other priorities. I do agree that it’s worth putting real thought into this though, and not starting out on a platform just so we can start out, if it might end up being the case that we want to use a different platform later.
I share a general opposition to Facebook. However, I’m not sure what would be a reasonable alternative. I’ve tried setting up Google Groups and Slacks for coordination of this type before, but those platforms have a bit of a ‘talking in a library’ problem—if they’re inactive, they generally remain inactive. There’s also the problem of needing to use a platform that people use all the time anyway. Slack is good for me, because I’m in multiple active Slack workspaces, but lots of people use it only for work or don’t want multiple workspaces. Google Groups are okay on this axis because they can go to people’s emails, but there’s some magic startup energy that needs to go into making a Google Group active, and I don’t know what it is (critical mass?).
As for the LW suggestion—I don’t feel that LessWrong currently has the infrastructure to support something similar to a Facebook group, and even if the LW team was willing to build something like that, they have dozens of other priorities. In addition, a lot of the groups I’m targeting identify as SlateStarCodex meetups and don’t have buy-in to LessWrong either as a platform or as a thing they want to identify with.
So, yes, I’m definitely open to alternatives to Facebook. I guess at this point a Google Group feels like the best option, but I’m not optimistic about it. Very open to continuing this conversation here or elsewhere.
Hi Shannar and Oleksii, try emailing Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org. You might have more luck getting a response that way :)
Yeah, I actually agree, and that’s what I meant by ‘polluting the commons’ - if anyone who ever had an idea about meetups could go around demanding that people implement their thing, everything would quickly fall apart. (Random side note: this is one of the main failure modes of school reform in the US—there are so many new initiatives forced upon teachers that they never have time to get used to them, develop their own style, or even do their job). This is why I’m trying to be careful this time around. I also hope that my response to your top-level comment helped you understand where I’m coming from here.
This point (from both Vaniver and Charlie) is well-taken—I definitely agree that some amount of retreading the same ground is fine and often necessary or useful. I guess what I meant to express was, if there are conversations people are having that contain potentially novel insights or interesting new ways of looking at a problem/topic, then it would be good if those were written up and added to the canon. By default this is almost never happening, so it’s the thing I want to encourage.
I am not aware of what happened. My guess from your tone is tragedy of the commons or something Eugine-like?
I grant that this is an experiment that could go poorly. I’m currently talking with someone who has experience running online rationalist spaces about potentially moderating the group, which I think should help. I’d want fairly strict moderation policies, with most of the discussion focused on meetups themselves (either how to run them or things that happen at them). The group would also be walled (not just freely open to the public).
Hi Christian, sorry I wasn’t entirely clear in expressing this idea. As I mentioned in the appendix, there are several communities that are doing just fine on their own, producing things, having regular events, having structure such as an NGO, etc. I think Berlin, Prague, Moscow, and NYC clearly fall into this category, and possibly other cities like Warsaw, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Helsinki, Toronto, Seattle, Sydney, and Oxford. (Apologies if I missed any obvious examples, but you get the idea).
However, these are a small minority of the total meetup groups that exist, which number over 100. It’s the rest of those groups that I’m really targeting—ones in smaller cities or just cities with fewer active rationalists, where there’s little sense of direction and it’s often hard to even sustain a regular meetup at all. I organized meetups in a city like that myself a few years back, and I’ve talked to plenty of people from other cities who would really appreciate more guidance and/or centralized organization. I think some of these meetups would also appreciate being granted a sense of legitimacy by becoming an “official” LessWrong meetup, even if the designation doesn’t ultimately have much meaning on its own.
I also wasn’t proposing forcing any kind of structure on anyone. Groups can continue to function however they want (running marathons as a group seems great!) and should feel totally free to ignore the top-down planning if they don’t need it. The topic-of-the-month idea was intended to a) help people in smaller, far-flung communities feel like part of a larger conversation, and b) provide a default structure for groups that have trouble with structure. (In the survey I ran a few months ago, lots of people expressed dissatisfaction that the only thing they ever did at meetups was unstructured socializing, which they didn’t feel provided a ton of value). Doing rationality exercises together is really great, but is also something many communities can’t do because they e.g. don’t have any CFAR alumni, or because there isn’t enough buy-in to the group that people want to commit to rationality training.
I hope that clears things up. Sorry if you felt attacked or something.