This is a brilliant comment for understanding the current deployment of DL. Deserves its own post.
It would be interesting to evaluate RETRO as it works differently from all the models we’ve evaluated. WebGPT is finetuned to use a search engine and it uses this (at inference time) to answer questions. This seems more powerful than the retrieval system for RETRO (based on a simple nearest neighbor lookup). So my speculation is that WebGPT would do better.
We don’t have plans to evaluate it but are open to the possibility (if the RETRO team was interested).
Keynes’s involvement with the Versailles Peace Conference is quite well known. Russell was a famous public intellectual after leaving academia but I think is now better known for his earlier work in the foundations of mathematics and philosophy. Turing’s codebreaking work is also well known.
I know less about Keynes. Feel free to suggest some.
Taxes in Oxford are more-or-less the same as anywhere else in the UK. These are lower than many European countries but higher than the US (especially states with no income tax). Rent in SF is more than 2x Oxford (seems roughly right to me) but I agree with what you say on housing. Having lived in SF and Oxford, the claim about crime and homelessness doesn’t match my experience at all (nor any anecdotes I’ve heard). I’d be very surprised if stats showed more crime in Oxford vs the central parts of SF.
I don’t see a comparison to the base rate (before Covid).
I didn’t follow the links, but how did Bentham and Mill think about future utility?
I get “potential security risk” from Firefox for that pdf link.
Haldane wanted children but may have been infertile due to injuries suffered in WW1. IIRC Needham and his wife may also have had fertility issues.
Do you have a citation or excerpt on this?
I mentioned Ramsey in an another comment. Very brilliant polymath and likely would be included if he’d lived longer.
Interesting. One question is why people were attracted by non-capitalist economic systems. Another is why they were attracted by Marxism or by the Soviet Union.
I’d be very interested in a quick summary of the explanation.
Is this a rhetorical question? What kind of evidence are you looking for? At this point, it’s more efficient to learn about Wittgenstein’s contributions by reading more recent works. If you wanted some intro material on Wittgenstein’s own work, you could try SEP, Grayling, or Soames [detailed historical development of analytic philosophy] but I haven’t looked at these myself. Also any discussions by Dennett of Wittgenstein on philosophy of mind, Kripke (or McGinn’s discussion) on Wittgenstein on rule-following, discussion of family resemblance for concepts in various works.
That last point (“more distal cause”) is a very interesting idea. Thanks!
Julian and Aldous Huxley were at Oxford and mixed with Haldane and Needham for sure. Haldane was an undergrad at Oxford and his dad a professor.
Russell, Keynes, Wittgenstein and Haldane all visited the Soviet Union. Needham spent time in China during the Sino-Japanese War and again after the communist revolution. So some intellectuals had access to first-hand accounts—though I agree that the permission to visit and the experience itself was tightly controlled. There were also lots of Russians and Chinese in exile who intellectuals could talk to.
I think Cambridge was much stronger than Oxford in STEM and philosophy until after WW2. Schrödinger was briefly at Oxford but they objected to his desire to live with both his wife and mistress. Outside of STEM, there was Tolkien, CS Lewis, and TE Lawrence.
Yes, I’d also like to understand better the attraction of communism. Some off-the-cuff ideas:
It was harder to get good information about the Russian or Chinese communists during certain periods. (No Internet, fewer reliable journalists, less travel in each direction).
Non-communist countries were much more violent than post-WW2. There was more homicide and more violence that involved the state (e.g. violence in prisons, colonial violence, civil wars, interstate wars). Maybe the Soviet Union up to 1935 didn’t look radically different from non-Communist countries.
Economics was less developed and (possibly) fewer smart people had a basic grasp of the field. (Some good arguments against Marxist economics already existed but weren’t widely known).
The empirical evidence against command economies vs market-based systems was much less clear. (Modern concept of GDP was only developed in 1934!)
Non-communist countries were very conservative in some ways, e.g. rights for women and ethnic minorities, the special privileges given to the state religion, workers’ rights, availability of public education and training. Both the early Soviet Union and Communist China had some policies that were progressive relative to the status quo and to other non-communist countries.
Communists shouted about and valorized progress, modernization, industrialization, and science. (And the Soviet Union did industrialize pretty quickly and produce fairly impressive science and technology.)
Incidentally: Russell did visit the Soviet Union and came away with a negative impression. Keynes also visited and had a very negative impression. He was also in a position to evaluate Marx’s economics. Here’s Keynes’ view of Leninism taken from Wikipedia:
How can I accept a doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook [Marx’s Kapital] which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.
Yes, I know less about Ramsey’s life, but he was an incredible talent and interacted with Wittgenstein and Keynes. Paul Dirac and Ronald Fisher also spent part of their careers at Cambridge in this period but I know less about their lives. (There’s also G. H. Hardy).