I generally agree with the idea of there being long tails to the left. Revolutions are a classic example—and, more generally, any small group of ideologically polarised people taking extreme actions. Environmentalists groups blocking genetically engineered crops might be one example; global warming skepticism another; perhaps also OpenAI.
I’m not sure about the “sleeping dragons”, though, since I can’t think of many cases where small groups created technologies that counterfactually wouldn’t have happened (or even would have happened in safer ways).
There’s something to this, but it’s not the whole story, because increasing probability of survival is good no matter what the current level is. Perhaps if you model decreasing existential risk as becoming exponentially more difficult (e.g. going from 32% risk to 16% risk is as difficult as going from 16% to 8%) and with the possibility of accidental increases (e.g. you’re trying to go from 32 to 16 but there’s some probability you go to 64 instead) then the current expectation for the level of risk will affect whether you take high-variance actions or not.
I’m not sure how much to believe in this without concrete examples (the ones which come to mind are mostly pretty trivial, like Yahoo having a cluttered homepage and Google having a minimalist one, or MacOS being based on Unix).
Maybe Twitter is an example? I can easily picture it having a very different format. Still, I’m not particularly swayed by that.
When practicing to improve in a skill you want to get as much good quality information as possible (eg: Bob).
I just don’t think this is true. The advice to always practice with good technique, to entrench good habits, is fairly common. And in my experience it’s only once I’ve played a lot with good technique that I can even notice many of the subtleties.
So what I want to propose is that we define much more clearly what it takes to be taken seriously around here.
I mostly agree with your description of the problem, and I sympathise with your past self. However, I also think you understate the extent to which the EA and rationality communities are based around individual friendships. That makes things much messier than they might be in a corporation, and make definitions like the one you propose much harder.
On the other hand, it also means that there’s another sense in which “we can all be high-status”: within our respective local communities. I’m curious how you feel about that, because that was quite adequate for me for a long time, especially as a student.
On a broader level, one actionable idea I’ve been thinking about is to talk less about existential risk being “talent constrained”, so that people who can’t get full-time jobs in the field don’t feel like they’re not talented. A more accurate term in my eyes is “field-building constrained”.
Oh man, that was a stupid typo. I was very confused, mostly because I myself hadn’t properly read the question. Edited now; yours is a clever solution though.
Nope, some people get stuck on which links to cut. The standard answer is 3, which is the same as yours but with the assumption that you can detatch a link from its neighbours after 1 cut, which wasn’t made explicit.
I don’t think there’s any alternative. The reason that these contracts used to be hard to breach was mainly because of social norms—otherwise you could just leave and live in sin with someone else any time you wanted. But weaker contracts are only possible because the relevant social norms have changed. (Although there are probably some communities which take marriage much more seriously, and you could live there if you wanted to).
Then there are changes re who gets child custody, but it seems to me that having consistent legal judgements based on what’s best for the kids is better than allowing some people to opt into more extreme contracts.
Another factor is laws around property ownership, but I think that even though the laws have weakened, opting in to prenups is a sufficient solution for anyone who wants stronger commitments. They have clauses changing property allocations depending on who’s “at fault” for the divorce, right? (Although I guess I’m against prenups which specify custody arrangements, except insofar as they turn out to be good for kids).
“Doesn’t work well” by what metric—having children? I don’t see why that should be the predominant consideration. I have many other goals when I go into relationships—enjoyment, companionship, self-improvement, security, signalling, etc. Now that people are much wealthier and have fewer children, the relative importance of hard-to-breach contracts has decreased, and it’s plausible that for many people, moving even further towards flexible contracts is better for most of their goals.
I confess that I have a weakness for slightly fanciful titles. In my defence, though, I do actually think that “unreasonable” is a reasonable way of describing the success of neural networks. The argument in the original paper was something like “it could have been the case that math just wasn’t that helpful in describing the universe, but actually it works really well on most things we try it on, and we don’t have any principled explanation for why that is so”. Similarly, it could have been the case that feedforward neural networks just weren’t very good at learning useful functions, but actually they work really well on most things we try them on, and we don’t have any principled explanation for why that is so.
Glad to hear it :) I was talking about DL not RL, although I’d also claim that the latter is unreasonably effective. Basically, we throw compute at neural nets, and they solve problems! We don’t need to even know how to solve them ourselves! We don’t even know what the nets are doing internally! I think this efficacy is as entirely magical as the one in the original paper I was referencing.
“Article” refers to your post, the irony is that you are accusing Klein of being unable to imagine other minds working in different ways, because you are unable to imagine his mind working in any different way.
In the paragraph directly before the one I quoted, you pointed out that it’s silly for SJWs to assume that everyone thinks in terms of identity, race, gender, etc. But the blind spot that you’re accusing Klein of is one which implicitly assumes that he thinks in terms of ITTs, tribes which are distinct from ideologies, etc. Klein’s framework leads him to make a slightly dubious statement about unbridegeable divides. Your framework leads you to badly strawman his statement and throw around ad hominem attacks.
I don’t think this is particularly worth arguing about, since I predict it’ll become an argument about the post as a whole. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have given in to the temptation to post a snarky comment. I did so because I consider the quoted paragraph (and the one above it) both rude and incorrect, a particularly irksome combination. As a more meta note, if culture war posts are accepted on Less Wrong, I think we should strongly encourage them to have a much more civil tone.
Klein not only is incapable of passing the IDW’s Ideological Turing Test, but he also seems unaware of the fact that someone can fail to pass his own. The only way I can imagine this happening is that Klein is so absorbed in his ideology that he can’t fathom other minds being different.
Even for an article dedicated to bashing the outgroup, this is a particularly ironic passage.
This is an entertaining essay but extrapolates wayyyy too far. Case in point: I don’t even think it’s actually about automation—the thing you’re criticising sounds more like bureaucracy. Automation includes using robots to build cars and writing scripts to automatically enter data into spreadsheets instead of doing it by hand. You don’t address this type of thing at all. Your objection is to mindless rule-following—which may in future be done by machines, but right now is mostly done by people. (I don’t know of any tech system which doesn’t have customer support and can’t be manually overridden).
As a solution, you propose using more intelligent people who are able to exercise their discretion. Problem 1: there aren’t that many intelligent, competent people. But you can make more use of the ones you have by putting a competent person in charge of a bunch of less competent people, and laying down guidelines for them to follow. Ooops, we’ve reinvented bureaucracies. And when we need to scale such a system to a thousand- or million-person enterprise, like a corporation or government, then the people at the bottom are going to be pretty damn incompetent and probably won’t care at all about the organisation’s overall goals. So having rules to govern their behaviour is important. When implemented badly, that can lead to Kafka-esque situations, but that’s true of any system. And there are plenty of companies which create great customer service by having well-thought-out policies—Amazon, for instance.
But incompetence isn’t even the main issue. Problem 2: the more leeway individuals have, the more scope they have to be corrupt. A slightly less efficient economy isn’t an existential threat to a country. But corrupt governments are. One way we prevent them is using a constitution—a codification of rules to restrict behaviour. That’s exactly the type of thing you rail against. Similarly, corruption in a corporation can absolutely wreck it, and so it’s better to err on the side of strictness.
Anyway, the funny thing is that I do think there’s a useful moral which can be drawn from your account of the Butlerian Jihad, but it’s almost the exact opposite of your interpretation: namely, that humans are bad at solving coordination problems without deontological rules. Suppose you want to ensure that strong AI isn’t developed for the next 10000 years. Do you a) tell people that strong AI is a terrible idea, but anything short of that is fine, or b) instill a deep hatred of all computing technology, and allow people to come up with post-hoc justifications for why. I don’t think you need to know much about psychology or arms races to realise that the latter approach is much better—not despite its pseudo-religious commandments, but rather because of them.