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Marcus Daniell appreciation note @Marcus Daniell, cofounder of High Impact Athletes, came back from knee surgery and is donating half of his prize money this year. He projects raising $100,000. Through a partnership with Momentum, people can pledge to donate for each point he gets; he has raised $28,000 through this so far. It's cool to see this, and I'm wishing him luck for his final year of professional play!
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FHI has shut down yesterday: https://www.futureofhumanityinstitute.org/
An alternate stance on moderation (from @Habryka.) This is from this comment responding to this post about there being too many bans on LessWrong. Note how the LessWrong is less moderated than here in that it (I guess) responds to individual posts less often, but more moderated in that I guess it rate limits people more without reason.  I found it thought provoking. I'd recommend reading it. > Thanks for making this post!  > > One of the reasons why I like rate-limits instead of bans is that it allows people to complain about the rate-limiting and to participate in discussion on their own posts (so seeing a harsh rate-limit of something like "1 comment per 3 days" is not equivalent to a general ban from LessWrong, but should be more interpreted as "please comment primarily on your own posts", though of course it shares many important properties of a ban). This is a pretty opposite approach to the EA forum which favours bans. > Things that seem most important to bring up in terms of moderation philosophy:  > > Moderation on LessWrong does not depend on effort > > "Another thing I've noticed is that almost all the users are trying.  They are trying to use rationality, trying to understand what's been written here, trying to apply Baye's rule or understand AI.  Even some of the users with negative karma are trying, just having more difficulty." > > Just because someone is genuinely trying to contribute to LessWrong, does not mean LessWrong is a good place for them. LessWrong has a particular culture, with particular standards and particular interests, and I think many people, even if they are genuinely trying, don't fit well within that culture and those standards.  > > In making rate-limiting decisions like this I don't pay much attention to whether the user in question is "genuinely trying " to contribute to LW,  I am mostly just evaluating the effects I see their actions having on the quality of the discussions happening on the site, and the quality of the ideas they are contributing.  > > Motivation and goals are of course a relevant component to model, but that mostly pushes in the opposite direction, in that if I have someone who seems to be making great contributions, and I learn they aren't even trying, then that makes me more excited, since there is upside if they do become more motivated in the future. I sense this is quite different to the EA forum too. I can't imagine a mod saying I don't pay much attention to whether the user in question is "genuinely trying". I find this honesty pretty stark. Feels like a thing moderators aren't allowed to say. "We don't like the quality of your comments and we don't think you can improve". > Signal to Noise ratio is important > > Thomas and Elizabeth pointed this out already, but just because someone's comments don't seem actively bad, doesn't mean I don't want to limit their ability to contribute. We do a lot of things on LW to improve the signal to noise ratio of content on the site, and one of those things is to reduce the amount of noise, even if the mean of what we remove looks not actively harmful.  > > We of course also do other things than to remove some of the lower signal content to improve the signal to noise ratio. Voting does a lot, how we sort the frontpage does a lot, subscriptions and notification systems do a lot. But rate-limiting is also a tool I use for the same purpose. > Old users are owed explanations, new users are (mostly) not > > I think if you've been around for a while on LessWrong, and I decide to rate-limit you, then I think it makes sense for me to make some time to argue with you about that, and give you the opportunity to convince me that I am wrong. But if you are new, and haven't invested a lot in the site, then I think I owe you relatively little.  > > I think in doing the above rate-limits, we did not do enough to give established users the affordance to push back and argue with us about them. I do think most of these users are relatively recent or are users we've been very straightforward with since shortly after they started commenting that we don't think they are breaking even on their contributions to the site (like the OP Gerald Monroe, with whom we had 3 separate conversations over the past few months), and for those I don't think we owe them much of an explanation. LessWrong is a walled garden.  > > You do not by default have the right to be here, and I don't want to, and cannot, accept the burden of explaining to everyone who wants to be here but who I don't want here, why I am making my decisions. As such a moderation principle that we've been aspiring to for quite a while is to let new users know as early as possible if we think them being on the site is unlikely to work out, so that if you have been around for a while you can feel stable, and also so that you don't invest in something that will end up being taken away from you. > > Feedback helps a bit, especially if you are young, but usually doesn't > > Maybe there are other people who are much better at giving feedback and helping people grow as commenters, but my personal experience is that giving users feedback, especially the second or third time, rarely tends to substantially improve things.  > > I think this sucks. I would much rather be in a world where the usual reasons why I think someone isn't positively contributing to LessWrong were of the type that a short conversation could clear up and fix, but it alas does not appear so, and after having spent many hundreds of hours over the years giving people individualized feedback, I don't really think "give people specific and detailed feedback" is a viable moderation strategy, at least more than once or twice per user. I recognize that this can feel unfair on the receiving end, and I also feel sad about it. > > I do think the one exception here is that if people are young or are non-native english speakers. Do let me know if you are in your teens or you are a non-native english speaker who is still learning the language. People do really get a lot better at communication between the ages of 14-22 and people's english does get substantially better over time, and this helps with all kinds communication issues. Again this is very blunt but I'm not sure it's wrong.  > We consider legibility, but its only a relatively small input into our moderation decisions > > It is valuable and a precious public good to make it easy to know which actions you take will cause you to end up being removed from a space. However, that legibility also comes at great cost, especially in social contexts. Every clear and bright-line rule you outline will have people budding right up against it, and de-facto, in my experience, moderation of social spaces like LessWrong is not the kind of thing you can do while being legible in the way that for example modern courts aim to be legible.  > > As such, we don't have laws. If anything we have something like case-law which gets established as individual moderation disputes arise, which we then use as guidelines for future decisions, but also a huge fraction of our moderation decisions are downstream of complicated models we formed about what kind of conversations and interactions work on LessWrong, and what role we want LessWrong to play in the broader world, and those shift and change as new evidence comes in and the world changes. > > I do ultimately still try pretty hard to give people guidelines and to draw lines that help people feel secure in their relationship to LessWrong, and I care a lot about this, but at the end of the day I will still make many from-the-outside-arbitrary-seeming-decisions in order to keep LessWrong the precious walled garden that it is. > > I try really hard to not build an ideological echo chamber > > When making moderation decisions, it's always at the top of my mind whether I am tempted to make a decision one way or another because they disagree with me on some object-level issue. I try pretty hard to not have that affect my decisions, and as a result have what feels to me a subjectively substantially higher standard for rate-limiting or banning people who disagree with me, than for people who agree with me. I think this is reflected in the decisions above. > > I do feel comfortable judging people on the methodologies and abstract principles that they seem to use to arrive at their conclusions. LessWrong has a specific epistemology, and I care about protecting that. If you are primarily trying to...  > > * argue from authority,  > * don't like speaking in probabilistic terms,  > * aren't comfortable holding multiple conflicting models in your head at the same time,  > * or are averse to breaking things down into mechanistic and reductionist terms,  > > then LW is probably not for you, and I feel fine with that. I feel comfortable reducing the visibility or volume of content on the site that is in conflict with these epistemological principles (of course this list isn't exhaustive, in-general the LW sequences are the best pointer towards the epistemological foundations of the site). It feels cringe to read that basically if I don't get the sequences lessWrong might rate limit me. But it is good to be open about it. I don't think the EA forum's core philosophy is as easily expressed. > If you see me or other LW moderators fail to judge people on epistemological principles but instead see us directly rate-limiting or banning users on the basis of object-level opinions that even if they seem wrong seem to have been arrived at via relatively sane principles, then I do really think you should complain and push back at us. I see my mandate as head of LW to only extend towards enforcing what seems to me the shared epistemological foundation of LW, and to not have the mandate to enforce my own object-level beliefs on the participants of this site. > > Now some more comments on the object-level:  > > I overall feel good about rate-limiting everyone on the above list. I think it will probably make the conversations on the site go better and make more people contribute to the site.  > > Us doing more extensive rate-limiting is an experiment, and we will see how it goes. As kave said in the other response to this post, the rule that suggested these specific rate-limits does not seem like it has an amazing track record, though I currently endorse it as something that calls things to my attention (among many other heuristics). > > Also, if anyone reading this is worried about being rate-limited or banned in the future, feel free to reach out to me or other moderators on Intercom. I am generally happy to give people direct and frank feedback about their contributions to the site, as well as how likely I am to take future moderator actions. Uncertainty is costly, and I think it's worth a lot of my time to help people understand to what degree investing in LessWrong makes sense for them. 
I am not confident that another FTX level crisis is less likely to happen, other than that we might all say "oh this feels a bit like FTX". Changes: * Board swaps. Yeah maybe good, though many of the people who left were very experienced. And it's not clear whether there are due diligence people (which seems to be what was missing). * Orgs being spun out of EV and EV being shuttered. I mean, maybe good though feels like it's swung too far. Many mature orgs should run on their own, but small orgs do have many replicable features. * More talking about honesty. Not really sure this was the problem. The issue wasn't the median EA it was in the tails. Are the tails of EA more honest? Hard to say * We have now had a big crisis so it's less costly to say "this might be like that big crisis". Though notably this might also be too cheap - we could flinch away from doing ambitious things * Large orgs seem slightly more beholden to comms/legal to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing. * OpenPhil is hiring more internally Non-changes: * Still very centralised. I'm pretty pro-elite, so I'm not sure this is a problem in and of itself, though I have come to think that elites in general are less competent than I thought before (see FTX and OpenAI crisis) * Little discussion of why or how the affiliation with SBF happened despite many well connected EAs having a low opinion of him * Little discussion of what led us to ignore the base rate of scamminess in crypto and how we'll avoid that in future
While AI value alignment is considered a serious problem, the algorithms we use every day do not seem to be subject to alignment. That sounds like a serious problem to me. Has no one ever tried to align the YouTube algorithm with our values? What about on other types of platforms?

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(I previously posted this on LessWrong, and someone in the comments suggested that it might be of interest to readers here.)

Consequentialists (including utilitarians) claim that the goodness of an action should be judged based on the goodness of its consequences. The word...

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In terms of money: a geometric expectation maximizer will never accept the tiniest risk of absolute bankruptcy, even if it comes with an arbitrarily large probability of an arbitrarily large payoff.

Gee this sure would have been handy in a certain recent scandal involving cryptocurrency.

Matt Levine at Bloomberg pointed out that SBF should have been using Kelly criterion: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2023-10-04/sbf-was-reckless-from-the-start

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Here is another argument against Geometric utility: It does not work if negative utilities are involved: up is undefined if u is negative. And I think some real-world experiences that involve suffering have negative utility.
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Well, if we allow complex numbers, a lottery over all negative utilities would result in a real geometric mean, but for a mixture of positive and negative utilities, we'd get imaginary numbers. For example, consider lottery A with Pr(-5) = 0.5, Pr(-3) = 0.3, and Pr(-2) = 0.2. Then G(A)=(−5)0.5⋅(−3)0.3⋅(−2)0.2. The (-1)'s factor out, giving us G(A)=(50.5⋅30.3⋅20.2)⋅(−1)0.5+0.3+0.2=(50.5⋅30.3⋅20.2)⋅−1, which is a negative number. Now consider lottery B where one of the utilities is positive - e.g. we have Pr(-5) = 0.5, Pr(3) = 0.3, and Pr(-2) = 0.2. Then we'd get G(B)=(−5)0.5⋅30.3⋅(−2)0.2 =(50.5⋅30.3⋅20.2)⋅(−1)0.5+0.2 =(50.5⋅30.3⋅20.2)⋅(−1)0.7 =(50.5⋅30.3⋅20.2)(cos(0.7π)+isin(0.7π)), which is an imaginary number. The magnitude is equal to the weighted product of the magnitudes of the individual utilities, but the argument (the angle it makes with the positive real axis on the complex plane) is π times the total probability mass of any negative utilities. This makes comparisons impossible because the complex plane is an unordered set.

Anders Sandberg has written a “final report” released simultaneously with the announcement of FHI’s closure. The abstract and an excerpt follow.


Normally manifestos are written first, and then hopefully stimulate actors to implement their vision. This document is the reverse

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I'm also confused by this. Did Oxford think it was a reputation risk? Were the other philosophers jealous of the attention and funding FHI got? Was a beaurocratic parasitic egregore putting up roadblocks to siphon off money to itself? Garden variety incompetence?

Nisan commented on ABishop's quick take 2h ago

While AI value alignment is considered a serious problem, the algorithms we use every day do not seem to be subject to alignment. That sounds like a serious problem to me. Has no one ever tried to align the YouTube algorithm with our values? What about on other types of...

Continue reading

You might be interested in Building Human Values into Recommender Systems: An Interdisciplinary Synthesis as well as Jonathan Stray's other work on alignment and beneficence of recommender systems.

Since around 2017, there has been a lot of public interest in how youtube's recommendation algorithms may affect individuals and society negatively. Governments, think tanks, the press/media, and other institutions have pressured youtube to adjust its recommendations. You could think of this as our world's (indirect & corrupted) way of trying to instill humanity's values into youtube's algorithms.

I believe this sort of thing doesn't get much attention from EAs because there's not really a strong case for it being a global priority in the same way that existential risk from AI is.

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"Staged release" is regularly mentioned as a good thing for frontier AI labs to do. But I've only ever seen one analysis of staged release,[1] and the term's meaning has changed, becoming vaguer since the GPT-2 era.

This post is kinda a reference post, kinda me sharing my understanding/takes/confusions to elicit suggestions, and kinda a call for help from someone who understands what labs should do on this topic.


OpenAI released the weights of GPT-2 over the course of 9 months in 2019,[2] and they called this process "staged release." In the context of GPT-2 and releasing model weights, "staged release" means releasing a less powerful version before releasing the full system, and using the intervening time to notice issues (to fix them or inform the full release).

But these days we talk mostly about models that are only released[3] via API. In this context, "staged release" has...

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I’m a grantmaker who previously spent a decade as a professional investor. I’ve recently helped some Open Phil, GiveWell, and Survival and Flourishing Fund grantees with their cash and foreign exchange (FX) management. In the EA community, we seem collectively quite bad...

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This isn't FDIC insured, but the money market fund linked is just in US treasuries so presumably negligible risk.

There are some multi-institution accounts called Insured Cash Sweep you can find to get higher FDIC insurance limits, though I think they generally have lower interest rates. This one from Mercury is an example.

Presented by the NYU Mind, Ethics, and Policy Program, the NYU Wild Animal Welfare Program, and NYU Animal Studies

Register here to attend online.

Register here to attend in person at NYU. Coffee and light refreshments will be served when doors open at 9:30am. Reception to...

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Is there going to be any open forum before the event ends in 2 hours that I can attend virtually?

The virtual version of this event is just a zoom webinar; as far as I can tell, there is no open discussion available virtually. Attendees can propose questions to be asked by the moderator at the end of each talk. Sounds like the recordings of the presentations will be made available afterwards.

Indiana Jones lecture
Attend his talk if he's giving one

By Jacob Trefethen

Scientific conferences are great even if you’re an outsider to the field. That's common advice for students, and there are useful guides written on how to get the most out of conferences you're new to. But I suspect people...

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Not sure what the inclusion criteria is for conferences, but I thought it was interesting the Cognitive Neuroscience Society made it on the list you linked. I would consider the Society for Neuroscience conference, just because it has tens of thousands of attendees, so somebody will be presenting on the neuro topic you're interested in there: https://www.sfn.org/
 

I have not researched longtermism deeply. However, what I have found out so far leaves me puzzled and skeptical. As I currently see it, you can divide what longtermism cares about into two categories:

1) Existential risk.

2) Common sense long-term priorities, such as:

  • economic
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15Answer by Ben Millwood16h
Longtermism suggests a different focus within existential risks, because it feels very differently about "99% of humanity is destroyed, but the remaining 1% are able to rebuild civilisation" and "100% of humanity is destroyed, civilisation ends", even though from the perspective of people alive today these outcomes are very similar. I think relative to neartermist intuitions about catastrophic risk, the particular focus on extinction increases the threat from AI and engineered biorisks relative to e.g. climate change and natural pandemics. Basically, total extinction is quite a high bar, and most easily reached by things deliberately attempting to reach it, relative to natural disasters which don't tend to counter-adapt when some survive. Longtermism also supports research into civilisational resilience measures, like bunkers, or research into how or whether civilisation could survive and rebuild after a catastrophe. Longtermism also lowers the probability bar that an extinction risk has to reach before being worth taking seriously. I think this used to be a bigger part of the reason why people worked on x-risk when typical risk estimates were lower; over time, as risk estimates increased. longtermism became less necessary to justify working on them.
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Maybe? This depends on what you think about the probability that intelligent life re-evolves on earth (it seems likely to me) and how good you feel about the next intelligent species on earth vs humans. IMO, most x-risk from AI probably doesn't come from literal human extinction but instead AI systems acquiring most of the control over long run resources while some/most/all humans survive, but fair enough.

Maybe? This depends on what you think about the probability that intelligent life re-evolves on earth (it seems likely to me) and how good you feel about the next intelligent species on earth vs humans.

Yeah, it seems possible to be longtermist but not think that human extinction entails loss of all hope, but extinction still seems more important to the longtermist than the neartermist.

IMO, most x-risk from AI probably doesn't come from literal human extinction but instead AI systems acquiring most of the control over long run resources while some/most

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