One could frame EA as the project of human alignment - of deconfusing ourselves about what we care about and figuring out how to actualize it. And there seems to be an interconnected bundle of problems at the core of this project:
- What should we fundamentally value?
- How to distinguish rational intuitions from biases?
- How to make an AGI care about these questions?
- Which ideas should we spread to help humanity process these questions more complexly?
- How certain can we be about all of this?
These questions are particularly important, as we seem to live at the hinge of history and at a time of a growth in consciousness research. They're interconnected but require a range of disciplines perhaps too wide for a single person to fully grasp - which suggests there could be a great added value in stronger cooperation.
So if you like impossible problems and want to work on them together, you're warmly welcome at the Mind & Values Research Group. The group is about the intersections of EA, cognitive science, the nature of consciousness and intelligence, moral philosophy and the formulation & propagation of ethical and rational principles.
How can these areas help nudge humanity in a positive directions?
1. The philosophy of mind angle
Deconfusing humanity about what we mean by values and intelligence could:
- Help solve the technical side of AI alignment.
- Advance the broad-longtermist mission introduced in What We Owe the Future - getting a clearer picture on which values should we lock in in these important times. Important topics here could be the nature of valence, net-positiveness of experiences, animal and digital sentience.
- Help global prioritization by investigating the assumptions behind interventions for instance recommended by Happier Lives
2. The social change angle
- Cognitive enhancement research - how to support rationality & moral circle expansions in society by formulating the most elegant case for rational ethics
- Studying people's biases about values could help here. This area can also be advanced with some inferences from experimental philosophy or even history & sociology of ideas.
What could it lok like?
- Meetups: The group will vote on topics to discuss. For the following month or so, people will be welcome to collect materials from different angles. We'll discuss them in a virtual meetup and collect what was mentioned in a document people can get back to.
- Newsletter: If the group gets bigger and hard to follow, I'll create a newsletter to announce voting, meetups and to send out the notes. Meanwhile, I recommend turning on notifications for new posts.
- Networking: People looking for ideas or people to work with within an area are welcome to post even just a short introduction.
Which points against neglectedness but to brain research opening new possibilities and to existing (cognitive) resources to utilize. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/1/41 https://www.proquest.com/docview/2703039855/fulltextPDF/3152D39660CF4000PQ/1?accountid=16531
See Sotala or Superintelligence, pp. 406: Should whole brain emulation research be promoted? which indicates figuring out how human coherent extrapolation volition looks like could be of particular importance.
An example here could be the research discussed in the 80k Hours podcast with Sharon H. Rawlette and her Feeling of Value.
Sounds an awful lot like LessWrong, but competition can be healthy ;)
I think this is less likely to be true of things like "places of discussion" because splitting the conversation / eroding common knowledge, but I think it's fine/maybe good to experiment here.