Hum, I think I wrote my point badly on the comment above. What I mean isn't that formal methods will never be useful, just that they're not really useful yet, and will require more pure AI safety research to be useful.
The general reason is that all formal methods try to show that a program follows a specification on a model of computation. Right now, a lot of the work on formal methods applied to AI focus on adapting known formal methods to the specific programs (say Neural Networks) and the right model of computation (in what contexts do you use... (read more)
This post annoyed me. Which is a good thing! It means that you hit where it hurts, and you forced me to reconsider my arguments. I also had to update (a bit) toward your position, because I realized that my "counter-arguments" weren't that strong.
Still, here they are:
Since many other answers treat the more general ideas, I want to focus on the "volontary" sadness of reading/watching/listening sad stories. I was curious about this myself, because I noticed that reading only "positive" and "joyous" stories eventually feel empty.
The answer seem that sad elements in a story bring more depth than the fun/joyous ones. In that sense, sadness in stories act as a signal of deepness, but also a way to access some deeper part of our emotions and internal life.
I'm reminded of Mark Manson's q... (read more)
That answers my question, yes. :)
Thanks for that very in-depth answer!
I was indeed thinking about 3., even if 1. and 2. are also important. And I get that the main value of these diagrams is to force an explicit and as formal as possible statement to be made.
I guess my question was more about, given two different causal diagrams for the same risk (made by different researchers for example), have you an idea of how to compare them? Like finding the first difference along the causal path, or others means of comparison. This seems important because even with clean descriptions of our views, we can still talk past each other if we cannot see where the difference truly lies.
Great post! I feel these diagrams will be really useful for clarifying the possible interventions and parts of the existential risks.
Do you think they'll also serve for comparing different positions on a specific existential risk, like the trajectories in this post? Or do you envision the diagram for a specific risk as a summary of all causal pathways to this risk?
What about diseases? I admit I know little about this period of history, but the accounts I read (for example in Guns, Germs and Steel) place the advantage in the spread of diseases to the Americas.
Basically, because the Americas lacked many big domesticated mammals, they could not have cities like European ones with cattle everywhere. The conditions of living in these big cities caused the spread of diseases. And when going to the Americas, the conquistadors took these diseases with them to a population which had never experienced them, causing most of th... (read more)
Also interested. I did not think about it before, but since the old generation dying is one way scientific and intellectual changes are completely accepted, that would probably have some big impact on our intellectual landscape and culture.
I'm curious about the article, but the link points to nothing. ^^
Thanks a lot for this presentation and corresponding transcript. I am quite new to thinking about animal welfare at all, and even more about wildlife animal welfare, but I felt this presentation was easy to follow even from this point of view (my half decent knowledge of evolution might have helped).
I like the clarification of evolution, and more specifically, of the fact that natural selection selects away options with bad fitness or bad relative fitness, instead of optimizing fitness to the maximum. That's a common issue when using theoretical compu... (read more)
Once upon a time, my desire to build a useful mastery and career made me neglect my family, and more precisely my little brothers. Not dramatically, but whenever we were together, I was too stuck up with my own issues to act like a good old brother, or even to interact correctly with them. At some point, I realized that giving time and attention to my family was also important to me, and thus that I could not simply allocate all my mental time and energy to "useful" things.
This happened before I discovered EA, and is not explicitly about the EA c... (read more)
On a tangent, what are your issues with quantum computing? Is it the hype? that might indeed be abusive for what we can do now. But the theory is fascinating, there are concrete applications where we should get positive benefits for humanity, and the actual researchers in the field try really hard to clarify what we know and what we don't about quantum computing.
Thanks a lot for this great post! I think the part I like the most, even more than the awesome deconstruction of arguments and their underlying hypotheses, is the sheer number of times you said "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" or "this might be false". I feel it places you at the same level than your audience (including me), in the sense that you have more experience and technical competence than the rest of us, but you still don't know THE TRUTH, or sometimes even good approximations to it. And the standard way... (read more)
Anecdotally, almost everyone from older generations that I know eat snails, so it might indeed be generational. Whereas I know approximately the same number of people from each generation that dislike oysters (mostly texture).
Thanks for the effort in summarizing and synthesizing this tangle of notions! Notably, I learned about axiology, and I am very glad I did.
One potential addition to the discussion of decision theory might be the use of "normative", "descriptive" and "prescriptive" within decision theory itself, which is slightly different. To quote the Decision Theory FAQ on Less Wrong:
We can divide decision theory into three parts (Grant & Zandt 2009; Baron 2008). Normative decision theory studies what an ideal agent (a perfectly rational
Thanks for this thoughtful analysis! I must admit that I never really considered the welfare of snails as an issue, maybe because I am french and thus am culturally used to eating them.
One thing I wanted to confirm anecdotally is the consummation of snails in France. Even if snails with parsley butter is a classic french dish, it is eaten quite rarely (only for celebrations or Christmas and new year's eve diners). And I know many people that don't eat snails because they find it disgusting, even though they saw people eating them all their lives ... (read more)
The geometric intuition underlying this post already proves useful for me!
Yesterday, while discussing with a friend why I want to change my research topic to AI Safety instead of what I currently do (distributed computing), my first intuition was that AI safety aims at shaping the future, while distributed computing is relatively agnostic about it. But a far better intuition comes when considering the vector along the current trajectory in state space, starting at the current position of the world, and whose direction and length capture the trajectory and ... (read more)
That's a great criterion! We might be able to find some weird counter-example, but it solves all of my issues. Because intellectual work/knowledge might be a part of all actions, but it isn't necessary on the main causal path.
I think this might actually deserve its own post.
Thanks for the in-depth answer!
Let's take your concrete example about democracy. If I understand correctly, you separate the progress towards democracy into:
But the thing is, I don't have a clear criterion for distinguishing the two. My first ideas were:
I did find this post clear and useful; it will be my main recommendation if I want to explain this concept to someone else.
I also really like your proposition of "potential information hazards", as at that point in the post, I was wondering if all basic research should be considered information hazards, which would make the whole concept rather vacuous. Maybe one way to address the potential information hazards is to try to quantify how removed are they from potential concrete risks?
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next posts on dealing with these potential information hazards.
Thanks a lot for this summary post! I did not know of these concepts, and I feel they are indeed very useful for thinking about these issues.
I do have some trouble with the distinction between intellectual progress and progress though. During my first reading, I felt like all the topics mentioned in the progress section were actually about intellectual progress.
Now, rereading the post, I think I see a distinction, but I have trouble crystallizing it in concrete terms. Is the difference about creating ideas and implementing them? But then it feels very remi... (read more)
As a tool for existential risk research, I feel like the graphical representation will indeed be useful in crystallizing the differences in hypotheses between researchers. It might even serves as a self-assessing tool, for checking quickly some of the consequences of one's own view.
But beyond the trajectories (and maybe specific distances), are you planning on representing the other elements you mention? Like the uncertainty or the speed along trajectories? I feel like the more details about an approach can be integrated into a simple graphical representation, the more this tool will serve to disentangle disagreement between researchers.
Thanks a lot for this podcast! I liked the summary you provided, and I think it is great to see people struggling to make sense of a lot of complex information on a topic, almost in direct. Given that you repeat multiple times that neither of you is an expert on the subject, I think this podcast is a net positive: it gives information while encouraging the listeners to go look for themselves.
Another great point: the criticism of the meme about overreacting. While listening to the beginning, when you said that there was no reason to panic, I wanted to objec... (read more)