Ben Pace


When does it make sense to support/oppose political candidates on EA grounds?

Why are your comments hidden on the EA Forum?

Added: It seems the author moved the relevant post back into their drafts.

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

No it's not! Avoiding the action because you know you'll be threatened until you change course is the same as submitting to the threat.

When does it make sense to support/oppose political candidates on EA grounds?

By the way Ian, I've not followed these posts in great detail and I mostly think getting involved in partisan politics in most straightforward ways seems like a bad idea, but I've really appreciated the level of effort you've put in and are clearly willing to put in to have an actual conversation about this (in comments here, with Wei Dai, with others). It's made me feel more at home in the Forum. Thank you for that.

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

Naturally, you have to understand Rohin, that in all of the situations where you tell me what the threat is, I'm very motivated to do it anyway? It's an emotion of stubbornness and anger, and when I flesh it out in game-theoretic terms it's a strong signal of how much I'm willing to not submit to threats in general.

Returning to the emotional side, I want to say something like "f*ck you for threatening to kill people, I will never give you control over me and my community, and we will find you and we will make sure it was not worth it for you, at the cost of our own resources".

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

It's a good question. I've thought about this a bit in the past.

One surprising rule is that overall I think people with a criminal record should still be welcome to contribute in many ways. If you're in prison, I think you should generally be allowed to e.g. submit papers to physics journals, you shouldn't be precluded from contributing to humanity and science. Similarly, I think giving remote talks and publishing on the EA Forum should not be totally shut off (though likely hampered in some ways) for people who have behaved badly and broken laws. (Obviously different rules apply for hiring them and inviting them to in-person events, where you need to look at the kind of criminal behavior and see if it's relevant.) 

I feel fairly differently to people who have done damage in and to members of the EA community. Someone like Gleb Tsipursky hasn't even broken any laws and should still be kicked out and not welcomed back for something like 10 years, and even then he probably won't have changed enough (most people don't).

In general EA is outcome-oriented, it's not a hobby community, there's sh*t that needs to be done because civilization is inadequate and literally everything is still at stake at this point in history. We want the best contributions and care about that to the exemption of people being fun or something. You hire the best person for the job.

There's some tension there, and I think overall I am personally willing to put in a lot of resources in my outcome-oriented communities to make sure that people who contribute to the mission are given the spaces and help they need to positively contribute.

I can't think of a good example that isn't either of a literal person or too abstract... like, suppose Einstein has terrible allergies to most foods, just can't be in the space as them. Can we have him at EAG? How much work am I willing to put in for him to have a good EAG? Do I have to figure out a way to feed everyone a very exclusive yet wholesome diet that means he can join? Perhaps.

Similarly, if I'm running a physics conference and Einstein is in prison for murder, will I have him in? Again, I'm pretty open to video calls, I'm pretty willing to put in the time to make sure everyone knows what sort of risks he is, and make sure he isn't allowed to end up in a vulnerable situation with someone, because it's worth it for our mission to have him contribute.

You get the picture. Y'know, tradeoffs, where you actually value something and are willing to put in extraordinary effort to make it work.

Avoiding Munich's Mistakes: Advice for CEA and Local Groups

Thx for the long writeup. FWIW I will share some of my own impressions.

Robin's one of the most generative and influential thinkers I know. He has consistently produced fascinating ideas and contributed to a lot of the core debates in EA, like giving now vs later, AI takeoff, prediction markets, great filter, and so on. His comments regarding common discussion of inequality are all of a kind with the whole of his 'elephant in the brain work', noticing weird potential hypocrisies in others. I don't know how to easily summarize the level of his intellectual impact on the world, so I'll stop here.

It seems like there's been a couple of (2-4) news articles taking potshots at Hanson for his word choices, off the back of an angry mob, and this is just going to be a fairly standard worry for even mildly interesting or popular figures, given that the mob is going after people daily on Twitter. (As the OP says, not everyone, but anyone.)

It seems to me understandable if some new group like EA Munich (this was one of their first events?) feels out of their depth when trying to deal with the present-day information and social media ecosystem, and that's why they messed up. But overall this level of lack of backbone mustn't be the norm, else the majority of interesting thinkers will not be interested in interacting with EA. I am less interested in contributing-to and collaborating-with others in the EA community as a result of this. I mean, there's lots of things I don't like that are just small quibbles, which is your price for joining, but this kind of thing strikes at the basic core of what I think is necessary for EA to help guide civilization in a positive direction, as opposed to being some small cosmetic issue or personal discomfort.

Also, it seems to me like it would be a good idea for the folks at EA Munich to re-invite Robin to give the same talk, as a sign of goodwill. (I don't expect they will and am not making a request, I'm saying what it seems like to me.)

Hiring engineers and researchers to help align GPT-3

Yeah. Well, not that they cannot be posted, but that they will not be frontpaged by the mods, and instead kept in the personal blog / community section, which has less visibility.

Added: As it currently says on the About page:

Community posts

Posts that focus on the EA community itself are given a "community" tag. By default, these posts will be hidden from the list of posts on the Forum's front page. You can change how these posts are displayed by using...

Open Communication in the Days of Malicious Online Actors

Thanks, I found this post to be quite clear and a helpful addition to the conversation.

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