cflexman

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Solving the replication crisis (FTX proposal)

Looks like a great idea, very glad someone is pursuing the roll-up-your-sleeves method here.

I think the best addition to this that you could make is a business plan—basically, how much would it cost to replicate how many studies, how would you best choose studies for replication to maximize efficiency / impact, how much / how long until you were replicating 1 or 10% of top studies, etc. I'd also personally like to see a different version of "what has been achieved" that didn't lean as much on collaborations / work of collaborators, as I find these basically meaningless.

Case for emergency response teams

This seems like a really great thing to try at small scale first. Seems important to have a larger vision but make Little Bets to start, as Peter Sims or Cal Newport would say. You don't want to start with 30+ people with serious expertise at 90% likelihood of conversion because you want to anneal into a good structure, not bake your early mistakes into the lasting organizational culture. (Maybe you had already planned on this but seems worth clarifying as one of the most common mistakes made by EAs.)

Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy

Single issue lobbying group called "2%", perhaps. Or 5% if NGDP.

Critique of OpenPhil's macroeconomic policy advocacy

Some other possible takeaways that I would lean toward:

  • Try to fund groups which will pivot on their advocacy faster
  • Fund advocacy of the opposite, now
  • Go further and try funding or creating a think tank that is actually committed to targets instead of unidirectional force
Sci-Hub sued in India

I definitely agree re antitrust, it seems like a slam-dunk. If I have time after this case I was thinking about trying to slowly reach out to try to elicit an American version from someone, or finding out why that's not on the table. I've been made quite aware of how much I don't know about ongoing projects in this space.

I did email ~20 of them about drafting amicus briefs and didn't get any takers; plausibly they would be down to give some sort of lesser help if you had ideas for what to ask for.

Sci-Hub sued in India

Good idea, I'll forward this. I'm focusing on US/Western profs for now because A) many Indian institutes are already involved, and India's profs seem to know about the case, and Sci-Hub's lawyers are much better connected there, and B) I think international/Western backing is an important source of clout diversification. Many Indian Supreme Court cases actually cite American amici as an important legal source.

Sci-Hub sued in India

I think backups of Sci-Hub would be a good idea if you can find any legal avenues to create them. I'm not sure if that's very tractable, and it doesn't appear to be all that neglected (though these are probably mostly in illegal jurisdictions).

Re scientific progress, I agree that it's not obviously a good thing, but after thinking about this extensively with little resolution, my conclusion is roughly: given that we cannot reasonably learn enough to resolve this uncertainty, and we can't coordinate on acting as if scientific progress is a negative thing, and it would hamstring us in many ways to act as such, I think we should basically treat "generally advancing science" as a fine/good thing. We can circumscribe areas like AI capabilities and gain-of-function as specifically bad, for better results and a more reasonable stance.

Two Strange Things About AI Safety Policy

I don't think the issue is that we don't have any people willing to be radicals and lose credibility. I think the issue is that radicals on a certain issue tend to also mar the reputations of their more level-headed counterparts. Weak men are superweapons, and groups like PETA and Greenpeace and Westboro Baptist Church seem to have attached lasting stigma to their causes because people's pattern-matching minds associate their entire movement with the worst example.

Since, as you point out, researchers specifically grow resentful, it seems really important to make sure radicals don't tip the balance backward just as the field of AI safety is starting to grow more respectable in the minds of policymakers and researchers.

Thread for discussing critical review of Doing Good Better in the London Review of Books

I really want to pull good insights out of this to improve the movement. However, the only thing I'm really getting is that we should think more about systemic change, which a) already seems to be the direction we're moving in and b) doesn't seem amenable to too much more focus than we are already liable to give it, i.e., we should devote some resources but not very much. My first reaction was that maybe Doing Good Better should have spent a little bit of time mentioning why this is difficult, but it's a book, and really had to make sacrifices when choosing what to focus on, so I don't think that's even a possibe improvement. I think the best thing to come from this is your realization of potential coordination problems.

While I encourage well-thought-out criticism of the movement and different viewpoints for us to build off of, I can't help but echo kbog's sentiment that this seems a bit too continental to learn from. The feeling I get is that this is one of the many critiques I've encountered that find themselves vaguely uncomfortable with our notions and then paint a gestalt that can be slowly and assiduously associated with various negatives. There's a lot of interplay between forest and trees here, but it's really difficult to communicate when one is trying to work with concrete claims and another is trying to work with associations.

In summation, I think on most of these points (individualism, demandingness, systemic change, x-risk) we are pretty aware of the risky edges we walk along, and can't really improve our safety margins much without violating our own tenets.

A response to Matthews on AI Risk

I think it's very good Matthews brought this point up so the movement can make sure we remain tolerant and inclusive of people mostly on our side but differing in a few small points. Especially those focused on x-risk, if he finds them to be most aggressive, but really I think it should apply to all of us.

That being said, I wish he had himself refrained from being divisive with allegations that x-risk is self-serving for those in CS. Your point about CS concentrators being "damned if you do, damned if you don't" is great. Similarly, the point (you made on facebook?) about many people converting from other areas into computer science as they realize the risk is a VERY strong counterargument to his. But more generally, it seems like he is applying asymmetric standards here. It seems the x-risk crowd no more deserves his label of biased and self-serving as the animal rights crowd, or the global poverty crowd; many of the people in those subsets also began there, so any rebuttal could label them as self-serving for promoting their favored cause if we wanted. Ad hominem is a dangerous road to go down, and I wish he would refrain from critiquing the people and stick to critiquing the arguments (which actually promotes good discussion from people like you and Scott Alexander in regards to his pseudo-probability calculation, even if we've been down this road before).

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