Dwarkesh Patel

219Joined Jun 2022


Don't have paid subs, but thank you! Glad you enjoyed!

Thanks for the comment. 

I disagree with the presumption that they were rational in being optimistic, primarily because while there is real progress in history (only if we count humans.), I don't agree with the implication that we should expect an optimistic bright future. I would argue that technological x-risk has wiped out all expected value from the future, especially under a longtermist view, assuming the future is positive thus x-risk reduction is our main priority. If the expected value of the future is negative, then moral-circle expansion is the most important thing to do

Or just making society wealthier overall (aka maximizing economic growth) so can enjoy these last few hundred years more. Nonetheless, I don't share your pessimism.

I disagree with the implication that the population bomb didn't happen, ergo the sterilization was wrong. This is a classic case of hindsight bias, and there was no mitigation against this bias. More exhaustively, you need to make the claim that the population bomb can't happen or was likely not to happen in order for your argument to go through

But my point is precisely that we couldn't have known in advance what those solutions looked like in advance because knowledge growth is unpredictable.  But given the fact that we do end up solving many of these seemingly devastating problems, we should update in favor of a vague optimism about our future capabilities to deal with problems. I give the example of peak oil worries later in this post: 

In the 70s, it was a common belief among the relevant technical experts that we would hit peak oil by the 90s. They could not have anticipated the new technologies that made more oil reserves accessible to us. If there was a longtermist research institute within the government at that time, it would have recommended that we stock up on foreign oil, and the end result of this would have been unaffordable transportation and heating for the poorest people on the planet. 

I agree! Not sure if you saw my interview of Steve Hsu on my podcast, where we get deep into the weeds on embryo selection: https://www.dwarkeshpatel.com/p/steve-hsu

Great point Fin! 

Though one thing I should have mentioned explicitly in the post is that being illegible and distributed is only one of the failure modes of regulation, but certainly not the only one. For example, many US cities have building height limits which economists have estimated are causing billions in deadweight loss, higher rents, etc. But a building height limit is very legible and clear. Still, somehow the relevant government bodies are often too captured by concentrated activist groups and don't consider expected value on the broader public.

Btw, I think The Power Broker is an interesting book to read regarding focused projects. There are many legitimate criticisms of Robert Moses, but still it is remarkable how he basically built a startup within the NY government that was much more competent, efficient, and visionary than the rest of the political system.

It's possible to imagine focused projects to drive down costs of e.g. sequencing and sterilisation tech, and then maybe following up with regulation which requires specific tech be installed to clear standards, enforced by a specific agency.

Is there a good read regarding regulatory proposals for these technologies in particular? I worry that wide regulation around sequencing in particular might slow down tech that I think will be good, like CRISPR therapies or embryo selection. Or maybe that's a category error?

Good q! Honestly it's something I may seriously pursue in the relative short to medium term. I'm 21 and 6 months out of college so I don't think there's a huge cost to the odds I become a billionaire by waiting a bit longer. And I'm learning a lot and building connections/platform that will be helpful if and when I do pursue becoming a billionaire.

Really sorry man, unfortunately I forgot about it. I'm happy to accept that bet in public. How do you propose we make it official? Let's do $10 to $40 dollars?

I would be happy to take it at those odds! I'll DM you later about the bet!

This is really interesting and insightful set of ideas! I'm drafting an essay in response to your points, stay tuned! And thanks for reading and providing such a thoughtful set of comments!

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