Working (6-15 years of experience)
340Joined Sep 2014


EtG @ Google


I definitely think it's an (the most?) important argument against. Some of this comes down to your views on timelines which I don't really want to litigate here. 

I guess I don't know how much research leading to digital people is likely to advance AI capabilities. A lot of the early work was of course inspired by biology, but it seems like not much has come of it recently. And it seems to me that we can focus on the research needed to emulate the brain, and try not to understand it in too much detail.

That could happen. I would emphasise that I'm not talking about whether we should have digital minds at all, just when we get them (before or after AGI). The benefit in making AGI safer looms larger to me than the risk of bad actors - and the threat of such bad actors would lead us to police compute resources more thoroughly than we do now.

Digital people may be less predictable, especially if "enhanced", I think that the trade-off is still pretty good here in that they almost entirely approximate human values versus AI systems which (by default) do not at all. 

I agree shooting for digital people is a bad plan if timelines are short. I guess I'm not sure how short they would need to be for it not to be worth trying.

I think if we wanted to produce BCIs we should just shoot for that directly - doesn't seem like the best plan for getting to digital people is also the best plan for getting BCIs.

I think that insofar as neuroscience helps make AI, that just speeds up progress and is probably bad.

That person is Oliver Yeung and he has done a two part talk where he discusses this - main talk, Q&A.

(I spoke to him to okay sharing these, if any interviewer wants to speak to him then DM me and I can put you in touch)

there will be someone in the world whose full-time job and top-priority it is to figure out how to write a proposal, or give you a pitch at a party, or write a blogpost, or strike up a conversation, that will cause you to give them money, or power, or status


IMO, a reasonable analogy here is to the relationship between startups and VCs.

What do VCs do to weed out the lemons here? Market forces help in the long run (which we won't have to the same degree) but surely they must be able to do this to some degree initially.

I would expect people to just cross post relevant posts?

Thanks for this comment! Hard for me to give satisfying answers to everything which is the sign of a particularly good critique IMO. Re: PricedOut I will speak to you privately.

Gove's support for Street Votes seems to have been a passing thing, and the window for action may well have closed.

Unless you have private information then I don't really see how you're inferring this? He publicly supported it around the end of November and has said little since then. My understanding from his public statements are that they are still deciding exactly what to do and how to implement reforms so everything is still to play for.

I agree government instability makes the outlook worse here. What we can infer from the failure of the previous reforms would be a post in itself, but briefly I think they were overambitious, tried to ram through much higher housing targets and took away a bunch of local consent for development. Street Votes does less of this, I see it as a much milder and politically palatable policy. The previous policy immediately got a bunch of opposition in the press and Street Votes has seen very little of that after Gove's support. Of course, it may see more opposition if it were to become official policy!

Which leads us onto...

I think [the culture of homeownership] will push quite strongly in the direction of people not endorsing building, because the market-driven logic of Street Votes pushes against the mythology of homeownership. Anecdotally, I have discussed Street Votes with a pretty substantial number of homeowners in various contexts, and I very rarely have gotten the positive response that advocates imagine.

I basically agree with John's comment on this. I would add that streets can also make themselves look nicer by adopting a particular design code for the street, which could lead to some support independent of financial benefits. Most streets won't do this, but enough might to make it worth it. Or not! But I think the proportion of streets which vote for development is a grey area about which we can reasonably disagree.

from a political perspective, it seems hard to see how any reform passes in the short run without at least some work in more rural areas

Yeah, I don't have a good answer to this. I would say again that I think these reforms are pretty politically palatable and don't force as much development onto rural areas as the previous plans.

I second MaxGhenis' hope that someone might write up a rigourous and comprehensive EA analysis of housing policy interventions

I third this hope! For me, the economic benefits loom largest and are easiest to quantify but certainly there would be many other benefits of improved policy here.


I'd always been a bit interested in the area as a bystander. In the first half of 2021 I realised that a) I had more money to donate over the next few years than I expected and that b) the EA movement had more money than I'd thought. This made me think that I should try to find something a bit unexplored to do with my donations. I went through the Founders Pledge research reports and this struck me as a good bet, where my donations would fill up a lot of the RFMF.

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