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Holly_Elmore

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But there are scarce resources and at some point hard decisions really do have to be made. The condemnation of triage is not fair because it dodges the brute reality that you can't always find a magic third solution that's positive sum. We have to work on all aspects of problem-- creating more options, creating more supply, and how to prioritize when there isn't enough for everyone. 

A friend advised me to provide the context that I had spent maybe 6 hours helping Mikhail with his moratorium-related project (a website that I was going over for clarity as a native English speaker) and perhaps an additional 8 hours over the last few months answering questions about the direction I had taken with the protests. Mikhail had a number of objections which required a lot of labor on my part to understand to his satisfaction, and he usually did not accept my answers when I gave them but continued to argue with me, either straight up or by insisting I didn't really understand his argument or was contradicting myself somehow. 

After enough of this, I did not think it was worth my time to engage further (EDIT: on the general topic of this post, protest messaging for 2/12— we continued to be friends and talk about other things), and I told him that I made my decisions and didn't need any more of his input a few weeks before the 2/12 protest. He may have had useful info that I didn't get out of him, and that's a pity because there are a few things that I would absolutely have done differently if I had realized at the time (such as removing language that implied OpenAI was being hypocritical that didn't apply when I realized we were only talking about the usage policies changing but which didn't register to me as needing to be updated when I corrected the press release) but I would make the same call again about how to spend my time.

I will not be replying to replies on this comment.

I’m concerned I may not have comported myself well in these comments. When Mikhail brought this post to me as a draft it was emotionally difficult for me because of what I interpreted as questioning my integrity.

Unfortunately, the path I’m taking— which I believe is the right path for me to be taking— is probably going to involve lots more criticism, whether I consider it fair or not. I am going to have to handle it with more aplomb.

So I am not going to comment on this post anymore. I am going to practice taking the hit and moving on because that’s just sometimes how life is and it’s a cost of doing business in a visible advocacy role.

(Edited to remove blaming language.)

You said a lot of things to me, not all of which I remember, but the above were two of them. I knew I didn’t get everything you wanted me to get about what you were saying, but I felt that I understood enough to know what the cruxes were and where I stood on them.

You said:

I told you pretty directly that for people who are not aware of the context what you wrote might be misleading, because you omitted crucial details

I said:

which I took to be basically that I wasn’t including enough details in the promotional materials so people wouldn’t have a picture he considered accurate enough

Are these not the same thing?

I found that sentence unclear. It’s poorly written and I did not know what you meant by it. In context you were not saying I had good intentions— you declined to remove the “deceptive” language earlier because you thought I could have been deceptive.

There was honestly no aspect of unwillingness to correct the broader story of the protest. It just didn’t even occur to me that should be done. It seems like you guys don’t believe this, but I didn’t think it being the usage policy instead of the charter made a difference to the small ask of not working with militaries. It made a huge difference in the severity of the accusation toward OpenAI, and what I had sort of retconned myself into thinking was the severity of the hypocrisy/transgression, but either way starting to work with militaries was a good specific development to call attention to and ask them to reverse.

There was definitely language and a framing that was predicated on the idea they were being hypocritical, and if I were thinking more clearly I would have scrubbed that when I realized we were only talking about the usage policy. There are a lot of things I would have changed looking back. Mikhail says he tried to tell me something like this but I found his critiques too confusing (like I thought he was saying mostly that it wasn’t bad to work with the military bc it was cybersecurity, where to me that wasn’t the crux) and so those changes did not occur to me.

I mainly did not realize these things because I was really busy with logistics, not because I needed to be in soldier mindset to do the protest. (EDIT: I mean, maybe some soldier mindset is required and takes a toll, but I don’t think it would have been an issue here. If someone had presented me with a press release with all the revisions I mentioned above to send out as a correction instead of the one I sent out, I would have thought it was better and sent it instead. The problem was more that I panicked and wanted to correct the mistake immediately and wasn’t thinking of other things that should be corrected because of it.) Mikhail may have felt I was being soldier-y bc I wouldn’t spend more time trying to figure out what he was talking about, but that had more to do with me thinking I had basically understood his point (which I took to be basically that I wasn’t including enough details in the promotional materials so people wouldn’t have a picture he considered accurate enough) and just disagreed with it (I thought space was limited and many rationalists do not appreciate the cost of extra words and thoughts in advocacy communication).

I appreciate this suggestion and, until Mikhail commented below saying this was not the case, I thought it might be an English as a second language issue where be didn’t understand that “deception” indicates intent. I would have been placated if any accusation of intentionally creating false impressions were removed from the post.

I think perhaps I had curse of knowledge on this because I did not think people would assume the work was combat or weapons-related. I did a lot of thinking about the issue before formulating it as the small ask and I was probably pretty out of touch with how a naive reader would interpret it. My commenter/proofreaders are also immersed in the issue and didn't offer the feedback that people would misunderstand it. In other communications I mentioned that weapons were still something the models cannot be used for (to say, "how do we know the next change won't be that they can work on weapons?"). 

I appreciate you framing your analysis without speculating on my motives or intent. I feel chagrined at having miscommunicated but I don't feel hurt and attacked. I appreciate the information. 

And then also at a high-level I feel like there was a rhetorical trick going on in the event messaging where I feel like the protest is organized around some "military bad because weapons bad" affect, without recognizing that the kind of relationship that OpenAI seems to have with the military seems pretty non-central for that kind of relationship (working on cybersecurity stuff, which I think by most people's lights is quite different).

This was not at all intentional, although we were concerned about a future where there was more engagement with the military including with weapons, so I can see someone thinking we were saying they were working with weapons now if they weren't paying close attention. Working on cybersecurity today is a foot in the door for more involvement with the military in the future, so I don't think it's so wrong to fear their involvement today because you don't want AI weapons. 

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