All of JamesDrain's Comments + Replies

Open Thread #39

I posted a couple months ago that I was working on an effective altruism board game. You can now order a copy online!

To recap:

  • it's a cooperative game where you start out as a random human sampled from the real-world distribution of income

  • try to get lots of human QALYs and animal QALYs and reduce existential risk

  • all while answering EA-related trivia questions, donating to effective charities, partaking in classic philosophy thought experiments, realizing your own private morality and

  • try to avoid being turned into a chicken.

1harald4y
Cool! Who would you say is the target audience for this? Is it suitable for people who are very new to EA?
Multiverse-wide cooperation in a nutshell

Ha, I think the problem is just that your formalization of Newcomb's problem is defined so that one-boxing is always the correct strategy, and I'm working with a different formulation. There are four forms of Newcomb's problem that jibe with my intuition, and they're all different from the formalization you're working with.

  1. Your source code is readable. Then the best strategy is whatever the best strategy is when you get to publicly commit e.g. you should tear off the wheel when playing chicken if you have the opportunity to do so before your opponent.
  2. Yo
... (read more)
Multiverse-wide cooperation in a nutshell

Newcomb's problem isn't a challenge to causal decision theory. I can solve Newcomb's problem by committing to one-boxing in any of a number of ways e.g. signing a contract or building a reputation as a one-boxer. After the boxes have already been placed in front of me, however, I can no longer influence their contents, so it would be good if I two-boxed if the rewards outweighed the penalty e.g. if it turned out the contract I signed was void, or if I don't care about my one-boxing reputation because I don't think I'm going to play this game again in the f... (read more)

2RobBensinger5y
You would get more utility if you were willing to one-box even when there's no external penalty or opportunity to bind yourself to the decision. Indeed, functional decision theory can be understood as a formalization of the intuition: "I would be better off if only I could behave in the way I would have precommitted to behave in every circumstance, without actually needing to anticipate each such circumstance in advance." Since the predictor in Newcomb's problem fills the boxes based on your actual action, regardless of the reasoning or contract-writing or other activities that motivate the action, this suffices to always get the higher payout (compared to causal or evidential decision theory). There are also dilemmas where causal decision theory gets less utility even if it has the opportunity to precommit to the dilemma; e.g., retro blackmail [https://arxiv.org/abs/1507.01986]. For a fuller argument, see the paper "Functional Decision Theory [https://intelligence.org/2017/10/22/fdt/]" by Yudkowsky and Soares.
Multiverse-wide cooperation in a nutshell

I’m worried that people’s altruistic sentiments are ruining their intuition about the prisoner’s dilemma. If Bob were an altruist, then there would be no dilemma. He would just cooperate. But within the framework of the one-shot prisoner’s dilemma, defecting is a dominant strategy – no matter what Alice does, Bob is better off defecting.

I’m all for caring about other value systems, but if there’s no causal connection between our actions and aliens’, then it’s impossible to trade with them. I can pump someone’s intuition by saying, “Imagine a wizard produc... (read more)

4caspar425y
I agree that altruistic sentiments are a confounder in the prisoner's dilemma. Yudkowsky (who would cooperate against a copy) makes a similar point in The True Prisoner's Dilemma [http://lesswrong.com/lw/tn/the_true_prisoners_dilemma/], and there are lots of psychology studies showing that humans cooperate with each other in the PD in cases where I think they (that is, each individually) shouldn't. (Cf. section 6.4 of the MSR paper [https://foundational-research.org/files/Multiverse-wide-Cooperation-via-Correlated-Decision-Making.pdf#page=92] .) But I don't think that altruistic sentiments are the primary reason for why some philosophers and other sophisticated people tend to favor cooperation in the prisoner's dilemma against a copy. As you may know, Newcomb's problem [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcomb%27s_paradox] is [http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265034] decision-theoretically similar to the PD against a copy. In contrast to the PD, however, it doesn't seem to evoke any altruistic sentiments. And yet, many people prefer EDT's recommendations [https://casparoesterheld.com/2017/06/27/a-survey-of-polls-on-newcombs-problem/] in Newcomb's problem. Thus, the "altruism error theory" of cooperation in the PD is not particularly convincing. I don't see much evidence in favor of the "wishful thinking" hypothesis. It, too, seems to fail in the non-multiverse problems like Newcomb's paradox. Also, it's easy to come up with lots of incorrect theories about how any particular view results from biased epistemics, so I have quite low credence in any such hypothesis that isn't backed up by any evidence. Of course, causal eliminativism (or skepticism) is one motivation to one-box in Newcomb's problem, but subscribing to eliminitavism is not necessary to do so. For example, in Evidence, Decision and Causality Arif Ahmed argues that causality is irrelevant for decision making. (The book starts with: "Causality is a pointless superstition. These days it would take more than o
Which five books would you recommend to an 18 year old?

I could really have benefited from a list like this three or four years ago! I wasted a lot of time reading prestigious fiction (Gravity’s Rainbow, Infinite Jest, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses) and academic philosophy – none of which I liked or understood – as well as a lot of sketchy pop psych.

If Doing Good Better, 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, Animal Liberation, and Superintelligence are already taken, then I’d say the five most influential works I’ve read are: All of Steven Pinker’s books The Art and Craft of Problem Solving Here Be Dragons: Sc... (read more)

0Lee_Sharkey5y
Not sure if it's just me but the board_setup.jpg wouldn't load. I'm not sure why, so I'm not expecting a fix, just FYI. Cards look fun though!
Open Thread #38

I have a fully-formed EA board game that I debuted at EA Global in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. EAs seem to really like it! You can see over one hundred of the game's cards here https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Byv0L8a24QNJeDhfNFo5d1FhWHc

The way the game works is that every player has a random private morality that they want to satisfy (e.g. preference utilitarianism, hedonism, sadism, nihilism) and all players also want to collaboratively achieve normative good (accumulating 1000 human QALYs, 10,000 animals QALYs, and 10 x-risk points). Players get ... (read more)

0geoffreymiller5y
Cool idea. Although I think domain-specific board games might be more intuitive and vivid for most people -- e.g. a set on X-risks (one on CRISPR-engineered pandemics, one on an AGI arms race), one on deworming, one on charity evaluation with strategic conflict between evaluators, charities, and donors, a modified 'Game of Life' based on 80k hours principles, etc.
0Vincent-Soderberg5y
The link doesn't work sadly, but it sounds cool! Message me on facebook or my email ( soderberg.vincent@gmail.com [soderberg.vincent@gmail.com])