PhD student at Aberdeen University studying Bayesian reasoning

Interested in practical exercises and theoretical considerations related to causal inference, forecasting and prioritization.


What are some low-information priors that you find practically useful for thinking about the world?

In a context where multiple forecasts have already been made (by you or other people), use the geometric mean of the odds as a blind aggregate:

If you want to get fancy, use an extremized version of this pooling method, by scaling the log odds by a factor :

Satopaa et al have found that in practice gives the best results.

Assessing the impact of quantum cryptanalysis

I think we broadly agree.

I believe that chemistry and material science are two applications where quantum computing might be a useful tool, since simulating very simple physical systems is something where a quantum computer excels at but arguably significantly slower to do in a classical computer.

On the other hand, people more versed on material science and chemistry I talked to seemed to believe that (1) classical approximations will be good enough to approach problems in these areas and (2) in silico design is not a huge bottleneck anyway.

So I am open to a quantum computing revolution in chemistry and material science, but moderately skeptical.

Summarizing my current beliefs about how important quantum computing will be for future applications:

  • Cryptoanalysis => very important for solving a handful of problems relevant for modern security, with no plausible alternative
  • Chemistry and material science => Plausibly useful, not revolutionary.
  • AI and optimization => unlikely to be useful, huge constraints to overcome
  • Biology and medicine => not useful, systems too complex to model
Assessing the impact of quantum cryptanalysis

Thank you so much for your kind words and juicy feedback!

Google has already deployed post-quantum schemes as a test

I did not know about this, and this actually updates me on how much overhead will be needed for post quantum crypto (the NIST expert I interviewed gave me an impression that it was large and essentially would need specialized hardware to meet performance expectations, but this seems to speak to the contrary (?))

here may be significant economic costs due to public key schemes deployed "at rest"

To make sure I understand your point, let me try to paraphase. You are pointing out that:

1) past communications that are recorded will be rendered insecure by quantum computing

2) there are some transition costs associated with post quantum crypto - which are related to for example the cost of rebuilding PGP certificate networks.

If so, I agree that this is a relevant consideration but does not change the bottom line.

Thank you again for reading my paper!

Assessing the impact of quantum cryptanalysis

Note that we believe that quantum supremacy has already been achieved.

As in, the quantum computer Sycamore from Google is capable of solving a (toy) problem that we currently believe unfeasible in a classical computer.

Of course, there is a more interesting question of when will we be able to solve practical problems using quantum computing. Experts believe that the median for a practical attack on modern crypto is ~2035.

I regardless believe that outside (and arguably within) quantum cryptanalysis the applications will be fairly limited.

The paper in my post goes in more detail about this.

Update on civilizational collapse research
I'm currently working on explicating some of these factors, but some examples would be drastic climate change, long-lived radionuclides, increase in persistent pathogens.

Can you explain the bit about long-lived radionuclides?

How would they be produced? How would they affect "technological carrying capacity"?

[WIP] Summary Review of ITN Critiques

Thank you for writing this up - always good to see criticism of key ideas.

I want to contest point 4.

The fact that we can decompose "Good done / extra person or $" into three factors that can be roughly interpreted as Scale, Tractability and Neglectedness is not a problem, but a desirable property.

In ultimate instance, we want to evaluate marginal cost effectiveness ie "Good done / extra person or $". However this is difficult, so we want to split it up in simpler terms.

The mathematical equation that decomposes the cost serves as a guarantee that by estimating all three factors we will not be leaving anything important behind.

Implications of Quantum Computing for Artificial Intelligence alignment research (ABRIDGED)

I do agree with your assesment, and I would be medium excited about somebody informally researching what algorithms can be quantized to see if there is low hanging fruit in terms of simplifying assumptions that could be made in a world where advanced AI is quantum-powered.

However my current intuition is there is no much sense in digging in this unless we were sort of confident that 1) we will have access to QC before TAI and that 2) QC will be a core component of AI.

To give a bit more context to the article, Pablo and me originally wrote it because we disagreed on whether current research in AI Alignment would still be useful if quantum computing was a core component of advanced AI systems.

Had we concluded that quantum ofuscation threatened to invalidate some assumptions made by current research, we would have been more emphatic about the necessity of having quantum computing experts working on "safeguarding our research" on AI Alignment.

Cause X Guide

I like this post a lot; it is succint and provides a great actionable for EAs to act on.

Stylistically I would prefer if the Organization section was broken down into a paragraphs per section to make it easier to read.

I like that you precommited to a transparent way of selecting the new causes you present to the readers and limited the scope to 15. I would personally have liked to see them broken up in sections depending on what method they were chosen by.

For other readers who are eager for more, here there are other two that satisfy the criteria but I suppose did not make it to the list:

Atomically Precise Manufacturing (cause area endorse by two major organizations - OPP and Eric Drexler from FHI)

Aligning Recommender Systems (cause profile with more than 50 upvotes in the EA forum)

How to generate research proposals

As further reading I recently came across Research as a Stochastic Decision Process, which discusses another systematic approach to research.

Summary copy pasted from the article:


Many of our default intuitions about how to pursue uncertain ideas are counterproductive:

  • We often try easier tasks first, when instead we should try the most informative tasks first.
  • We often conflate a high-level approach with a low-level instantiation of the approach.
  • We are often too slow to try to disprove our own ideas.

Building frameworks that reify the research process as a concrete search problem can help unearth these incorrect intuitions and replace them with systematic reasoning.

The Possibility of an Ongoing Moral Catastrophe (Summary)

Strong upvoting because I want to incentivize people to write and share more summaries.

Summaries are awesome and allow me to understand the high level of papers that I would not have read otherwise. This summary in particular is well written and well-formatted.

Thanks for writing it and sharing it!

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