207Joined Apr 2018


My understanding is that the technical translation is: 70% of the variance in that trait is attributable to genes, given the time and place of the studied population. 

For example, 70% of the variance in intelligence is attributable to genes, given a white American population, living in non-abusive homes, from the 1960s to the 1990s. (The specifics are just to provide a concrete example.)

The farther one gets from the originally studied population, the less one can extrapolate exact findings. And vice versa. 

It is not clear to me that taking action on non-extinction x-risks would be in conflict with neartermist goals:

Value lockin -> like an AI singleton locking in a scenario that would not be optimal for longtermist goals? Isn't that akin to the alignment problem, and so directly intertwined with extinction risk?

Irreversible technological regression -> wouldn't this be incredibly bad for present humans and so coincide with neartermist goals?

Any discrete event that prevents us from reaching technological maturity -> wouldn't this essentially translate to reducing extinction risk as well as ensuring we have the freedom and wealth to pursue technological advancement, thus coinciding with neartermist goals?

Am I missing something?

Fwiw, I don't think a crash in the FTT token would've crashed FTX as a business (assuming no funny business with extending loans to other parties collateralized in FTT). Afaik FTT was basically a revenue-share token, essentially like common stock. 

Just as Meta shares falling 70% didn't affect their core business of showing users ads, a crash in FTT shouldn't have affected the core exchange business. It's just the going rate for rights to future profits. 

A relevant Twitter thread by Dustin Moskovitz:

Two seemingly contradictory things I believe about the SBF situation: 

a/ The Effective Altruism community will need to have a strong response/crucible moment 

b/ The simplest explanation for his behavior does not imply utilitarianism means-justifying, as widely assumed.

I think the quotes from Sam's blog are very interesting and are pretty strong evidence for the view that Sam's thinking and actions were directly influenced by some EA ideas

I think the thinking around EA leadership is way too premature and presumptive. There are many years (like a decade?) of EA leadership generally being actually good people and not liars. There are also explicit calls in "official" EA sources that specifically say that the ends do not justify the means in practice, honesty and integrity are important EA values, and pluralism and moral humility are important (which leads to not doing things that would transgress other reasonable moral views). 

Most of the relevant documentation is linked in Will's post

Edit: After reading the full blog post, the quote is actually Sam presenting the argument that one can calculate which cause is highest priority, the rest be damned. 

He goes on to say in the very next paragraph:

This line of thinking is implicitly assuming that the impacts of causes add together rather than multiply, and I think that's probably not a very good model.

He concludes the post by stating that the multiplicative model, which he thinks is more likely, indicates that both reducing x-risk and improving the future are important.

None of this proves anything.  But it's significantly changed my prior, and I now think it's likely that the EA movement should heavily invest in multiple causes, not just one.

There's another post on that same page where he denotes his donations for 2016 and they include donations to x-risk and meta EA orgs, as well as donations to global health and animal welfare orgs. 

So nevermind, I don't think those blog posts are positive evidence for Sam being influenced by EA ideas to think that present people don't matter or that fraud is justified. 

I just wanted to note that I agree with everything you've said here. 

Edit: This is kinda whatever but I guess I'm getting downvoted for agreeing here? There is no agree vote for the OP, so the only way I can differentiate between upvoting because I thought it was high quality vs actually agreeing with the post is by commenting...

I may be overpleading the case here, but I feel like a big reason why there is default skepticism about crypto is that in most people's minds, they think "crypto" equals "bitcoin". 

Bitcoin makes up a plurality of total crypto market cap, but imo it's generally boring, uninteresting, and not a particularly high potential part of the space. If crypto was just bitcoin, I wouldn't think that highly of it either. Bitcoin may still be able serve as a kind of "digital gold", but that seems overall not that net positive or interesting.

Imo by far the most interesting part of the space is "smart contract blockchains", the most prominent being Ethereum. That is where the actual innovation and interesting potential use cases are. 

Some examples (sorry for using specific projects, I feel like it's easier to illustrate with concrete examples rather than abstractions):

Aave, the leading borrowing/lending protocol. Users can earn yield on their assets and borrow loans against their collateral. It's basically a bank that runs entirely on code that anyone around the world can access 24/7. 

Uniswap, the leading decentralized exchange. Users can swap assets or earn yield by providing liquidity for any token pair. It's basically an exchange that runs entirely on code that anyone around the world can access 24/7. 

Lens, the leading decentralized social media protocol (this one is still very early, but it shows the potential of the technology). It enables Twitter/FB style social networks, but where everything is on a blockchain so it's impossible to censor or de-platform users, and users can take their followers/friends to other sites (instead of the current siloing we see in current social media platforms). 

Proof of Humanity, a project that is trying to build a sybil-proof digital identification system that could enable things like a true global UBI (this project is also very early and I have no idea if it will actually end up being valuable).

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of projects like these that are building cool stuff enabled by blockchain and smart contracts. 

Right, I'm trying to say - just like normal fiat currency, crypto is meant to be a money, it's not an end in itself. So using the bar "I wouldn't buy this thing if I couldn't then trade it for something else" doesn't really make sense, because the whole point of the thing is that you can eventually trade it for something else. 

The value in money is in its properties to facilitate store of value, unit of account, and unit of exchange. Crypto in principal can do these things.

Also, insofar as there is value in other blockchain based applications (e.g. DeFi), you need crypto in order to use those applications (for "gas" to pay for transactions). 

Also, you can use crypto/blockchain to transact in dollars - so called "stablecoins". So you can get the international transfer benefits but without the natural volatility that occurs in crypto prices. 

Cryptocurrency is meant to be a form of money, so I think the following quote doesn't really make sense as a bar: 

I cannot think of a single application of cryptocurrency where it's worth spending money on something if I then know for certain I can then never sell it.

Would you spend dollars for euros if you then knew for certain you could never "sell" ( i.e. trade it for something else) your euros? The only difference in principal is that crypto is backed by math and cryptography rather than government enforcement. 

More practically, as Habryka noted, crypto is useful for international payments. Because it relies on a blockchain (a public ledger that is operated by thousands of computers around the world), you can send payments from/to anywhere in the world as long as you have electricity and internet access. This means you can send money more or less instantly with low fees, which seems like a big improvement over current SWIFT infrastructure, though there are downsides.[1]

The blockchain/crypto enable use cases like DeFi (decentralized finance) that seem high potential. There's borrowing/lending protocols that allow depositors to get yield on their assets and borrowers to get access to additional capital. There are decentralized exchanges that enable participants to exchange assets. In principal this could extend to all viable financial services including insurance and derivatives. 

Because these applications rely on smart contracts on the blockchain, they can provide financial services without the middlemen, enabling lower costs. There are also the benefits of financial inclusion since anyone around the world with electricity and internet access can participate, regardless of location, which in principal should help the global poor.

I've tried to highlight some of the upsides/potential upsides of the industry and technology, but the truth is that the entire space is incredibly young, and we don't know exactly how valuable this is going to end up being. 

You might wince at the analogy, but I think it's similar to someone in 1993 asking about the utility of the internet. There are fledgling applications that seem like they could  be valuable, but it's still too early to tell with certainty, and many valuable applications haven't even been discovered yet. 

I'd also like to acknowledge that there obviously is a lot of speculation and scammy behavior in crypto currently, but I don't think that represents everything that's going on in the space. It's difficult to say how potential upsides net out with speculation/scams, but it seems likely to me that there are enough potential and already existing use cases to make the industry long-term net positive. 

  1. ^

    Because crypto can be accessed by anyone with internet/electricity, it does enable some crime and money laundering. There is a debate over how much crime it enables relative to the US dollar, however. 

    The immutability of the blockchain (transactions, once sent, cannot be reversed) also can lead to users losing funds with effectively no recourse. 

Here's a quote from former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers in a recent Bloomberg interview that backs up some of the claims in this comment: 

A lot of people have compared this to Lehman. I would compare it to Enron - the smartest guys in the room, not just financial error, but certainly from the reports, whiffs of fraud. Stadium namings very early in a company's history. Vast explosion of wealth that nobody quite understands where it comes from. 

[...] I think this is probably less about the complexities of the nuances of the rules of crypto regulation and more about some very basic financial principles that go back to financial scandals that took place in ancient Rome.

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