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Slightly advanced decision theory 102: Four reasons not to be a (naive) utility maximizer

Thank you so much for your kind words <3 I'm happy you enjoyed the post!

"Fixing Adolescence" as a Cause Area?

That's true, I didn't realize that... But I don't actually think it's incompatible with the rest of the argument. 

  1. even if it's not the worst for everyone, it could still be one of the worst experiences for a lot of people (the 35% describing it as a so-so time in the Gallup poll). (related)
  2. even if only 1 in 25 had a very bad time in high school,  that would mean that their life satisfaction has to be a lot lower than baseline for the average to come out at -0.2. In particular,  and we are in an extremely severe territory in terms of EQ5D.
  3. your argument about nostalgia also appears very strong to me
"Fixing Adolescence" as a Cause Area?

Thanks for the comment, glad you liked it (:

During the research, I was also thinking about the Amish and in particular about this old SSC article on "ARE THE AMISH UNHAPPY? SUPER HAPPY? JUST MEH?". The conclusion there is "We just don’t know", so I did not go further into this. 

In general, I anticipate that the self-selection effects on alternative schools and homeschooling will be pretty large, but would still be super interesting to see.

"Fixing Adolescence" as a Cause Area?

I looked at this a little bit in my research and it seems that reports of bullying are actually most abundant in elementary school and then decrease steadily (in Japan, the U.S. in 2010, and possibly in China but the source is unavailable). This does not say anything about the severity of bullying though and I could imagine that's a strong factor ("it's wrong to think of little children as innocent, because not knowing isn't the same as not choosing. That children do little harms to each other with schoolyard fights, because they don't have the power to do great harm."). And I could also imagine that there is a kind of accumulative effect that comes from sustained bullying. Or perhaps stress from school and puberty are mediating factors?

But yeah, prima facie the high amount of bullying in elementary school doesn't fit the picture very well.

"Fixing Adolescence" as a Cause Area?

Great points, I agree! I guess I fell prey to the Streetlight effect there. I found this article by Robin Hanson interesting, Mason Hartman has interesting thoughts on Twitter (her most recent stuff is pretty extreme though), and there is a lot on YouTube on how the School System is broken in many ways. But despite a lot of educational reform, there are some issues that prove very hard to tackle. But perhaps there is something smart & unorthodox that can be done...

"Fixing Adolescence" as a Cause Area?

True, thanks for spotting! Should be fixed now.

Slightly advanced decision theory 102: Four reasons not to be a (naive) utility maximizer

Thanks for the comment, gives me the fuzzies to know that this is useful to someone ☺

On explore/exploit there is this great post by Applied Divinity Studies (https://applieddivinitystudies.com/career-timing/) where they raise the possibility that EAs in particular spend too much time exploring and not exploiting. (But they also point out that interpreting toy models is tricky).

I've also written something (https://universalprior.substack.com/p/soldiers-scouts-and-albatrosses) where I argue that the optimal solution for explore-exploit trade offs that evolution has come up with (Levy flights) might also generalize to career decision and thinking more general (extended periods of deep focus on one topic, interrupted by bouts of substantial change/exploration of new terrain).

Have a nice day!

Frankfurt Declaration on the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

Hi Edo :) Thank you for your message!

It looks like the Cambridge Declaration is saying something like "we have no scientific reason to suspect that nonhuman animals are less conscious than humans", rather than "animals are conscious".  

Yes, there is indeed a big mismatch between what the Cambridge declaration states and how it has been cited since! But it really is very hard to summarize what the declaration is stating. If your summary is correct, then I think it would be easy to argue that the declaration is false. The (scientific) claim that the cortex plays a role in "consciousness" should at least count as some evidence that animals without a cortex are less conscious. The declaration is not actually able to explain this away (this is related to Luke's point #3):

To make matters worse the Declaration seems to come close to a clunking logical error, along the lines of: other areas than the neocortex are involved in having feelings; animals have those other areas, therefore animals have feelings. That wouldn’t work: you could as well argue that: other organs than the eye are involved in seeing; people whose eyes have been gouged out have those other organs; therefore people whose eyes have been gouged out can see. You can’t really dismiss the neocortex that easily. (source)

This is one of the concrete issues I have with the declaration. I also really dislike that they don't cite any references and that they don't provide any definition for what they mean by the term consciousness (even though the term is notoriously overloaded). The report by Luke Muehlhauser does not fall into any of these traps and is just superior to the declaration in every aspect. This is the point that I should have made more clearly in the post: the declaration is flawed and should not be used when making a case for/against animal consciousness. My "declaration on a declaration" is just me satirizing arguments from authority.

I also have more general issues with "consciousness". My position here is a form of eliminative materialism and is very similar to the one explored by Brian Tomasek here and Dan Dennet here. I want to give this a full blog-length treatment at some point, but if you're interested we can have a chat about this next week at EAG! Would be very interested to hear your thoughts!

On Scaling Academia

Just found an article by Robin Hanson from 1990 on this topic: http://mason.gmu.edu/~rhanson/gamble.html I didn't realize that the idea had been around for that long!

On Scaling Academia

Thank you very much for sharing, I didn't know that platform before! Looks like a great initiative and the science article is also very inspired. The failure mode I see is that they might be aiming too broad - realistically for this to take off you might want to start with a small group of very devoted users who can also benefit from the effort they invest? But finding that group poses a different set of problems, of course.

Regarding the "living wage" argument - thank you for calling me out on that, I crossed the line into science fiction there. 

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