My impression is that people like you are pretty rare, but all of this is based off subjective impressions and I could be very wrong.
Have you met a lot of other people who came to AI safety from some background other than the Yudkowsky/Superintelligence cluster?
My understanding of the hinge of history argument is that the current time has more leverage than either the past or future. Even if that's true, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's any more obvious what needs to be done to influence the future.
If I believed that e.g. AI is obviously the most important lever right now, and think I know which direction to push that lever, I would ask myself "using the same reasoning, which levers would I be trying to push where in 1920". As far as I can tell this is pretty agnostic about how easy it is to push these levers around, just which you would want to be pushing.
Thanks! I ended up expanding it significantly and posting the full version here.
Thought experiment for longtermism: if you were alive in 1920 trying to have the largest possible impact today, would the ideas you came up with without the benefit of hindsight still have an effect today?
I find this a useful intuition pump in general. If someone says "X will happen in 50 years" I think of myself looking at 2020 from 1970, asking how many of that sort of prediction I made then would have been accurate now. The world in 50 years is going to be at least as hard to imagine (hopefully more, given exponential growth) to us as the world of today would have from 1970. What did we know? What did we completely miss? What kinds of systematic mistakes might we be making?
Thanks for the links, I googled briefly before I wrote this to check my memory and couldn't find anything. I think what formed my impression was that even in very detailed conversations/writing on AI, as far as I could tell by default there was no mention or implicit acknowledgement of the possibility. On reflection I'm not sure if I would expect it to be even if people did think it was likely, though.
EA-style discussion about AI seems to dismiss out of hand the possibility that AI might be sentient. I can’t find an example, but the possibility seems generally scoffed at in the same tone people dismiss Skynet and killer robot scenarios. Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis, however, is broadly accepted as at the very least an interestingly plausible argument.
These two stances seem entirely incompatible - if silicon can create a whole world inside of which are sentient minds, why can’t it just create the minds with no need for the framing... (read more)
I think there are many examples of EAs thinking about the possibility that AI might be sentient by default. Some examples I can think of off the top of my head:
An argument in favor of slow takeoff scenarios being generally safer is that we will get to see and experiment with the precursor AIs before they become capable of causing x-risks. Even if the behavior of this precursor AI is predictive of the superhuman AI’s, our ability to use it depends on the reaction to the potential dangers of this precursor AI. A society confident that there is no danger from increasing the capabilities of the machine that has been successfully running its electrical grid gains much less of an advantage from a slow takeoff (a... (read more)