369Joined Jun 2018


Thank you, this is very helpful and I definitely agree that EQs are available/practical enough to use in most cases.  Really looking forward to seeing the new models in January!

I really appreciate this post and the conclusion here seems very reasonable. As someone who is personally guilty of using neuron counts as a sole proxy for moral weight, I would love to include additional metrics that more closely proxy something like capacity for suffering and pleasure. However, my problem is that while the metrics mentioned (mirror-test,  trace conditioning, unlimited associative learning, reversal learning) might be more accurate proxies, they are (as far as I can tell) not available for a wide variety of species. For me, the main goal of employing these moral weights is to get a framework that decisionmakers can use for evaluating the impact of any project. I am particularly interested in government cost-benefit analyses, where the ideal use case would be to have a spreadsheet where government economists could just plug in available proxies for moral weight and get an estimated valuation for suffering reduction for an individual of a particular species. Neuron counts are nice for this because you can pretty easily find an estimated neuron count for almost any species. With this issue in mind,

  1. Are you aware of any papers/databases that have a list of species for which any of the four recommended factors have been tested and the results? It seems, for example, that scientists make headlines when they find a species that passes the mirror test but I can't tell which species have "failed" it versus which have not been tested.
  2.  Other factors that are widely available for many species include brain mass, body mass, brain-to-body mass ratio, cortical neurons, whether the animal has any particular brain/anatomical structure, class/order, etc. It sounds like maybe the ratio of cortical neurons to brain size might be a reasonable proxy based on the section on processing speed--would you agree that would be an improvement over just neurons? Do any of these other characteristics stand out as plausible proxies?

Hi Richard, Could you explain how lots of people being poly makes it harder to identify norm violations? What kind of norms do you perceive to be different? I certainly agree it is bad to assume anyone is poly/not poly/interested in any kid of romantic interaction/gay/straight/or anything else, but I am curious about what kind of norm violations you are referring to.

I didn't call you bigoted, I called your post bigoted and I stand by it. If my comment about your post made you feel "very unsafe," then I do not wish to argue about the matter and risk coming off as even more of a threat to you, as that could not be further from my intention. I wish you the best.

Thanks for writing this--I largely agree. One thing I have been thinking about a lot in the scandal is Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. For those who haven't heard of it, it is a very popular book in EA circles based on the premise of "what if Harry approached the magical world with a rational spirit of scientific inquiry." It's one of my favorite books of all time, and I am in no way blaming Eliezer Yudkowsky (the author) for any of this mess.

However, one of the messages that I at least take away from the book is "you are personally responsible for your failure to improve the world. This includes your failure on account of waiting for permission from authority or approval from society or from feeling like the thing you are failing to do has too many evil-ish vibes even though it's actually good." I think the attitude that people should be personally ambitious to improve the world and that they can do it themselves without approval from society (or a board of directors or an IRB or anyone) is maybe a little too strong in EA circles. I am also personally pretty sympathetic to this attitude--sometimes a board of directions and an IRB really are stopping you from making the world a better place and sometimes you really should ask yourself if you really need them from a practical and a moral perspective. But it just seems one should be aware of the virtues of occasionally thinking "yes I could technically do something about this but no, I am not personally responsible for unilaterally changing the circumstances, but golly it just really depends on the situation and I should think long and hard about this and maybe get some other perspectives."

To be fair, HPMOR also has the message that "you are personally responsible for when you try to improve the world but then fuck everything up because you were so reckless" and also it's just a work of fiction and this is only my interpretation of it. Also you should read it if you haven't because it's really good.

I completely agree that OP raises totally legitimate points that are worthy of being taken seriously.

However, I am grateful for you initial comment and really disagree that the issue here is being emotional and impressionistic.  The problem with the post is that it is bigoted. OP makes a central issue of people not respecting one's "poly/mono" choice and then proceeds to suggest that women in poly relationships are unhappy and that poly men are uniquely likely to be sexual predators. This is all framed as a matter of OP's experience, and I have no reason to doubt the truthfulness of it all. But that doesn't excuse framing the issue as a matter of one's choice to be poly or not. Imagine if this framing was done for any other group. Even if you have legitimate negative experiences with members of a certain group, framing the issue as relevant to membership in that group without any evidence whatsoever is unfair to say the least. This is especially true for something like sexual pressure, which monogamous people have been engaging in far and wide since the dawn of time. In any case, it is a really tired trope to paint anyone who does not fall very neatly in line with conventional ideas of relationship structures as a sexual predator.

It's also frankly quite hypocritical in that OP seems to be the one not respecting others "mono/poly" choice.

None of this is to say that OPs experiences are not real or that they are not a problem. Of course they are! But that does not make this a fair or productive post and it would have been much better received if OP didn't make it about something irrelevant. 

The bad behavior described here has absolutely nothing to do with polyamory. A person who practices polyamory has every bit as much of an interest in not being sexually pressured as one who does not practice polyamory. A person who purports to practice polyamory is no more or less likely to engage in sexual pressure than one who doesn't.  I honestly don't see how "respecting someone's mono/poly choice" has any relevance--just because someone is poly doesn't mean they want in on a particular polycule and just because someone is mono doesn't mean they want anything to do with a particular single/monogamous person. How about just "respecting 'I'm not interested'" 

Thanks for writing this! Do you have a particular sign of danger in mind? I don't feel that I would know what else to look for as a leave trigger.

N of 1 here, but FWIW this has very much not been my experience (gestating and breastfeeding aside).

I would love to hear any elaboration on how sleep deprivation is mostly avoidable.

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