pappubahry

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Saying 'AI safety research is a Pascal's Mugging' isn't a strong response

If I were debating you on the topic, it would be wrong to say that you think it's a Pascal's mugging. But I read your post as being a commentary on the broader public debate over AI risk research, trying to shift it away from "tiny probability of gigantic benefit" in the way that you (and others) have tried to shift perceptions of EA as a whole or the focus of 80k. And in that broader debate, Bostrom gets cited repeatedly as the respectable, mainstream academic who puts the subject on a solid intellectual footing.

(This is in contrast to MIRI, which as SIAI was utterly woeful and which in its current incarnation still didn't look like a research institute worthy of the name when I last checked in during the great Tumblr debate of 2014; maybe they're better now, I don't know.)

In that context, you'll have to keep politely telling people that you think the case is stronger than the position your most prominent academic supporter argues from, because the "Pascal's mugging" thing isn't going to disappear from the public debate.

Saying 'AI safety research is a Pascal's Mugging' isn't a strong response

The New Yorker writer got it straight out of this paper of Bostrom's (paragraph starting "Even if we use the most conservative of these estimates"). I've seen a couple of people report that Bostrom made a similar argument at EA Global.

Saying 'AI safety research is a Pascal's Mugging' isn't a strong response

I get what you're saying, but, e.g., in the recent profile of Nick Bostrom in the New Yorker:

No matter how improbable extinction may be, Bostrom argues, its consequences are near-infinitely bad; thus, even the tiniest step toward reducing the chance that it will happen is near-­infinitely valuable. At times, he uses arithmetical sketches to illustrate this point. Imagining one of his utopian scenarios—trillions of digital minds thriving across the cosmos—he reasons that, if there is even a one-per-cent chance of this happening, the expected value of reducing an existential threat by a billionth of a billionth of one per cent would be worth a hundred billion times the value of a billion present-day lives. Put more simply: he believes that his work could dwarf the moral importance of anything else.

While the most prominent advocate in the respectable-academic part of that side of the debate is making Pascal-like arguments, there's going to be some pushback about Pascal's mugging.

[link] GiveWell's 2015 recommendations are out!

I confess I'm a bit surprised no one else has linked this yet

Judging by GiveWell's Twitter and Facebook feeds, the post is mis-dated -- it only went live about 8 hours ago (at time of writing my comment), rather than 2 or 3 days ago.

Suggestions thread for questions for the 2015 EA Survey

I think this is referring to a common probability question, e.g., example 3 here.

The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis

Thanks Peter! I'll make the top-level post later today.

How did you do that so quickly?

(I might have given the impression that I did this all during a weekend. This isn't quite right -- I spent 2-3 evenings, about 8 hours in total, going from the raw csv files to nice and compact .js function. Then I wrote the plotter on the weekend.)

I did this bit in Excel. If the money amounts were in column A, I insert three columns to the right: B for the currency (assumed USD unless otherwise specified), C for the min of the range given, D for the max. In column C, I started with =IF(ISNUMBER(A2), A2, "") and dragged that formula down the column. Then I went through line by line, reading off any text entries, and turning them into currency/min/max (if a single value was reported, I entered it as the min, and left the max blank). currency, tab, number, enter, currency, tab, number, tab, number, enter, currency, tab...

It's not a fun way to spend an evening (hence why I didn't do the lifetime donations as well), but it doesn't actually take that long.

Then: new column E for the AVERAGE(C2:D2) dragged down the column. Then I typed in the average currency conversions for 2013 into a new sheet and did a lookup (most users would use VLOOKUP I think, I used MATCH and OFFSET) to get my final USD numbers in column F.

Also, do you have the GitHub code for your plotter?

As a fierce partisan of the "_final_really_2" school of source control, I'm yet to learn how to GitHub. You can view the Javascript source easily enough though, and save it locally. (I suggest deleting the Google Analytics "i,s,o,g,r,a,m" script if you do this, or your browser might go looking for Google in your file system for a few seconds before plotting the graphs). The two scripts not in the HTML file itself are d3.min.js and ea_survey.data.js. (EDIT: can't be bothered fixing the markdown underscores here.)

A zip file with my ready-to-run CSV file and the R script to turn it into a Javascript function is here.

The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis

I've made a bar chart plotter thing with the survey data: link.

The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis

The first 17 entries in imdata.csv have some mixed-up columns, starting (at latest) from

Have you volunteered or worked for any of the following organisations? [Machine Intelligence Research Institute]

until (at least)

Over 2013, which charities did you donate to? [Against Malaria Foundation].

Some of this I can work out (volunteering at "6-10 friends" should obviously be in the friends column), but the blank cells under the AMF donations have me puzzled.

The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis

Thanks for this, and thanks for putting the full data on github. I'll have a sift through it tonight and see how far I get towards processing it all (perhaps I'll decide it's too messy and I'll just be grateful for the results in the report!).

I have one specific comment so far: on page 12 of the PDF you have rationality as the third-highest-ranking cause. This was surprisingly high to me. The table in imdata.csv has it as "Improving rationality or science", which is grouping together two very different things. (I am strongly in favour of improving science, such as with open data, a culture of sharing lab secrets and code, etc.; I'm pretty indifferent to CFAR-style rationality.)

I am Samwise [link]

A hero means roughly what you'd expect - someone who takes personal responsibility for solving world problems. Kind of like an effective altruist.

What I understand about rationality 'heroes' is limited to what I've gleaned from Miranda's post, but to me it seems like earning to give fits much more naturally into a sidekick category than into a hero category.

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