Aspiring EA-adjacent trying to make the singularity further away


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This seems cool, but as a data point: it took me like 25 minutes to reach page 4, and page 5 asked questions which I didn't know the answer to so I didn't complete the form.

I take more time than most people for most things, but extrapolating I think it would have taken me a loot more than "15 minutes" to fill out the 11 pages.

Is it me or there is too much filler on some posts? This could have been a quicktake: "If you distance yourself from Rationality, be careful to not distance yourself from rationality".

Answer by Pato2

Take a Minute by K'naan about the value of giving and epistemic humility lol

Answer by Pato1

I recomend and, if you are looking for introductions in video/ audio form, I like this selection (in part because I contributed to it). 

None of them are that technical though, and given that you mentioned your math knowledge, seems that's what you're interested on. 

In that case, the thing that you have to know is that it is said that the field is "pre-paradigmatic", so there's not any type of consensus about how is the best way to think about the problems and therefore how would even the potential solutions would look like or come to be. But there's work outside ML that is purely mathematical and related to agent foundations, and this introductory post that I've just found seems to explain all that stuff better than I could and would probably be more useful for you than the other links. 

Answer by Pato2

I think something like that could be great! I also wish learning about EA wouldn't be that difficult or time consuming. About your questions:

  1. For the people who don't want to change careers because of EA, I think you can still share with them a list of ways they still can have a positive impact in the world, something like what PauseAI has. That shouldn't have a big cost and it would possible to expand about it later.
  2. Adding to what you wrote, other ways they can still have an impact are:
    1. Changing their habits of consumption, like becoming vegan and reducing their pollution
    2. Participating in the community, like in the forums or volunteering
    3. Sharing the ideas and content, like the video/ course itself
    4. Small everyday actions caused by learning more about EA, like expanding the moral circle, the causes and having a more rationalist mindset
    5. Stop working or investing on risky things, like AI capabilities
  3. I don't think so.

Sadly I couldn't respond to this post two weeks ago but here I go.

First of all I'm not sure I understand your position, but I think that you believe that if we push for other types of regulation either:

  • that would be enough to be safe from dangerous AI or
  • we'll be able to slow down AI development enough to develop measures to be safe from dangerous AI

I'm confused between the two because you write

Advanced AI systems pose grave threats and we don’t know how to mitigate them.

That I understand as you believing we don't have know those measures right now, but you also write

If a company developing an unprecedentedly large AI model with surprising capabilities can’t prove it’s safe, they shouldn’t release it.

That if we agree there's no way to prove it then you're pretty much talking about a pause.


If your point is the first one I would disagree with it and I think even OpenAI when they say we don't know yet how to align a SI.

If your point is the second one, then my problem with that is that I don't think that would give us close to the same amount of time than a pause. Also it could make most people believe risks from AI, including X-risks, are safeguarded now, and we could lose support because of that. And all of that would lead to more money in the industry that could lead to regulatory capture recursively.


All of that is also related to

it’s closer to what those of us concerned about AI safety ideally want: not an end to progress, but progress that is safe and advances human flourishing.

Which I'm not sure that it's true. Of course this depends a lot in how much you think that the current work on alignment is close to being enough to make us safe. Are we going parallel enough to the precipice that we'll be able to reach or steer in time to reach an utopia? Or are we going towards it and we will have some brief progress before falling? Would that be closer to the ideal? Anyways, the ideal is the enemy of the good or the truth or something.


Lastly, after arguing why a pause would be a lot better than other regulations, I'll give you that of course it would be harder to get/ less "politically palatable" which is arguably the main point of the post. But I don't how many orders of magnitude. With a pause you win over people who think safer AI isn't enough or it's just marketing from the biggest companies and nations. And also, talking about marketing, I think pausing AI is a slogan that can draw a lot more attention, which I think is good given that most people seem to want regulation.


it appears many EAs believe we should allow capabilities development to continue despite the current X-risks.

Where do you get this from?

Also, this:

have < ~ 0.1% chance of X-risk. 

means p(doom) <~ 0.001

I think that by far the less intuitive thing about AI X-risk is why AIs would want to kill us instead of doing what they would be "programmed" to do.

I would give more importance to that part of the argument than the "intelligence is really powerful" part.

Answer by Pato-1

I think the bigger question is why haven't we found other species elsewhere in the universe.

Then I see the question about whether they'll kill us or not as a different one.

I really liked the axis that you presented and the comparision between a version of the community that is more cause oriented vs member oriented.

The only caveat that I have is that I don't think we can define a neutral point in between them that allows you to classify communities as one type or the other. 

Luckily, I think that is unnecesary because even though the objective of EA is to have the best impact in the world and not the greatest number of members, I think we all think the best decision is to have a good balance between cause and member oriented. So the question that we should ask is should EA be MORE big tent, weird, or do we have a good balance right now?

And to achieve that balance we can be more big tent in some aspects, moments and orgs and weirder in others.

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