Working (6-15 years of experience)
Pursuing a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)

Co-founder of Arb, an AI / forecasting / etc consultancy. Doing a technical AI PhD.

Conflicts of interest: EPSRC, Emergent Ventures, OpenPhil, Infrastructure Fund, Alvea.

Topic Contributions


Critiques of EA that I want to read

Think that changed after Aleks commented

On Deference and Yudkowsky's AI Risk Estimates

This isn't much independent evidence I think: seems unlikely that you could become director of MIRI unless you agreed. (I know that there's a lot of internal disagreement at other levels.)

Transcript of a talk on The non-identity problem by Derek Parfit at EAGxOxford 2016

In the Q&A after this talk, Sandberg asked "What is the moral relevance of Apple laptops booting half a second slower?" (since on Parfit's simple view of aggregation, with millions of devices, this is equivalent to a massive loss of life). I always thought Parfit was being rude by ignoring the question, but your comment makes it seem more like joshing.

The Case for Reading Books

Synthesis: Reading is overrated in normal intellectual circles and slightly underrated among our gingered-up maximisers.

On fiction, I seem to remember Rob Wiblin saying "Fiction is a non-rational means of persuasion: beware." But I can't find the tweet.

On nonfiction, I remember my shock the first time I saw a false claim in a pop science book. They just don't check very hard. They probably check less than newspapers, famously untrustworthy. Arguably I never recovered. 

In my day the philistine/maximiser move was to read textbooks, and while this mostly doesn't capture the poetry / phenomenology you're pointing at, it's a hell of an improvement on podcasts.

The Case for Reading Books

(So as not to be mystical, here's something which sketches what the Tractarian move is. But trust me, it isn't the same.)

The Case for Reading Books

There are nonfiction books which lose a lot in summarisation. This is almost the definition of a great book. Take Wittgenstein's Tractatus : its central rhetorical move, which is also one of its main points about metaphysics, will simply not happen unless you make an effort to read it.

The question assumes that books are just baggy vehicles for schematic bullet-point arguments. Julia Galef has a wonderful list of the many other ways books can update you.

Open Thread

Check this out:

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Working (6-15 years of experience)
Pursuing a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)