TruePath

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Integrity for consequentialists

Re your first point yup they won't try to recruit others to that belief but so what? That's already a bullet any utilitarian has to bite thanks to examples like the aliens who will torture the world if anyone believes utilitarianism is true or ties to act as of it is. There is absolutely nothing self defeating here.

Indeed if we define utilitarianism as simply the belief that ones preference relation on possible worlds is dictated by the total utility in then it follows by definition that the best act an agent can take are just the ones which maximize utility. So maybe the better way to phrase this is as: why care what the agent who pledges to utilitarianism in some way and wants to recruit others might need to do or act that's a distraction from the simple question of what in fact maximizes utility. If that means convincing everyone not to be utilitarians then so be it.

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And yes re the rest of your points I guess I just don't see why it matters what would be good to do if other agents respond in some way you argue would be reasonable. Indeed, what makes consequentialism consequentialism is that you aren't acting based on what would happen if you imagine interacting with idealized agents like a Kantianesque theory might consider but what actually happens when you actually act.

I agree the caps were aggressive and I apologize for that and I agree I'm not trying to produce evidence which says that in fact how people respond to supposed signals of integrity tends to match what they see as evidence you follow the standard norms. That's just something people need to consult their own experience and ask themselves if, in their experience, thay tends to be true. Ultimately I think that it's just not true that a priori analysis of what should make people see you as trustworthy or have any other social reaction is a good guide to what they will do?

But I guess that is just going to return to point 1 and our different conceptions of what is utilitarianism requires.

A mental health resource for EA community

Yes and reading this again now I think I was way too harsh. I should have been more positive about what was obviously an earnest concern and desire to help even if I don't think it's going to work out. A better response would have been to suggest other ideas to help but other than reforming how medical practice works so mental suffering isn't treated as less important than being physically debilitated (docs will agree to risky procedures to avoid physical loss of function but won't with mental illness ...likely because the family doesn't see the suffering from the inside but do see the loss in a death so are liable to sue/complain if things go bad).

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

I apparently wasn't clear enough that I absolutely agree and support things like icebreakers etc. But we shouldn't either expect them to or judge their effectiveness based on how much it increases female representation. Absolutely do it and do it for everyone who will benefit but just don't be surprised if even if we do that everywhere it doesn't do much to affect gender balance in EA.

I think if we just do it because it makes ppl more comfortable without the gender overlay not only will it be more effective and more widely adopted but avoid the very real risk of creep (we are doing this to draw in more women but we haven't seen a change so we need to adopt more extreme approaches). Let's leave gender out of it when we can and in this case we absolutely can because being welcoming helps lots of ppl regardless of gender.

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

No I didn't mean to suggest that. But I did mean to suggest that it's not at all obvious that this kind of Schelling style amplification of preferences is something that would be good to do something about. The archetypal example of Schelling style clustering is a net utility win even if a small one.

Defusing the mitigation obstruction argument against geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal

I fear that we need to do Geoengineering right away or we will be locked into never undoing the warming. Problem is a few countries like russia massively benefit from warming and once they see that warming and then take advantage of the newly opened land they will see any attempt to artificially lower temps as an attack they will respond to with force and they have enough fossil fuels to maintain the warm temps even if everyone else stops carbon emissions (which they can easily scuttle).

IMO this concern is more persuasive than the risk of trying Geoengineering.

But I disagree that Geoengineering isnt going to happen soon. All the same reasons we aren't doing anything about global warming now are reasons that we'll flip on a dime when we start seeing real harms.

Defusing the mitigation obstruction argument against geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal

I ultimately agree with you but I think you miss the best argument for the other side. I think it goes like this:

  1. Humans are particularly bad at coordinating to reduce harms that are distant in time or are small risks of large harms. In other words out of sight out of mind. We are much better at solving problems which we experience at least some current harm from but prefer to push off harms into the future or a low probability event.

The argument for this point is buttressed by the very fact that we aren't doing anything about warming right now.

  1. Geoengineering takes the continuous harms of from increasing temperatures and renders them discontinuous and increases the risk of sudden major negative effects.

The argument here is that Geoengineering let's us eliminate all negative effects as long as it is effective but if the Geoengineering mechanism ever fails we experience all the built up warming at once. Maybe we get hit by a bit solar flare and can't launch our sunshade or shoot our sulfur into the stratosphere.

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

The parent post already responded to a number of these points but let me give a detailed reply.

First, the evidence you cite doesn't actually contradict the point being made. Just because women rate EA as somewhat less welcoming doesn't mean that this is the reason they return at a lower rate. Indeed, the alternate hypothesis that says it's the same reason women are less likely to be attracted to EA in the first place seems quite plausible.

As far as the quotes we can ignore the people simply agreeing that something should be done to increase diversity and talk about the specific reactions. I'll defer the one about reporting a sexist remark till the end and focus on the complaints about the environment. These don't seem to be complaints suggesting any particular animus or bad treatment of women or other underprivileged groups merely people expressing a distaste for the kind of interactions they associate with largely male groups. However, other people do like that kind of interaction so, like the question of what to serve for dinner or whether alcohol should be served, you can't please everyone. While it's true that in our society there is a correlation between male gender and a preference for a combative, interrupting challenging style of interaction there are plenty of women who also prefer this interaction style (and in my own experience at academic conferences gay men are just as likely as straight men to behave this way). Indeed, the argument that it's anti-woman to interact in a way that involves interrupting etc.. when some women do prefer this style is the very kind of harmful gender essentialism that we should be fighting against.

Of course, I think everyone agrees that we should do what we can to make EA more welcoming *when that doesn't impose a greater cost than benefit.* Ideally, there would be parts of EA that appeal to people who like every kind of interaction style but there are costs in terms of community cohesion, resources etc.. etc..

The parent was arguing, persuasively imo, that imposing many of the suggested reforms would impose substantial costs elsewhere not that it might not improve diversity or offer benefits to some people. I don't see you making a persuasive case that the costs cited aren't very real or that the benefits outweigh them.

This finally brings us to the complaint about where to report a sexist comment. While I think no one disagrees that we should condemn sexist comments creating an official reporting structure with disciplinary powers is just begging to get caught up in the moderators dilema and create strife and argument inside the community. Better to leave that to informal mechanisms.

Wireheading as a Possible Contributor to Civilizational Decline

Also, your concern about some kind of disaster caused by wireheading addiction and resulting deaths and damage is pretty absurd.

Yes, people are more likely to do drugs when they are more available but even if the government can't limit the devices that enable wireheading from legal purchase it will still require a greater effort to put together your wireheading setup than it currently does to drive to the right part of the nearest city (discoverable via google) and purchasing some heroin. Even if it did become very easy to access it's still not true that most people who have been given the option to shoot up heroin do so and the biggest factor which deters them is the perceived danger or harm. If wireheading is more addictive/harmful it will discourage use.

Moreover, for wireheading to pose a greater danger than just going to buy heroin it would have to give greater control over brain stimulation (i.e. create more pleasure etc..) and the greater our control over the brain stimulation the greater the chance we can do so in a way that doesn't create damage.

Indeed, any non-chemical means of brain stimulation is almost certain to be crazily safe because once monitoring equipment detects a problem you can simply shut off the intervention without the concern of long-halflife drugs remaining in the system continuing the effect.

Wireheading as a Possible Contributor to Civilizational Decline

You make a lot of claims here that seem unsupported and based on nothing but vague analogy with existing primitive means of altering our brain chemisty. For instance a key claim that pretty most of your consequences seem to depend on is this: "It is great to be in a good working mood, where you are in the flow and every task is easy, but if one feels “too good”, one will be able only to perform “trainspotting”, that is mindless staring at objects.

Why should this be true at all? The reason heroin abusers aren't very productive (and, imo, heroin isn't the most pleasurable existing drug) is because of the effects opiates have as depressants making them nod off etc.. The more control we achieve over brain stimulation the less likely wireheading will have the kind of side-effects which limit functioning. Now one might have a more subtle argument that suggests the ability of even a directly stimulated brain to feel pleasure will be limited and thus if we directly stimulate too much pleasure we will no longer have the appropriate rewards to incentivize work but it seems equally plausible that we will be able to seperate pleasure and motivation/effort and actually enhance our inclination to work while instilling great pleasure.

Where can I donate to support insect welfare?

I'm disappointed that the link about which invertebrates feel pain doesn't go into more detail on the potential distinction between merely learning from damage signals and the actual qualitative experience of pain. It is relatively easy to build a simple robot or write a software program that demonstrates reinforcement learning in the face of some kind of damage but we generally don't believe such programs truly have a qualitative experience of pain. Moreover, the fact that some stimuli are both unpleasant yet rewarding (e.g. encourage repetition) indicates these notions come apart.

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