Vanessa

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What is the role of Bayesian ML for AI alignment/safety?

Quantified uncertainty might be fairly important for alignment, since there is a class of approaches that rely on confidence thresholds to avoid catastrophic errors (1, 2, 3). What might also be important is the ability to explicitly control your prior in order to encode assumptions such as those needed for value learning (but maybe there are ways to do it with other methods).

Effective Crypto | Future State

What is this "Effective Crypto"? (Google gave me nothing)

EA/Rationalist Safety Nets: Promising, but Arduous

Kudos for this post. One quibble I have is, in the beginning you write

Potential help includes:

  • Money
  • Good mental health support
  • Friends or helpers, for when things are tough
  • Insurance (broader than health insurance)

But later you focus almost exclusively on money. [Rest of the comment was edited out.]

Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

Points where I agree with the paper:

  • Utilitarianism is not any sort of objective truth, in many cases it is not even a good idea in practice (but in other cases it is).
  • The long-term future, while important, should not completely dominate decision making.
  • Slowing down progress is a valid approach to mitigating X-risk, at least in theory.

Points where I disagree with the paper:

  • The papers argues that "for others who value virtue, freedom, or equality, it is unclear why a long-term future without industrialisation is abhorrent". I think it is completely clear, given that in pre-industrial times most people lived in societies that were rather unfree and unequal (harder to say about "virtue" since different people would argue for very different conceptions of what virtue is). Moreover, although intellectuals argued for all sorts of positions (words are cheap, after all), few people are trying to return to pre-industrial life in practice. Finally, techno-utopian visions of the future are usually very pro-freedom and are entirely consistent with groups of people voluntarily choosing to live in primitivist communes or whatever.
  • If ideas are promoted by an "elitist" minority, that doesn't automatically imply anything bad. Other commenters have justly pointed out that many ideas that are widely accepted today (e.g. gender equality, religious freedom, expanding suffrage) were initially promoted by elitist minorities. In practice, X-risk is dominated by a minority since they are the people who care most X-risk. Nobody is silencing the voices of other people (maybe the authors would disagree, given their diatribe in this post, but I am skeptical).
  • "Democratization" is not always a good approach. Democratic decision processes are often dominated by tribal virtue-signaling (simulacrum levels 3/4), because from the perspective of every individual participant using their voice for signaling is much more impactful than using it for affecting the outcome (a sort of tragedy of the commons). I find that democracy is good for situations that are zero-sum-ish (dividing a pie), where abuse of power is a major concern, whereas for situation that are cooperative-ish (i.e. everyone's interests are aligned), it is much better to use meritocracy. That is, set up institutions that give more stage to good thinkers rather than giving an equal voice to everyone. X-risk seems much closer to the latter than to the former.
  • If some risk is more speculative, that doesn't mean we should necessarily allocate it less resources. "Speculativeness" is a property of the map, not the territory. A speculative risk can kill you just as well as a non-speculative risk. The allocation of resources should be driven by object-level discussion, not by a meta-level appeal to "speculativeness" or "consensus".
  • Because, unfortunately, we do not have consensus among experts about AI risk, talking about moratoria on AI seems impractical.  With time, we might be able to build such a consensus and then go for a moratorium, although it is also possible we don't have enough time for this.
  • This is a relatively minor point, but there is some tension between the authors calling for stopping the development of dangerous technology while also strongly rejecting the idea of government surveillance. Clearly, imposing a moratorium on research requires some infringement on personal freedoms. I understand the authors' argument as something like: early moratoria are better since they require less drastic measures. This is probably true but the tension should be acknowledged more.
The Unweaving of a Beautiful Thing

Yes, I did notice you're subverting the trope here, it was very well done :)

The Unweaving of a Beautiful Thing

I cried a lot, especially in the ending. Also really liked the concept of the witch doing all this for the sake of other/future people. And, wow, this part:

“There is beauty in the world and there is a horror,” she said, “and I would not a miss a second of the beauty and I will not close my eyes to the horror.”

Bravo!

Enabling more feedback

Kudos for the initiative! I think it makes sense to crosspost this to LessWrong.

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

Can you (or someone) write a TLDR of why "helping others" would turn off "progressives"?

Long-Term Future Fund: November 2020 grant recommendations

I am deeply touched and honored by this endorsement. I wish to thank the LTFF and all the donors who support the LTFF from the bottom of my heart, and promise you that I will do my utmost to justify your trust.

Should we think more about EA dating?

Personally I prefer websites since they seem to be more efficient in terms of time and travel distance. Especially in the COVID era, online is better. Although I guess it's possible to do an online speed-dating event.

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