All of WhySpace's Comments + Replies

Intuition Jousting: What It Is And Why It Should Stop

A method I've found useful for generating lots of ideas is to assume that reductio ad absurdum is not valid. This might be useful here too, for slightly different reasons.

EA should invest more in exploration

I really like this. In fact, I would take it a step further. I believe we should expand the multi-armed bandit model to cover exploring areas like:

  • Philosophy, particularly ethics. It would be nice to know whether Hedonic or Preference utilitarianism is correct without having to compute all of our Coherent Extrapolated Volition. Perhaps a few people doing such narrow, targeted research could make headway in our lifetimes with university funding rather than EA money. This seems likely to make a large impact in what EAs fund for generations to come.

  • Neuros

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0RomeoStevens5yPoor matching of employees/employers in impoverished countries seems particularly neglected, tractable, and scalable.
Lunar Colony

No, but maybe a Mars colony.

The moon has a couple issues:

  1. Resources. In Situ Resource Utilization is necessary for any colony of any size. (It could also dramatically reduces transportation costs for a smaller colony.) Unfortunately, "magnificent desolation" sums it up pretty well. Yes, you can make lunar concrete, any yes, they found ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the loner poles, and yes, there is silica in the sand, just like all sand on earth. But, that's about it. I'm all for unmanned mining, but humans would be putting the cart

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Principia Qualia: blueprint for a new cause area, consciousness research with an eye toward ethics and x-risk

I finally got over the trivial inconvenience of creating an account just to upvote this.

This sort of thing seems like precisely the right approach from an explore/exploit (multi-armed bandit) perspective. In fact, while most criticism of EA seems to center around the "effective" part, it seems like the "altruism" part may be the weaker target. (What if the specific subset of goals EAs look to maximize aren't what we'd endorse upon reflection?)

So, this sort of research could lead to entirely new branches of EA, which wouldn't exist count... (read more)

2MikeJohnson5yThank you! I'd certainly like to encourage more work in this space, as long as we can approach it with rigor. Traditionally, both consciousness research and ethics research have been black holes-- smart people go in, but nothing comes out. But I think that's changing, as a few paths to systematically approach these topics open up. But by default, these paths won't get taken, because there are no institutions pushing them. Re: preference-based ethics vs qualia-based ethics, here's a piece by Andres Gomez Emilsson that makes the case that although we think we're optimizing preferences, often we're actually optimizing qualia: []