Hi, I am Julian. I am studying Physics and Philosophy in Göttingn Germany, and co-running the EA group here.

Current Goal: Finding out, where my personal fit is best.

Achievements so far: I once Rick-rolled 3blue1brown, I don't think I´ll ever be able to connect to that success.

Wiki Contributions


How to explain AI risk/EA concepts to family and friends?

Relatable situation. For a short AI risk inroduction for moms, I think I would suggest Robert Miles´ Youtube Chanel

Saving Average Utilitarianism from Tarsney - Self-Indication Assumption cancels solipsistic swamping.

Very interesting point, I have not thought of this. 

I do think, however, that SIA, Utilitarianism, SSA, and Average Utilitarianism all kind of break down, once we have an infinite amount of people. I think people, like Bostrom, have thought about infinite ethics, but I have not read anything on that topic. 

Saving Average Utilitarianism from Tarsney - Self-Indication Assumption cancels solipsistic swamping.

I think you are correct, that there are RC-like problems that AU faces (like the ones you describe), but the original RC (For any population, leading happy lives, there is a bigger population leading nearly worth living lives, whose existence would be better) can be refuted. 

Saving Average Utilitarianism from Tarsney - Self-Indication Assumption cancels solipsistic swamping.

1. : elaborating on why I think Tarsney implicitly assumes SSA:

You are right, that Tarsney does not take any anthropic evidence into account. Therefore it might be more accurate to say, that he forgot about anthropics/does not think it is important. However it just so happens, that assuming the Self-Sampeling Assumption would not change his credence in solipsism at all. If you are a random person from all actual persons, you can not take your existence as evidence how many people exist. So by not taking anthropic reasoning into account, he gets the same result as if he assumed the Self-Sampeling Assumption.


2. Does't the Self-Indicaion Assumption say, that the universe is almost surely infinite?

Yes, that is the great weakness of the SIA. You are also completely correct, that we need some kind of more sophisticated mathematics if we want to take into account the possibility of infinite people. But also if we just consider the possibility if very many people existing, the SIA yields weird results. See for example Nick Bostroms thought experiment of the presumptuous philosopher (copy-pasted the text from here):

It is the year 2100 and physicists have narrowed down the search for a theory of  everything to only two remaining plausible candidate theories, T1 and T2 (using  considerations from super-duper symmetry). According to T1 the world is very,  very big but finite, and there are a total of a trillion trillion observers in  the cosmos. According to T2, the world is very, very, very big but finite, and  there are a trillion trillion trillion observers. The super-duper symmetry  considerations seem to be roughly indifferent between these two theories. The  physicists are planning on carrying out a simple experiment that will falsify  one of the theories. Enter the presumptuous philosopher: "Hey guys, it is  completely unnecessary for you to do the experiment, because I can already show  to you that T2 is about a trillion times more likely to be true than T1  (whereupon the philosopher runs the God’s Coin Toss thought experiment and  explains Model 3)!"

Saving Average Utilitarianism from Tarsney - Self-Indication Assumption cancels solipsistic swamping.

I think the way you put it makes sense, and if you put the number in, you get to the right conclusion. The way I think about this is slightly different, but (I think) equivalent:

Let  be the set of all possible Persons, and  the probability of them existing. The probability, that you are the person  is . Lets say some but not all possible people have red hair. She subset of possible people with red hair is  . Then the probability, that you have red hair is:

In my calculations in the post, the set of all possible people is the one solipsistic guy, and  people in the non-solipsistic universe. (with their probability of existence being  and  ). So the probability, that you are in a world, where solipsism is true, is .

Announcing "Naming What We Can"!

This comment totally made my day!

A parable of brightspots and blindspots

Hi, I am happy your parable finally made it on the forum.  Also: really nice Idea to also upload the audio of the main text. For me at least, this is awesome, as I much rather listen to things than read them.  Wild Idea: maybe more people could also narrate their posts, and we could have a tag that highlights audio-posts, so one could specifically look for them? 

Incompatibility of moral realism and time discounting

Thanks for that comment and your thoughts! I am unfortunately unfamiliar with the works of Hare, but it sounds interesting and I might have to read up on that. 

I totally agree with you, that there are statements to which we assign truth values, that depend on the frame of reference (like "Derek Parfit's cat is to my left", or the temporal ordering of spacelike separated events.) 

I would also not have a problem with a moral theory, that assigns 2 Utilons to an action in one frame of reference, and 3 Utilons in another. 

I do however believe that there are some statements that should not depend on the frame of reference. 

We have physical theories to predict the outcome of Measurements, so any sensible physical theory should predict the same outcome to any measurement, whichever frame of reference we use to describe it. 

We have moral theories to tell us what actions we should do, so any sensible moral theory should prescribe the same actions, whichever frame of reference we use to describe them. 

If you however do not have that requirement to a moral theory, I see that discounting realists would not have to change their views.

Incompatibility of moral realism and time discounting

Yes, good point. I agree that sufficient specification can make time discounting compatible with moral realism.  

One would have to specify an inertial system, from which to measure time. (That would be equivalent to specifying the language to English for example.) 

Then we would not have a logical contradiction anymore, which weakens my claim, but we would still have something I would find unplausible: An inertial system that is preferred by the correct moral theory, even though it is not preferred by the laws of physics. 

A Case Study in Newtonian Ethics--Kindly Advise

On a side note: I think this is beautifully written, and I would be happy, to read future posts from you. These personal glimpses in other people's struggle with EA concepts and values is something that I think might really be valuable to the community, and not many people have the talent to provide it.

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