Reading Multiagent Models of Mind and considering the moral patienthood of different cognitive processes:
A trolly is headed toward an healthy individual lying carelessly on the track. You are next to a lever, and can switch the trolly to a second track, but on that track there is an individual with a split brain. What do you do?
I shared some prelimenary thoughts to influencing the governence of yearly off-earth civilizations.
I remember a brief search of existing literature focused on the governance perspective, but did not find anything.
This review by Nick Beckstead tries to clarify whether we will ever colonize space.
TIL WIP = Work In Progress.
Upvoted because I like format of collecting sources of critique and splitting them by topic. This post seems conducive to the discussion on the topic.
Some near-EA newsletters:
The EuropeanAI newsletter with subscription here. Each post it targets one European country with it’s AI strategy.
Gwern.net has a newsletter with some of Gwern’s writing and other curated materials.
Palladium Magazine “explores the future of governance and society through political theory, analysis, and investigative journalism”.
The Good Food Institute also has a nice newsletter
RationalNewsletter—“Weekly recap of the best articles from the rationalist community of LessWrong, Slate Star Codex, Ribbonfarm and more”.
80k also has a newsletter, but for some reason I was not subscribed to. Fixed :)
An operating system that should work from scrap materials in the case of civilizational collapse. Very interesting.
It turns out that there is an active subreddit on civilizational collapse r/collapse. It seems that WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIEEE!
Five months later, do you see increased attention with EAs on this cause area?
Some efforts to improve scientific research:
https://www.replicationmarkets.com—A prediction market for the replicability of studies.
https://www.darpa.mil/program/systematizing-confidence-in-open-research-and-evidence—A DARPA project with the goal of giving a confidence level to results in social and behavioural studies.
Createquity was an initiative to help make the world a better place by better understanding the arts.
In 2013 they had an interesting blog post on what EA means about the importance of their work.
In the recent 80k podcast, Vitalik and Rob talked about how future de-urbanisation might lead to lower risk of catastrophe from nuclear explosions and biohazards.
This seems like a very interesting argument to lower the importance of biorisk reduction work. It seems plausible that in 20 years, advances in communication technologies would allow people to easily work remotely, advances in energy (say, solar) can allow people to live outside of the grid, advances in additive manufacturing (3d printing) and in agriculture can perhaps allow small communities to live physically isolated from the rest of the world. Also, advances in self-driving deliveries can keep isolated communities “untouched” by other people (even though, food and other materials may be transferred). This isolation is likely to enhance resilience.
This all should be contrasted with trends such as increasing ease of traveling, general increased wealth, increased competition, automation leading to more people-centric jobs, more monopolization of the food industry. These may lead to perhaps greater urbanization (but note that it is not mutually exclusive).
Vitalik Buterin: Like in nuclear case, like I did the math once and if you spread out everyone equally across the entire earth’s surface then we say 7.6 billion people divided by 150 million square kilometers of land mass gives you 51 people per square kilometer and at that rate nuclear bombs become a less cost-efficient way of killing people than hiring samurais to run around with swords and like with bio as well, right? Like the thing has to spread somehow and there’s definitely the possibility of like second and third generation stuff that just spreads across the entire world through insects and it comes up with a way of getting around oceans and gets around other things, but…
Robert Wiblin: That’s a heavy lift.
Vitalik Buterin: Yeah, it’s like a big lift, but also just in general like us kind of moving away from sort of city based like a very high density living is definitely something that I think about sometimes. Like I can easily see technology leading to it one of these days. Sort of a partial move away away from that over the next century or so.
Robert Wiblin: Yeah, so it’s a very interesting proposal that I’ve never heard before. I guess it’s like something of an offensive strict zoning requirements. Maybe we’ll have to bring back zoning in order to prevent the bio apocalypse. I just worry that even if there was a huge risk of everyone dying this way, it would just be like too hard to coordinate people to like provide a sufficient incentive to get people to move away from cities because the economic rewards of agglomeration are so vast.
Vitalik Buterin: I mean people have a private incentive to move away from cities.
Robert Wiblin: Yeah. I guess… I guess it has to be that the risk has to be demonstrated. So I suppose like maybe you need a huge disaster and then we fix it this way.
Vitalik Buterin: There is like definitely going to be panic and supply chain disruption and like all of those things in the meantime. I mean unless it somehow comes in some like very small and orderly way.
Robert Wiblin: Yeah. Have you, have you presented this idea to, to anyone and kind of gotten any feedback on like whether this is, whether this is a like possible method of reducing existential risk in the long term?
Vitalik Buterin: Not in the context of reducing it existential risks but like, I mean I have kind of talked to people about kind of moderate de-organization in general and there’s definitely people that are bullish on it. Like they’re basically just because you know, telecommuting is getting better and better. Self driving cars could eventually turn into self driving helicopters and even just drone helicopters and like Uber Eats and using all of those things can easily make like living 45 kilometers away from a city center much more tolerable than it used to be. Another interesting thing is self driving buses as a medium density transportation solution. When I was at the radical exchange conference in Detroit, I talked to a guy from, from the Boston government about this and he was really bullish on them. So the interesting thing also with driving buses is that they are like first of all very low infrastructure.
Vitalik Buterin: Like you don’t have to build the tracks and all these other things. But also right now, 60% of the cost of a bus is the driver.
Robert Wiblin: Wow.
Vitalik Buterin: Yeah. So if you get rid of the driver, like suddenly becomes a way more affordable and also you keep, once you have no driver, then it becomes economical to split up the buses in half. So they’re twice as frequent. And then you can talk about dedicated lanes for them. You can also talk about like the IT infrastructures. So you hook them up to the traffic of lights, make sure they always get priority, and then we start thinking about buses being like almost as good as subways and then this becomes something you can roll out in like a city of pretty much any population level. So yeah. And that’s, there’s definitely, these are these sort of trends of different kinds that do make it seem like it’s possible. The kind of high density metropolis as like basically at its peak right now and will even start tapering off slightly.
Summary: academia has a lot of problems and it could work much better. However, these problems are not as catastrophic as an outside perspective would suggest. My (contrarian, I guess) intuition is that scientific progress in biology is not slowing down. Specific parts of academia that seem to be problematic: rigid, punishing for deviation, career progression; peer review; need to constantly fundraise for professors. Parts that seem to be less of a problem than I initially thought: short-termism; lack of funding for young scientists.
For me, a research organization that can set a global research agenda and direct the research, foster collaborations and give funding for the type of research that is underfunded in academia will be very helpful.
I see two different goals. One is coordination of researchers. The other is to have a safety net that allows to reduce the academic incentives to publish and to be more of a specialist.
Thanks for the summary. I have two takeaways:
1. EA is (in part) claiming that there are several ongoing moral catastrophes caused by inaction against global poverty, animal suffering, x-risk,… (some of them are definitely caused by action, but that does not matter as much on consequentialist grounds). Unknown ongoing moral catastrophes are cause-X.
2. The possibility of working to increase our capability to handle undiscovered ongoing moral catastrophe in the future as a major goal. The idea I saw here was to reserve resources, which is a very interesting argument to invest in economic growth.
From the onset I was expecting that in the last section you would ask for help from EAs with experience in design or advertising or something on that route. I guess that you have capable people on that front. Figured it is interesting to note that, regarding career paths in design.
And thank you for your amazing work :)
What is known about how these ideas were recieved?
For anyone interested, the Horizon Europe Survey took me about 40 minutes to complete but could have been faster. It seems like a place to raise important EA-aligned topics.
Not sure how impactful this is, but I assume that there won’t be too many replies. Anyway it was a chance for me to understand the Horizon Europe program better and my attitude toward many relevant topics.
The “Updates” page is actually at https://ought.org/blog (but is displayed as https://ought.org/updates ).
So that took 18 minutes… Spent a lot of time on making sure I’m not making important mistakes and to make it as readable as I could. Would it be valuable if it was even less readable and more likely to contain mistakes?