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Comment by nonn on Cause Prioritization in Light of Inspirational Disasters · 2020-06-08T04:04:28.653Z · EA · GW

I think that depends a lot on framing. E.g. if this is just a prediction of future events, it sounds less objectionable to other moral systems imo b/c it's not making any moral claims (perhaps some by implication, as this forum leans utilitarian)

In the case of making predictions, I'd strongly bias to say things I think are true even if they end up being inconvenient, if they are action relevant (most controversial topics are not action relevant, so I think people should avoid them). But this might be important for how to weigh different risks against each other! Perhaps I'm decoupling too much tho

Aside: I don't necessarily think the post's claim is true, because I think certain other things are made worse by events like this which contributes to long-run xrisk. I'm very uncertain tho, so seems worth thinking about, though maybe not in a semi-public forum

Comment by nonn on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-22T20:12:02.312Z · EA · GW

Agree, tried to add more clarification below. I'll try to avoid this going forward, maybe unsuccessfully.

Tbh, I mean a bit of both definitions (Will's views are quite surprising to me, which is why I want to know more), but mostly the former (i.e. stating it's close to 0% or 100%).

Comment by nonn on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-22T19:56:27.882Z · EA · GW
I sometimes find the terminology of "no x-risk", "going well" etc.

Agree on "going well" being under-defined. I was mostly using that for brevity, but probably more confusion than it's worth. A definition I might use is "preserves the probability of getting to the best possible futures", or even better if it increases that probability. Mainly because from an EA perspective (even if people are around) if we've locked in a substantially suboptimal moral situation, we've effectively lost most possible value - which I'd call x-risk.

The main point was fairly object-level - Will's beliefs imply it's near 1% likelihood of AGI in 100 years, or near 99% likelihood of it "not reducing the probability of the best possible futures", or some combination like <10% likelihood of AGI in 100 years AND even if we get it, >90% likelihood of it not negatively influencing the probability of the best possible futures. Any of these sound somewhat implausible to me, so I'm curious for the intuition behind whichever one Will believes.


I think it's a mistake to approach these questions with a 50-50 prior. Instead, we should consider the base rate for "events that are at least as transformative as the industrial revolution

Def agree. Things-like-this shouldn't be approached with a 50-50 prior - throw me in another century & I think <5% likelihood of AGI, the Industrial Revolution, etc is very reasonable on priors. I just think that probability can shift relatively quickly in response to observations. For the industrial revolution, that might be when you've already had the agricultural revolution (so a smallish fraction of the population can grow enough food for everyone), you get engines working well & relatively affordably, you have large-scale political stability for a while s.t. you can interact peacefully with millions of other people, you have proto-capitalism where you can produce/sell things & reasonably expect to make money doing so, etc. At that point, from an inside view, it feels like "we can use machines & spare labor to produce a lot more stuff per person, and we can make lots of money off producing a lot of stuff, so people will start doing that more" is a reasonable position. So those would shift me from single digits or less, to at least >20% on the industrial revolution in that century, probably more but discounting for hindsight bias. (I don't know if this is a useful comparison, just using since you mentioned & does seem similar in some ways where base rate is low, but it did eventually happen).

For AI, these seem relevant: when you have a plausible physical substrate, have better predictive models for what the brain does (connectionism & refinements seem plausible & have been fairly successful over the last few decades despite being unpopular initially), start to see how comparably long-evolved mechanisms work & duplicate some of them, reach super-human performance on some tasks historically considered hard/ requiring great intelligence, have physical substrate reaching scales that seem comparable to the brain, etc.

In any case, these are getting a bit far from my original thought, which was just which of those situations w.r.t. AGI does Will believe & some intuition for why


And finally, in terms to my personal values, the top priority is to avoid risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks)

I'd usually want to modify my definition of "well" to "preserves the probability of getting to the best possible futures AND doesn't increase the probability of the worst possible futures", but that's a bit more verbose.




Comment by nonn on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-21T19:20:14.438Z · EA · GW

If you believe "<1% X", that implies ">99% ¬X", so you should believe that too. But if you think >99% ¬X seems too confident, then you should modus tollens and moderate your <1% X belief. When other people give e.g. 30% X, that only implies 70% ¬X, which seems more justifiable to me.

I use AGI as an example just because if it happens, it seems more obviously transformative & existential than biorisk, where it's harder to reason about whether people survive. And because Will's views seem to diverge quite strongly from average or median predictions in the ML community, not that I'd read all too much into that. Perhaps further, many people in the EA community believe there's good reason to think those predictions are too conservative if anything, and have arguments for significant probability of AGI in the next couple decades, let alone century.

Since Will's implied belief is >99% no xrisk this century, this either means AGI won't happen, or that it has a very high probability of going well (getting or preserving most of the possible value in the future, which seems the most useful definition of existential for EA purposes). That's at first glance of course, so not wanting the whole book, just want an intuition for how you seem to get such high confidence ¬X, especially when it seems to me there's some plausible evidence for X.

Comment by nonn on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-21T05:56:47.332Z · EA · GW

This is just a first impression, but I'm curious about what seems a crucial point - that your beliefs seem to imply extremely high confidence of either general AI not happening this century, or that AGI will go 'well' by default. I'm very curious to see what guides your intuition there, or if there's some other way that first-pass impression is wrong.

I'm curious about similar arguments that apply to bio & other plausible x-risks too, given what's implied by low x-risk credence

Comment by nonn on Why I prioritize moral circle expansion over artificial intelligence alignment · 2018-02-23T20:36:18.162Z · EA · GW

I think there’s a significant[8] chance that the moral circle will fail to expand to reach all sentient beings, such as artificial/small/weird minds (e.g. a sophisticated computer program used to mine asteroids, but one that doesn’t have the normal features of sentient minds like facial expressions). In other words, I think there’s a significant chance that powerful beings in the far future will have low willingness to pay for the welfare of many of the small/weird minds in the future.[9]

I think it’s likely that the powerful beings in the far future (analogous to humans as the powerful beings on Earth in 2018) will use large numbers of less powerful sentient beings

So I'm curious for your thoughts. I see this concern about "incidental suffering of worker-agents" stated frequently, which may be likely in many future scenarios. However, it doesn't seem to be a crucial consideration, specifically because I care about small/weird minds with non-complex experiences (your first consideration).

Caring about small minds seems to imply that "Opportunity Cost/Lost Risks" are the dominate consideration - if small minds have moral value comparable to large minds, then the largest-EV risk is not optimizing for small minds and wasting resources thrown at large minds with complex/expensive experiences (or thrown at something even less efficient, like biological beings, any non-total-consequentialist view, etc). This would you lose you many orders of magnitude of optimized happiness, and this loss would be worse than the other scenarios' aggregate incidental suffering. Even if this inefficient moral position merely reduced optimized happiness by 10% - far less than an order of magnitude - this would dominate incidental suffering, even if the incidental suffering scenarios were significantly more probable. And even if you very heavily weight suffering compared to happiness, my math still suggests this conclusion survives by a significant margin).

Also note that Moral Circle Expansion is relevant conditional on solving the alignment problem, so we're in the set of worlds where the alignment problem was actually solved in some way (humanity's values are somewhat intact). So, the risk is that whatever-we're-optimizing-the-future-for is far less efficient than ideal hedonium could have been, because we're wasting it on complex minds, experiences that require lots of material input, or other not-efficiently-value-creating things. "Oh, what might have been", etc. Note this still says values spreading might be very important, but I think this version has a slightly different flavor that implies somewhat different actions. Thoughts?