Yudkowsky vs Trump: the nuclear showdown.

post by MrMind · 2016-11-11T11:30:22.339Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 171 comments

Contents

  Level B incompetence
  High variance
None
171 comments

Sorry for the slightly clickbait-y title.

Some commenters have expressed, in the last open thread, their disappointment that figureheads from or near the rationality sphere seemed to have lost their cool when it came to this US election: when they were supposed to be calm and level-headed, they instead campaigned as if Trump was going to be the Basilisk incarnated.

I've not followed many commenters, mainly Scott Alexander and Eliezer Yudkowsky, and they both endorsed Clinton. I'll try to explain what were their arguments, briefly but as faithfully as possible. I'd like to know if you consider them mindkilled and why.

Please notice: I would like this to be a comment on methodology, about if their arguments were sound given what they knew and believed. I most definitely do not want this to decay in a lamentation about the results, or insults to the obviously stupid side, etc.

Yudkowsky made two arguments against Trump: level B incompetence and high variance. Since the second is also more or less the same as Scott's, I'll just go with those.

Level B incompetence

Eliezer attended a pretty serious and wide diplomatic simulation game, that made him appreciate how difficult is to just maintain a global equilibrium between countries and avoid nuclear annihilation. He says that there are three level in politics:

- level 0, where everything that the media report and the politicians say is taken at face value: every drama is true, every problem is important and every cry of outrage deserves consideration;

- level A, where you understand that politics is as much about theatre and emotions as it is about policies: at this level players operate like in pro-wrestling, creating drama and conflict to steer the more gullible viewers towards the preferred direction; at this level cinicism is high and almost every conflict is a farce and probably staged.

But the bucket doesn't stop here. As the diplomacy simulation taught him, there's also:

- level B, where everything becomes serious and important again. At this level, people work very hard at maintaining the status quo (where outside you have mankind extinction), diplomatic relations and subtle international equilibria shield the world from much worse outcomes. Faux pas at this level in the past had resulted in wars, genocides and general widespread badness.

In August fifty Republican security advisors signed a letter condemning Trump for his position on foreign policy: these are, Yudkowsky warned us, exactly those level B player, and they are saying us that Trump is an ill advised choice.
Trump might be a fantastic level A player, but he is an incompetent level B player, and this might very well turn to disaster.

High variance

The second argument is a more general version of the first: if you look at a normal distribution, it's easy to mistake only two possibilities: you either can do worst than the average, or better. But in a three dimensional world, things are much more complicated. Status quo is fragile (see the first argument), surrounded not by an equal amount of things being good or being bad. Most substantial variations from the equilibrium are disasters, and if you put a high-variance candidate, someone whose main point is to subvert the status quo, in charge, then with overwhelming probability you're headed off to a cliff.
People who voted for Trump are unrealistically optimists, thinking that civilization is robust, the current state is bad and variations can definitely help with getting away from a state of bad equilibrium.

171 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by sarahconstantin · 2016-11-11T20:45:29.664Z · score: 17 (19 votes) · LW · GW

First of all, I think anecdotal evidence from personal experience with people IRL is always extraordinarily compelling. When, for instance, I go onsite with a client, or when I go to a workshop and do research with people, I feel that I've been vastly more productive per hour than I am when I'm on my own. The standard startup advice is always "talk to customers/users." Talking face to face with the people who do a thing has outsized power in teaching you about the thing.

On the other hand, some of this impression can be illusion. Social reality is strong. Being around people IRL might make you feel like you're learning a lot very fast, but it might just be fairy glamor. Eyewitness accounts are famously unreliable testimony in court.

Basically, how much is it right to update on "I met some people who actually worked on national security, and I tried doing national-security stuff with them, and believe me, it is very serious and very hard and Trump would fuck it up"? How valuable is Eliezer's eyewitness testimony?

I think eyewitness testimony is probably one of the important correctives to news and polls and opinion pieces -- data is better than analysis on the margin, especially if you have reason not to trust the analysis, and the analysis is based on limited data. That's one of my major updates. For all the flaws of eyewitness testimony, I think we need more of it, given the failures of other kinds of data in predicting the election result.

"I saw this thing. I tried to do this thing. It is very hard. You do not want to elect someone who can't do the thing." is a meaningful piece of evidence. If handling foreign policy is a "thinky" kind of activity that takes lots of care and self-restraint, and it seems like Eliezer's experience is enough to confirm that it is, then we do have evidence from Trump's lifelong career that he will be bad at that, given that he has a very short attention span and poor impulse control. It's still possible that he will butt out of anything too technical and leave it to experts.

"Wars are caused by lack of clarity on which boundaries will be defended" sounds intuitively right, but I know little enough about military history to have really any opinion on that. If the President has a habit of shooting his mouth off, will that cause wars, or will people just stop believing the President? I'm genuinely uncertain.

Is Eliezer fucking up in a big way by being this anti-Trump? I put a little credence in "Trump is not unusually dangerous and a reasonable person should never have thought he was", but he is definitely weird and different and this is not a normal election. I don't buy "the world is in a business-as-usual state with no big trends" as a model to begin with. There are trends, there is "history", large changes do happen. So, no, I don't think Eliezer is fucking up in that sense.

Was it a mistake for him to have a loose, casual FB page with sloppier thinking than his more formal writing? Well, everyone on the internet has moved from more formal to sloppier forms of communication, and I think that is a bad move, and we should all be quite worried about that.

comment by waveman · 2016-11-13T23:38:41.157Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

he [Trump] is definitely weird

This reminds me of Paul Graham's essay about weird programming languages. Languages designed for people less smart than you seem dumb and powerless. Those designed for people smarter than you seem weird.

If someone seems weird I take that as a sign they may be playing a higher level game. (They may just be weird of course).

A lot of people think Trump is stupid and has low impulse control. Consider though that his uncle was a professor of physics and his sister was a judge. His father was too poor to go to college but showed every indication of being a very capable person. It seems unlikely he is over-endowed with low IQ genes.

How many people have strong opinions about Trump without much data to base that on? How many have read his books?

Read his account of how he worked his way around the bullyish teacher Theodore Dobias - a strategy that, if you believe it, required a lot of restraint and finesse.

comment by Viliam · 2016-11-14T10:48:51.956Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If someone seems weird I take that as a sign they may be playing a higher level game.

Just a reminder that "higher level", despite being a local applause light, doesn't necessarily imply "good".

For example, having BLM people interrupt Sanders' meetings was a higher level game by Clinton. Doesn't mean it was good for the voters, and it even failed to be good for her own victory (although the last part may not apply to some parallel Everett branches, maybe even the majority of them).

Similarly, Trump may also be playing a higher level game which will backfire; except that it will happen after the election. (The hypothetised WW3 scenario would be a most dramatic example; it will probably be something less dramatic.)

Going back meta: playing the game on a higher level doesn't imply you are not making mistakes, such as getting short-term gains along with greater long-term losses; it just means that you are doing it on a different level.

comment by waveman · 2016-11-20T03:18:26.697Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

doesn't necessarily imply "good".

Indeed. But that was not my point. I was arguing that Trump does not seem to be stupid.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-14T11:25:20.359Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How many people have strong opinions about Trump without much data to base that on? How many have read his books?

Ghostwritten books tell you little about the intelligence of a person. They just tell you that he's rich enough to afford a capable ghostwriter.

The Ghostwriter of the Art of the Deal wrote an article about what he learned writing the book for Trump: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all

a strategy that, if you believe it

That's like saying that if you believe Trump when he says that he's the person who respects woman the most, there's no reason to think he's a misogynist.

There's no reason to believe Trump when he tells tales about how great he is.

comment by waveman · 2016-11-20T03:17:35.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ghostwritten books

The latest one does not seem to have been ghost written.

Also the quality of the writing is only one thing you get from the books.

I notice that no-one seems to be claiming they have actually read his books.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-20T08:45:28.709Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also the quality of the writing is only one thing you get from the books.

I didn't even speak about the quality about the writing. A bigger problem than writing quality seems that you simply take the stories that Trump wants to have told about himself at face value.

The latest one does not seem to have been ghost written.

Could you make the case for why you believe it wasn't?

comment by WalterL · 2016-11-11T14:49:10.190Z · score: 17 (27 votes) · LW · GW

"People who voted for Trump are unrealistically optimists,"

I don't think that's really a fair charge.

Like, reading through Yudkowsky's stuff, his LW writings and HPMOR, there is the persistent sense that he is 2 guys.

One guy is like "Here are all of these things you need to think about to make sure that you are effective at getting your values implemented". I love that guy. Read his stuff. Big fan.

Other guy is like "Here are my values!" That guy...eh, not a fan. Reading him you get the idea that the whole "I am a superhero and I am killing God" stuff is not sarcastic.

It is the second guy who writes his facebook posts.

So when he is accusing us of not paying sufficient attention to the consequences of a Trump victory, I'm more inclined to say that we paid attention, but we don't value those consequences the way he does.

To spell it out: I don't share (and I don't think my side shares), Yudkowsky's fetish for saving every life. When he talks about malaria nets as the most effective way to save lives, I am nodding, but I am nodding along to the idea of finding the most effective way to get what you want done, done. Not at the idea that I've got a duty to preserve every pulse.

That belief, the idea that any beating heart means we have a responsibility to keep it that way, leads to the insane situations where the bad guys can basically take themselves hostage. It is silly.

The whole "most variations from the equilibria are disasters", only really works if you share my guy's mania about valuing the other team's welfare. In terms of America's interests, Trump is a much safer choice than Hillary. Given our invincible military, the only danger to us is a nuclear war (meaning Russia). Hillary -> Putin is a chilly, fraught relationship, with potential flashpoints in Crimea / Syria. Trump -> Putin is less likely to involve conflict. Putin will thug around his neighbors, Trump will (probably not) build a wall between us and Mexico.

I didn't reply to Yudkowsky's facebook post. I don't know him, and it wouldn't be my place. But he is making a typical leftist mistake, which is dismissing the right as a defective left.

You've seen it everywhere. The left can't grok the idea that the right values different things, and just can't stop proving that the left's means lead to the left's ends way better than the right's means lead to the left's ends. "What's the Matter With Kansas", if you want a perfect example. The Home School wars if you want it rubbed in your face.

Yes, electing Hillary Clinton would have been a better way to ensure world prosperity than electing Donald Trump would. That is not what we are trying to do. We want to ensure American prosperity. We'd like to replace our interventionist foreign policy with an isolationist one.

LW isn't a place to argue about politics, so I'm not going to go into why we have the values that we have here. I just want to point out that Yudkowsky is making the factual mistake of modeling us as being shitty at achieving his goals, when in truth we are canny at achieving our own.

comment by hg00 · 2016-11-11T18:32:51.352Z · score: 10 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a right winger and I totally disagree with this comment.

For me, conservatism is about willingness to face up to the hard facts about reality. I'm just as cosmopolitan in my values as liberals are--but I'm not naive about how to go about achieving them. My goal is to actually help people, not show all my friends how progressive I am.

In practice I think US stability is extremely important for the entire world. Which means I'm against giving impulsive people the nuclear codes, and I'm also against Hillary Clinton's "invade the world, invite the world" foreign policy.

Also: I don't like Yudkowsky, but I would like him and the people in his circle to take criticism seriously, so... could we maybe start spelling his name correctly? It ends in a y. (I think Yudkowsky himself is probably a lost cause, but there are a lot of smart, rational people in his thrall who should not be. And many of them will take the time to read and seriously evaluate critical arguments if they're well-presented.)

comment by WalterL · 2016-11-12T16:59:10.753Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry about misspelling his name. Egg on my face.

comment by onlytheseekerfinds · 2016-11-18T20:11:33.845Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

conservatism is about willingness to face up to the hard facts about reality

Which in particular?

comment by hg00 · 2016-11-19T22:19:31.878Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Lots of "politically incorrect" claims are true, and this matters for policy. E.g. for immigration.

comment by onlytheseekerfinds · 2016-11-22T23:20:36.441Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Very well - the reason I asked is because it seems to be not at all obvious with how accepting hard truths about race and immigration should be made to align with being

just as cosmopolitan in my values as liberals are

comment by hg00 · 2016-11-24T09:23:13.552Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, my current view is that long-term risks of high immigration outweigh near-term benefits.

comment by onlytheseekerfinds · 2016-11-24T18:45:59.206Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's puzzling that you've termed these risks "long term" when America is currently being rocked with race riots and Europe has an ongoing refugee crisis.

comment by hg00 · 2016-11-25T10:05:38.840Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, you could see the issues America is facing as being a long-term effect of importing slaves from Africa and liberalization of immigration laws in the 1960s. But racial tension is not the only thing I'm worried about.

comment by scarcegreengrass · 2016-11-11T19:25:15.564Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a left-libertarian and i mostly disagree with this comment, but i upvoted it because it's very clear and respectful.

I agree that politics discussions are better suited for other rationality-sphere sites, not LW.

comment by Viliam · 2016-11-14T12:07:59.481Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that politics discussions are better suited for other rationality-sphere sites, not LW.

As a bonus, those other sites may be free from sockpuppet accounts consistently downvoting one side of the debate.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-14T08:28:21.681Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

While I'm horrified by your values, I thank you for the clear exposition. And I think you made, although implicitly, an interesting point: outside of our stable equilibrium, things are a generally a net negative if you factor in the welfare of all humanity. But if you consider only US' well being, things might be a net positive.
This I believe is so far from Yudkowsky's set of values that it was impossible for him to envision.

LW isn't a place to argue about politics, so I'm not going to go into why we have the values that we have here.

Well, an easy guess would be that you believe the world to be a zero-sum game: if that's the case, then better have your team win big at the expense of everyone else than having everybody live on the scraps.

comment by Tyrin · 2016-11-22T17:07:58.275Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But if you consider only US' well being, things might be a net positive.

If actions can be traced down to cause a whole lot of suffering, then it might be less certain to get a net positive outcome (for example due to empathic people revolting against these actions or feelings of guilt harming education and innovation; exodus of professionals to metropolitan regions in Europe, Asia etc.).

comment by Artaxerxes · 2016-11-14T02:38:59.134Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Like, reading through Yudkowsky's stuff, his LW writings and HPMOR, there is the persistent sense that he is 2 guys.

One guy is like "Here are all of these things you need to think about to make sure that you are effective at getting your values implemented". I love that guy. Read his stuff. Big fan.

Other guy is like "Here are my values!" That guy...eh, not a fan. Reading him you get the idea that the whole "I am a superhero and I am killing God" stuff is not sarcastic.

It is the second guy who writes his facebook posts.

Yes, I agree with this sentiment and am relieved someone else communicated it so I didn't have to work out how to phrase it.

I don't share (and I don't think my side shares), Yudkowsky's fetish for saving every life. When he talks about malaria nets as the most effective way to save lives, I am nodding, but I am nodding along to the idea of finding the most effective way to get what you want done, done. Not at the idea that I've got a duty to preserve every pulse.

I don't think Yudkowsky think malaria nets are the best use of money anyway, even if they are in the short term the current clearest estimate as to where to put your money in in order to maximise lives saved. In that sense I don't think you disagree with him, he doesn't fetishize preserving pulses in the same way that you don't. Or at least, that's what I remember reading. First thing I could find corroborating that model of his viewpoint is his interview with Horgan.

There is a conceivable world where there is no intelligence explosion and no superintelligence. Or where, a related but logically distinct proposition, the tricks that machine learning experts will inevitably build up for controlling infrahuman AIs carry over pretty well to the human-equivalent and superhuman regime. Or where moral internalism is true and therefore all sufficiently advanced AIs are inevitably nice. In conceivable worlds like that, all the work and worry of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute comes to nothing and was never necessary in the first place, representing some lost number of mosquito nets that could otherwise have been bought by the Against Malaria Foundation.

There’s also a conceivable world where you work hard and fight malaria, where you work hard and keep the carbon emissions to not much worse than they are already (or use geoengineering to mitigate mistakes already made). And then it ends up making no difference because your civilization failed to solve the AI alignment problem, and all the children you saved with those malaria nets grew up only to be killed by nanomachines in their sleep. (Vivid detail warning! I don’t actually know what the final hours will be like and whether nanomachines will be involved. But if we’re happy to visualize what it’s like to put a mosquito net over a bed, and then we refuse to ever visualize in concrete detail what it’s like for our civilization to fail AI alignment, that can also lead us astray.)

I think that people who try to do thought-out philanthropy, e.g., Holden Karnofsky of Givewell, would unhesitatingly agree that these are both conceivable worlds we prefer not to enter. The question is just which of these two worlds is more probable as the one we should avoid. And again, the central principle of rationality is not to disbelieve in goblins because goblins are foolish and low-prestige, or to believe in goblins because they are exciting or beautiful. The central principle of rationality is to figure out which observational signs and logical validities can distinguish which of these two conceivable worlds is the metaphorical equivalent of believing in goblins.

I think it’s the first world that’s improbable and the second one that’s probable. I’m aware that in trying to convince people of that, I’m swimming uphill against a sense of eternal normality – the sense that this transient and temporary civilization of ours that has existed for only a few decades, that this species of ours that has existed for only an eyeblink of evolutionary and geological time, is all that makes sense and shall surely last forever. But given that I do think the first conceivable world is just a fond dream, it should be clear why I don’t think we should ignore a problem we’ll predictably have to panic about later. The mission of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is to do today that research which, 30 years from now, people will desperately wish had begun 30 years earlier.

Also, on this:

Yes, electing Hillary Clinton would have been a better way to ensure world prosperity than electing Donald Trump would. That is not what we are trying to do. We want to ensure American prosperity.

Especially here, I'm pretty sure Eliezer is more concerned about general civilisational collapse and other globally negative outcomes which he sees as non-trivially more likely with Trump as president. I don't think this is as much of a difference in values and specifically differences with regards to how much you each value each level of the concentric circles of the proximal groups around you. At the very least, I don't think he would agree that a Trump presidency would be likely to result in improved American prosperity over Clinton.

I just want to point out that Yudkowsky is making the factual mistake of modeling us as being shitty at achieving his goals, when in truth we are canny at achieving our own.

I think this is probably not what's going on, I honestly think Eliezer is being more big picture about this, in the sense that he is concerned more about increased probability of doomsday scenarios and other outcomes unambiguously bad for most human goals. That's the message I got from his facebook posts anyway.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-11-12T13:48:20.726Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One guy is like "Here are all of these things you need to think about to make sure that you are effective at getting your values implemented". I love that guy. Read his stuff. Big fan.

Other guy is like "Here are my values!" That guy...eh, not a fan. Reading him you get the idea that the whole "I am a superhero and I am killing God" stuff is not sarcastic.

It's almost like epistemic and instrumental rationality are two different things.....

comment by CronoDAS · 2016-11-11T21:29:33.926Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, the "I am a superhero and I am killing God" stuff, as you put it, isn't sarcastic. He really is trying to make saving every single living human mind he can his life's work...

comment by Bobertron · 2016-11-11T20:37:40.128Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand it you are criticizing Yudkowski's ideology. But MrMind wants to hear our opinion on whether or not Scott and Yudkowski's reasoning was sound, given their ideologies.

comment by WalterL · 2016-11-11T20:41:49.318Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not trying to criticize Yudkowki's ideology. It seems to be basically Sailor Moon's. I wish him the best, and will benefit vastly if it works out for him.

I'm saying that when he talks about the people who supported Trump, ("People who voted for Trump are unrealistically optimists,") he is making a factual error.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-11-12T13:54:47.216Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

His comment could be read as "people who voted for D. Trump and share my values are excessively optimistic about his chances of implementing them ". I think that's credible, given that he context was P. Thiel's support.

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-12T21:27:38.365Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The whole "most variations from the equilibria are disasters", only really works if you share my guy's mania about valuing the other team's welfare

You know , there was one other guy who wasn't preoccupied at all about the other team's welfare , that guy was John Von Neumann and were he able to have it his way he would have cold bloodedly killed 600 millions people between USSR and China in 1955 when US had B52s and thermonuclear bombs ironed out , while he could have used his intelligence and technical wisdom to deescalate tension with the ultimate goal of getting rid of nuclear weapons altogether . Irony of the ironies he died relatively young because of a cancer probably developed working on the bomb , exactly like his soviets counterparts...he'd have had more chances of surviving if american , soviet and chinese researchers would have been able to talk to each other and exchange informations on potential life saving treatments . Besides that I don't even mention the damage that wiping out 600 millions people would have done to the world's economy , the world would have been a very different place if Von Neumann succeeded in acting his personal version of the final solution

There is only one team and that's team humanity , the prostate cancer which kills a russian citizen is the same identical disease which would take your life if you're unlucky enough to develop one , so given that ever since we (almost) stopped killing each other over land we enjoyed a prosperity which has no precedent in the history of our specie and it is mostly correlated with the fact that there are more humans around to solve our common problems , so how about we keep it that way? Also how about we increase the number of humans around and we lift them from poverty so they'd be able to contribute to the economy and together find a solution to our common problems (energy crisis , diseases , aging , AI) ?

Also I agree with you that the "preserve every pulse" kind of thinking could lead to an impractical situation , but I also think that the correct approach for this issue is the "in medio stat virtus" approach being something like "If you create damages to society which are greater than your contribution to it for a continued period of e.g. 5 years" your life would not be worth preserving

the only danger to us is a nuclear war (meaning Russia)

Such danger only exists because Russian people are possibly even worse than americans at spotting con-artists and calling them out on their BS (europeans seems to be better than anyone else at doing this , maybe because they suffered so much in the past when they failed to do it) , so they praise and elevate Putin as a modern day czar because their life conditions sensibly improved with respect to the Yeltsin years , but they fail to see how much power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of their president who is able to casually steal 1 billion dollars from the State budget to build a private palace on the Black Sea . It is the support of Russian people which enables Putin to threaten the world with the apocalyptic scenario of a nuclear war , but as the Arab Spring proved such support is not destined to go on forever , dictators get only deposed when the people of that country collectively think that their lives would be better without him....if all the westerners who waste time every day watching Netflix or playing video games dedicated that time to talk with their Russian counterparts through the internet , provide them information which would not be otherwise available given the regime's propaganda and yes , even send them 0.5BTC whenever they can to show support and compassion a dictator like Putin would be deposed and hanged within 6 months , much to the relief of people living in adjacent countries (whose suffering you seem to ignore and perhaps more importantly role in the world's economy you seem to ignore) and the rest of the world

Given our invincible military

This honestly seems a phrase straight off a propaganda poster , are you even aware of the costs in terms of brainpower and capital which are wasted every year on the military? Think of what could be accomplished if such resources were redirected towards research and basic research ( AI , FAI , WBE , nuclear fusion , brain understanding , consciousness understanding..)

To spell it out: I don't share (and I don't think my side shares), Yudkowski's fetish for saving every life. When he talks about malaria nets as the most effective way to save lives, I am nodding, but I am nodding along to the idea of finding the most effective way to get what you want done, done. Not at the idea that I've got a duty to preserve every pulse.

So are you seriously claiming that you can't see the correlation between number of humans alive on the Earth and average quality of life and progress achieved by our specie?

Putin will thug around his neighbors

Yeah right , because Putin putting his hands on the mineral rich and fertile soils of Ukraine is a totally desirable outcome for the world's economy

Yes, electing Hillary Clinton would have been a better way to ensure world prosperity than electing Donald Trump would. That is not what we are trying to do. We want to ensure American prosperity

And that , my friend is the line of thinking which caused the outbreak of every war in the history of our specie , also electing a guy who spent 5 millions dollars to have his bathroom completely gold plated seems the best way to ensure american prosperity /s , also you continuously mention Putin , Trump is the presidential candidate who resembles him the most , except for maybe one thing that would sure impress the donald the first time he'll meet him , Putin speaks a fluent english with a marked BBC accent , you could almost say that between the 2 , the Russian from St. Petersburg has the better words

Trump will (probably not) build a wall between us and Mexico

Mark my words he will , and he will channel public money through his companies in order to build it , he'll try to pull it off in the 2 years before the midterm elections...that would be something very Putinesque of him (see the similarities between the two are recurrent )

comment by WalterL · 2016-11-12T22:28:45.377Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just want to say I didn't downvote you man. It is actually really good for my argument that no sooner do I say:

"We want different things from Yudkowsky and he is wrong that we want the same things and are stupid", than someone shows up to say "Actually you just need me to contempt at you until you start wanting the same things as me."

Libs, this happens literally all the time. We can't go anywhere without the John Oliver / Ernestdezoe's of the world appearing to sneer at us. Do the experiment if you like. Make any conservative argument, in any context, and someone will be along to tell you that you are a nazi who wants to kill 600 million people.

These disdain elementals are not on your side. They lost you this election. They have never persuaded anyone, and they never will. Contempt is absolutely anti-persuasive.

I'm not going to engage with his arguments. I'll reiterate that this is lesswrong, and we don't talk politics here. Examine them for a few seconds with an open mind and you'll see how persuasive they are.

The point of my post was that Yudkowsky's model of his difficulties was flawed. He isn't playing Dance Dance Revolution with a drunken partner who can't help messing up. He is playing Street Fighter vs. a skilled opponent.

The point of this response is that the ernestdezoe school of persuasion is a loser, and should be forsaken. Don't be like this person, and you might change some minds.

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-12T22:46:01.479Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Make any conservative argument, in any context, and someone will be along to tell you that you are a nazi who wants to kill 600 million people.

You didn't make just any conservative argument , you clearly claimed that you don't care about other people (non american) welfare! It has been proved time and time again that throughout the history of our specie more humans alive and capable of contributing to the economy meant greater progress , improved quality of life , longer average lifespan...

Also this is not about politics , this can be discussed on LW , in fact we're discussing about x-risks , altruism , best paths for human prosperity and so forth

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-11T17:02:02.624Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

EY's central argument for level B incompetence was that Trump is creating ambiguity around which countries the US will defend against Russia, which could lead to war. Now, I agree that it would be wrong for a sitting president to create that ambiguity, but a presidential candidate has to ask those questions, otherwise the foreign policy can never change. As long as Trump arrives at a concrete policy over which countries the US will defend when he becomes president, I don't see that there is a problem.

I also don't see that the status quo is keeping the world all that safe, with a proxy war between the US and Russia in Syria.

Most substantial variations from the equilibrium are disasters, and if you put a high-variance candidate, someone whose main point is to subvert the status quo, in charge, then with overwhelming probability you're headed off to a cliff.

This is exactly the same as the argument for radical conservatism that the neoreactionaries make. Can you really believe that when the right challenges the status quo, priors are that they almost certainly wrong, but when progressives challenge the status quo they are almost certainly correct? This is extremely motivated reasoning and totally inconsistent.

And EY is all about finding the 'correct contrarians' and subverting the status quo on every other issue.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-11T18:42:28.595Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I also don't see that the status quo is keeping the world all that safe, with a proxy war between the US and Russia in Syria.

That's not the only argument. The fact that Trump suggested that it's fine that the Saudi's (and others) get nukes. That statement gave him no electoral advantage but he still made it.

Can you really believe that when the right challenges the status quo, priors are that they almost certainly wrong, but when progressives challenge the status quo they are almost certainly correct? This is extremely motivated reasoning and totally inconsistent.

I don't think that's the case. I doubt EY would have made the same arguments against Ron Paul.

The problem isn't that Trump is right but that he doesn't listen to experts, doesn't read and is a compulsive liar. Not the usual kind of lying that most politicians engage but also lying to the people around him. Trump got rich because he frequently didn't pay people what he owned them. The the campaign he suggested that he wants to do the same with US debt. It's bad moves that lead to bad foreign policy.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-11T20:10:46.342Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's not the only argument. The fact that Trump suggested that it's fine that the Saudi's (and others) get nukes. That statement gave him no electoral advantage but he still made it.

That is pretty disturbing. I wish people would lead with 'Trump is ok with nuclear proliferation' rather than 'Trump is basically Hitler'.

I don't think that's the case. I doubt EY would have made the same arguments against Ron Paul.

Back to the problem that 'right/left' is too simplistic. Perhaps I should have said libertarians/progressives vs authoritarians/conservatives, but since neither candidate is libertarian I was not thinking in those terms.

Trump got rich because he frequently didn't pay people what he owned them. The the campaign he suggested that he wants to do the same with US debt.

I recall that there is an (as yet unresolved?) court case about him failing to pay people, but to say that this is the main cause of his wealth sounds like a stretch. Increasing the national debt is also worrying, but (a) Hillary's economic policies she would presumably raise the debt too albeit to a lesser extent, and (b) we've now moved off talking about nuclear war, at least directly

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-12T11:32:57.501Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The problem isn't just the call for uncertainty around defending NATO countries or saying that it's okay that the Saudi's get nukes. It's that the reason he makes those bad calls is that he lacks the skills to be a good B-player.

EY then references how various right wing national security officials think Trump is dangerous for those reasons.

For any individual call you can make the argument that the call is unlikely to cause WW3 but a person who consistently makes bad calls like that because he doesn't listen to experts and has a low attention span is likely to make a lot of bad judgement calls once in office that in turn create problems.


There's a lot more than just a court case. You are off by more than an order in magnitude on the amount of court cases. In many cases a person who sues was also looking at paying more in legal costs than the case is worth and Trump had lawyers who dragged out cases for years.

It got so far that contractors in Atlantic City institute what the called a "Trump tax" that meant charging Trump more because they didn't expect him to pay his full bills: http://europe.newsweek.com/quora-question-does-donald-trump-refuse-workers-pay-508992?rm=eu

The issue here isn't raising the debt but saying on the campaign trial that he plans to default on US debt. When a president speaks about their willingness to default on debt that creates a reason for rating agencies to downgrade US debt when means that the US has to pay more interest for their debt.

I don't think it's a different topic from nuclear war. If the US doesn't do what it promised to other countries the way Trump doesn't payed his contractors that can lead to international tension and that tension can lead to war.

A key quote from another article:

Mr. Trump pushed the approach beyond construction and into day-to-day casino operations, said Jack O’Donnell, president of Mr. Trump’s Plaza casino in Atlantic City in the late 1980s. “Part of how he did business as a philosophy was to negotiate the best price he could. And then when it came time to pay the bills,” he said, Mr. Trump would say that “ ‘I’m going to pay you but I’m going to pay you 75% of what we agreed to.

In our business it’s very difficult to operate that way. You’re dealing with people on an ongoing basis. Every time you order with them you can’t screw them because they won’t be your suppliers anymore,” Mr. O’Donnell said. Executives at the casino paid vendors fully despite Mr. Trump’s directives, he said, and “it used to infuriate him.”

Trump got angry with his employees upholding contracts about paying contractors.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-12T17:15:37.545Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not denying that Trump does not seem like the best choice (out of the entire US population) for geopolitics. I'll concede that point. But look at Hillary - doesn't she want to impose a no-fly zone over Syria? Threaten to shoot down Russian planes? Why? This isn't the cold war, where maybe we had to draw a line in the sand. If the Russians want to have greater influence over Syria, let them.

Maybe there is another level to this that I don't understand because I am not an expert in geopolitics, but I would have thought it wiser to not restart the cold war, let Russia have influence over some nearby countries, and present a united front against radical Islam.

As for the economics arguments, to be frank I attach little weight to what the media says given how biased they've been. Lets look at the markets, where people actually put their money on the line. The USD is up against the Euro and the Yen. The sp500 is up 1%. I see no reason for the US to worry about economics.

Finally, Trump will have advisers. And even if he does appear a little unstable, well, there are some games (like chicken) where someone that appears to be a little crazy will beat a calm rational person running causal decision theory every time.

comment by Viliam · 2016-11-14T12:01:37.792Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

present a united front against radical Islam.

It would be nice to see USA turning against Saudi Arabia, and Russia against Kadyrov and Assad. I wouldn't bet my money on such outcome, though. Would you?

let Russia have influence over some nearby countries

Okay, here is the part where I would be much more comfortable betting my money.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-14T21:05:14.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't bet my money on such outcome, though. Would you?

Not soon. Maybe later, as solar takes over from oil. But maybe we can move in that direction.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-13T12:56:54.134Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's not good for the Yen when the US wants to introduce trade tariffs. It's also not good for the Euro.

With the stock market it's also not clear to interpret the message. Normally risky times mean that traders sell stocks and buy treasury bonds. Given that Trump suggested he might partly default on US debt, that's not a safe move.

Many stocks did rise because of the prospect of their industries getting deregulated. The reduction of the corporate tax rate would normally also be expected to produce a stock market rise.

The prospect of various US companies maybe being able to bring home to the US huge sums of cash that's currently overseas also has an effect on the macro.

But look at Hillary - doesn't she want to impose a no-fly zone over Syria? Threaten to shoot down Russian planes? Why? This isn't the cold war, where maybe we had to draw a line in the sand. If the Russians want to have greater influence over Syria, let them.

Finally, Trump will have advisers. And even if he does appear a little unstable, well, there are some games (like chicken) where someone that appears to be a little crazy will beat a calm rational person running causal decision theory every time.

But the role of the US president shouldn't be to beat other people but to create win-win situations. Trump isn't used to seeking win-win.

Trump will have advisers but that doesn't automatically mean that he listens to them.

Maybe there is another level to this that I don't understand because I am not an expert in geopolitics, but I would have thought it wiser to not restart the cold war, let Russia have influence over some nearby countries, and present a united front against radical Islam.

Policy wise I don't think Clinton's plan is good, but I think her moves are calculated.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-14T21:10:52.527Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's not good for the Yen when the US wants to introduce trade tariffs. It's also not good for the Euro.

With the stock market it's also not clear to interpret the message. Normally risky times mean that traders sell stocks and buy treasury bonds. Given that Trump suggested he might partly default on US debt, that's not a safe move.

Good point - I had not considered this. Still, I would assume that even if the dollar does not go down, there would still be some sort of sign of danger in the markets if there were possible economic problems. Maybe US stocks going down as money flows into overseas assets?

But the role of the US president shouldn't be to beat other people but to create win-win situations.

Ideally, yes, but the world is not some perfect utopia, and there are external threats that do need to be beaten.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-18T22:26:13.896Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe US stocks going down as money flows into overseas assets?

Quite a lot of money is going to flow into the US when there's a deal to allow companies like Apple to move their cash to the US and not pay the full taxes for it.

In general a trader who assumes that Trump engages into actions that are harmful for other countries also has no reason to move assets to other countries.

comment by morganism · 2016-11-11T21:47:44.033Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The history of war says. to be concerned..

"History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump"

https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/history-tells-us-what-will-happen-next-with-brexit-trump-a3fefd154714#.z3m3a3ilj

"But at the time people don’t realise they’re embarking on a route that will lead to a destruction period. They think they’re right, they’re cheered on by jeering angry mobs, their critics are mocked. This cycle, the one we saw for example from the Treaty of Versaille, to the rise of Hitler, to the Second World War, appears to be happening again. But as with before, most people cannot see it because:

  1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future

  2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally

  3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views"

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-11-12T13:11:52.957Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is exactly the same as the argument for radical conservatism that the neoreactionaries make

No, it's a particular case of that argument which is much more plausible than almost all the others, because the realistic outcomes are so much more impactive. Reactionaries would have it that tinkering with gender norms brings on the apocalypse, too,

comment by moridinamael · 2016-11-11T14:40:56.828Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

One flaw in this argument could be the assumption that "Clinton will maintain the Level B status quo" implicitly means "everything is fine now and therefor will continue to be fine for much the same reasons".

Eliezer views a Trump election as accepting a higher% risk of annihilation for essentially no reason. What if it's not no reason? What if all the Level B players are just wrong, irrationally buying into a status quo where we need to be engaging in brinksmanship with Russia and China and fighting ground battles in the Middle East in order to defend ourselves? You have to admit it's possible, right? "Smart people can converge en mass on a stupid conclusion" is practically a tenet of our community.

Hillary's campaign strategy has already shown this in principle. The obviously intelligent party elite all converged on a losing strategy, and repeatedly doubled down on it. It is reminiscent of our foreign policy.

Saying "we haven't had a nuclear exchange with Russia yet, therefor our foreign policy and diplomatic strategy is good" is an obvious fallacy. Maybe we've just been lucky. Shit, maybe we've been unlucky and we're having this conversation due to anthropic miracles.

The last countless elections have seen candidates running on "more humble foreign policy" and then changing their stance once in office. There a semi-joke that the new president is taken into a smoke filled room and told what is really going on. Maybe so, but in that case, we're putting a lot of unexamined faith in the assessments of the people in that smoke filled room.

None of this is so much my strongly held beliefs as my attempt to find flaw with the "nuclear blackmail" argument.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-11T18:44:13.919Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Saying "we haven't had a nuclear exchange with Russia yet, therefor our foreign policy and diplomatic strategy is good" is an obvious fallacy.

That's a strawman. EY isn't saying that our foreign policy is good.

comment by akvadrako · 2016-11-12T13:02:56.223Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The argument rests on that assumption, mostly clearly shown in the quote:

"People who voted for Trump are unrealistically optimists, thinking that civilization is robust, the current state is bad, ..."

If we are stuck in a locally optimal valley, then a high-variance candidate is more likely to push us out of it and into another valley. Whether that's a good idea depends on if our current state is overall good or bad.

Personally I think we should be taking more chances and trying to find a better equilibrium. That means occasionally rocking the boat, but if you never do it you're condemning yourself to stagnation.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-12T13:58:35.379Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Whether that's a good idea depends on if our current state is overall good or bad.

No, it depends on whether random changes to our current state are an improvement or aren't.

If you would make a change that requires all high level government burocrates to be superforcasters in their domains of expertise, it would likely be a huge improvement and you could speak of the resulting government as being good and the present one as bad.

That doesn't mean that randomly breaking things and creating change improves the bad current state.

A lot of possible changes lead to WW3 or otherwise end civilisation.

comment by akvadrako · 2016-11-26T14:11:45.061Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think you are missing the point. If I have a random variable between 0 and 10, than "random" changes will cause a regression to the mean. Thus, if the current state is bad, say 1, a many "random" changes are likely to be an improvement.

More simply, if our state is bad, we should take more risks.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-27T00:23:15.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The model of a scalar between 0 and 10 is bad because it doesn't show the high dimensional nature with many different scenario that real world society has.

We have a huge decline in violence in the post-WWII are. The mean of history has a lot more violence as Steven Pinker lays out in "The Better Angels of Our Nature".

comment by Bobertron · 2016-11-11T20:45:27.170Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

None of this is a much my strongly held beliefs as my attempt to find flaw with the "nuclear blackmail" argument.

I don't understand. Could you correct the grammar mistakes or rephrase that?

The way I understand the argument isn't that the status quo in the level B game is perfect. It isn't that Trump is a bad choice because his level B strategy is taking too much risk and therefore bad. I understand the argument as saying: "Trump doesn't even realize that there is a level B game going on and even when he finds out he will be unfit to play in that game".

comment by Artaxerxes · 2016-11-14T03:01:18.247Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a really good comment, and I would love to hear responses to objections of this flavour from Eliezer etc.

Saying "we haven't had a nuclear exchange with Russia yet, therefor our foreign policy and diplomatic strategy is good" is an obvious fallacy. Maybe we've just been lucky.

I mean it's less about whether or not it's good as much as it is trying to work out the likelihood of whether policies resulting from Trump's election are going to be worse. You can presuppose that current policies are awful and still think that Trump is likely to make things much worse.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2016-11-13T20:30:29.669Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The foreign policy issue is coming up a lot. Apparently some people are arguing that Hillary may have been just as dangerous but for different reasons. I don't think myself an expert, so I'm using the 'look at what experts think' heuristic, somewhat like Eliezer.

We all know about the open letter from Republican national security experts.

In a relatively highly upvoted comment, hg00 points out that Eliezer omitted a similar letter from 88 retired high-ranking military officers.

hg00 omits that Clinton received 95 endorsements from retired military leaders (later 110).

The Atlantic points out that Mitt Romney received 500 endorsements in 2012. So both lists of endorsements may be historically low.

An article in the Washington Post cites surveys conducted by the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project implying that most international relations experts (IR) positively regard Clinton's ability to conduct international relations, and that expert opinions are considerably less polarized than public opinion on each candidate's ability to conduct international relations:

This survey, the ninth in a series of snap polls conducted by the Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) Project, includes responses from 744 of the 4,078 IR scholars teaching and/or researching at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

[...]

Which candidate reflects the foreign policy views of IR scholars?

An overwhelming majority (82 percent) responded “Hillary Clinton” (see Figure 1, below). Just under 4 percent of the scholars surveyed said “Donald Trump,” while 14 percent chose to write in a third-party candidate, other national political figure, or some variation on “none of the above.”

We asked respondents to identify their own political leanings, and Figure 2 shows a similar preference order is apparent across the ideological spectrum. Clinton most closely reflects the foreign policy views of 90 and 84 percent of liberal and moderate respondents, respectively. Exactly half the conservative IR scholars in our poll prefer Clinton, while only 7 percent prefer Trump. Among no ideological subgroup does Trump come close to breaking out of third place.

[...]

IR scholars lean left, but this preference for Clinton over Trump likely reflects respondents’ expertise on foreign policy as much as their ideology. To illustrate this point, consider a recent Pew Research Center survey of the general public, which asks which candidate would do a better job on foreign policy. Among conservative members of the public, 54 percent prefer Trump to Clinton, but only 7 percent of conservative foreign policy experts prefer Trump. And while 23 percent of self-described moderate voters believe that Trump would be better on foreign policy, only 5 percent of moderate scholars agree.

[We] asked IR scholars how the election of Clinton or Trump would affect relations between the United States and its allies. Figure 3 shows that over 95 percent of scholars said Trump would have a negative effect on relations between the United States and NATO states, and 91 percent of scholars believe that the election of Donald Trump would cause NATO allies to doubt the U.S. commitment to the defense of Europe. By comparison, about 3 percent of scholars said Clinton would have a negative effect on relations between the United States and its NATO allies, and only 2 percent said her election would lead NATO allies to doubt the U.S. commitment.

[...]

Who will deal best with Russia?

On the campaign trail, Trump asked, “When you think about it, wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?” He has argued that the United States would be better off finding common ground with Russia and cooperating more effectively to defeat the Islamic State and negotiate a settlement in Ukraine.

IR scholars we surveyed are skeptical that Trump’s purported dealmaking skills would benefit the United States. Our respondents believe that any future deals between Russia and a Trump administration would be “less likely” to benefit the United States. Broadly speaking, scholars see the election of Hillary Clinton as a continuation of Obama’s foreign policy and thus expect “no effect” of a Clinton presidency (see Figure 4).

Willing to discuss this (maybe the surveys are less reliable than they appear?), but based on expert opinion, I believe that Clinton would have had better effects on our foreign policy. Given the outsized effects of the POTUS's foreign policy positions, I perceive Trump's election as an event with large negative expected value.

At the moment, I think EY could have looked into his objection a little more, and I also think it pans out in his favor anyway. For now at least.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-14T13:45:33.765Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

T̶o̶ ̶s̶u̶m̶m̶a̶r̶i̶z̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶a̶r̶g̶u̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶m̶a̶d̶e̶ ̶a̶g̶a̶i̶n̶s̶t̶ ̶Y̶u̶d̶k̶o̶w̶s̶k̶y̶'̶s̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶s̶o̶n̶i̶n̶g̶:̶ (see my comment below on why the strikethrough)

Here's a summary of the original counter arguments that commenters have brought against Yudkowsky :

1 - Hillary is not necessary a better B player than Trump
2 - existing level B players might deluding themselves that they are making a good job at maintaining the status quo
3 - the local optima might be surrounded by a valley of worse equilibrium, but only if you care about the wellbeing of the whole world equally: if you care only for America's interest, then other equilibria might be more beneficial
4 - Trump was actually testing the waters with his moves, when elected he is going to revert to a saner, albeit different, policy
5 - he is weighting personal experience regarding level B too much, possibly such a level don't exists or its importance isn't too high
6 - Trump's move wasn't bad: Yudkwosky didn't take into account the support of other intellectuals in the same sphere
7 - the letter of those condemning Trump weren't motivated by real preoccupation with Trump declarations but by political enmity

I'll group the answers thusly:

  • the letter was real but it didn't matter: 4, 6, 7
  • Clinton is not a better B player: 1
  • level B isn't real: 2, 5
  • outside equilibria are worse only for others: 3

Thank you to everybody.
This was a very productive and high quality discussion, to me a strong proof that LessWrong is far from dead.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2016-11-14T17:23:44.493Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted. Thank you for hosting.

6 - Trump's move wasn't bad: Yudkwosky didn't take into account the support of other intellectuals in the same sphere

Both user:hg00 and I argued that Eliezer stopped searching for expert opinions in a motivated way, but I concluded that relying on expert opinion, which ultimately appears to indicate that Trump will probably have more negative effects on our foreign policy than Clinton, was correct anyway. The OP specifies that the purpose of the discussion is to evaluate methodology, and remains silent on the evaluation of conclusions. I request that the summary you've written be edited to reflect this. (Removing the phrase 'Trump's move wasn't bad' seems sufficient to me; maybe explicitly mention motivated cognition?)

I also tentatively suggest appending the summary to the OP once you expect that you won't have to edit it again.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-15T08:29:08.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The OP specifies that the purpose of the discussion is to evaluate methodology, and remains silent on the evaluation of conclusions. I request that the summary you've written be edited to reflect this.

I realized just now that the summary could have been taken as "here's why Yudkowsky was wrong", while for me it has always been: "here's people thought about why Yudkowsky could be wrong".

It is intended purely as a summary, not an endorsement. I will retain point n° 6, but I'll edit to a more neutral first sentence.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-15T08:11:21.377Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'll write an ETA reflecting this.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T16:30:42.376Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Level B

The inversion of the usual ranking is weird. 'B' is usually worse than 'A' -- B list, B movies, plan B -- and here 'B' happens to be the supreme level of knowledge/operation...

Eliezer attended a pretty serious and wide diplomatic simulation game, that made him appreciate how difficult is to just maintain a global equilibrium between countries and avoid nuclear annihilation

Eliezer is being an idiot who forgot his own maxim to not rely on fictional evidence.

This was a game. Let me repeat this: game. I rather doubt its goals were to educate the players as to how the world really works. On the contrary, I would guess that the goals were to entertain the players and persuade them that the experts (=those running the game) are very valuable and indispensable people. It was a PR exercise and Eliezer fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

The whole point of the Level B concept seems to be "Keep us in power or really bad things will happen".

High variance

High variance is a good thing if you're sleepwalking off a cliff already.

Most substantial variations from the equilibrium are disasters

Most random variations are disasters. Aren't we lucky that most variations are not random?

This is an argument for stagnation and for never ever changing anything. Did EY become an old man already?

comment by username2 · 2016-11-15T22:40:31.172Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer is being an idiot who forgot his own maxim to not rely on fictional evidence. This was a game. Let me repeat this: game.

It was a simulation. Simulations can be incredibly powerful educational tools, when they reflect reality. These sorts of simulations are meant to reflect reality (in as much as is possible in a 4-hour window).

I rather doubt its goals were to educate the players as to how the world really works.

That is entirely the point of these simulations. I've been in them before, and helped construct a simulation once. The entire point of the exercise is to educate the players as to how the world really works. The designers, who themselves have relevant real world experience, spend a massive amount of time obsessing over this.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-16T15:48:45.800Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're doing content-free handwaving. "Can be", "meant to" -- sure, a lot of things are possible, but we're talking about EY suddenly gaining a formative insight into geopolitics on the basis of a 4-hour simulation. Conveniently, it matches his existing political bias. I wonder if playing a couple of Civ games should shape your view of history... :-/

The entire point of the exercise

Are you talking in general or about the specific scenario playthrough that EY participated in? How do you know what is the entire point of that exercise was?

comment by username2 · 2016-11-16T17:54:41.453Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What I was trying to do is to point out that you might not be understanding the situation correctly. I think you are getting hung up on the word "game." This is not a game in the sense of a video game, or even dungeons and dragons. Rather, it is standard practice within the national security apparatus to transfer knowledge by means of simulation of events, and that is what is being described here. This should not be surprising -- the realm of governance is that of human actions and responses in a world constrained by time and limited data. A typical mistake of someone "too smart for their own good" is to assume that they can just get better data, or think their way out of a situation, when the data itself is confused and possibly suspect and deep consideration carries with it the cost of inaction and giving your opponent more time. These sorts of simulations teach both how decision making occurs under time and resource pressures, and the various common failure modes. It is an educational exercise designed to draw accurate references from.

I wonder if playing a couple of Civ games should shape your view of history... :-/

Absolutely not, because Civ is not meant to accurately simulate historical decision making; it's a game meant for entertainment, not decision-theoretic education. Am I really failing to make this point?

Are you talking in general or about the specific scenario playthrough that EY participated in? How do you know what is the entire point of that exercise was?

In general because I'm not sure what specific exercise he went through. But as I did say, this is standard practice in the industry, and industry I have been involved in. EY says at the very beginning of the narrative that it was a "game" (read: simulation) constructed and run by national security insiders. That was the clue that he was talking about a training exercise and not some live action role playing nonsense.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-16T18:32:44.184Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

you might not be understanding the situation correctly

Sigh. It would simplify things if you were to assume I'm not stupid. I did explicitly mention "games/simulations/scenario playthroughs"...

I'm not getting hung up on the word "game". I'm getting hung up on it being not empirical reality.

standard practice within the national security apparatus to transfer knowledge

I don't think EY holds a security clearance which makes any simulations he's allowed to participate in... very incomplete. This still looks like a mostly PR exercise to me.

These sorts of simulations teach both how decision making occurs under time and resource pressures, and the various common failure modes.

I agree. Therefore you design the simulation to teach what you want the participants to learn. As I mentioned, accuracy is merely an instrumental goal. And if the participants are not actually people who would be expected to make such decisions, your goals might well be different from just transferring knowledge.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T01:18:47.440Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think EY holds a security clearance which makes any simulations he's allowed to participate in... very incomplete.

I don't know specifically that he has a clearance but there might be good reasons for him to have a clearance. The purposes of MIRI call for him being able to talk with people about classified AI projects.

Palantir has classified AI and Thiel is likely capable of making the necessary introductions.

comment by niceguyanon · 2016-11-14T18:13:39.049Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The inversion of the usual ranking is weird.

It is and it was a distraction in getting to the core argument, for me at least.

High variance is a good thing if you're sleepwalking off a cliff already.

In the range of possible ways to describe the status quo, from 0/100 to 100/100, sleepwalking off a cliff is oddly specific and on one end of an extreme assessment.

Isn't the main argument that for most cases high variance is bad?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T18:41:34.002Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

for most cases high variance is bad?

I have no idea. Which "most cases"? From whose point of view? There is no Law of Nature which states that high variance is bad.

Not to mention that for sufficiently fat-tailed distributions variance does not exist

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-15T08:07:41.029Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The inversion of the usual ranking is weird.

Sorry for that. But there could be a tower of meta-level, and if someone had invoked a level above level B, I wouldn't have known how to call it if it was named level A.

This was a game. Let me repeat this: game. I rather doubt its goals were to educate the players as to how the world really works.

On the other hand, one safe bet is that a game is always less complicated than the real thing is trying to simulate.
Without knowing the details, it's impossible to tell if the game was a sort of "big diplomacy game with ex diplomats just for fun" or a Dem publicity stunt. While possible, assuming it for certain is unwarranted.
Anyway, your argument would fall under the category: level B isn't real / doesn't matter.

Most random variations are disasters. Aren't we lucky that most variations are not random?

In the mind of Eliezer, as far as we know, he considers Trump pretty clueless (level B speaking), so that necessarily all his moves would be random.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T15:39:49.133Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

a game is always less complicated than the real thing is trying to simulate

I see no reason to believe that this game was trying to accurately simulate reality.

One notable difference is that in this game nothing was a stake. You launch your nukes, obliterate Moscow, get obliterated in return, and they all y'all go have a beer and discuss the whooshing sound that ICBMs make as they rise out of their silos.

he considers Trump pretty clueless (level B speaking), so that necessarily all his moves would be random.

Huh? Even under this assumption, since when clueless people behave randomly?

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-16T09:20:20.576Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see no reason to believe that this game was trying to accurately simulate reality.

Do you know something more about it that I don't? Because neither I know if it was trying to simulate reality, and I also have no idea if it wasn't, so it's 1/2.

One notable difference is that in this game nothing was a stake.

That is a general argument against any game, simulation or drill.

Huh? Even under this assumption, since when clueless people behave randomly?

Well, nothing is onthologically random, but from a Bayesian perspective, random is something about which you have no information. So if Trump has no information about the state space of international equlibria, from the point of view of the system his actions will be random.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-16T16:05:11.382Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you know something more about it that I don't?

No, but my prior is neutral -- I said "I have no reason to believe" otherwise. In general, I think that in most games/simulations/scenario playthroughs of this sort accurate simulation is merely an instrumental goal and the actual terminal goals vary.

That is a general argument against any game, simulation or drill.

Not so, you can play for stakes including high stakes.

So if Trump has no information about the state space of international equlibria, from the point of view of the system his actions will be random.

Don't think in black and white. Even assuming Trump is clueless, he has some information about geopolitics and will act according to his goals and information available to him which is not zero.

Let me point out some examples of random moves: sending troops to occupy New Guinea; imposing trade sanctions on Kiribati; signing a mutual defence treaty with Uruguay. Do you think any of this is likely?

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-17T08:08:21.108Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think any of this is likely?

You'll have to ask Eliezer, I'm afraid. But I understand where you're coming from, I guess neither Yudkowsky believed in such level of cluelessness.

comment by hg00 · 2016-11-11T22:01:46.242Z · score: 5 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Some of Yudkowsky's arguments were good, but he was still an embarrassment to the movement. If I recall correctly he posted maybe half a dozen Facebook statuses to the effect of "OMG Trump is THE WORST" before offering any sort of argument. Of course, this plays in to the idea that people who oppose Trump are bullies who care more about optics than substance.

And the evidence he offered us was filtered evidence. He mentioned that open letter, but he didn't mention this list of conservative intellectuals who endorse Trump or this list of generals.

comment by MetaPolitics · 2016-11-14T01:44:38.776Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Some of Yudkowsky's arguments were good, but he was still an embarrassment to the movement. If I recall correctly he posted maybe half a dozen Facebook statuses to the effect of "OMG Trump is THE WORST" before offering any sort of argument. Of course, this plays in to the idea that people who oppose Trump are bullies who care more about optics than substance.

This style of argument seems unproductive.

The concrete accusation against Yudkowsky is apparently that he made several posts which mentioned his position on Trump before making the posts which laid out the reasoning behind his position. If that is a vice, it seems like a minor one.

It's possible that there was something specific about Yudkowsky's posts which made them worse, but there are no details given here, nor links which might allow someone to see what exactly he wrote and form their own opinion. Just an uncharitable paraphrase "OMG Trump is THE WORST". Uncharitable paraphrases are a fuel of unproductive political discussions, since they make it easy for people to talk past each other, get caught up in their preferred storylines, and collect reasons for disliking the other side.

The loaded terms (e.g., "embarrassment", "bullies") also aren't helpful if the goal is to have a conversation where people who disagree about Trump can talk with each other productively. They also don't seem to fit the behavior described. Yudkowsky thought that one of the two major party candidates would be a bad President, and he shared that opinion on Facebook several times before giving his reasoning. What a ?bully?!

If something about his posts was bullying, then call him out on it and be clear about what the bullying consisted of. If they weren't bullying and you're just concerned that other people might mistakenly see them as bullying and think less of the rationality community because of it, then talk about them in a way that makes it clear that they were not bullying. "Of course, this plays in to the idea that people who oppose Trump are bullies" does neither.

comment by hg00 · 2016-11-14T07:42:27.232Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The concrete accusation against Yudkowsky is apparently that he made several posts which mentioned his position on Trump before making the posts which laid out the reasoning behind his position. If that is a vice, it seems like a minor one.

The way I remember it, he "mentioned his position" in a way that came across as mudslinging. It certainly did not seem like his goal was to "have a conversation where people who disagree about Trump can talk with each other productively". I think you're holding me to a higher standard than you're holding him.

But maybe you're right that I should have written my comment more carefully.

comment by waveman · 2016-11-13T23:43:15.880Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

And certainly no signs of the Charles Darwin 'steelman' strategy. Did not make the best possible case for Trump before making the opposite case.

Politics does make being rational very difficult. He certainly got that one right.

comment by Fyrius · 2017-03-01T11:36:34.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, this plays in to the idea that people who oppose Trump are bullies who care more about optics than substance.

These sources are very partisan and biased.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-14T17:23:45.480Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The election has made me consider one of the opening argument's for the neoreactionary movement a bit more seriously. I have doubts about the goodness of democracy.

Specifically, I don't think the average voter knows anything. About a third of voters can't identify the three branches of government and half don't know their state has two senators.. I've seen polls saying something like 40% of Republicans believe Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen. I know many people personally who sincerely believe he is a secret Muslim.

But policy governing 300+ million people in the ever-more-complex Universe we inhabit is super fucking complicated.

How can we trust the electorate to make these decisions? Why should we? How do they know anything relevant to the decision they are being asked to make when they vote? Why is there any reason to believe there will be a correlation between what the people will with their vote and what is actually good for the people?

I have no idea if Trump or Clinton (or Gary Johnson) is "best" for America's interests. I'm not even sure most Americans know what "best" means for them.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T18:31:24.407Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Specifically, I don't think the average voter knows anything.

cf. Winston Churchill: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

How can we trust the electorate to make these decisions?

You make an interesting distinction between "we" and "the electorate" X-D

Perhaps you should ask how could you trust yourself to make important decisions about your life.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-14T18:54:24.899Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps you should ask how could you trust yourself to make important decisions about your life.

Perhaps. And maybe I don't.

But then, even more so, I couldn't trust the average American voter to make a good decision about the complex issues facing the U.S. gov't.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T18:57:57.445Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I couldn't trust the average American voter to make a good decision about the complex issues facing the U.S. gov't.

And the average American voter doesn't make a decision about "the complex issues", he only makes a decision as to who will represent him (referendums aside).

As to who actually makes a decision about the complex issues, the usual answer is "the civil service bureaucrats".

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-14T19:01:10.345Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I couldn't trust the average American voter to make a good decision about who should make decisions about the complex issues facing the U.S. gov't.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T19:24:56.974Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well then, is there someone or someones you could trust to make such a decision? And what do you base your trust on?

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-14T22:37:09.313Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure. I'll have to give this more thought.

I guess my concerns in the immediate aftermath of this election are based on how much misinformation and ignorance are involved in the process. People know almost nothing about anything (or believe lots of things that are easily proven false), and yet they have strong opinions that inform their decision on who to vote for. And then they (basically) directly elect the President.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T15:34:52.397Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Keep in mind that all the empirical data on the basis of which we conclude that democracy is an okay political system comes from reality which includes stupid and ignorant electorates.

comment by Carinthium · 2016-11-15T23:10:51.135Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A good question to keep in mind is how much real power the electorate has, as opposed to entrenched bureaucrats or de facto oligarchies.

comment by Carinthium · 2016-11-14T22:13:20.411Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On a purely theoretical level (which is fun to talk about so I think worth talking about) I would like to see one of the high status and respected members of the rationalist movement (Yudowsky, Hanson etc) in power. They'd become corrupt eventually, but do a lot of good before they did.

On a practical level, our choices are the traditional establishment (which has shown its major flaws), backing Trump, or possibly some time in the future backing Sanders. Unless somebody here has a practical way to achieve something different, that's all we have.

(EDIT: For what it's worth, I base my trust on their works, somewhat on their theories on rationality, and the fact that reviewing ideas in far mode for so long has them "nailed" to policies. Without, say, an implacable Congress in their way, I think they'd do enough good to outweigh their inevitable corruption)

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-15T08:15:50.966Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Winston Churchill: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

But also:

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

by the same man :-)

comment by Viliam · 2016-11-15T09:06:06.802Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

I understand this to mean that it is better when the people in power use propaganda to convince at least a fraction of the population that they are the good guys, instead of simply using torture to keep everyone in line.

But of course there are people who prefer torture over hypocrisy. (Often they assume they would be among the torturers, and historically they often find out this assumption was wrong.)

comment by Gram_Stone · 2016-11-14T17:34:16.988Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think these are important points, but an important counterpoint is the subject of The American System and Misleading Labels:

How much of the benefit of living in a democracy is in the small influences that voters occasionally manage to exert on the political process? And how much of that benefit is from power-wielders being too scared to act like historical kings and slaughter you on a whim?

Arguably, the chief historical improvements in living conditions have not been from voters having the influence to pass legislation which (they think) will benefit them, but, rather, from power-wielders becoming scared of doing anything too horrible to voters. Maybe one retrodiction (I haven't checked) would be that if you looked at the history of England, you would find a smooth improvement in living conditions corresponding to a gradually more plausible threat of revolution, rather than a sharp jump following the introduction of an elected legislature.

This debate is the main reason that I'm fascinated by post-democratic ideas, but dial my skepticism up to 11 with regards to their real-world consequences.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-15T08:20:38.950Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea if Trump or Clinton (or Gary Johnson) is "best" for America's interests

But then, if you have a better knowledge than the average voter and still couldn't decide who is better, what difference does it make?
If more knowledge is not able to influence your opinion on who to vote, then no harm is done by ignorance. It even saves you time to do other things.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-15T15:14:12.217Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to be possible to win elections even if you are obviously not qualified to run the country. Trump ostensibly has some business chops, but I don't see any reason to believe who we elected would need to have any governing skill. This is, I suppose, my point.

For example, is it impossible to conceive that Beyonce or Ellen Degeneres could win the next election? Or Justin Bieber? Kim Kardashian?

I know it's cliche... but because of social media... and the fact we can all vote and it's easy to do, the system can be hacked. And then everyone will just kind of agree to the results and say, "Welp, that's the Sacred System. So we have to go by it. Drake is our new president."

There seems to be a skill set and set of circumstance (eg. celebrity and fame) that is useful for winning elections that is not necessarily correlated to being a president. And the system seems to be super hackable so that we get a leader that doesn't know how to do the job.

In other areas, people advanced based on their merit in a given field. There are "politics" involved, but there seems to be a glitch in the democratic system whereby someone could get elected based on some combination of name recognition, a sincere populist desire plus some faction of the population that just wants to see the world burn (like, apart from a genuine belief that a given candidate actually represents their interests, they take joy in the chaos upsetting the status quo for it's own sake. I.e. Trolls)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T15:53:14.138Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

the fact we can all vote and it's easy to do, the system can be hacked

Hacked? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Democracy is a beauty contest by design.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-15T16:44:02.466Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hacked? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Use whatever word you'd prefer. I meant the election could be overridden in ways those who came up with the format didn't intend.

Democracy is a beauty contest by design.

Tell me more. How do you mean?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T17:06:21.567Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I mean that democracy's basic point is that the masses elect whoever they like. They don't have to be rational and the candidate doesn't have to be competent. The will of the people is paramount and sanity is not a prerequisite.

Imposing various limitations on the freedom of stupid people to vote for whoever (such as e.g. literacy tests) is seen nowadays as undemocratic :-/

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-16T08:29:53.734Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Imposing various limitations on the freedom of stupid people to vote for whoever (such as e.g. literacy tests) is seen nowadays as undemocratic :-/

They are, by definition.

On the other side, you have the problem of imposing boundaries and the gaming of said boundaries. What you measure you get more. Exactly what you measure...

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-16T15:55:07.562Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They are, by definition.

That depends on the definition, doesn't it? I don't think that defining democracy is a trivial exercise.

What you measure you get more.

/me looks at voter turnout percentages. Is that so?

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-15T17:36:24.886Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I mean that democracy's basic point is that the masses elect whoever they like. They don't have to be rational and the candidate doesn't have to be competent. The will of the people is paramount and sanity is not a prerequisite.

Well, sure.

What I started out saying is that I don't think that is good, which was one of the opening points made by the neo-reactionaries, IIRC. The system is breakable so that a very harmful candidate could be elected.

Imposing various limitations on the freedom of stupid people to vote for whoever (such as e.g. literacy tests) is seen nowadays as undemocratic :-/

And perhaps it is. Some sort of filter to prove you are reasonably rational and informed seems like an idea that may have some good consequences.

Maybe it creates more problems than it solves. Tough to say. But 40% of Republicans voting and thinking Obama is a secret Muslim who isn't actually a citizen seems...off.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T18:09:51.444Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that is good ... The system is breakable

What exactly does this mean? The real world is messy and you are doing the nirvana fallacy bit. What kind of a political system do you think is NOT breakable?

Some sort of filter to prove you are reasonably rational and informed

The word you're looking for is "disenfrachisement" X-)

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-15T19:09:08.349Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly does this mean? The real world is messy and you are doing the nirvana fallacy bit. What kind of a political system do you think is NOT breakable?

I was just thinking this...perfect solution fallacy. I agree. I agree there isn't necessarily a perfect solution.

The voters' decision making process just seems to be getting exceedingly bad.

For example, a comment on reddit regarding The Denver Guardian

"The Denver Guardian reported on November 5th that an FBI agent investigating Hillary's emails was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide implying that it was a hit job by the Clintons. Except there was no murder-suicide. The Denver Guardian doesn't exist. This was the only article on their website. The story quoted Police Chief Pat Frederick of Walkerville, Maryland. He doesn't exist. Walkerville, Maryland doesn't exist. There's a Walkersville, but they don't have a police department. This fake article was shared on facebook more than 500,000 times."

This story was shared half a million times. (Btw, the only two people I talked with at length regarding the election this past weekend mentioned that the Clintons were "murderers"...)

I'm not under the illusion people have ever been hyper-rational in regard to politics, but with the "mainstream" media receiving a huge black eye in this election, it seems possible that this trend of the electorate being utterly bamboozled by obvious falsehoods may continue, or get worse.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T19:38:22.691Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The voters' decision making process just seems to be getting exceedingly bad.

Compared to what? and why do you think so? Speaking of "literally Hitler", the fascists in both Italy and Germany came to power democratically.

mentioned that the Clintons were "murderers"

That usually means Vince Foster.

comment by morganism · 2016-11-20T00:01:02.579Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/11/playtime-is-over.html

"Nearly four years ago I wrote about the Beige Dictatorship, and predicted:

Overall, the nature of the problem seems to be that our representative democratic institutions have been captured by meta-institutions that implement the iron law of oligarchy by systematically reducing the risk of change. They have done so by converging on a common set of policies that do not serve the public interest, but minimize the risk of the parties losing the corporate funding they require in order to achieve re-election. And in so doing, they have broken the "peaceful succession when enough people get pissed off" mechanism that prevents revolutions. If we're lucky, emergent radical parties will break the gridlock (here in the UK that would be the SNP in Scotland, possibly UKIP in England: in the USA it might be the new party that emerges if the rupture between the Republican realists like Karl Rove and the Tea Party radicals finally goes nuclear), but within a political generation (two election terms) it'll be back to oligarchy as usual."
comment by MrMind · 2016-11-16T08:36:45.547Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Speaking of "literally Hitler", the fascists in both Italy and Germany came to power democratically.

No, they didn't. They were elected democratically, but then sized power not granted by the democratic process through a combination of political assassinations, a sizable private militia and the ineptitude (or cooperation) of those who should have stopped them.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-16T15:55:59.768Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, they didn't. They were elected democratically, but then sized power not granted by the democratic process

Yes, they did. They came to power democratically and then used their position to grab more power.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-17T08:05:08.008Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No democratic position allows the creation of a private militia or grants political assassinations rights. They grabbed some power through elections, they grabbed some other power by force, they grabbed some other power by sheer assumption and others, too cowards to intervene, let them.

They were most emphatically not political hackers, weaseling their way through the democratic process and installing themselves through subtle laws editing. They rose to power mainly using violence, intimidating and killing those who opposed them.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-17T15:26:44.313Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No democratic position allows the creation of a private militia or grants political assassinations rights.

I don't know about that. I suspect it depends on the definition of "democratic position" and that historically there were interesting edge cases. Plus, of course, the democratic position of the President of the United States grants you assassination rights (colloquially known as "droning").

They were most emphatically not political hackers

Yes, I agree.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-15T20:52:34.705Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Compared to what? and why do you think so? Speaking of "literally Hitler", the fascists in both Italy and Germany came to power democratically.

It would be hard to measure objectively. I've not compared Trump to Hitler because, well, it's the internet. But the idea of a populist swell leading to a dangerous leader a la Hitler, yeah, it occurred to me. And I'm not sure saying 'America circa now isn't as bad as that' makes me feel any better. :)

That usually means Vince Foster.

Yeah. Or the email with "90 people close to the Clintons that have died mysteriously". I've received at least two different versions from three different people in the last couple months.

Or it could have been Benghazi.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T21:11:40.724Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But the idea of a populist swell leading to a dangerous leader a la Hitler, yeah, it occurred to me.

Like everything else democracy has its failure modes. Neoreactionaries think they are a big deal (though their list of the failure modes of democracy is probably different from yours).

It's not a new idea, of course: "When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism'" (New York Times, 1938)

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-15T21:22:48.088Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Like everything else democracy has its failure modes. Neoreactionaries think they are a big deal (though their list of the failure modes of democracy is probably different from yours).

What is the list of neo-reactionary failure modes for democracy?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T22:00:28.996Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm too lazy to compile one, maybe one of our local NRx people will provide :-/ Or you can go read Moldbug, Nick Land, and such. "Being gamed by demagogues" is probably in there and I'm sure some derivative of the word "cuck" will make an appearance.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-16T08:27:49.427Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Welp, that's the Sacred System. So we have to go by it. Drake is our new president."

Well, that's your revealed preference: you do know that Drake (or Trump) is worse for America's interests than Hillary or Johnson.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-16T15:14:23.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems reasonable to conclude there is something like a "Good at Being President" rating composed of some mix of appropriate skills.

It also seems there is a "Good at Winning Elections" rating that overlaps with the "Good at Being President" rating in some ways.

And then there is a "Good at Being Popular and Having a Large Online Following" rating because of the ever-growing internet, which may be starting to overlap more and more with the "Good at Winning Elections" rating, and which itself has less overlap with the "Good at Being President" rating.

So then an Instagram chick with XXX million followers becomes POTUS because voting is so simple and no one knows anything and fake news is everywhere so everyone thinks all the "insider" candidates are corrupt and murderers and this Instagram chick probably has some good ideas and isn't a shill to special interests...but said Instagram chick, by all reasonable accounts, has a very low "Good at Being President", despite her incredible "Good at Being Popular and Having a Large Online Following" rating that allowed her to be elected.

Like I said, Trump winning isn't inconceivable and ostensibly he has some POTUS skill rating. But how low a POTUS skill rating could we possibly elect if there is a crazy cynical, troll-ish, populist swell? If Instagram chick or Taylor Swift or Beyonce become president, do we just say, "Welp, the people have spoken! Yay, democracy!"

comment by waveman · 2016-11-13T23:49:33.852Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am half way through her book on her tenure as Secretary of State (Hard Choices) and I find her thinking just astonishingly pedestrian and unimaginative. Especially when she is trying to sound imaginative and creative.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T16:42:23.102Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's a funny thing about Hillary which her campaign tried to downplay as much as they could, but she has no accomplishments. The standard "what are your major achievements?" question stumps her. She's successful at playing power games and pretty much nothing else -- starting from the health care reform under Clinton, to her tenure at State Dept, and ending with her presidential bid.

comment by Sable · 2016-11-14T23:03:15.864Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1)

Unless I am much mistaken, the reason that no one has yet used Nuclear Weapons is Mutually Assured Destruction, the idea that there can be no victor in a nuclear war. MAD holds so long as the people in control of nuclear weapons have something to lose if everything gets destroyed, and Trump has grandchildren.

Grandchildren who would burn in nuclear fire if he ever started a nuclear war.

So I am in no way sympathetic to any argument that he's stupid enough to start one. He has far too much to lose.

2)

I believe that the sets of skills necessary to be a good president, and to be elected president, are two entirely separate things. They may be correlated, but I doubt they're correlated that highly; a popularity contest selects for popularity, after all.

So far, we have information on Trump's skill set as a businessman: immoral and unethical perhaps, but ultimately very successful.

And we have information on Trump's skill set as a Presidential Candidate: bombastic, brash, witty, politically incorrect and able to motivate large numbers of people to vote for him.

We have no information on what Trump will be like as President; that's the gamble. We can guess, but trends don't always continue, and I suspect, based on more recent data, that Trump has an inkling that now is not the time to do anything drastic.

3)

Aside from the usual LW topics concerning existential risk (i.e. AI, Climate Change, etc.), my biggest concern is Islam. Mutually Assured Destruction only works when those with the Nuclear Weapons have nothing to lose, and if someone with such weapons genuinely believes that they and their family will go to heaven for using them, then MAD no longer applies.

From what meager evidence I can gather, I believe that Trump lowers the chance of such a war breaking out compared to Clinton. We've had a chance to see what Clinton's foreign policy looks like, and so far as I can tell, it isn't lowering the risk of nuclear war. It's heightening it.

Assuming other existential risks would be equal under either administration (which is a very questionable assumption, granted, and I would be happy to discuss it), that makes Trump look at the very least no worse than Clinton when it comes to existential risk.

I'd also like to note that I've been told plenty of people thought that Ronald Reagan would start a nuclear war with Russia, and he did nothing of the sort. Granted, I wasn't around then, so it's second person information, but there you go.

4)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am sick of having to expend copious amount of mental energy trying to remain as rational as I can throughout this election cycle. I've been glad to see in this thread that we LW's do, in fact, put our money where our mouths are when it comes to trying to navigate, circumvent, or otherwise evade the Mindkiller.

If you disagree with anything I have to say, please respond - if my thinking is wrong, I want your help to make it better, to make it closer to correct.

comment by sohois · 2016-11-16T11:26:12.839Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On 1, whilst that should reduce your belief that Trump himself will fire nuclear weapons, it is a fairly weak argument for several reasons: first, many many people have had something to protect yet engaged in reckless behaviour anyway with no regard for others. It's on a much smaller scale than starting a nuclear apocalypse but we should still consider that family members are only a weak protection, especially if, as others have argued, Trump is highly impulsive. Further, it only holds if Trump really does value his family highly, higher than his own self image, and given that he is a massive narcissist I'd say that's not guaranteed by any means.

The second issue is that there are more ways for MAD to occur than simply Trump ordering an attack. A nuclear war could be started by other nations, and there is reason to believe that Trump leads to a higher probability of this. First of all, he has encouraged nuclear proliferation, which will simply increase the number of actors capable of an attack and thus inevitably increasing the probability. Secondly, many non-nuclear nations may be tempted to acquire some if they believe they are undefended, which again is something that Trump has stated. Perhaps Japan feels endangered by North Korea and starts their own weapons program as the US pulls out troops or some such. I believe Scott Alexander made a similar argument over at SSC, probably better worded than mine.

I have no disagreements on point 2, and no comment on 4.

Regarding 3, I think this is a false argument. The issue I have is that 'Islam' is not a nation state or even a physical construct , you cannot start a nuclear war with 'Islam'. Presumably when you refer to Islam you are talking of the danger of a terrorist group or possibly ISIS. However, its difficult to see any MAD situation with such groups - for one, it is extremely unlikely that they are ever able to acquire more than one weapon and thus they can't 'retaliate' further. In addition, if they were able to succeed with a nuclear attack, there would also be nothing for the US or others to retaliate against. You cannot launch a nuclear strike against Al-Qaeda, and though ISIS do have land to attack they are now so spread out that it simply wouldn't make sense to go with a nuclear option over conventional warfare (albeit this can change over time).

comment by Fyrius · 2017-03-01T11:57:32.924Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So far, we have information on Trump's skill set as a businessman: immoral and unethical perhaps, but ultimately very successful.

He's gone bankrupt six times.

comment by Carinthium · 2016-11-15T22:59:34.529Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Question. I admit I have a low EQ here, but I"m not sure if 4) is sarcasm or not. It would certainly make a lot of sense if "I've been glad to see in this thread that we LW's do, in fact, put our money where our mouths are when it comes to trying to navigate, circumvent, or otherwise evade the Mindkiller." were sarcasm.

I would have said we had information on 2), but I've made so many wrong predictions about Donald Trump privately that I think my private opinion has lost all credibility there. 1) makes sense.

I can see why you might be afraid of war breaking out with Russia, but why do you consider Islam a major threat? Maybe you don't and I'm misinterpreting you, but given how little damage terrorist attacks actually do isn't Islam a regional problem to which the West has a major overreaction problem?

comment by Sable · 2016-11-16T02:54:14.195Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was trying to be sincere with 4), although I admit that without tone of voice and body language, that's hard to communicate sometimes. And even if LW hasn't done as good a job as we could have with this topic, from what I've seen we've done far better than just about anyone not in the rationalist community at trying to remain rational.

Glad you agree with 1); when I first heard that argument (I didn't come up with it), I had a massive moment of "that seems realy obvious, now that someone said it."

With regards to 2), you're right that we do have information on Trump; I spoke without precision. What I mean is this: beliefs are informed by evidence, and we have little evidence, given the nature of the American election, of what a candidate will behave like when they aren't campaigning. I believe there's a history of president-elects moderating their stances once they take office, although I have no direct evidence to support myself there.

When it comes to Islam, I should begin by saying that I'm sure the vast majority of Muslims simply want to live a decent life, just like the rest of us. However, theirs is the only religion active today that currently endorses holy war.

Then observe that MAD only applies to people unwilling to sacrifice their children for their cause, and further observe that Islam, as an idea, a meme, a religion, has successfully been able to make people do exactly that.

An American wouldn't launch a nuke if it would kill their children, and Russian wouldn't either. But a jihadist? From what I understand (which is admittedly not much on this topic), a jihadist just might. At least, the jihadist has a much higher probability of choosing a nuclear war over a nationalist.

I agree that the West overreacts in terms of Terrorism, in the sense that any given person is more likely to die in a car accident than be killed by a terrorist, but I was referring to existential threats, a common topic on LW and one that Yudkowsky himself seems concerned with regarding this election. Car crashes don't threaten the existence of humanity; nuclear war does.

And because I can't see how either candidate would effect the likelihood of unfriendly AI, a meteor, a plague, or any of the other existential risks, nuclear war becomes the deciding vote in the "who's less likely to get us all killed" competition.

Admittedly, the risk of catastrophic climate change might be higher under Trump, but I've no evidence for that save the very standard left vs. right paradigm, which doesn't seem to apply all that well to Trump anyway.

Thank you for your response.

comment by knb · 2016-11-13T21:25:24.532Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yudkowsky showed laughable naivete (or he was just playing dark arts) by citing a bunch of "foreign policy experts" who were against Trump. They were against Trump because they were neocons who might have a spot in a Clinton administration but certainly not in Trump's. (People who describe themselves as "experts" implying impartiality should never be taken at face value--most of the times they are advocates rather than experts.)

Hillary Clinton's state department pushed the "Arab Spring" policies which turned the middle east and north Africa into a total slaughterhouse and caused hundreds of thousands of people to die and displaced millions, causing a huge increase in tensions and threatening EU integration. I don't really see why anyone would want to trust the "expertise" of the people responsible for this. Of course, Scott Alexander supported the Libya intervention (and moralized about it obnoxiously). Has he ever admitted he was wrong?

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2016-11-11T20:41:49.242Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Those both sound pretty valid to me. We don't know what we're getting with Trump, except that it would be astonishing if it was consistency and steadiness.

This sounds like really bad news on a 'level B', and I'm pretty sure that level is real.

Real life makes Dwarf Fortress look easy. Random actions lead to 'fun'.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-13T09:32:14.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To veer off topic: is there an analogous historical case to "uncontrolled third-world immigration" and if so what happened?

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-11-13T13:17:07.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How literally are we taking "uncontrolled"?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-14T12:00:49.230Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, given that his opponent has committed serious crimes, why shouldn't she be jailed? Or do you believe that ex-presidential candidates should be immune from prosecution?

Presidents shouldn't appoint special prosecutors for their political opponents. It's not their role to encourage the justice department to bring suits against political opponents.

Wait, I thought you were against nuclear proliferation.

The Iran deal that Obama did is good at preventing nuclear proliferation. Trying to stop the deal isn't good for nuclear proliferation.

The deal is not good at reducing Iran's influence in the region. It's disliked by the Salafi's and by Israel because they want Iran to be weak.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2016-11-12T00:14:44.893Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I blocked Eliezer for gossiping too much and doing everything he can via gossip to manufacture support for his views, such as saying he knew Peter Thiel and Thiel wans't going to support Trump, I support both but he did not correct himself afaik and I blocked him because of excessively propagandizing their own views he did it to take the edge off Mr.Thiels endorsement. Julia Galef is another one that cannot stop the excessive posturing fashion show.

The situation in Syria is too important you guys, nothing else matters if we bring that one home we get our prestige back, the rest of the world has to deal with Salafi support, Saudi Arabia backed HRC with a lot of money, HRC works favor to favors, Trump hates Salafi/Saudi's , next the oil price is lower than is good for Saudi Arabia so much that ARAMCO oil had to go public and sell of 10% of their shares, this was no doubt a very bitter moment for the House of Saud, anyways because the oil price is low this is the perfect time that everyone get's their vengeance for the mess that Saudi Arabia has generated, who is actually funding ISIS, but is also responsible for AQ and all other extremist islamic ideologies.

There's no other time that's better than now, shut up, we gotta do it.

  • I know he knows Peter Thiel he just didn't correct himself but used his privileged position to say he didn't to manufacture support for his own views
comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-12T16:53:37.410Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Trump hates Salafi/Saudi's ,

What makes you think that Trump hates the Saudi's? From what I have seen he decided against making a big deal about the fact that Hillary said in the Podesta emails that the Saudi's fund ISIS. Putting attention on the issue would have been good politics in the sense of raising his chances of getting elected. Not doing so, suggests that he doesn't want to alienate the Saudi's. If I missed news stories about Trump making that link, please provide links.

Trump suggested it's fine to protect Saudi's if they pay. The Saudi's do pay for the weapons that get send to them.

His comments about the Saudi's getting nukes are problematic. Someone who wants to oppose the Saudi's should consider it important that they don't have nukes.

The situation in Syria is too important you guys, nothing else matters if we bring that one home we get our prestige back

I don't think that the world would give a president Trump prestige even if he ends the Syrian war.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2016-11-13T06:04:34.430Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Salafi support will decrease tremendously no matter what you say, Syria is too important, it defeats all other concerns and is preeminent not only right now, but for history. Syria has greco-roman heritage too. Only white people would obscurantly try to say Trump is not a great candidate.

I don't think that the world would give a president Trump prestige even if he ends the Syrian war.

They gave some random ass president prestige for destroying 3 countries and accomplishing nothing significant. My race is the race of the anti-mohammeans, and such are my metaphysical biases, that will remain this way.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-13T08:21:21.547Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Salafi support will decrease tremendously no matter what you say, Syria is too important, it defeats all other concerns and is preeminent not only right now, but for history. Syria has greco-roman heritage too.

Salafi support in Syria might stop but that doesn't mean that the US doesn't still side in Yemen with the Salafi's. It doesn't mean that the US will stop the general Saudi foreign policy.

Fighting Bin Ladin was also important for US foreign policy and US foreign policy did little against the Salafi's. The choice not to fight over the topic in the election is a sign of Trump not wanting to do anything to stop the Saudi's despite maybe billing them more money for the weapons we send them and billing them for having their side in Yemen.

They gave some random ass president prestige for destroying 3 countries and accomplishing nothing significant.

Obama got prestige for holding inspiring speeches and getting elected. His prestige on the world stage is not defined by any policy achievements.

In contrast to Obama who gave the world inspiring speeches Trump scares many and therefore the world doesn't see him as prestigious.

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-14T01:19:44.543Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Only white people would obscurantly try to say Trump is not a great candidate.

Oh god , we're talking about the star of a reality show who had to decide who between Bret Michaels and Cindy Lauper would have been a better CEO for a company that doesn't exist...

Also :

  • He went bankrupt more time than one could possibly count
  • Evades taxes ,
  • Has a terrible reputation in the construction business because he doesn't pay people or unilaterally renegotiate terms
  • Has 3550 something law suits filled against him
  • Never donated a dollar to charity
  • Thinks Global Warming is a hoax made up by the chinese
  • Wants to build a 50 billion dollar wall which is a fucking joke just to channel that public money through his shady companies
  • Believes he's above the law and sexual assault doesn't apply to him because he's a reality show celebrity
  • He's as authoritarian as dictators like Putin and Qaddafi
  • Advocated for war crimes
  • Advocated for deportation
  • Threatened to jail his opponent
  • Threatened to kill journalists
  • Threatened to block the internet
  • Praised Putin for being a "strong leader"
  • Lies consistently
  • Advocated for violence against protesters
  • Spent 5 million dollars to have his bathroom plated in gold
  • Claimed that mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists
  • Didn't rule out the use of nuclear weapons in Europe
  • Made ridiculous promises of bringing back jobs which would not be brought back
  • Is anti trade even though even a 5 year old understands how trade advantages everyone
  • Wants to pull out the Paris agreement on climate change
  • Advocated for a proliferation of nuclear weapons
  • Advocated for an increased defense spending
  • Advocated for an upgrade of Minutemen ICBM nuclear missiles
  • Is a demagogue who appeals to the lowest common denominator
  • Praised Qatar for it's infrastructure built using slave labor
  • Used immigrant labor in each and every project he developed
  • Succeeded in bankrupting a casino
  • Completely destroyed a political party
  • Scammed people for millions of dollars with stuff like the Trump University
  • Wrote a children bool titled "Winners aren't Losers"
  • He's anti gay marriage
  • He was so in need of attention that he had to make up the lie of President Obama not being american
  • Before he was even elected he already severed relations with Iran
  • Didn't debate in any of the 10 debates he participated during the campaign , he just yelled at opponents and made fun of them
  • He's possibly the human being with thinnest skin on the face of the Earth ( remember this guy will be in possess of nuclear codes)
  • Used whistleblowers revelations to propel his campaign
  • Is anti abortion
  • Has been endorsed by various members of the KKK
  • He claims to be a great businessmen but in fact he has been outperformed by the S&P
comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-15T09:13:26.676Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In other words, you know I'm right but don't want to admit it.

Absolutely , I would never contradict a person so in love with this guy that he'd be willing to die for him , have fun at the front while sane people stay at home

You're confusing Trump with Obama again.

No , you're the one confusing a guy who has great temperament , diplomacy skills and the ability to laugh at himself with a thin-skinned scammer con-artist whose only goal in life is to fuck the next man in the ass and get away with it (think of Trump University and all his other scams).....Who is more likely to start a war?

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-13T10:53:33.525Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And where did this abundance of resources and inequality come from? Does the dirt north of the Mexican border have somehow magically generate wealth, whereas the dirt south of it tragically doesn't?

Having the most fertile soils in the entire world in the midwest , and having gargantous deposits of coal basically , also being such a large country and enjoying no customs duty or tariffs while the rest of the world had to deal with them and still deals with them today because of the political fragmentation on our planet

And yet for some reason people build fences around their homes all the time to stop buglers and it works reasonably well

You're underestimating the utility of getting over a fence to rob a house vs getting over a wall to illegally enter the US...people would renounce and would try to rob some other house with lower defenses in the first case , they'd wear their thinking hat and find a way to circumvent the barrier in the second (as they already do with tunnels , boats and by simply overstaying in the US

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-14T09:46:08.029Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ok dude whatever you say...you might want to head here you'll find many likeminded people..

I must say that it really warms my heart that there are people like you out there so that when this maniac brings us to some other useless war in the Middle East or South East Asia there would hopefully be plenty of suckers ready to enroll and go die for him so that mr.Trump would be able keep his immaculate record of never having to concede anything to the counterparty during a negotiation

comment by turchin · 2016-11-12T14:37:43.591Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The real existential risk is unclear result of elections and civil war in US.

It was real if Trump didn't win - he blackmailed not concede if lost. It still could happen in case of electoral college mess or callexit or protests go to far.

Such civil war would mean end of technological progress, or at least most beneficial part of it, like friendly AI research. Such civil war would have basically the same sides as 1861, geographically and in values.

I want to tell also if I were able to vote, I would vote against Trump, so my point was not to support Trump. My point is to help him to make his presidency be short and boring 4 years. Obama wants basically the same.

comment by siIver · 2016-11-11T17:06:59.900Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Personally I think Trump does increase the odds of human extinction occurring before the Singularity, and that stopping him should have been a priority for everyone with a voice. Basically, doing so was a really efficient way to do X-risk prevention at that time. So I don't have any problems with what S/A or yudkowsky have done whatsoever.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-11T18:23:08.933Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I would like this to be a comment on methodology, about if their arguments were sound given what they knew and believed. I most definitely do not want this to decay in a lamentation about the results

So... any comments on methodology?

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2016-11-11T20:34:48.028Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like acceptance of the Variance argument at least, possibly the first as well.

comment by siIver · 2016-11-11T18:40:29.222Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I agree with it. Yudkowksy and S/A both seem to view the world through the lense of "let's do everything possible to a) reach singularity and b) get singularity right" which I think is the only rational perspective based on their beliefs about singularity (and utilitarianism). The amount of value associated with the singularity makes everything else insignificant in comparison.

To be perfectly honest, I think this case is straight-forward. I don't see any argument against the above that has merit.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-11T19:33:58.180Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I agree with it. Yudkowksy and S/A both seem to view the world through the lense of "let's do everything possible to a) reach singularity and b) get singularity right" which I think is the only rational perspective based on their beliefs about singularity (and utilitarianism). The amount of value associated with the singularity makes everything else insignificant in comparison.

Well, I agree with that. The question is, does Trump as president increase the probability of human extinction, and why? Bear in mind that Peter Theil, who has donated a lot of money to MIRI, supports Trump, so its not as clear-cut as all the smart people being on the same side of this issue.

comment by siIver · 2016-11-12T01:53:56.415Z · score: -4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I wrote an extensive reply, but then decided that it was too political and I guess opinionated. Here is a shorter version

I think the risk of extinction definitely goes up under Trump. The two X-risks I see being affected by the president are

  • Climate Change
  • Nuclear War

Trump is bad for both for obvious reasons. Moreover, the Supreme Court nominees probably have indirect consequences on c/c aswell. Note also that those can't be reversed in four years.

Lastly, the argument that a Trump presidency will cause a true progressive to be elected in four years is I think sound, and it is the best argument, but it might happen anyway. Bernie Sanders got 46% of the vote with age as the most important demographic factor. Just based on math, he'd probably win in four years. The same could be true for Warren or whoever it will be.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-12T08:35:18.293Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Re Climate change, I agree with Kawoomba, with the caviat that GW could provoke conflict which causes an indirect X-risk.

Interestingly, the Green party candidate said Clinton is worse for nuclear war. Maybe she's wrong, but I don't think the issue is as obvious as you think it is.

Moreover, the Supreme Court nominees probably have indirect consequences on c/c aswell.

I though the Supreme Court dealt more with civil rights stuff. How will they affect CC?

comment by siIver · 2016-11-12T09:38:20.808Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That is not a caviat. That makes it an X-Risk. It is utterly irrelevant whether c/c leads to extinction directly or indirectly, what matters is the probability that it does in fact lead to extinction. If you want to argue that the probability is lower because it requires a longer causal chain, that would be a different point.

Supreme Court: for one, it was responsible for Bush coming into office instead of Al Gore. That impacted c/c massively. I would agree that this is a scenario unlikely to happen again, and I am not an expert on Supreme Court matters, hence why I said 'maybe'. My suspicion is that, because political spectra are so heavily labeled, everything that shifts the discourse significantly also impacts every other issue.

I think Stein is full of crap in that regard. I've followed her pretty closely, and my reading is that she wants to distance herself from Hillary as much as possible for political reasons, but also won't quite go as far as to claim Trump is better in general.

You can always find some people who back any position. But the idea that Clinton is worse for nuclear war is frankly kind of silly. Some things don't have to be complicated. One person gets provoked by Tweets in the middle of the night and has repeatedly demonstrated ignorance about foreign policy, the other is the most establishment politician possible, and yes, the system as we have it has avoided using nukes for a long time. Sure it could have been luck, but that's not the plausible explanation.

( I would agree that the median of Clinton's foreign policy would have been more violent than that of Trump. That is backed by evidence. But that's not the question. )

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-12T16:19:05.551Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

the system as we have it has avoided using nukes for a long time. Sure it could have been luck, but that's not the plausible explanation.

It was luck that Vasili Arkhipov was at the submarine when the two other officials wanted to launch nuclear weapons.

When that bomber crashed in the US and 3 of 4 mechanism that have to be activated for the nuclear weapon failed it was luck that not all four failed.

Petrov might have acted differently.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-11-12T16:05:58.884Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The idea that Supreme Court appointments cause existential risk is one of the most obvious examples of being mind killed that I have ever seen.

comment by siIver · 2016-11-12T18:15:49.243Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So are you saying you think that in a universe with 8 years of Al Gore instead of 8 years of bush, X-risks have even odds on average? That seems very unlikely.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-11-12T22:06:04.075Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I am saying I think neither Gore nor Bush nor any other president is going to make any significant difference to the probability of the human race being wiped out, as long as the probability is your reasonable subjective estimate.

Also, my statement was about Supreme Court appointments, which are even less likely to make a difference. But they make a big difference to culture, which is what politics is about. That is why I said this is about being mindkilled -- bad Supreme Court justices = bad cultural effects = the worst thing in the world = existential risk.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-12T17:31:07.809Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, its possible that e.g.

Conservative judges -> ban abortion -> increased crime -> government spends more energy trying to stop crime and less on FAI reserch -> paperclips

But we're into the realm of tiny minute one-in-a-million probabilities here. Altering Supreme Court appointments is not exactly the most effective way to fight x-risk by any stretch of the imagination.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-11-12T22:03:48.994Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Something like that could happen, but someone could just as easily come up with some opposite chain of events. And saying that you could still make an overall estimate of which is more likely is no different from saying that you can choose which religion is best for Pascal's wager.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-12T16:38:49.285Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Obama administration did a very poor job on global warming and the same would likely have been true for Clinton as well.

There a chance that the Trump administration does better than either because it embraces nuclear energy.

Peter Thiel is in Trump's transition team and sees nuclear as an important move.

comment by Kawoomba · 2016-11-12T08:10:26.209Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Climate change, while potentially catastrophic, is not an x-risk. Nuclear war is only an x-risk for a subset of scenarios.

comment by siIver · 2016-11-12T08:22:54.986Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-12T08:35:40.854Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Elaborate? Even with just a link?

comment by siIver · 2016-11-12T09:23:50.799Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is very strange to me that claiming c/c is an X-risk is the position that requires explaining, rather than the opposite (as is the amount of scepsis/shading thrown at c/c on LW in general). Afaik (correct me if I'm wrong) the future of humanity institute also treats it as an X-risk, though they assign a lower probability to it than to other ones. That is my view aswell, I think c/c is likely to kill several billion people overall before we stop it, and might also lead to extinction.

As for how that would happen, I imagine a sceanario of nation wide collapse, caused by mass migration due to flooding and hunger. Alternatively, it could escalate chaos and cause nukes to be used without leading to total collapse.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-12T17:24:07.292Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think c/c is likely to kill several billion people overall before we stop it, and might also lead to extinction.

Scientific consensus is that warming under 2 degrees c could be good, warming over that is bad. Worst case scenario is that we will hit that around 2060. Many forecast the singularity as most likely to happen in the 2040s, but even if that is over optimistic, solar panels are halving in cost per watt each decade. Naively extrapolating, by 2060 solar power should be 20x cheaper, so even if the singularity is delayed we should still be able to move most of the economy onto clean energy even without subsidies long before we reach dangerous levels of warming.

I certainly think that global warming is a risk we should monitor, and keep funding research into solar panels, but I really don't think it needs to be a priority.

comment by obin · 2016-11-13T16:37:18.352Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Scientific consensus is that warming under 2 degrees c could be good, warming over that is bad.

There's no such consensus. There is a consensus (which may be more political than scientific in nature) that below two degrees is somewhat safe, globally and on average (locally, not necessarily; ask the island nations of the Pacific). And my impression is that more recent research has suggested that two degrees may be worse than previously though.

Naively extrapolating, by 2060 solar power should be 20x cheaper, so -- we should still be able to move most of the economy onto clean energy even without subsidies long before we reach dangerous levels of warming.

Naively. I think solar currently accounts for less than one percent of global energy consumption. With CO2 levels still on the rise, there's a long way to go before the world economy is rid of fossils, and we don't know if solar and other renewables can actually scale high and fast enough. There are reasons to suspect they can't. Plus, with renewables like solar, we would also need to be able to store electricity on a massive scale, and that may not be possible either.

Edit: Whoah, -3 with no responses. Now I get why LessWrong shuns politics.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-12T17:13:06.272Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It is very strange to me that claiming c/c is an X-risk is the position that requires explaining, rather than the opposite (as is the amount of scepsis/shading thrown at c/c on LW in general).

I IPCC summary for policy makers doesn't say that policy makers should be worried about global warming causing human extinction.

The position of treating c/c as an X-risk is either treating it as a risk with p<0.01 or it's a position of skepticism of the IPCC scientific consensus.

comment by siIver · 2016-11-12T18:37:45.182Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't match with the information I have gathered. I would hope you are right – if you are, it is at best still a simplified stance. c/c already causes chaos in some parts of the world and will continue to do so. That can and will cause interventions which adds fuel to international tensions.

The narrative you are laying out seems to be possible, but there are also numerous ways in which c/c can lead to extinction.

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-12T21:46:44.470Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In Egypt and Tunisia , where there was a grassroots movement to end the dictatorship yes , it turned out extremely well...the problems emerged in Lybia , where people would have not toppled Qaddafi if not for the massive western support

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-13T00:40:11.409Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Large numbers of Muslim youths cause a rape epidemic in Europe: meh.

Rapists will get prosecuted , plus they are getting bred out at a fast rate , plus muslim youths would pretty soon understand that is much more convenient to get a job , earn some money and hire a hooker to satisfy their sexual needs , so the problem is getting resolved literally by the minute

To the extent that is a problem Trump is also likely to crack down on that. However, the number of people simply crossing is much larger then the people overstaying.

Sure , god emperor Trump would personally put a sensor on every tourist who enters the country so that once their visa is up he'd send the feds to get them...

Are you honestly attempting to argue that a wall across the Mexican border will have negligible effect on the number of illegal immigrants that will get in?

In what exactly? Oh you mean in the territory that our ancestors took with violence from Indian americans first and brits later on ? Where there's abundance of wealth and resources people would try to sneak in , that is the price to pay for ignoring the global inequality , plus even if you're able to offset it with a stupid thing like a 50 billion dollar wall ( which you won't given that any electrician and their brother has a 35 feet ladder and boats full of immigrants already depart from baja california) it would present itself in some other , arguably even more damaging form

comment by ernestdezoe · 2016-11-12T23:03:06.587Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Which may explain why Europe is currently being flooded with Muslim youths who are creating no go zones in European cities and engaging in large amounts of rape and other crimes.

Immigration will have a net positive effect on the economy of these countries , criminals are criminals and just as always would be prosecuted , also rape is not as damaging as it was for a population because of birth control , morning after pill and abortion , rapists are getting bred out at a fast rate

You seem to be implying that's a bad thing.

Ehm...channeling public money through your companies to build a 40/50 billions monstrosity (which would have astronomical mantainence costs) and make a huge personal profit at taxpayer's expenses , all while immigrants just fly into the country and overstay their Visa and drug dealers smuggled drugs into the country with small planes as early as 1960s....this is a pretty bad thing