Posts

Failing safely is the anomaly 2021-07-25T04:56:27.002Z
Intelligence without Consciousness 2021-07-07T05:27:20.359Z
The homework assignment incentives, and why it's now so extreme 2021-06-22T04:19:08.042Z
Conditional offers and low priors: the problem with 1-boxing Newcomb's dilemma 2021-06-18T21:50:01.840Z
...and then sometimes, for no clear reason, they innately become good. 2021-06-09T03:07:41.559Z
Often, enemies really are innately evil. 2021-06-07T06:42:14.177Z
Hardware is already ready for the singularity. Algorithm knowledge is the only barrier. 2021-03-30T22:48:18.207Z
Suspected reason that kids usually hate vegetables 2021-02-27T23:52:55.464Z
Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement 2021-02-26T03:43:03.794Z

Comments

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Failing safely is the anomaly · 2021-07-25T22:33:18.468Z · LW · GW

That was extremely interesting and relevant, thanks!

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Utility Function of a Prepper · 2021-07-21T03:40:17.910Z · LW · GW

Alex is correct about water. People can go weeks without food but only days without water, so if there's a crisis water is the most important.

I'm not a general prepper, but if an earthquake breaks a bunch of water pipes or something it might take a few days to fix things.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Mountaineer's Fallacy · 2021-07-18T05:56:01.532Z · LW · GW

Can you give an example of this happening in the real world? I don't quite see what it applies to.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Covid 7/15: Rates of Change · 2021-07-17T06:38:19.301Z · LW · GW

Decisions about covid policy have been mostly political, but vaccines weren't political before that. Consider smallpox. Smallpox was all over the world and apparently unbeatable. It was described in China in 340. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln got it, and if they died history could have gone way differently. https://rootsofprogress.org/smallpox-and-vaccines. It was just a thing that sometimes happened to people, and nothing could be done about it. Suddenly, as soon as vaccines were applied to a region. Smallpox was completely eliminated there.

A similar thing happened with Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Rubella, Measles, Hib, Whooping Cough, Pneumococcal Disease, Mumps, Diptheria... They are almost gone, and the only people who get them now are in places that haven't gotten consistent and almost complete vaccination.

In fact, there's one that most people alive remember. Chicken pox used to be seen as an inevitable childhood disease, to the point that people used to throw "pox parties" to get it over with. but when the vaccine was invented in 1995 it rapidly decreased, and I don't know anyone my age who has gotten it (born in 1996). It's pretty much gone now.

Zvi isn't trying to have "fairness in a political fight", as if the sides were equal. The "vaccines are effective" side is totally crushing the "vaccines are bad" side. And plague doesn't care about your politics.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on What would it look like if it looked like AGI was very near? · 2021-07-12T22:50:02.801Z · LW · GW

I wrote about this from a retrospective perspective already. "If computer power is the only thing standing between us and the singularity then we will finally have enough computer power... a decade ago." Humans have a slight advantage in compute architecture now, but I doubt that's enough to overcome computers' other advantages.

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/m5rvZBKyMRtFo53wZ/hardware-is-already-ready-for-the-singularity-algorithm

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The homework assignment incentives, and why it's now so extreme · 2021-06-22T21:51:37.310Z · LW · GW

How would students police that, exactly? Could you elaborate?

Also, coordination was tried, like when I made a deal with a friend named Griffin to do a homework exchange, but parents shut that down because that's considered plagiarism and "cheating is wrong".

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The homework assignment incentives, and why it's now so extreme · 2021-06-22T21:36:06.134Z · LW · GW

I'm in the US, not UK (sorry for not clarifying). Maybe homework is functional there, and if so, great, but that isn't what happens here. Also, I wish homework was a bit of retrieval practice on past content, but it's not

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T23:09:05.910Z · LW · GW

Not quite, since although it never went that far, there was a legitimate concern that I could get killed. Also, l needed to show a specific example of a bully taking the extra effort to do extra harm, and giving a real example would be, well, problematic.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Is there a term for 'the mistake of making a decision based on averages when you could cherry picked instead'? · 2021-05-28T23:08:11.774Z · LW · GW

Good point, I didn't consider statistical bundling.

Actually, I don't think statistical bundling is a commonly recognized term, but I see the use of it now.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Is there a term for 'the mistake of making a decision based on averages when you could cherry picked instead'? · 2021-05-25T19:39:30.418Z · LW · GW

I don't think there is a term, and don't think there needs to be one. If someone else disagrees with me that's fine, but situations where 

1: you can consistently do far better than average by doing system B in a certain way

2: most people who use system B do worse

are so rare that it doesn't need a term. Unless you can think of several specific examples?

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Argument For Spoilers · 2021-05-21T19:55:16.410Z · LW · GW

You missed my main reason for avoiding spoilers. It's not because something is intended a certain way or that I think it would train rationality better to not do something, it's because doing things myself is way more fun than having things done for me. I found trying to figure out how to solve a rubix cube myself to be way more fun than being told would have been. (Or figuring out the villain's plot before the monologue, or whatever).

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Thoughts on Re-reading Brave New World · 2021-05-03T04:28:17.473Z · LW · GW

I suggest reading the "Fun theory" sequence.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Fall of Rome: Why It's Relevant, And Why We're Mistaken · 2021-04-23T21:22:39.675Z · LW · GW

What if it's just regression to the mean? Maybe the main problem wasn't that late Rome was unusally bad, but that Rome at it's peak was anomalously successful, and this didn't last because technology and culture just wasn't able to sustain an anomaly at the time?

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Dark Side Epistemology · 2021-03-30T03:14:48.805Z · LW · GW

Most lies are bad, but there are circumstances where lying is necessary and does not make truth the enemy, when telling the truth causes immediate bad action.

When people in Germany were sheltering people during the holocaust, and a Nazi official asked if they were hiding anyone, the correct response was "no" even though it was a lie. When someone doesn't believe in a religion or is gay or something, but they would be cast out of the home or "honor-killed" if parents found out, they should lie until they have a way to escape. 

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Why Selective Breeding is a Bad Way to do Genetic Engineering · 2021-03-05T05:37:48.143Z · LW · GW

This post isn't wrong, but I doubt anyone today (except a few crazy people) disagree with it. Do you think there is a significant risk of a large-scale human eugenics program happening before direct genetic modification becomes cheap enough to make this irrelevent?

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement · 2021-02-27T23:00:52.309Z · LW · GW

Sorry, that was the biggest I could find

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Price Of Glee In China · 2021-02-27T18:41:53.369Z · LW · GW

The problem is that crushing poverty is one source of misery, but not the only source of misery. This implies that very poor countries would have clear benefits from industrializing, but things like cultural pressures and instability also have an effect, so when resources are common other factors dominate and so additional industry doesn't affect things much.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement · 2021-02-26T22:30:38.955Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your well explained response! I'll keep your reasons in mind for future posts.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement · 2021-02-26T07:04:16.410Z · LW · GW

Really? That's your argument? Do you really think people wouldn't have small talk topics or understand authority figures or learn anything without these classes? If after reading this, you still think those courses are essential to learning those skills, let alone teach them efficiently, I eagerly await your reply to this.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Useless knowledge; why people resist education improvement · 2021-02-26T06:54:09.821Z · LW · GW

I didn't say that she learned nothing of value, I said that the marginal value of reading additional books at this point is close to zero. The first few books were probably different. Also, one incompetent professor isn't close to the only reason I have for opposing affirmative action. Finally, I didn't simply "not think of them as different", I didn't even have the mindset to understand the argument that he was when I first heard it, which is clear evidence against the claim that "every white person has internalized racism against black people and these are the stages of racism awareness". One paragraph is not my entire mindset.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The human problem · 2020-12-09T03:32:40.507Z · LW · GW

There is a fourth option: the "safe" set of values can be misaligned with humans' actual values. Some values that humans have are either not listed in the "safe" set of values, or something in the safe set of values would not quite align with what it was trying to represent.

As a specific example, consider how a human might have defined values a few centuries ago."Hmm, what value system should we build our society on? Aha! The seven heavenly virtues! Every utopian society must encourage chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility!". Then, later, someone tries to put happiness somewhere in the list. However, since this was not put into the constrained optimization function it becomes a challenge to optimize for it.

This is NOT something that would only happen in the past. If an AI based it's values today on what the majority agrees is a good idea, things like marijuana would be banned and survival would be replaced by "security" or something else slightly wrong.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Two-Party Swindle · 2020-12-09T01:30:27.314Z · LW · GW

just to be clear, the /s tag means sarcasm. I've seen it used elsewhere on the internet, but I'm not sure how common it is understood yet.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on The Two-Party Swindle · 2020-12-09T01:29:35.639Z · LW · GW

The first presidential election I could vote in was Hillary vs Trump. Also, I was not in a swing state anyway.

I suuuure felt influential as someone who didn't fall for Us vs. Them /s

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Fifteen Things I Learned From Watching a Game of Secret Hitler · 2018-12-21T20:14:19.305Z · LW · GW

If it shouldn't be compared to reality, than why are the other posts not also voted down? They are both about how the real world is comparable to the game. Aiyen even has "Sadly this one is likely true irl" when explaining one of the points.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Fifteen Things I Learned From Watching a Game of Secret Hitler · 2018-12-17T23:53:45.398Z · LW · GW

This post was ridiculous. Many liberal policies have had clear effects, such as civil rights legislation, and Jimmy Carter creating DECADES-LASTING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST BETWEEN ISRAEL AND NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES after virtually continuous war.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Is Copenhagen or Many Worlds true? An experiment. What? Yes. · 2018-11-09T04:20:44.538Z · LW · GW

Hmm, good thought.

One problem I see with the experimental setup is that it is impossible to remove the loss of energy from the system. For example, no mirrors are perfectly smooth, perfectly reflective, and perfectly aligned. Even if coherence is formed, it would still be at the cost of heat, so it would be unclear if entropy actually decreases.

Comment by Andrew Vlahos (andrew-vlahos) on Where The Falling Einstein Meets The Rising Mouse · 2018-10-31T22:42:43.249Z · LW · GW

The difference between the chess and go skill patterns is because chess and go have vastly different algorithms.

The chess skill changed linearly because the algorithm is easy to compute by point values (finding the paths with the most pieces compared to the opponent, or positions leading to this), and modern algorithms aren't much different from early ones. In other words, taking the enemy's queen without similar cost is always extremely good (if the computer can look far enough ahead to check for traps), and computers are mainly limited by how many turns ahead their processor can look.

Go, however, is far more subtle, with pieces being drastically different in value based on what occurs without them, and a few pieces in the wrong spot can lead to the loss of a quarter of the board 40 turns later in a subtle way, such as providing a ko threat or dead shape. Counting the territory in 5 turns is near-useless without considering how each piece interacts with all others. In this case, the limiting factor is not processing power but algorithm design, and the rapid gain happened because of insights in algorithms.

What determines whether AI development will be sudden or gradual will be which type of limiting factor it has. Self-driving cars had a big jump then a stall because it is an algorithm difficulty. Computer graphics improved gradually because it was a processing power difficulty. Sentient AI could be like one of these, or have a different limiter I haven't thought of, but whatever the limiting factor is would determine the rate for each thing.

I'm not an expert in AI, but am very good at chess and go.