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Comment by brunoparga on Call for volunteers: assessing Kurzweil, 2019 · 2020-04-01T20:03:32.299Z · LW · GW

Gwern has posted several of Kurzweil's predictions on Predictionbook and I have marked many of them as either right or wrong. In some cases I included comments on the bits of research I did.

Comment by brunoparga on [Update: New URL] Today's Online Meetup: We're Using Mozilla Hubs · 2020-03-29T22:10:58.017Z · LW · GW

I couldn't get things to work here, but thank you Elizabeth, Raymond and Ben for trying to help me! Have fun!

Comment by brunoparga on What could a World Unification Index track to measure how unified the world is, was, and is becoming? · 2019-12-23T00:10:33.512Z · LW · GW

I'm thinking a few things that are perhaps not super important individually, but ought to have at least some weight in such an index:

Standardization and transportation

  • What's the progress of adoption of the metric system?
  • Relatedly, can we all (including Chile, where I live) ditch US paper sizes and switch to ISO sizes?
  • Standardizing electric plugs and outlets, as well as domestic alternating current frequency and voltage
  • Low priority, but probably still desirable if one wants a truly unified world: everyone driving on the same side of the road
  • For rail transport: reduce variety in track gauges, electrification (which is different from residential use), and signaling systems. It is probably impractical to make *all* rail be standard gauge (1435 mm), as there are use cases where broad or narrow gauge is useful (e.g. in mountain railways there is often not enough space for standard-gauge tracks). But you could still say, for example: "okay, all new narrow gauge is going to be 1000 mm from now on", while converting railroads in countries like Portugal and Spain (1668mm) to standard.
  • Aviation freedom: to what extent the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedoms_of_the_air are granted between countries. A unified world would probably have something like all eight freedoms everywhere; countries could proceed unilaterally with this, granting foreign carriers parity with local ones in regulatory terms.
  • Passport strength: how many countries can a holder of a given passport travel to without a visa? I am not sure how to weigh this with regards to the population of the issuing country, the destination countries, their GDP...

Legal cooperation/integration

  • More countries acceding to treaties that are open to signature by all states: the UN Charter, the two Human Rights Covenants (the US hasn't signed the one on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and China hasn't signed the one on Civil and Political Rights; Saudi Arabia has signed neither), several specialized human rights treaties (e.g. Rights of the Children)
  • International jurisdiction: expanding the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (which tries cases between states) and the International Criminal Court (which prosecutes crimes of genocide when national courts fail to do so); expanding and standardizing extradition treaties, enshrining caveats against the death penalty and requiring a fair trial, etc.
  • International private law: expanding the Hague Conference on International Private Law and its Conventions, such as the Apostille Convention that facilitates recognition of foreign documents
  • Trade and integration organizations have been mentioned, but I'd like to mention a few specific initiatives: the OECD, which groups the developed countries and the top developing ones (like Chile and Mexico), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (plus Regional Economic Communities)
  • Cooperation in global issues like the Montreal Protocol, which bans ozone layer-harming chemicals, and global warming. Carbon taxes/tariffs probably should count toward this.

A caveat: while I've phrased all of these in a positive light, this does not preclude there being trade-offs. For example, expanding the freedoms of the air would likely boost air travel, which has bad environmental impacts.

Comment by brunoparga on Superintelligence FAQ · 2019-12-15T01:12:52.991Z · LW · GW
AlphaGo used about 0.5 petaflops (= trillion floating point operations per second)

Isn't peta- the prefix for quadrillion?

Comment by brunoparga on On Overconfidence · 2019-07-29T17:42:58.409Z · LW · GW
(Also, is there a reason there are almost no comments on these posts?)

They are reposts from slatestarcodex.com.

Comment by brunoparga on The Pyramid And The Garden · 2019-07-29T14:46:59.266Z · LW · GW

There's one factor to explain this coincidence that is not referenced here and I couldn't find it mentioned on the SSC post either: polar motion.

As a recap, latitude is the angle between a given point (like the tip of the Pyramid) and the Equator. The Equator is the points at the surface that are equidistant from both poles. And the poles are the points where the rotation axis intersects the surface. They're the points the Earth rotates around, sort of.

Well, it turns out that the axis of rotation is not fixed with respect to the surface. This is independent of plate tectonics, the fact that some parts of the surface move with regards to each other. The Earth's surface could be perfectly immovable and we could still have polar motion. The scale of the motion is that, per Wikipedia, it has moved 20m since 1900, and recently the direction has changed from 80 degrees west towards the Prime Meridian.

To illustrate this, imagine that some cosmic force made the exact point where I'm currently sitting writing this comment be a pole. That is, the Earth revolves around this very point in my bedroom. (I guess it's a good thing I'm snuggling under a blanket.) Then the Equator would be this line between the brighter and darker parts of the map (I used the nearest airport, São Paulo-Congonhas, as the pole); it runs somewhere near San Diego, just barely includes all of Great Britain and Antarctica, and crosses Egypt suspiciously close to the Pyramids. They're actually 209 km from it on the opposite hemisphere as me, so their latitude would be just shy of negative two degrees.

Now, of course at the time the aliens Khufu's slaves built the Pyramids the North Pole was somewhere fairly close to its present location, and not in tropical South America. But it'd be very unlikely if it was at precisely its current location! (Or wherever it was at the time when the version of WGS84 Google Maps uses was made.) And since the pole can move 20m in 1.2 centuries, it could have moved way more than the size of the base of the pyramid, which measures just over 200m, since the 26th century BCE.

Comment by brunoparga on Open Thread July 2019 · 2019-07-26T14:50:17.616Z · LW · GW

Hi, I'm Bruno from Brazil. I have been involved with stuff in the Lesswrongosphere since 2016. While I was in the US, I participated in the New Hampshire and Boston LW meetup groups, with occasional presence in SSC and EA meetups. I volunteered at EAG Boston 2017 and attended EAG London later that year. I did the CFAR workshop of February 2017 and hung out at the subsequent alumni reunion. After having to move back to Brazil I joined the São Paulo LW and EA groups and tried, unsuccessfully, to host a book club to read RAZ over the course of 2018. (We made it as far as mid-February, I think.)

I became convinced of the need to sort out the AI alignment problem after first reading RAZ. I knew I needed to level up on lots of basic subjects before I could venture into doing AI safety research. Because doing so could also have instrumental value to my goal of leaving Brazil for good, I studied at a Web development bootcamp and have been teaching there for a year now; I feel this has given me the confidence to acquire new tech skills.

I intend to start posting here in order to clarify my ideas, solve my confusion and eventually join the ranks of the AI safety researchers. My more immediate goal is to be able to live somewhere other than Brazil while doing some sort of relevant work (even if it is just self-study or something not directly related to AI safety that still allows me to study on the side, like my current gig here does).