Comment by cjb on The $125,000 Summer Singularity Challenge · 2011-07-30T00:29:22.703Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

2011 has been a huge year for Artificial Intelligence. With the IBM computer Watson defeating two top Jeopardy! champions in February, it’s clear that the field is making steady progress.

Do people here generally think that this is true? I don't see much of an intersection between Watson and AI; it seems like a few machine learning algorithms that approach Jeopardy problems in an extremely artificial way, much like chess engines approach playing chess. (Are chess engines artificial intelligence too?)

Comment by cjb on SIAI Fundraising · 2011-04-27T16:52:34.589Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I guess the followup questions are:

  • Is the legal action still pending, or can the situation be talked about openly now?
  • Has SIAI been able to recover the money?
  • Was it a mistake to trust a contractor with access to >$100k of funds? Do they still do that?
Comment by cjb on SIAI Fundraising · 2011-04-27T03:16:37.718Z · score: 21 (23 votes) · LW · GW
  • In 2009 the SIAI reported $118,802 to theft - "Misappropriation of assets, by a contractor [...]" This is a significant amount when compared to annual revenue or liquid assets. The year's surplus appears to have been eaten up by the theft. No details are provided, other than the fact that suit has been filed to seek restitution.

I'm surprised that no-one's mentioned this -- it's hard to imagine how someone can steal that much money. Can someone at SIAI tell us whether they're allowed to talk about what happened; and if you can't right now, do you have any idea when you might be able to?

Comment by cjb on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-17T16:53:27.009Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see, thanks. I was thinking of "to" as just being the other direction of "by", but you can interpret it as more like "towards" and then it's all good.

Oh, I bet it's because the previous sentence was "When someone draws Mohammed, it is considered offensive to Muslims.", and that one seemed like a straightforward "no-one except Muslims is being offended by this" mapping, which was then extended to cover sexism.

Comment by cjb on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-17T15:35:27.573Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When someone writes a story where all the sympathetic and interesting characters are male, it is considered offensive to women.

I'm sure you don't actually have any confusion here, but I feel compelled to point out that you kind of did that thing where you only expect a member of Minority X to be offended by *ism against Minority X, where in fact everyone should join in sharing the offense caused by it, because that's just part of being a decent person.

(I probably wouldn't have mentioned this but for the fact that we're having a meta-discussion about how offense works!)

Comment by cjb on Cambridge Sunday meetup: New time and location · 2010-12-05T02:06:32.917Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I work opposite that Cosi branch; it's rarely crowded when I'm there. I think it'll be fine.

Comment by cjb on Rationality Lessons in the Game of Go · 2010-08-22T04:05:12.461Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting article!

I think you're overstating the difficulty of Go to computers. The latest wave of Monte Carlo programs -- when run on fast multicore machines -- are able to beat professionals with a modicum of handicap on 19x19, or at even games on 9x9; they're certainly now better than the average club player.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T19:16:08.514Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It would cost less to place someone in cryonic suspension than to execute him, and in so doing we would provide a chance, however small, that a wrongful conviction could be reversed in the future.

Hm, I don't think that works -- the extra cost is from the stronger degree of evidence and exhaustive appeals process required before the inmate is killed, right? If you want to suspend the inmate before those appeals then you've curtailed their right to put together a strong defence against being killed, and if you want to suspend the inmate after those appeals then you haven't actually saved any of that money.

.. or did I miss something?

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T16:37:08.431Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's true. I didn't spend my own money on them (I grew up in the UK), and they didn't cost very much in comparison, but I agree that it's a good example of a medical long shot.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T16:03:04.127Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cryonics is comparable to CPR or other emergency medical care

.. at a probability of (for the sake of argument) one in a million.

Do I participate in other examples of medical care that might save my life with probability one in a million (even if they don't cost any money)? No, not that I can think of.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T15:02:49.361Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I see. So when you spend money on yourself, it's just to motivate yourself for more charitable labor. But when those weird cryonauts spend money on themselves, they're being selfish!

No, I'm arguing that it would be selfish for me to spend money on myself, if that money was on cryonics, where selfishness is defined as (a) spending an amount of money that could relieve a great amount of suffering, (b) on something that doesn't relate to retaining my ability to get a paycheck.

One weakness in this argument is that there could be a person who is so fearful of death that they can't live effectively without the comfort that signing up for cryonics gives them. In that circumstance, I couldn't use this criticism.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T01:49:16.449Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's not really an argument against those other things, although I do indeed try to avoid some luxuries, or to match the amount I spend on them with a donation to an effective aid organization.

What I think you've missed is that many of the items you mention are essential for me to continue having and being motivated in a job that pays me well -- well enough to make donations to aid organizations that accomplish far more than I could if I just took a plane to a place of extreme poverty and attempted to help using my own skills directly.

If there's a better way to help alleviate poverty than donating a percentage of my developed-world salary to effective charities every year, I haven't found it yet.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T01:36:17.063Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the reply.

One can expect to live a life at least 100-1000 times longer than those other poor people

.. when you say "can expect to", what do you mean? Do you mean "it is extremely likely that.."? That's the problem. If it was a sure deal, it would be logical to spend the money on it -- but in fact it's extremely uncertain, whereas the $50 being asked for by a group like Aravind Eye Hospital to directly fund a cataract operation is (close to) relieving significant suffering with a probability of 1.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T01:27:26.688Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, sure, but I asked how it could be moral, not how you can evade the question by deciding that you don't have any responsibilities to anyone.

Comment by cjb on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-27T03:38:05.653Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I'm pretty new here too. I hope I'm not repeating an old argument, but suspect I am; feel free to answer with a pointer instead of a direct rebuttal.

I'm surprised that no-one's mentioned the cost of cryonics in relation to the reduction in net human suffering that could come from spending the money on poverty relief instead. For (say) USD $50k, I could save around 100 lives ($500/life is a current rough estimate at lifesaving aid for people in extreme poverty), or could dramatically increase the quality of life of 1000 people (for example, cataract operations to restore sight to a blind person are around $50).

How can we say it's moral to value such a long shot at elongating my own life as being worth more than 100-1000 lives of other humans who happened to do worse in the birth wealth lottery than I did?

Comment by cjb on Dying Outside · 2009-10-09T22:45:01.346Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Hal. I'm sorry to hear of your diagnosis.

I spent two years as the maintainer of Dasher, and would be happy to answer questions on it. It's able to use any single analog muscle for control, as a worst case (and a two-axis precise device like a mouse as a best case). There's a video of using Dasher with one axis here -- breath control, as measured by diaphragm circumference:

and there are videos using other muscles (head tracking, eye tracking) here:

Head-mice (you put an infra-red dot on some glasses or your forehead and then just move your head to move a pointer) are a common and cheap input method; they cost less than $100, and Dasher's very accepting of noisy input; if you oversteer in one direction you can just compensate later.

You're not the first person to consider Dasher with BCI -- here's a slightly outdated summary:

All the best,

  • Chris.