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Alternative mask materials 2020-03-27T01:22:11.435Z

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Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on The "best predictor is malicious optimiser" problem · 2020-07-29T19:54:26.756Z · LW · GW

Sorry, I misread this. I read your question as O outputting some function T that is most likely to answer some set of questions you want to know the answer to (which would be self-referential as these questions depend on the output of T). I think I understand your question now.

What kind of ability do you have to know the "true value" of your sequence B?

If the paperclip maximizer P is able to control the value of your turing machine, and if you are a one-boxing AI (and this is known to P) then of course you can make deals/communicate with P. In particular, if the sequence B is generated by some known but slow program, you can try to set up an Arthur-Merlin zero knowledge proof protocol in exchange for promising to make a few paperclips, which you can then use to keep P honest (after making the paperclips as promised).

To be clear though, this is a strategy for an agent A that somehow has as its goals only the desire to compute B together with some kind of commitment to following through on agreements. If A is genuinely aligned with humans, the rule "don't communicate/make deals with malicious superintelligent entities, at least until you have satisfactorily solved the AI in a box and similar underlying problems" should be a no-brainer.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on The "best predictor is malicious optimiser" problem · 2020-07-29T14:24:26.946Z · LW · GW

Looks like you're making a logical error. Creating a machine that solves the halting problem is prohibited by logic. For many applications assuming a sufficiently powerful and logically consistent oracle is good enough but precisely these kinds of games you are playing, where you ask a machine to predict its own output/the output of a system involving itself, are where you get logically inconsistent. Indeed, imagine asking the oracle to simulate an equivalent version of itself and to output the the opposite answer to what its simulation outputs. This may seem like a derived question, but most "interesting" self-referential questions boil down to an instance of this. I think once you fix the logical inconsistency, you're left with an equivalent problem to AI in a box: boxed AI P is stronger that friendly AI A but has an agenda.

Alternatively, if you're assuming A is itself un-aligned (rather than friendly) and has the goal of getting the right answer at any cost then it looks like you need some more assumptions on A's structure. For example if A is sufficiently sophisticated and knows it has access to a much more powerful but untrustwothy oracle it might know to implement a merlin-arthur protocol.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on Research on repurposing filter products for masks? · 2020-04-03T21:10:11.536Z · LW · GW

Not sure but doubt it: IIRC, copper kills by catalysing intra-cellular reactions, which are slow (compared to salt, which should have near-instantaneous mechanism of action since it can blow up membranes). Also I would be worried about safety of breathing copper. But I might be wrong about this!

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on Research on repurposing filter products for masks? · 2020-04-03T18:09:51.211Z · LW · GW

I've looked at a small amount of data on this question. I think it's a really important one (see a related question of mine), but am extremely not an expert. The most actionable item is this study that essentially "salting" a surgical mask might make it significantly more protective against flu viruses. The study's in vivo section with mice strikes me as a bit sketchy (small n, and unclear how representative of mask filtration their mouse procdeure actually is), but their in vitro section seems legit, and the study is in Scientific Reports (part of the Nature publishing group). If you're making a DIY mask/filter and it's not too thick already, it can't hurt to include a salted layer. Their proposed mechanism of action is by the salt killing the virus particles, not filtering them, so it should stack well with particulate filters. The recipe in the paper is to coat a hydrophobic filter in solution of salt and surfactant (they used polysorbate 20, which is approved to use as a food additive), then let it dry.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on What will happen to supply chains in the era of COVID-19? · 2020-03-31T14:24:56.190Z · LW · GW

What makes you say England did not have looting during WW2? England had more cohesion. But that is just one factor impacting people's behavior. Someone who is desperate or immoral enough to loot in wartime is unlikely to be seriously swayed by the need for patriotic unity. Other factors, which I think are bigger, are severity of need and enforcement. Don't know about enforcement, but it is very hard for me to envision a scenario where meeting basic needs is harder and than in WW2 Britain.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on What will happen to supply chains in the era of COVID-19? · 2020-03-31T04:19:26.066Z · LW · GW

I've done a little research about the food supply chain specifically. Presumably certain supply chains will be similar, certain ones will be different. Also note I am very much not an expert. The basic fact is that there is "enough food" but prices may rise and getting food may be worse. I think there are three key parameters, which could go either way:

(1) Hoarding/instability. Worst case scenario: people panic. People stockpile giant supplies of food. Food goes bad. People buy more food. Food gets prohibitively expensive. Best case scenario: supermarket situation stabilizes, panicky people feel like they have enough non-perishables stockpiled, most last-mile (grocery store) product shortages stop.

(2) Protectionism. This will be less dangerous in the US which exports more food than it imports. But certain countries, especially poorer countries that rely significantly on imports, will suffer if a global panic causes protectionist policies about food (e.g. wheat exporter Kazakhstan apparently stopped exporting grain because of coronavirus fears, see this article ). This is understandable, but probably bad. Here the best case according to this article is if big markets actively work to stabilize the market and punish protectionism (but the economics here is above my pay grade).

(3) Worker/driver issues. This mostly depends on "how freaked out blue-collar workers get". Currently most truck drivers, clerks, etc., are risking infection in exchange for a steady job. If things get bad (for example if there are wide-spread hospital bed shortages and fatality goes through the roof) *and younger people become afraid* (a big if), a big proportion of chain workers will take losing their job over getting infected. This would probably raise prices.

It's important to stress that it's *very unlikely* that anything catastrophic happens in developed countries like the US, and the worst-case scenario is government rationing. The example to keep in mind is WW2 Britain (I originally linked the wrong article here, which is also an interesting read ). Nevertheless, with rationing people survived basically healthy for several years of war.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on A Significant Portion of COVID-19 Transmission Is Presymptomatic · 2020-03-18T19:10:19.720Z · LW · GW

A question I always have about these studies is at what level symptoms are defined and self-reported. E.g. presumably "you have an itchy throat or a mild headache in the morning/mildly increased fever over your baseline" is pre-symptomatic. Self-isolating with mild symptoms is probably hard to measure but can be at least socially enforced.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on Reasons why coronavirus mortality of young adults may be underestimated. · 2020-03-16T14:44:01.968Z · LW · GW

DP Cruise didn't have any fatalities under age 70, so not sure where you're getting the under-29 number. Also since the population is older the case fatality was over-estimated. This study https://cmmid.github.io/topics/covid19/severity/diamond_cruise_cfr_estimates.html?fbclid=IwAR2jCOZcBGHYBWC_dqSzwvX7T7-DOpwm8L84qqW8k6QtKa05Inv35Pk3Ezs estimates adjusted CFR form DP cruise ship data (assuming treatment!) to be .5%, largely in agreement with other numbers I'd heard. Though the sample size is ridiculously small, so the error bounds are terrible.

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-13T05:00:13.600Z · LW · GW

Advice: drink a mouthful of water every 15 minutes. This is speculative (facebook post from a friend of a friend). The rationale is that if you have virus particles in your mouth, rinsing them into your stomach (where the stomach acid kills them) will prevent them from getting into your respiratory system. [edit: retracted, seems to be downstream from a fake news article. Drinking water is still good, but looks like this pathway is not realistic]

Comment by dmitry-vaintrob on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-13T02:14:10.907Z · LW · GW

Advice: now may be a good time to learn to meditate. Deaths from coronavirus are due mostly to breathing problems from pneumonia, which is the main explanation for why older people are more likely to die. There is evidence that meditation is good for pneumonia specifically http://www.annfammed.org/content/10/4/337.full and lowers oxygen consumption generally https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2156587213492770. I didn't read the studies carefully to see how trustworthy they are, but this conforms well with my understanding and limited experience of meditation. Meditation is also known to be good for mitigating stress, which will obviously be beneficial in the coming months.