Safe AIs through engineering principles 2018-01-20T17:31:58.326Z


Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on I wanted to interview Eliezer Yudkowsky but he's busy so I simulated him instead · 2021-09-16T08:56:17.619Z · LW · GW

Thanks for disclosing that.  The cogent seeming nature of the replies made me think that GPT-3 was much more advanced than toying with their "CYOA" playground.  The bot can babble but appears to have nonexistent context memory or validating that a statement is not negated by a previous statement.  For example "the earth exploded.  Steven landed on the earth".  

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-12T23:41:05.293Z · LW · GW

The percentage of global electricity provided by hydroelectric power.

With 1783 technology you obviously don't need to build the things you mentioned. Your needs are much smaller, for textiles and to drive machinery. You have a vastly smaller population and cities so wood is sufficient for heating and metal forging, as it was in the real 1783.

You cannot grow as fast but in 1783 you have developed and are using the critical technologies that changed everything, the scientific method and the printing press. The printing press means that as people tinker and find ways to make progress despite the obstacles, many copies of what they learn can be printed. And scientific method let's you filter to knowledge more likely to be useful.

To get to the Chicago pile will probably take longer without fossil fuel but the intermediate steps are mostly done with hydroelectric power. Wind might be used to pump water backwards to store it for later use. Populations probably have to be smaller, trains used everywhere, fields with tractors probably use long cables or overhead wires, basically an extension cord. It's more difficult to make steel without much or any coal, maybe charcoal and electric furnaces are used. Maybe more use of aluminum.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-11T18:51:53.387Z · LW · GW

17 percent of the total electricity is still a lot of energy. You aren't taking the question seriously when you assume someone would make a pencil the same way in a world without fossil fuels. (And implicitly the same problems with nuclear we have now)

Focusing on the technology let's you develop a gears level model and predict how industrial and supply chains could adapt to more scarce energy and little in portable forms.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-11T08:14:03.460Z · LW · GW

That's not even the correct staircase though.  It was heating fires -> wind/water mills -> steam engines -> internal combustion engines.  But we still use hydroelectric to produce 17% of all electricity used on earth.  

In a hypothetical world with zero fossil fuels in concentrated, easily combusted form the tech tree would have been:

wind/water powering factories near rivers -> electricity -> well positioned factories powered by remote wind/water.  Cities would need to be denser and to use electric busses and trolleys and elevators for all the transport.  Most long distance transport would have to be by train, where all the major links use overhead electric wiring.

The industrial revolution might have taken longer but the outcome would have been the same, and obviously once that civilization figured out efficient windmills, effective battery chemistries, solar PV, and advanced elements of electrical engineering they would have a growth rate similar to ours.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on The Duplicator: Instant Cloning Would Make the World Economy Explode · 2021-09-10T03:50:40.687Z · LW · GW

Ok fair enough.  I just cannot think of a physical realization of this duplication technology that wouldn't also give you the ability to sync copies and/or freeze policy updates to a copy.

What "freezing policy updates" means is that the neural network is unable to learn, though there would be storage of local context data that gets saved to a database and flushed once the individual switches tasks.

Doing it this way means that all clones of Sundar Pichai remain immutable and semi-deterministic, such that you can treat a decision made by any one of them the same as any other.  (like it is in the computer science equivalent).

But yes if you posit the 'exactly like calvin & hobbs', even though there is no plausible technology that would be able to do this yet not allow you to do other manipulations, since in order to clone someone's mind you must be able to read and write values stored in it, therefore you are able to do all of the above.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on The Duplicator: Instant Cloning Would Make the World Economy Explode · 2021-09-09T20:56:16.700Z · LW · GW

One benefit to meeting with the clone is you will get any advice or information that is the same as the original. In fact assuming truly identical duplicates a clone can be delegated the same credentials as the original. No reason not to, especially since the real duplicator technology is going to be perfect.

For an example today: you send a message to the Netflix account page wanting to update your credit card, using a web browser. Your computer is connecting to a "clone" of the server instance that does these updates. The cloned server has all the same privileges and can send an update to the database if the request checks out.

Similarly a clone of Sundar Pichai can write a check to buy your company equally with the original and Google will treat the check the same as if the original wrote it.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Is LessWrong dead without Cox’s theorem? · 2021-09-09T19:13:16.106Z · LW · GW

Yes. Doesn't matter though.

Could a human exist that should rationally say no to cryo? In theory yes but probably none have ever existed. As long as someone extracts any positive utility at all from a future day of existing then continuing to exist is better than death. And while yes certain humans live in chronic pain any technology able to rebuild a cryo patient can almost certainly fix the problem causing it.

You need to say our of 100 billion humans someone lived who has a problem that can't be fixed that suffers more existing than not. This is a paradox and I say none exist as all problems are brain or body faults that can be fixed.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Is LessWrong dead without Cox’s theorem? · 2021-09-09T19:06:39.195Z · LW · GW

Wrong about the actions they should take to maximize their values.

It's inconceivable because it's a failure of imagination. Someone who has many social connections now will potentially able to make many new ones then were they to survive cryo. Moreover reflecting on past successes requires one to still exist to remember

Could a human exist that should rationally say no to cryo? In theory yes but probably none have ever existed. As long as someone extracts any positive utility at all from a future day of existing then continuing to exist is better than death. And while yes certain humans live in chronic pain any technology able to rebuild a cryo patient can almost certainly fix the problem causing it.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Assigning probabilities to metaphysical ideas · 2021-09-09T03:59:25.502Z · LW · GW

Yes. Thats what I meant, it you only compare hypotheses A and B when there is a very large number of hypotheses that fit all known data you may become unreasonably confident in B if A is false.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-09T03:39:58.270Z · LW · GW

Well the fossil fuel scenario has the issue that as the earth gets hotter it would be more and more expensive and obviously a bad idea to extract and burn more fossil fuels. Moreover more and more of the earth would be uninhabitable and also difficult to drill or mine for hydrocarbons.

The other scenarios, we are very close I think far closer that most realize to self replicating machinery. All tasks involved to manufacture machinery are vulnerable to already demonstrated machine learn algorithms it is just a matter of scale and iterative improvement. (By self replicating I mean robots made of parts in robots now with gears and motors and circuit boards and wiring bundles. And all tasks involved to manufacture the parts and assemble them are done by other such robots. This is likely possible with a few hierarchial general agents similar to the recent deepmind paper,

By hierarchial I mean use an agent made of several subagents trained with a state of the art method like this or better, and each subagents is specialized. Iike a perception agent then a planning agent.

Self replicating machinery would trivially blow past any of these traps and make them moot. The problems we would have are ones we might not have thought of.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Assigning probabilities to metaphysical ideas · 2021-09-08T20:54:37.774Z · LW · GW

So maybe the error here is that humans can't really hold thousands of hypotheses in their head. For example if you contrast the simulation argument vs "known physics is all there is" you can falsify the "known physics" argument because certain elements of the universe are impossible due to known physics. Or don't have an apparent underlying reason, which the simulation argument can explain. (the speed of light is explainable if the universe is made of discrete simulation cells that must finish by a deadline, and certain quantum entanglement effects could happen if the universe can write to the same memory address in one step)

But there are thousands of other explanations that likely fit the same data, and it's not falsifiable. The simulation argument is just one available "at hand" to a tech worker who has worked on related software.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-08T19:14:44.130Z · LW · GW

Regarding kesler: I understand that's just science press sensationalism. One method of dealing with it that the "math checks out on" is ground based laser brooms. High powered lasers would use photon pressure to deorbit each piece of debris, or at least enough debris to make spaceflight feasible. Theres a paper study on it if you are interested. Note also over a 100k period that most kesler debris will not be in a stable orbit. Small pieces of debris have high surface area to volume and deorbit quickly. Large pieces by definition are rare because humans have not launched very much mass into orbit and we can evade those pieces or deorbit them with the above mentioned lasers.

Humans as they are now wouldn't solve this problem. They would be heavily edited and modified, maybe to the point that no living cells are used anywhere. This appears feasible and again it's the 100k now not the "will the FDA approve a brain implant in 10 years" now.

As for the "fossil fuel trap" that appears to be more sensationalism, the math doesn't check out on that since 2018. Now that renewable is outright cheaper than fossil fuels economically this means the embodied energy ROI is highly positive (or it could not be outright cheaper unless you believe the equipment manufacturers have a magical source of free energy). I can link sources on this as well. Shortages of lithium and rare earths and copper turn out to be more sensationalism, there are now available on the market, in large quantities, alternatives. (Sodium ion batteries, rare earth free motors, aluminum wiring and motor windings). The alternatives are not quite as good, of course, but they are close in performance.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-08T19:06:19.379Z · LW · GW

We made computers with billions of times as much compute and memory from the 1960s. Previously intractable problems like machine perception and machine planning to resolve arbitrary failures - were only really begun to be solved with neural networks around 2014ish.

Previously they were theoretical. Now it's just a matter of money and iterations.

See previously to define a subtask for a von neuman machibe like "mine rocks from the asteroid you landed on in other tasks and haul them to the smelter" could have a near infinite number of failures. And with previous robotics each failure had to be explicitly handled by a programmer who anticipated the specific failure or a worker on site to resolve it.

With machine planning algorithms you can have the machine estimate the action that has a (better than random chance, ideally close to the true global maxima) probability of scoring well on a heuristic of success. And you need neural networks to even perceive the asteroid surface in arbitrary scenarios and lighting conditions. And you need realistic computer graphics and simulated physics to even model what the robot will see.

It's still many generations of technology away but we can actually in concrete terms specify how to do this, and how we could iterate to a working system if we wanted to.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-08T10:14:30.232Z · LW · GW

My point was that during von Neumanns time there was plenty of reason to think such probes might never be possible, or far in the future. The exponential nature of certain types of improvements wasn't yet known.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Is LessWrong dead without Cox’s theorem? · 2021-09-06T04:11:16.494Z · LW · GW

Or succinctly: to be the "least wrong" you need to be using the measured best available assessment of projected outcomes.  All tools available are approximations anyway and the best tools right now are 'black box' deep learning methods which we do not know exactly how they arrive at their answers.

This isn't a religion and this is what a brain or any other known form of intelligence, artificial or natural, does.  

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Is LessWrong dead without Cox’s theorem? · 2021-09-06T03:58:10.422Z · LW · GW

Or normal people are just wrong.

This is one of the tenants of rationality. If the best information available and the best method for assessing probability clear says something different than "mainstream" opinions, then probably the mainstream is simply wrong.

During the pandemic there were many examples of this, since modeling an exponential process is something that is easy to do with math but mainstream decision makers often failed to follow the predictions, using usually linear models or incorrect "Intuition and practical experience".

As a side note there's many famous examples where this fails, usually intuition or practical experience fails when contrasted with well collected large scale data. I should say it technically always fails. Another element of rationality is it's not enough to be right you have to have made the right conclusion. As an example it is incorrect to hit on 20 on black jack even if you win the hand you are still wrong to do it, unless you have a way of seeing the next card.

(Or in more explicit terms the policy you use needs to be evidence based and the best available, and it's effectiveness measured over large data sets not local and immediate term outcomes. This means that sometimes having the best chance of winning means you lose)

As for a "hell world", known human history has had very few humans living in "hell" conditions for long. And someone can make new friends and family. So these objections are not rational.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Is LessWrong dead without Cox’s theorem? · 2021-09-04T07:11:11.495Z · LW · GW


The general "method of rationality" does not require any specific theorem to be true.  Rationality will work so long as the universe has causality.  All rationality is saying that, given actions an agent can take have some causal effect on the outcome the universe will take, the agent can estimate the optimal outcome for the agent's goals.  And the agent should do that by definition as this is what "winning" is.  

We have many demonstrated such agents today, from simple control systems to cutting edge deep learning game-players.  And we as humans should aspire to act as rationally as we can.

This is where non-mainstream actions come into play, for example cryonics is rational, taking risky drugs that may slow aging is rational, and so on.  This is because the case for them is so strong that any rational approximation of the outcome of your actions says you should be doing these things.  Another bit of non-mainstream thought is we don't have to be certain of an outcome to chase it.  For example, if cryonics has a 1% chance of working, mainstream thought says we should just take the 99% case of it failing as THE expected outcome, declare it "doesn't work", and not do it.  But a 1% chance of not being dead is worth the expense for most people.

No theorems are required, only that the laws of physics allow for us to rationally compute what to do.  [note that religious beliefs state the opposite of this.  For example, were an invisible being pulling the strings of reality, then merely "thinking" in a way that being doesn't like might cause that being to give you bad outcomes.  mainstream religions contain various "hostile to rationality" memes, some religions state you should stop thinking, others that you should "take it on faith" that everything your local church leader states is factual, and so on.]

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Is there a name for the theory that "There will be fast takeoff in real-world capabilities because almost everything is AGI-complete"? · 2021-09-03T21:14:20.060Z · LW · GW

The opposing theory would be "easy to port" narrow ai. Right now the state of the art algorithms are either locked away in deepminds vcs or are hand written python code by openAI that is kind of hard to port to a new task or drive a realtime robot with.

It reminds me of the situation in the late 90s, where creating an e-commerce website and store was a big undertaking, or a 3d accelerated game was a big project. Now of course anyone can launch a store in hours the hard part is getting customers or making a profit after Amazon/ebay take their cut. And there are lots of examples of a hobbyist game developer re-creating a simple game in lavishly detailed 3d in 24 hours or less by using an existing engine and assets from a library or store.

"Easy to port" narrow ai would be you subscribe to a bunch of reusable ai components- some for perception, some for planning, some for prediction, etc. Import some high level constructs to define your heuristics with. Pick one of many hardware platforms and ask another ai system to evaluate how many robotic arms and what kind of sensors will be optimal for a task.

And in a short amount of time you have a sellable automated robotic system able to do a task that hasn't been automated before for money. Same problem with ebay/Amazon, of course, the lion's share of the revenue would go to the platform owners.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on All Possible Views About Humanity's Future Are Wild · 2021-09-03T21:08:31.313Z · LW · GW

Note that this "immortal robots will take over the galaxy and it's inevitable" is extremely recent thinking. Arguably it has been less than 10 years that neural networks became more than toys. That it's definitely possible to exceed human intelligence in every dimension with machine intelligence, once we get the details correct.

My point is that we have constructed this world view from a large pile of assumptions. Assumptions that each today seem solid but may simply be wrong.

  1. That the laws of physics are as we know them with a few significant figure and missing theory integrations from being complete
  2. That the laws of physics are the same everywhere
  3. That other stars and galaxies are even real
  4. That alien species have to expand per the laws of nature as we understand them, that there is no way to cheat or exploit to get a better outcome than endless Dyson swarms
  5. That there are no hidden rules that would end everything, like exceeding the complexity the universe allows causing a 'chunk reset' in an area of space.

And these are just a few of the many low probability possibilities. Point is, yeah, when the outcome of your estimate seems to violate any prior history it calls into question the assumptions you don't have direct evidence for.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on A Small Vacation · 2021-08-30T03:03:44.484Z · LW · GW

Yes, this. Moreover there is another aspect. Refugees are people rejected by their home country. Yes, many countries have insular in groups and arbitrary and capricious decision-making. So not every individual rejected 'deserves' it. But it's like trying to found a company and only accepting fired or laid off employees of other companies. The same argument applies - companies can for non merit based or random reasons fire or lay off someone. But if you measured the average capabilities or performance of this 'reject' pool, odds are it will underperform compared to the greater population.

Programs like L1/H1B are the inverse. The top workers of a source country are more likely to be the ones offered these deals.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-05T04:56:38.234Z · LW · GW

Well, the hypothesis above says if you assassinate Darwin then someone else will make a similar discovery. The Voyage of the Beagle gave Darwin the information needed to reach this hypothesis. Other people alive then knew the same facts and were about as intelligent, therefore someone else would have advanced the theory.

That the underlying technology and infrastructure that allowed for a 5 year scientific voyage made this conclusion possible.

Maybe it would have taken until the introduction of cameras but the important thing is that evolution is a force you can see in the data. It's as "real" as an electron is.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-03T00:38:15.444Z · LW · GW

Two things can be true at the same time:

(1) geniuses exist - individuals with statistically rare brains and knowledge bases able to make advances

(2) for major historical inventions there could have been many geniuses making the realization around the same time and the one we credit in the history books was just a little faster/better at self promotion.

I think 1 and 2 are both true. That lasting innovations come from technology bases becoming robust and broadly available, enabling the next advance. That while not everyone is a genius 1 in 100 at least could be, and the world therefore has millions who could fill the role.

That if you sent assassins back in time to kill key innovators you would delay things only a little, from weeks to a few years depending.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Working With Monsters · 2021-08-02T01:53:14.495Z · LW · GW

Should a country where cryonic preservation is routine try to take over one where it is forbidden?

Or a country where anti-aging medicine delivered in international aid is being stolen and wasted to prevent out-groups from receiving treatment?


It's a moderately interesting question though only because our current moral frameworks privilege "do nothing and let something bad happen" over "do something and cause something bad but less bad to happen".  

It's just the Trolley problem restated.  The solve I have for the trolley problem is viewing the agent in front of the lever as a robotic control system.  Every timestep, the control system must output a control packet, on a CAN or rs-485 bus.  There is nothing special or privileged between a packet that says "keep the actuators in their current position" and "move to flip the lever".  

Therefore the trolley problem vanishes from a moral sense.  From a legal sense, a court of law might try to blame the robot, however.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Working With Monsters · 2021-08-02T01:48:55.544Z · LW · GW

Which is a meta comment on present day I think, where the blue red divide is such that one of those sides clearly aligns with facts and physical reality while another side relies on made up stories.  

Except of course present day, the reason for one of these sides seems almost to be a self identity thing, where they don't really believe in their color's precepts, they just identify with the people in it more so that's the color they fly.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on DeepMind: Generally capable agents emerge from open-ended play · 2021-07-29T20:41:05.429Z · LW · GW

Neat. Why stop there? Why not start an EY post at thousands of points?

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on DeepMind: Generally capable agents emerge from open-ended play · 2021-07-29T20:08:59.344Z · LW · GW

You mean using the author's karma for the initial vote? Interesting if so. (And better than the alternative where a zero karma spambot gets as much visibility right away as a well respected poster)

The circle jerk problem is unfortunate. I have noticed on Reddit that a huge part of voting behavior is you eat many downvotes for expressing a position that disagrees with the subreddit consensus. Regardless of correctness.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on DeepMind: Generally capable agents emerge from open-ended play · 2021-07-29T19:58:45.633Z · LW · GW

I see the numbers but exponential growth is hard for humans. 2012 feels like practically yesterday, with consumer tech having barely changed. Alexa came out in 2014, but prototypes for voice recognition had existed for years. It reminds me of how it felt in February with the covid news. It didn't feel real that a virus that had yet to kill a single us citizen would cause such damage.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Fire Law Incentives · 2021-07-23T20:56:43.676Z · LW · GW

Right. The first step to a real solution would be to sector the forest into zones separated by a firebreak. Then schedule each zone for a burn every (time interval).

However, cutting such barriers into a forest could island certain species and cause their extinction via genetic drift and diversity loss. (Essentially each isolated population has a high probability of losing genetic diversity each generation and so eventually the whole population will become fragile and will die out)

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-09T23:26:34.997Z · LW · GW

A person can write things down, I suspect that an incorrect answer on a test with unlimited time is :

The person got bored and didn't check enough to catch every error or didn't possess a fact that the test writer expected every taker to know.

The question itself is wrong. (a correct question is one where after all constraints are applied one and only one answer exists)

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-09T17:56:34.308Z · LW · GW

As in if there were no time limit and the test taker were allowed to read any reference that doesn't directly have the answer and had unlimited lifespan and focus. Note also that harder iq test questions as they are written today in absolute terms the questions are wrong in that multiple valid solutions that satisfy all constraints exist. (With the usual cop out of "best" answer without defining the algorithm used to sort answers for best)

The MCAT and the dental one is another example of such a test. Every well prepared student has the ability to answer every question but there is a time limit.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-09T16:40:06.609Z · LW · GW

While I agree these are 2 different quantities when we say "intelligence test" we mean cognitive capacity. Every problem on an IQ test can be eventually solved by someone without gross brain deficits. They might need some weeks of training first to understand the "trick" a test maker looks for but after this they can solve every question. So an IQ test score measures problems solved by a time limit (that cannot provide enough time for any living human being to solve all questions or the test has an upper range it can measure) plotter on a gaussian.

So IQ testing an AI system will be tough since obviously it would need about a second to run all questions in parallel though however many stages of neural networks and other algorithms it uses. And then it will either miss a question because it doesn't have the algorithm to answer one of a particular type or because it doesn't have information that the test maker assumed all human beings would have.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-09T16:35:33.506Z · LW · GW

This is true. Keep in mind that the AGI is trying to make money, it's having to find securities where it predicts humans are going to change the price in a predictable direction in a short time horizon.

Most securities will change their price purely by random chance (or in a pattern no algorithm can find) and you cannot beat the market.

Now there is another strategy. This has been used by highly successful hedges. If you are the news you can make the market move in the direction you predict. Certain hedges do their research and from a mixture of publicly available and probably insider data find companies in weak financial positions. They then sell them short with near term strike prices on the options and announce publicly their findings.

This is a strategy AGI could probably do extremely well.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-09T04:32:57.610Z · LW · GW

Error in paragraph one. Suppose the drug company stock is $10 and from your sleuthing you predict it will be $20 once the trial results release. There are a finite number of shares you can buy in the interval between (10 and 20). In the short term you will exhaust the order book for the market and longer term you will drive the price to $20. Hedge funds who can leverage trillions routinely cause things like this. Error in paragraph 2: the return on increasing intelligence is diminishing. You will not get double the results for double the intelligence. (Note I still think the singularity is possible but because the intelligence increase would be on the order of a million to a billion times the combined intelligence of humanity once you build enough computers and network them with enough bandwidth)

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-08T18:56:44.026Z · LW · GW

Yeah this is one where it seems like as long as the delegator and task engine are both rational (aka manager and worker) it works fine.

The problems show up in 2 ways : when what the organization is itself incentived by is misaligned with the needs of the host society, or when the incomplete bookkeeping at a layer or corruption or indifference creates inefficiencies.

For example prisons and courts are incentivized to have as many criminals needing sentencing and punishment as possible. While a host society would benefit if there were less actual crime and less members having to suffer through punishment.

But internal to itself a court system creating lots and lots of meaningless hearings (meaningless in that they are rigged to a known outcome or a random outcome that doesn't depend on the inputs and thus a waste of everyone's time) or a prison having lots of people kept barely alive through efficient frugality is correct for these institutions own goals.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Potential Bottlenecks to Taking Over The World · 2021-07-08T18:51:38.901Z · LW · GW

This is correct. The reason is the stock market has exhaustible gradients. Suppose you have an algorithm that can find market beating investment opportunities. Due to EMH there will be a limited number of these and there will only be finite shares for sale at a market beating price. Once you buy out all the underpriced shares, or sell all the overpriced shares you are holding (by "shares" I also include derivatives) the market price will trend to the efficient price as a result of your own action.

And you have a larger effect the more money you have. This is why successful hedge funds are victims of their own success.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Do incoherent entities have stronger reason to become more coherent than less? · 2021-07-02T18:48:49.212Z · LW · GW

To add a simple observation to more detailed analysis : human brains have real world noise affecting their computations. So the preference they are going to exhibit when their internal pretences are almost the same is going to be random. This is also the optimal strategy for a game like rock paper scissors: to randomly choose from the 3 classes, because any preference for a class can be exploited like you found out.

We can certainly make AI systems that exhibit randomness whenever 2 actions being considered are close together in value heuristic.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Could Advanced AI Drive Explosive Economic Growth? · 2021-07-02T04:04:02.865Z · LW · GW

The reason to compare it to fission is from self gain. For a fission reaction that quirk of physics is called criticality where the neutrons produced self amplify, leading to exponential gain. Up until sufficient fissionable material was concentrated (the Chicago pile) there was zero fission gain and you could say fission was only a theoretical possibility.

Today human beings design and participate in building AI software, AI computer chips, and robots for AI to drive. They also gather the resources to make these things.

The 'quirk' we expect to exploit here is that human minds are very limited in I/O and lifespan, and have many inefficiencies and biases.  They are also millions of times slower than computer chips that already exist, at least for individual subsystems.  They were designed by nature to handle far more limited domain problems than the ones we are faced with now, and thus we are bad at them.

The 'quirk' therefore is that if you can build a superior than a human mind but also as robust and broad in capabilities, and the physical materials are a small amount of refined silicon or carbon with small energy requirements (say a cube that is 10cm*10cm and requiring 1 kW) you can order those machines to self replicate, getting the equivalent of adding trillions of workers to our population without any of the needs or desires of those trillions of people.  

This will obviously cause explosive economic growth.  Will it be over 30% in a single year?  No idea.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Could Advanced AI Drive Explosive Economic Growth? · 2021-07-01T03:07:53.406Z · LW · GW

One comment : nuclear fission generated explosive bursts of energy and enormous increases in the amount of energy humans could release. (Destructively) Very likely the "megatons per year" growth rate was 30 percent some years on the 60s and 70s.

Yet if you moved the plot backward to 1880 and asked the most credible scientists alive the if we would find a way to do this, most would be skeptical and might argue that the increase in dynamite production with each year didn't show 30 percent growth.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Covid 6/24: The Spanish Prisoner · 2021-06-24T21:53:07.686Z · LW · GW

What was McAfee actually facing? Wouldn't he have been able to plead and get minimum security (club fed) like most other wealthy defendants accused of financial crimes and tax evasion?

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Taboo "Outside View" · 2021-06-21T22:14:47.835Z · LW · GW

Reference class forecasting is k way regression, right.

One issue is that recent events - the pandemic, cryptocurrency - seem to just be "off the graph" events. You can try to use the "Spanish flu" as a predictor for the pandemic but it was so far away in time and world structure as to be useless. Cryptocurrency can be compared to the Tulip mania and other bubbles but again it's not the same.

We can't predict something then with this method if we don't have references.

Well, sorta. For my entire lifespan the science press is full of breathless optimism. A professor somewhere wrote a paper and got something to vaguely work. And thus flying cars and cyborgs or free energy is 5 minutes away!

Obviously nothing came out of any of that. The things that lead to progress had money - gigadollars - behind them. Like these white leds and the chip in the device I use to write this message and it's OLED screen and so on. And it took years and years and many generations of the tech past the breathless article stage - at least 20 years for OLED - to not suck.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on An animated introduction to longtermism (feat. Robert Miles) · 2021-06-21T22:04:05.494Z · LW · GW

The view of most people - arguably one that could be considered rational - is that unless an event has a non zero chance of being something we can personally experience, it doesn't matter.

This is likely the reason for most major civilizations happening to use religion. Most religions contain some promised form of accounting for our actions.

Moreover this is why in this community if there were not cryonics or AI - potential developments that have nonzero chances of allowing at least some of us here to personally see this future - this community wouldn't exist. If there is no hope there can be no progress.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Electric heat pumps (Mini-Splits) vs Natural gas boilers · 2021-06-02T21:00:53.815Z · LW · GW

Sure. For a new build in your climate zone, probably the most efficient setup is a tanked condensing natural gas water heater, ideally sorta centrally located. Then a hydronics air handler and vents that just cover the immediate area around the installation. This gives you the cost advantage of natural gas for most of the heating but you avoid the equipment cost of a second furnace. Tankless condensing is an option but in your biome there probably isn't a sufficient advantage.

Then mini splits around the periphery for heating/cooling during most days.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Electric heat pumps (Mini-Splits) vs Natural gas boilers · 2021-06-01T00:01:29.754Z · LW · GW

There are other metrics such as HPSF meant to factor in aggregate performance. Since by choosing a fixed temperature you neglect all the days where the mini split has a huge efficiency advantage over combustion. Also you overlook the zoning. Larger houses that have extra rooms that are not always in use benefit from not heating those areas. And the solar. At your high local electric rates solar has a rapid payoff.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Electric heat pumps (Mini-Splits) vs Natural gas boilers · 2021-05-31T00:12:33.957Z · LW · GW

You made a significant flaw in your calculations.  [average price of electricity].

The eia's data says 10.9 cents per kWh is the national average price per electricity.  Essentially for whatever reason (regulatory capture, a mishap with a nuclear plant, onerous local regulations) you are paying 2.4 times what you 'should' be paying, given the power company locally should be able to buy natural gas generators and fuel for around the same price as a power company anywhere else.  

Second, mini splits are significantly more often on the higher end than your numbers reflect.

5.29 (COP is EER/3.4) is what the fujitus RLS3 gets, which is the bare minimum your neighbors would be installing.  There are more efficient models not listed on this chart, such as this 40 SEER model.

So the 'high end' estimate is actually the average and not high enough.

Anyways if you pay 2.4 times less for electricity, then a heat pump would be 65 percent as expensive as your boiler.  Combine that with a solar array, and remember the other advantages of mini splits: redundancy, zoning, and air conditioning as well.  Redundancy because a typical house will have 2-5 mini splits, so a failure of one is not a failure of climate control.  Zoning, aka turning on just the units in the occupied rooms, can add another factor of 2 energy savings on top of the above.  And you get air conditioning on the days you will need it.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Covid 5/27: The Final Countdown · 2021-05-28T04:35:11.080Z · LW · GW

Do we have a quantitative measurement for "all the time"? We have in living memory the emergence of HIV which presumably also came from an animal host initially. And the previous 2 variants of covid which were not very contagious.

Please note I am not "convinced" either way. I am just noting a gain of function experiment is a specific set of conditions that might take nature decades to centuries to replicate by chance. It is a plausible method for the virus evolving. The other way being that lab field workers are going to collect more exotic specimens than commercial meat sellers, going deeper into caves,etc. All it would have taken is a mistake or counterfeit equipment such as HEPA filters, a problem that appears to be more common with current Chinese industries than in equipment from more mature name brand western companies.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Covid 5/27: The Final Countdown · 2021-05-27T18:11:09.728Z · LW · GW

There are multiple hypotheses and insufficient evidence to settle on just one.

The 'gain of function' experimental design - where a chain of lab animals are used, with a slightly harder to cross barrier between each animal - would cause similar 'natural mutation' patterns. The difference is that it makes the actual creation of a novel pandemic causing virus many many times as likely, as this same infection chain has to occur by chance in nature.

What we have now is like looking at the residue of a nuclear meltdown but we can't examine the actual reactor, and the owners of the territory the meltdown occurred in are actively suppressing evidence. Nature can produce a nuclear reactor and has at least once it just isn't likely.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on There is no No Evidence · 2021-05-22T06:38:06.640Z · LW · GW

I am not saying it is bullshit. But failing to consider information also has a cost. And for some fields, "consistently good decisions" may not even be possible.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Solar Production Data · 2021-05-20T02:52:56.780Z · LW · GW

The new ones are better because they are wired in series with your house and can supply split phase power without batteries and theoretically up to their maximum outputs of 3-12kw depending on the model. Add a 48v LTO battery for a buffer and you can do better still.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries have about twice the usable capacity (from 50 percent to 80-90 percent usable capacity) and 5-10 times the cycle life. (From 500-750 cycles to 3000-7000 cycles).

So in terms of $ per available stored watt hour this is an order of magnitude improvement even if the cost per amp hour appears similar.

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on Solar Production Data · 2021-05-20T02:07:22.690Z · LW · GW

Hi Jeff.  A few things:

a. The "SMA" feature is old news, newer all in one inverters do a much better job.  I am talking about the Growatts high frequency models.

b.  The batteries have plummeted in cost very recently.  You can build your own pretty easily now with minimal effort for $150 kWh, or buy packaged solutions at $300 kWh, for new lithium iron phosphate batteries in a good box.    

c.  If you want backup power, get a generator - this is the usual advice.  The cost of the fuel is negligible due to the expected hours without power in a given year.  Note that the right generator is probably a dual fuel propane/gas model that when you test started it you used no gasoline.  (so no deposits in the carb)

Comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) on There is no No Evidence · 2021-05-20T01:41:54.796Z · LW · GW

The problem with the "no scientific evidence" line of thought is it devolves to:

"We know nothing at all unless a credentialed scientist conducted a blind RCT at the cost of millions of dollars and years of time. And the only information we learned from the RCT was a probability update for a binary question. And the results had to be reviewed by peer scientists, manually, and then published in a high impact journal or they are not credible".

Otherwise we are going to pretend we know absolutely nothing and will continue to do things per decades old tradition. (Even though those traditions were never checked with the same algorithm)

This is not a system that will develop effective treatments for aging and human disease.

Moreover the math says it is morally evil and kills millions.

My proposed fix is we develop automated systems to do all the above and we have the algorithms reviewed by all of the above but then reuse the same automated systems for thousands of experiments. And instead of explicit rcts we usually find the data by mining or proxy experiments.