Posts

Sam Harris and Scott Adams debate Trump: a model rationalist disagreement 2017-07-20T00:18:54.355Z
Interview on IQ, genes, and genetic engineering with expert (Hsu) 2017-05-28T22:19:23.489Z
LW mentioned in influential 2016 Milo article on the Alt-Right 2017-03-18T19:30:03.381Z
The Psychology of Human Misjudgment by Charles T. Munger 2017-03-01T01:34:46.388Z
Allegory On AI Risk, Game Theory, and Mithril 2017-02-13T20:41:50.584Z
Dan Carlin six hour podcast on history of atomic weapons 2017-02-09T16:10:17.253Z
Dodging a bullet: "the price of insufficient medical vigilance can be very high." 2017-01-18T04:11:30.734Z
Be someone – be recognized by the system and promoted – or do something 2017-01-15T21:22:53.371Z
Increase Your Child’s Working Memory 2016-11-27T21:57:12.930Z
Old urine samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics show massive cheating 2016-11-25T02:31:10.356Z
Synthetic supermicrobe will be resistant to all known viruses 2016-11-22T04:40:05.982Z
There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in a flock. How old is the shepherd? / Math Education 2016-10-17T00:12:03.593Z
A Child's Petrov Day Speech 2016-09-28T02:27:38.521Z
[Link] My Interview with Dilbert creator Scott Adams 2016-09-13T05:22:47.741Z
Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes 2016-08-06T19:10:16.968Z
Crazy Ideas Thread 2016-06-18T00:30:49.892Z
[Link] Mutual fund fees 2016-04-23T22:09:39.949Z
My new rationality/futurism podcast 2016-04-06T17:36:51.509Z
[Link] 10 Tips from CFAR: My Business Insider article 2015-12-10T02:09:29.208Z
[Link] My review of Rationality: From AI to Zombies 2015-08-12T16:16:12.461Z
[Link] Game Theory YouTube Videos 2015-08-06T16:17:44.998Z
Wear a Helmet While Driving a Car 2015-07-30T16:36:37.768Z
Parenting Technique: Increase Your Child’s Working Memory 2015-06-29T19:51:48.067Z
What are "the really good ideas" that Peter Thiel says are too dangerous to mention? 2015-04-12T21:07:40.663Z
Twenty basic rules for intelligent money management 2015-03-19T17:57:22.558Z
Link: LessWrong and AI risk mentioned in a Business Insider Article 2014-12-03T17:13:59.505Z
Article on confirmation bias for the Smith Alumnae Quarterly 2014-08-06T14:43:11.412Z
A simple game that has no solution 2014-07-20T18:36:54.636Z
Quickly passing through the great filter 2014-07-06T18:50:10.647Z
Link: Poking the Bear (Podcast) 2014-02-27T15:43:29.955Z
What rationality material should I teach in my game theory course 2014-01-14T02:15:53.470Z
Review of Scott Adams’ “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” 2013-12-23T20:48:12.469Z
Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school 2013-10-09T19:19:40.795Z
A World War I example showing the danger of deceiving your own side 2013-06-01T00:00:51.680Z
Map and territory visual presentation 2013-01-17T18:17:12.387Z
Modafinil now covered by insurance 2012-09-26T00:15:34.355Z
Mass-murdering neuroscience Ph.D. student 2012-07-20T17:02:52.624Z
Seeking Collaborator for a Singularity Comic Book 2011-12-05T16:20:23.838Z
Link: WJS article that uses Steve Jobs' death to mock cryonics and the Singularity 2011-10-08T02:56:58.381Z
Paid DC internship for autistics with technical skills who are recent college graduates 2011-09-27T21:51:14.669Z
Will DNA Analysis Make Politics Less of a Mind-Killer? 2011-08-18T00:03:06.366Z
What does lack of evidence of a causal relationship tell you? 2011-06-08T19:03:45.283Z
Are the Sciences Better Than the Social Sciences For Training Rationalists? 2011-05-31T17:45:52.368Z
Improving the college experience for students on the autism spectrum 2011-04-25T18:47:17.457Z
Overcoming the negative signal of not attending college. 2011-02-16T20:13:12.500Z
What would an ultra-intelligent machine make of the great filter? 2010-11-28T18:47:52.503Z
An Xtranormal Intelligence Explosion 2010-11-07T23:42:34.382Z
What hardcore singularity believers should consider doing 2010-10-27T20:26:04.499Z
Standing Desks and Hunter-Gatherers 2010-10-14T00:03:26.507Z
Cryonics Questions 2010-08-26T23:19:43.399Z

Comments

Comment by James_Miller on Sam Altman Q&A Notes - Aftermath · 2021-09-08T16:10:07.017Z · LW · GW

While the decision to remove might have been correct, clearly Altman placed some value on people like us learning about his views and might have appreciated your efforts to inform more such people about this thinking in a way that's opaque to the traditional media.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-07T21:17:47.761Z

Yes good point.  They might be doing this to set up a situation where they tell us to not build Dyson spheres.  If we accept that aliens are visiting us and observe that the universe is otherwise in a natural state we might infer that the aliens don't want us to disturb this state outside of our solar system.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-07T18:27:09.364Z

I am unaware if Hanson has written about this.  Panspermia could happen by the first replicators happening in space perhaps on comets and then spreading to planets.  As Hanson has pointed out, if life is extremely rare it is strange that life would originate on earth when there are almost certainly super-earths on which you would think life would be much more likely to develop.  A solution to this paradox is that life did develop on such an Eden and then spread to earth billions of years ago from a star system that is now far away.  Our sun might have been very close to the other star system when life spread, or indeed in the same system at the time.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T17:53:20.369Z

You have anticipated Robin Hanson's argument.  He believes that the only way that the aliens would be able to avoid having some splinter group changing the universe in obvious ways would be if they had a very stable and authoritarian leadership. 

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T14:42:15.256Z

Yes, and it could also be that I was so excited that the great Sam Altman might agree with me on an issue I greatly care about that I read something into what he said that wasn't there.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T14:12:46.006Z

Do you remember my saying that the issue was as important as AGI and him agreeing with my statement?

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T13:52:45.680Z

What do you remember of the question I asked Altman and of his response?  

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T12:14:13.632Z

Were you in discussion room 1 to hear the question I asked of Altman about UFOs?  If not, you don't have a basis to say "at no point".

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T12:01:10.862Z

My claims mostly relate to what Sam Altman said, in response to my question, in discussion room 1 after Altman's official talk had ended.  Why are you so confident that I have said false things about what he stated?  Gwern was, I believe, just referring to what  Altman said in his official talk.  You should have a very high standard of proof before you accuse someone of saying "pretty false things".

I think people irrationally reject evidence that aliens are UFOs.  Pilots have reported that they feared disclosing what they had seen UFOs do because no one would believe them.  Ironically, If my version of what Altman said is true, we have a case here where I'm being falsely accused of spreading false information for accurately reporting that a hyper-high status person thinks UFOs are likely aliens.  Something about  UFOs causes normally rational people to jump to the conclusion that anyone offering evidence for the alien hypothesis is either lying, deluded, or a fool.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T11:55:19.840Z

I believe he did in discussion Room 1 in response to my question.  This occurred after his formal talk was over.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T11:53:33.852Z

Thanks.  Hanson, as best I recall, gave the 1/1000 Bayesian prior of aliens visiting us.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T02:40:29.529Z

The US military claims that on multiple occasions they have observed  ships do things well beyond our capacities.  There are cases where a drone is seen by multiple people and recorded by multiple systems flying in ways well beyond our current technology to the point where it is more likely the drones are aliens than something built by SpaceX or the Chinese.  The aliens are not hiding, they are making it extremely obvious that they are here, it is just that we are mostly ignoring the evidence.  The aliens seem to have a preference for hanging around militaries and militaries have a habit of classifying everything of interest.  I don't understand why the aliens don't reshape the universe building things like Dyson spheres, but perhaps the aliens are like human environmentalists who like to keep everything in its natural state.  Hanson's theory is that life is extremely rare in the universe but panspermia might be true.  Consequently, even though our galaxy might be the only galaxy in 1 billion light years to have any life, our galaxy might have two advanced civilizations, and it would make sense that if the other civ is more than a million years in advance of us they would send ships to watch us.  Panspermia makes the Bayesian prior of aliens visiting us, even given that the universe can't have too much advanced life or we would see evidence of it, not all that low, perhaps 1/1,000.   I don't know why they don't use language to communicate with us, but it might be like humans sending deep sea probes to watch squids.  I think the purpose of the UFOs might be for the aliens to be showing us that they are not a threat.  If, say, we encounter the alien's home planet in ten thousands years and are technologically equal to the aliens because both of us have solved science, the aliens can say, "obviously we could have wiped you out when you were primitive, so the fact that we didn't is evidence we probably don't now mean you harm."

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T01:21:01.097Z

The second.

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-06T01:00:11.105Z

It wasn't recorded.  Actually I was the one who asked the question in the room discussion.  The evidence that UFOs seen by the military are aliens is fairly strong.   I've done three podcasts on the topic included one with Robin Hanson.  See https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521

Comment by James_Miller on [deleted post] 2021-09-05T22:03:08.164Z

Sam Altman also said that the government admitted that UFOs are real.  After the talk in the "room" discussions Sam expressed agreement that UFOs being aliens are potentially as important as AGI, but did not feel this was an issue he had time to work on.

Comment by James_Miller on Living with a homeopath - how? · 2021-08-27T14:49:29.598Z · LW · GW

No, but the goal wouldn't be to change someone's mind.  It would be to get them to stop bugging you.

Comment by James_Miller on How to turn money into AI safety? · 2021-08-26T16:34:09.310Z · LW · GW

Unlikely.  The Davidson Institute does not get asked to recruit such children, and they would be the easiest pathway to such recruitment in the US.

Comment by James_Miller on How to turn money into AI safety? · 2021-08-26T01:23:44.017Z · LW · GW

Make thousands of clones of John von Neumann.  Yes, first we will have to get some of his DNA and we will have to figure out exactly how to clone humans.  But the payoff, at least over a 30-year-time scale, seems much bigger than anything else proposed.  On a less ambitious but related front, identify profoundly gifted kids between, say, 8-16 and offer them free expert tutoring in return for some of that tutoring being about the importance and challenges of AI safety.  The Davidson Institute would be a good place to start to look for such kids.

Comment by James_Miller on Living with a homeopath - how? · 2021-08-21T15:08:31.456Z · LW · GW

Explain to your family that to properly evaluate homeopathy your entire family needs to understand statistics.  Give your parents some books on statistics and whenever they bug you to do something about homeopathy ask how much progress they have made with the stats books.  Start numerous conversations with your parents about statistics and work statistics into all the conversations they have with you.  When they want to watch TV suggest instead they watch a YouTube stats video.  Eventually, work out a truce.  

Comment by James_Miller on How to Sleep Better · 2021-07-16T22:12:09.649Z · LW · GW

I don't think I'm a mouth-breather.

Comment by James_Miller on How to Sleep Better · 2021-07-16T18:15:15.064Z · LW · GW

I have found that sleeping with tape over my mouth improves my sleep quality.  I know this sounds crazy, but if you do a quick Internet search you will find support for the practice.

Comment by James_Miller on What is the current bottleneck on genetic engineering of human embryos for improved IQ · 2021-07-14T15:06:14.164Z · LW · GW

I think it is somewhere in this podcast we did:

https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521/cochran-on-increasing-iq

Comment by James_Miller on Is there work looking at the implications of many worlds QM for existential risk? · 2021-06-22T15:00:04.124Z · LW · GW

Many worlds being true increases the likelihood that anthropic analysis can provide us with useful information about the type of existential risk we face.  For example, if civilizations such as ours are commonplace, the Fermi paradox makes it likely that we will face some kind of great filter that usually destroys civilizations such as ours.  If civilizations such as ours are rare, the odds of us facing such a great filter are much lower.  Many worlds being true, I think, means we should increase our estimate of living in a universe in which we are common.

Comment by James_Miller on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-06-05T21:34:35.297Z · LW · GW

I don't normally think about them, and if I needed to I would just find some image on the Internet.

Comment by James_Miller on Aphantasia · 2021-05-28T13:16:53.664Z · LW · GW

Although I have Aphantasia, standardized tests indicated that I have high reading comprehension.  I wonder if my Aphantasia contributes to my reading very quickly.  I read fast enough that when one of my students asks me to read a paper in office hours if I read at my normal speed I figure she will think I didn't actually read her paper.

Comment by James_Miller on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-05-28T12:59:07.753Z · LW · GW

Based on reading the Reddit Aphantasia forum, some people with aphantasia can visualize when they dream, while others can't.  I have been actively trying to lucid dream for a while with a small amount of success although I have never tried WILD.  I will look into it.

Comment by James_Miller on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-05-27T19:01:07.929Z · LW · GW

As I have Aphantasia I never visualize when not dreaming.  Before I learned about Aphantasia, I would have been amazed to learn that anyone visualizes while they read.  I  am curious to the extent that visualizing helps learning to see what kind of handicap I faced as a student.  I have a PhD in economics.

Comment by James_Miller on If individual performance is Pareto distributed, how should we reform education? · 2021-05-27T11:58:28.346Z · LW · GW

I do with my son.

Comment by James_Miller on List of good AI safety project ideas? · 2021-05-26T23:59:24.302Z · LW · GW

I co-authored a paper suggesting that we take advantage of AI's superhuman abilities in chess to create trustworthy and untrustworthy chess oracles to help develop strategies for dealing with possibly unfriendly oracles.  https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.02911

Comment by James_Miller on If individual performance is Pareto distributed, how should we reform education? · 2021-05-24T16:46:15.829Z · LW · GW

Providing one-on-one tutoring to highly intelligent children should be considered by the effective altruism community in part because many members of this community would themselves be qualified to be such tutors.

Comment by James_Miller on MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion · 2021-05-14T21:01:49.296Z · LW · GW

If you are considering New Hampshire, you should also look at Western Massachusetts.  Both offer the opportunity to drive to Boston, but without high city land prices.  Western Mass also has many colleges including University of Mass at Amherst.  Lyme disease, however, is a problem.

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension · 2021-05-07T00:04:19.781Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I had forgotten the joy kids experience from having snow days.

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension · 2021-05-06T22:12:44.003Z · LW · GW

I fear I might have lost my soul as I don't understand why NYC  having remote days instead of snow days is "evil".  Snow days are usually made up at the end of the school year, while I presume remote days will not be.  So why is it evil to extend summer vacation at the expense of having a few remote days?

Comment by James_Miller on AMA: Paul Christiano, alignment researcher · 2021-04-29T12:35:53.180Z · LW · GW

What would you advise a college student to do if the student is unusually good at math and wants to contribute to creating an aligned AGI?  Beyond a computer science major/multivariable calculus/linear algebra/statistics what courses should this student take? 

Comment by James_Miller on Better air is the easiest way not to die · 2021-04-28T15:48:17.061Z · LW · GW

Do you know of any air purifier that's effective and not noisy? 

Comment by James_Miller on Prophetic Hazard · 2021-04-16T12:51:55.789Z · LW · GW

My YouTube video about how a prophecy concerning Roman Emperor's Caracalla's assassination became self-fulfilling.

Comment by James_Miller on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-08T16:05:55.582Z · LW · GW

The prediction that the sun and stars we perceive will go out is absurd only because you are excluding the possibility that you are dreaming.  Because of what we label as dreams we frequently perceive things that quickly pop out of existence.

Comment by James_Miller on Extracting Money from Causal Decision Theorists · 2021-01-28T19:08:02.926Z · LW · GW

I'm confused since as a buyer if I believed the seller could predict with probability .75 I would flip a fair coin to decide which box to take meaning that the seller couldn't predict with probability .75.  If I can't randomize to pick a box I'm not sure how to fit in what you are doing to standard game theory (which I teach).

Comment by James_Miller on Appendices to cryonics signup sequence · 2021-01-24T01:59:44.192Z · LW · GW

"Over the past few years, some people have updated toward pretty short AGI timelines. If your timelines are really short, then maybe you shouldn't sign up for cryonics, because the singularity – good or bad – is overwhelmingly likely to happen before you biologically die"  

But such a scenario means there is less value in saving for retirement and this should make it financially easier for you to sign up for cryonics.  Also, the sooner we get friendly AGI, the sooner people in cryonics will be revived meaning there is a lower risk that your cryonics provider will fail before you can be revived.  

Comment by James_Miller on The Case for a Journal of AI Alignment · 2021-01-09T18:37:03.817Z · LW · GW

Strongly agree.  I would be happy to help.  Here are three academic AI alignment articles I have co-authored. https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.02911  https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.10536 https://arxiv.org/abs/2003.00812

Comment by James_Miller on Why the outside view suggests that longevity escape velocity is a long time away and cryonics is a much more feasible option for those alive today: signal-boosting a comment by Calm-Meet9916 on Reddit · 2021-01-09T01:29:44.386Z · LW · GW

While not captured by the outside view, I think the massive recent progress in machine learning should give us much hope of achieving LEV in 30 years.  

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over · 2020-12-25T23:10:05.898Z · LW · GW

Yes, the more people infected with the virus, and the longer the virus is in people the more time for a successful mutation to arise.

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over · 2020-12-25T15:06:45.405Z · LW · GW

I did a series of podcasts on COVID with Greg Cochran and Greg was right early on.  Greg has said from the beginning that the risk of a harmful mutation is reasonably high because the virus is new meaning there are likely lots of potential beneficial mutations (from the virus's viewpoint) that have not yet been found.

https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521

Comment by James_Miller on [Linkpost] AlphaFold: a solution to a 50-year-old grand challenge in biology · 2020-11-30T20:49:45.740Z · LW · GW

From an AI safety viewpoint, this might greatly increase AI funding and drive talent into the field and so advance when we get a general artificial superintelligence.

Comment by James_Miller on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-25T13:02:25.713Z · LW · GW

Yes for high concentration of observers, and if high tech civilizations have strong incentives to grab galactic resources as quickly as they can  thus preventing the emergence of other high tech civilizations, most civilizations such as ours will exist in universes that have some kind of late great filter to knock down civilizations before they can become spacefaring.

Comment by James_Miller on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-25T03:43:39.668Z · LW · GW

Thanks, that's a very clear explanation. 

Comment by James_Miller on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-24T12:51:14.401Z · LW · GW

At the end of Section 5.3 the authors write "So far, we have assumed that we can derive no information on the probability of intelligent life from our own existence, since any intelligent observer will inevitably find themself in a location where intelligent life successfully emerged regardless of the probability. Another line of reasoning, known as the “Self-Indication Assumption” (SIA), suggests that if there are different possible worlds with differing numbers of observers, we should weigh those possibilities in proportion to the number of observers (Bostrom, 2013). For example, if we posit only two possible universes, one with 10 human-like civilizations and one with 10 billion, SIA implies that all else being equal we should be 1 billion times more likely to live in the universe with 10 billion civilizations. If SIA is correct, this could greatly undermine the premises argued here, and under our simple model it would produce high probability of fast rates that reliably lead to intelligent life (Fig. 4, bottom)...Adopting SIA thus will undermine our results, but also undermine any other scientific result that would suggest a lower number of observers in the Universe. The plausibility and implications of SIA remain poorly understood and outside the scope of our present work."  

I'm confused, probably because anthropic effects confuse me and not because the authors made a mistake.  But don't the observer selection effects the paper uses derive information from our own existence, and if we make use of these effects shouldn't we also accept the implications of SIA?  Should rejecting SIA because it results in some bizarre theories cause us to also have less trust in observer selection effects?

Comment by James_Miller on Should students be allowed to give good teachers a bonus? · 2020-11-03T20:28:41.456Z · LW · GW

Not that I recall. 

Comment by James_Miller on Should students be allowed to give good teachers a bonus? · 2020-11-02T16:39:28.393Z · LW · GW

In 2007 I wrote an article for Inside Higher Ed advocating that "institutions should empower graduating seniors to reward teaching excellence. Colleges should do this by giving each graduating senior $1,000 to distribute among their faculty. Colleges should have graduates use a computer program to distribute their allocations anonymously."

https://insidehighered.com/views/2007/09/07/beyond-merit-pay-and-student-evaluations

Comment by James_Miller on How should one deal with life threatening infections or air planes? · 2020-10-29T22:39:07.661Z · LW · GW

In an accident something from your car could hit you in the head even if you have an airbag.  For example, the collusion could cause your head to hit a side window