Taking Clones Seriously 2021-12-01T17:29:08.759Z
Why Save The Drowning Child: Ethics Vs Theory 2021-11-16T19:07:00.612Z
The Opt-Out Clause 2021-11-03T22:02:53.680Z
30-ish focusing tips 2021-10-22T19:38:10.122Z


Comment by Raymond D on Signaling isn't about signaling, it's about Goodhart · 2022-01-06T22:21:25.817Z · LW · GW

My main takeaway from this post is that it's important to distinguish between sending signals and trying to send signals, because the latter often leads to goodharting.

It's tricky, though, because obviously you want to be paying attention to what signals you're giving off, and how they differ from the signals you'd like to be giving off, and sometimes you do just have to try to change them. 

For instance, I make more of an effort now than I used to, to notice when I appreciate what people are doing, and tell them, so that they know I care. And I think this has basically been very good. This is very much not me dropping all effort to signal.

But I think what you're talking about is very applicable here, because if I were just trying to maximise that signal, I would probably just make up compliments, and this would probably be obviously insincere. So I guess the big question is, which things do you stop trying to do?

(Also, I notice I'm now overthinking editing this comment because I've switched gears from 'what am I trying to say' to 'what will people interpret from this'. Time to submit, I guess.)

Comment by Raymond D on Reply to Eliezer on Biological Anchors · 2021-12-23T21:25:53.727Z · LW · GW

if you think timelines are short for reasons unrelated to biological anchors, I don't think Bio Anchors provides an affirmative argument that you should change your mind.


Eliezer:  I wish I could say that it probably beats showing a single estimate, in terms of its impact on the reader.  But in fact, writing a huge careful Very Serious Report like that and snowing the reader under with Alternative Calculations is probably going to cause them to give more authority to the whole thing.  It's all very well to note the Ways I Could Be Wrong and to confess one's Uncertainty, but you did not actually reach the conclusion, "And that's enough uncertainty and potential error that we should throw out this whole deal and start over," and that's the conclusion you needed to reach.

I would be curious to know what the intended consequences of the forecasting piece were.

A lot of Eliezer's argument seems to me to be pushing at something like 'there is a threshold for how much evidence you need before you start putting down numbers, and you haven't reached it', and I take what I've quoted from your piece to be supporting something like 'there is a threshold for how much evidence you might have, and if you're above it (and believe this forecast to be an overestimate) then you may be free to ignore the numbers here', contra the Humbali position. I'm not particularly confident on that, though.

Where this leaves me is feeling like you two have different beliefs about who will (or should) update on reading this kind of thing, and to what end, which is probably tangled up in beliefs about how good people are at holding uncertainty in their mind. But I'm not really sure what these beliefs are.

Comment by Raymond D on Taking Clones Seriously · 2021-12-01T20:26:16.659Z · LW · GW

The belief that people can only be morally harmed by things that causally affect them is not universally accepted. Personally I intuitively would like my grave to not be desecrated, for instance.

I think we have lots of moral intuitions that have become less coherent as science has progressed. But if my identical twin started licensing his genetic code to make human burgers for people who wanted to see what cannibalism was like, I would feel wronged.

I'm using pretty charged examples here, but the point I'm trying to convey is that there are a lot of moral lenses to apply here, and there are defensible deontological prohibitions to be made. Perhaps under scrutiny they'd fall away but I don't think it's clear cut, or at least not yet.

Comment by Raymond D on Taking Clones Seriously · 2021-12-01T18:53:17.537Z · LW · GW

You ask a number of good questions here, but the crucial point to me is that they are still questions. I agree it seems, based on my intuitions of the answers, like this isn't the best path. But 'how much would it cost' and 'what's the chance a clone works on something counterproductive' are, to me, not an argument against cloning, but rather arguments for working out how to answer those questions.

Also very ironic if we can't even align clones and that's what gets us.

Comment by Raymond D on Taking Clones Seriously · 2021-12-01T18:30:23.116Z · LW · GW

I think there are extra considerations to do with what the clone's relation to von Neumann. Plausibly, it might be wrong to clone him without his consent, which we can now no longer get. And the whole idea that you might have a right to your likeness, identity, image, and so on, becomes much trickier as soon as you have actually been cloned.

Also there's a bit of a gulf between a parent deciding to raise a child they think might do good and a (presumably fairly large) organisation funding the creation of a child.

I don't have strongly held convictions on these points, but I do think that they're important and that you'd need to have good answers before you cloned somebody.

Comment by Raymond D on Why Save The Drowning Child: Ethics Vs Theory · 2021-11-16T23:42:55.304Z · LW · GW

Well, I basically agree with everything you just said. I think we have quite different opinions about what politics is, though, and what it's for. But perhaps this isn't the best place to resolve those differences.

Comment by Raymond D on Why Save The Drowning Child: Ethics Vs Theory · 2021-11-16T21:31:56.033Z · LW · GW

Ok I think this is partly fair, but also clearly our moral standards are informed by our society, and in no small part those standards emerge from discussions about what we collectively would like those standards to be, and not just a genetically hardwired disloyalty sensor.

Put another way: yes, in pressured environments we act on instinct, but those instincts don't exist in a vacuum, and the societal project of working out what they ought to be is quite important and pretty hard, precisely because in the moment where you need to refer to it, you will be acting on System 1.

Comment by Raymond D on Why Save The Drowning Child: Ethics Vs Theory · 2021-11-16T21:25:37.756Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I'm entirely persuaded. Are you saying that the goal of ethics is to accurately predict what people's moral impulse will be in arbitrary situations?

I think moral impulses have changed with times, and it's notable that some people (Bentham, for example) managed to think hard about ethics and arrive at conclusions which massively preempted later shifts in moral values.

Like, Newton's theories give you a good way to predict what you'll see when you throw a ball in the air, but it feels incorrect to me to say that Newton's goal was to find order in our sensory experience of ball throwing. Do you think that there are in fact ordered moral laws that we're subject to, which our impulses respond to, and which we're trying to hone in on?

Comment by Raymond D on Substack Ho? · 2021-11-09T14:12:56.496Z · LW · GW

Migration - they have a team that will just do it for you if you're on the annual plan, plus there's an exporting plugin (

Setup - yeah there are a bunch of people who can help with this and I am one of them

I'll message you

Comment by Raymond D on Substack Ho? · 2021-11-06T17:25:31.403Z · LW · GW

Massive conflict of interest: I blog on ghost, know and like the people at ghost, and work at a company that moved from substack to ghost, get paid to help people use ghost, and a couple more COIs in this vein. 

But if you're soliciting takes from somebody from wordpress I think you might also appreciate the case for ghost, which I simply do think is better than substack for most bloggers above a certain size.

Re your cons, ghost:

1 - has a migration team and the ability to do custom routing, so you would be able to migrate your content

3 - supports total theme customisation

4 - supports analytics add-ons which would give you these details

5 - supports custom excerpts - doesn't even have to be the first bit of the post

6 - is built on open-source software, and you have the option of self-hosting

Some other pros:

  • really nice post editor
  • the upper limit of what you can do with add-ons and custom html injection is really high

Notable points against would be:

  • no mechanism for discovery like substack's
  • harder to set up than substack
  • analytics, commenting, and email click-through are not native, they're separate add-ons (although imo pretty easy to add)
  • I am not personally sure how hard migrating comments from wordpress would be
  • I don't know how to compare what degree of support you'd get from substack versus ghost
  • below a certain subscription threshold, more expensive (unlike substack's percentage fee ghost charges a rate that scales with subscribers)
  • just the big meta point that I am really biased here - I really don't want to give the impression of neutrality
Comment by Raymond D on Speaking of Stag Hunts · 2021-11-06T15:03:56.333Z · LW · GW

I'd like to throw out some more bad ideas, with fewer disclaimers about how terrible they are because I have less reputation to hedge against.

Inline Commenting

I very strongly endorse the point that it seems bad that someone can make bad claims in a post, which are then refuted in comments which only get read by people who get all the way to the bottom and read comments. To me the obvious (wrong) solution is to let people make inline comments. If nothing else, having a good way within comments to point to what part of the post you want to address feels like a strict win, and given that we already have pingbacks I think letting sufficiently good comments exist alongside the post would also be good. This could also be the kind of thing that a poster can enable or disable, and that a reader can toggle visibility on.

Personal Reputation

I don't have great models for how reputation should or does work on LessWrong. The second of these is testable though - I'd be curious to see what happened if prominent accounts, before commenting, flipped a coin, and in half of all cases posted through a random alt. Of course it may not be a bad thing if respected community figures get more consideration, but it would just be interesting to know how much of an effect it had. There are loads of obvious ways to hedge against this, all themed around anonymisation at different levels, but I think here it's less of a 'can' and more of a 'should', so I'd be curious to hear anyone else's thoughts on that.

Curated Comments

I agree that there are comments that are epistemically not so great. There's some underlying, very complicated question about 'who gets to decide what comments people should read', and I have some democratic instinct which resists any centralisation. But it does feel like some comments are notably higher-effort, or particularly at risk of brigading. I reckon a full prediction market-style moderation system would be a mess, but it seems like it wouldn't be that hard if, when someone made a comment, they could submit it for curation as 'a particularly carefully considered, relevant, and epistemically hygienic response' which, if approved, would be bumped above non-curated comments, with some suitable minor penalty for failed attempts or notes of feedback.

Debate as a model

In formal debate (or at least the kind I did) you distinguish between a point of information and a point of order. When you try to lodge a point of information, the opposing speaker can choose whether they'd like to be interrupted, and you're just interjecting some relevant facts. A point of order, though, is made to the chair, when there's a procedural violation, and it can very much interrupt you. I'm not sure how you'd extend this to lesswrong but it feels like a useful distinction in a similar context.

Comment by Raymond D on The Opt-Out Clause · 2021-11-04T11:52:44.599Z · LW · GW

I'm really enjoying the difference between the number of people who claimed they opted out and the number of people who explicitly wrote the phrase

Comment by Raymond D on The Opt-Out Clause · 2021-11-03T22:35:47.550Z · LW · GW

ah whoops thanks!

Comment by Raymond D on The Opt-Out Clause · 2021-11-03T22:31:24.218Z · LW · GW

What's the procedure?