How to make a predicted AI alignment event/meeting calendar 2020-06-20T22:43:43.901Z
Makeshift face touch warner 2020-03-18T09:38:42.476Z
I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay 2020-03-12T05:58:37.523Z
Usable implementation of IDA available 2020-02-29T08:54:09.155Z
Training a tiny SupAmp model on easy tasks. The influence of failure rate on learning curves 2020-02-05T07:22:49.624Z
Twenty-three AI alignment research project definitions 2020-02-03T22:21:49.089Z
Remote AI alignment writing group seeking new members 2020-01-18T02:10:38.618Z
How to make TensorFlow run faster 2019-11-28T00:28:21.099Z
rmoehn's Shortform 2019-11-10T22:07:39.932Z
Announcing the Farlamp project 2019-10-01T02:16:16.205Z
Looking for remote writing partners (for AI alignment research) 2019-10-01T02:16:10.198Z
Update: Predicted AI alignment event/meeting calendar 2019-09-13T09:05:28.741Z
Predicted AI alignment event/meeting calendar 2019-08-14T07:14:57.233Z
Which of these five AI alignment research projects ideas are no good? 2019-08-08T07:17:28.959Z
Job description for an independent AI alignment researcher 2019-07-13T09:47:54.502Z
Please give your links speaking names! 2019-07-11T07:47:07.981Z
How to deal with a misleading conference talk about AI risk? 2019-06-27T21:04:32.828Z
Agents dissolved in coffee 2019-06-04T08:22:04.665Z
The Stack Overflow of Factored Cognition 2019-04-21T12:19:39.262Z
Factored Cognition with Reflection 2019-04-06T10:00:50.497Z
A cognitive intervention for wrist pain 2019-03-17T05:26:58.910Z
(Non-)Interruptibility of Sarsa(λ) and Q-Learning 2016-11-16T04:22:06.000Z
Earning money with/for work in AI safety 2016-07-18T05:37:55.551Z


Comment by rmoehn on A cognitive intervention for wrist pain · 2021-06-10T22:28:01.511Z · LW · GW

Short answer, if you want to try a psychological approach (hopefully you will get better before you've tried all of this):

  1. Read my article carefully several times. If something is unclear, you can ask questions in the comments or send me a private message.
  2. Read John E. Sarno's The Mindbody Prescription.
  3. Learn cognitive-behavioural (self-)therapy.

There are several options for cognitive-behavioural therapy, from cheap to expensive.

Meditation can be helpful if you want to improve awareness of body and thoughts. But it's a wide field and there are risks.

Whenever you try an intervention, pay attention to whether it makes you feel less stressed and more relaxed, and whether your wrists feel better.

One physical intervention, just in case: Do you type a lot? If yes, have you tried different keyboards? Most keyboards are fine for most people, so I don't think you need a super expensive super ergonomic one. But some keyboards give even me trouble and it's worth ruling that out. Go to an electronics shop and try the keyboards there. Does typing feel better than with your normal keyboard? If you don't have an electronics shop available, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard is a safe bet. It's around 60 USD.

Note that I'm neither a doctor nor a therapist. All the above is based on my personal experience or what I've heard.

Comment by rmoehn on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-20T12:29:21.462Z · LW · GW

Yeah, 24 h variability is what I meant. Producing hydrogen or methane for longer-term storage sounds interesting.

Comment by rmoehn on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-19T12:17:32.464Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your counter-arguments! I've added them to my notes.

Comment by rmoehn on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-19T12:14:27.535Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your counter-counterpoints. I've added them to my notes.

Re. smart grids: Of course they don't produce energy themselves. We would need the capacity to produce enough during winter. But they address the problem of supply variability. And the energy grid modelers at my friend's company have found that they can address it sufficiently.

Comment by rmoehn on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-18T02:08:16.599Z · LW · GW

Nuclear power is the sword that can cut it: a scalable source of dispatchable (i.e., on-demand), virtually emissions-free energy. It takes up very little land, consumes very little fuel, and produces very little waste.

For balance, here are a few counterpoints, which I recently heard from a friend and have not verified myself:

  • There is only enough uranium to provide half of the world's power for fifty years.
  • Renewable energy sources have become cheaper than nuclear power in recent years.
  • Mining for uranium ore and producing uranium does occupy much land, consume much energy and emit much carbon dioxide. The reason is that there is only about one ton of uranium per forty tons of ore. (Renewables don't consume as much land as some people say, since you can put solar cells on roofs, grow crops under the panels of solar farms etc.)
  • Mining and producing uranium also results in much waste in the form of tailings.
  • Smart grids can solve the base load power problem with renewables.

Personally, I haven't made up my mind in the go nuclear/stop nuclear dimension. I don't need to, since it's not something I'm going to or trying to have much influence on. But the above are points I would like to see addressed when arguing for increasing nuclear energy production. They're also great points to put numbers on and compare with renewables.

Comment by rmoehn on Overconfidence · 2021-01-15T09:58:42.924Z · LW · GW

I agree, it's hard to avoid making enemies. Even harmony-seeking people annoy others who have little interest in harmony. (I'm not talking about anything Confucian here.) Then again, it's better to make enemies with discretion, and not use it as an excuse for bad behaviour.

Comment by rmoehn on Overconfidence · 2021-01-15T04:12:27.521Z · LW · GW

Other people—especially women—love me when I'm a cocky arrogant megalomaniac.

Maybe it just divides people? Average behaviour doesn't move the liking scale. Cocky arrogant megalomaniac behaviour makes the liking scale swing positive in some people, negative in others. And since you're in a cocky, arrogant mode, you only notice those who like you.

The airplane example illustrates it, too. I bet a good share of passengers thought, ‘what ****er is delaying the airplane now?’, whereas another share smiled about Gates' nerve.

If you get things done by making enemies, in the end you don't get much (good) done. Cf. many of the people you listed.

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-12-14T09:26:36.221Z · LW · GW

Sounds good! I wish you luck in finding a good area. And I suggest another criterion: ‘3) I enjoy working in area X.’ – It's not strictly necessary. Some things you only start enjoying after you've been doing them for a while. But it certainly helps with the dawdling if you're more eager to work on X than to dawdle.

By the way, I've added another clarification to the paragraph above: ‘Perhaps trying to produce results by doing projects is fine. But then I should have done projects in one area and not jumped around the way I did. This way I would have built experience upon experience, rather than starting from scratch everytime.

Comment by rmoehn on Nuclear war is unlikely to cause human extinction · 2020-11-26T03:46:15.575Z · LW · GW

I appreciate the Bottom Line Up Front writing style. Not only overall, but also in each subsection. Thank you!

Comment by rmoehn on Sunzi's《Methods of War》- Introduction · 2020-11-21T08:41:25.810Z · LW · GW

Ah! That makes sense.

Comment by rmoehn on Sunzi's《Methods of War》- Introduction · 2020-11-20T01:50:32.202Z · LW · GW

I can relate to that. Thanks!

Comment by rmoehn on Sunzi's《Methods of War》- Introduction · 2020-11-20T01:47:47.983Z · LW · GW

A more common military term would be ‘terrain’. Not sure if that's consistent with the rest of the text.

Comment by rmoehn on Sunzi's《Methods of War》- Introduction · 2020-11-19T04:05:40.453Z · LW · GW

If the enemy is humble then be arrogant.

What are alternative translations? To me, humility is being aware of your weaknesses and the enemy's strengths, and preparing to overcome them. Arrogance is good if it means being cocky and aggressive and not intimidated. But it can easily by (mis-)understood as being unaware of your weaknesses and the enemy's strengths, and not preparing to overcome them because you think you're better. As Crash Davis says in Bull Durham: ‘Fear and arrogance.’ – One doesn't work without the other.

Comment by rmoehn on Preface to the sequence on iterated amplification · 2020-11-02T02:50:36.470Z · LW · GW


Comment by rmoehn on Preface to the sequence on iterated amplification · 2020-11-01T00:20:54.963Z · LW · GW

When I look at the bottom of, it says:

The next post in this sequence will be 'Security Amplification' by Paul Christiano, on Saturday 2nd Feb.

And when I look at the bottom of this article (, it says:

The next post in sequence will be released on Friday 8th Feb, and will be 'Meta-excution' by Paul Christiano.

Since the articles' text indicates that they're part of the sequence, one might think that they should be listed in the overview.

I might have had reasons to write the above based on the articles' contents, but I don't remember those.

Comment by rmoehn on Escalation Outside the System · 2020-09-09T04:34:49.747Z · LW · GW

Man, I'm reading the first volume of The GULAG Archipelago and that talk about murder is just sickening.

Comment by rmoehn on Pulse and Glide Cycling · 2020-07-21T04:03:08.305Z · LW · GW

Plus if the saddle is higher, you sit more hinged, which decreases air resistance and thus makes riding easier. If that makes your rear hurt, get a different saddle, such as

Here's a guide for setting up a bicycle correctly: They do it the way I do it and I'ver never had knee problems from riding a bike.

(Just thought: Another reason for knee pain might be riding with knees collapsed inwards.)

Comment by rmoehn on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-25T02:53:30.736Z · LW · GW

I like it the way it is!

Comment by rmoehn on New York Times, Please Do Not Threaten The Safety of Scott Alexander By Revealing His True Name · 2020-06-24T12:15:27.692Z · LW · GW

My (less eloquent and less informed) take:

Dear Ms. Tam,

I’m one of the readers of Scott Alexander's blog and I kindly ask you not to publish his real name. He has laid out his rationale in his only remaining blog post and Zvi Mowshovitz has already sent you a much more eloquent appeal than the one I’m writing. No doubt, many other readers of Scott’s blog have sent your their – hopefully polite – opinion about the matter.

I have little to add but the reminder that becoming a public figure makes life difficult. Tim Ferriss wrote about this recently:
You ought not to force this on people who neither deserve (through evil deeds) nor want it.

Scott is an honest blogger who wants to keep his peace. Please don’t take it away from him.


Richard Möhn

Comment by rmoehn on Predicted AI alignment event/meeting calendar · 2020-06-20T22:53:35.016Z · LW · GW

Thanks for letting me know! In response, I've added a link to Linda Linsefors' calendar at the top of the article. I hope that is useful enough to you. Her calendar is focused on online events, but these days almost everything is online anyway. Also, she wrote that she might make a calendar for in-person events once we vanquish Covid.

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-06-20T22:08:25.913Z · LW · GW

Thanks for adding your thoughts! I agree, it would have made sense to become an ML engineer just somewhere. I don't remember why I dismissed that possibility at the time. NB: If I had not dismissed it, I would still have needed to get my head set straight about the job requirements, by talking to an engineer or researcher at a company. Daniel Ziegler described a good way of doing this on the 80,000 Hours Podcast, which is summarized in ML engineering for AI safety & robustness: a Google Brain engineer’s guide to entering the field. Danny Hernandez expanded on that in a useful way in Danny Hernandez on forecasting and the drivers of AI progress.

After I left AI alignment, I thought about spending three months polishing my ML skills, then applying for ML engineering jobs, so that I could return to AI alignment later. – Exactly what you're suggesting, only four years late. :-) – But given the Covid chaos and my income risk aversion, I decided to stick to my guns and get a software engineering job as soon as possible. Luckily, I ended up with a high-impact one, although on in x-risk.

Final note on why I think it was bad for me to try to get hired: It used to take me up to a week to get out an application, which distracted mightily from research work.

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-06-11T12:12:08.155Z · LW · GW

Sounds good! For me, it was detrimental to focus on intended-for-public projects early on. It would probably have been better to build my understanding and knowledge, which you also appear to be aiming at.

If I can help you with anything or answer questions, let me know. In general, it's good to talk with experienced and successful people and I would suggest attending some of the now-virtual conferences to do that. – EAGxVirtual or events on this calendar:

Comment by rmoehn on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-04T11:54:06.565Z · LW · GW

Not sure. There are other differences, too. – In the way the keys respond, and the fact that on a piano key you have much more freedom in choosing a convenient place for your finger. – This could all lead to less crampiness. So again, talking to an expert is the best bet. I've had good experiences with online PT consultations for weightlifting-related aches and pains.

Comment by rmoehn on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-03T11:42:57.669Z · LW · GW

Okay, that speaks against my hypothesis.

Comment by rmoehn on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-03T09:01:55.897Z · LW · GW

In the past, mandolin and piano haven't hurt my wrists. I haven't got my mandolin out yet, and from the small amount of piano playing I've tried it's not clear to me yet whether it's a problem.

Hypothesis: When you learned playing piano, you learned proper technique for pushing the keys. That's why it's easy on your wrists. In contrast, when you type on a keyboard, you do it with improper technique (ulnar and dorsal deviation/hand bent out and up) and that puts more stress on your wrists.

Comment by rmoehn on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-02T03:57:24.376Z · LW · GW

People on FB have suggested seeing a PT, which I agree with. – When there is pain, sometimes it makes sense to strengthen tissues rather than using them less and less. A PT can also root out some confusions about the human body being frail. – Additionally, I would suggest seeing a psychotherapist, because they can help with working through worries about losing your earning ability.

Comment by rmoehn on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-02T03:54:06.518Z · LW · GW

Same experience here. I've written about it in A cognitive intervention for wrist pain.

Comment by rmoehn on rmoehn's Shortform · 2020-05-18T08:46:32.913Z · LW · GW

Stopped updating the Prediced AI alignment event/meeting calendar, as apparently there is no interest in it and I've left AI alignment.

Comment by rmoehn on What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship · 2020-04-23T01:27:34.415Z · LW · GW

I thought if I read enough examples of macros and practice writing powerful ones (not just that custom cond I mentioned), I will start seeing possible applications. You appear to have a different opinion. Anyway, I think I would get your point if I explored more more real world macro-enabled code.

Practical Common Lisp book is extremely impractical in 2020 but I feel it demonstrates high-level Lisp programming better through its use of extremely dense code.

I have read The Joy of Clojure, which imbued me with some good Lisp spirit. And I've moved Practical Common Lisp up on my reading list above On Lisp and Let Over Lambda, thanks to your brief review.

make the lower levels into a language layer

Good reminder. I think I've done something like that here:

Comment by rmoehn on What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship · 2020-04-22T07:33:02.675Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the detailed reply!

The real challenge is knowing what to write, not how to write it.

Yeah, this is the difficult thing for me. I've written extensions of basic forms like cond. But I haven't yet had an insight like: ‘this is a problem I can solve much more elegantly with macros than with plain functional code’.

Maybe a way to get there would be to dive back into On Lisp ( or Let Over Lambda ( Although, if you know of no good books, maybe these don't suffice either. :-)

Comment by rmoehn on rmoehn's Shortform · 2020-04-18T11:20:31.136Z · LW · GW

Updated the Prediced AI alignment event/meeting calendar.

Main changes:

  • Events in the first half of this year moved to cyberspace due to COVID-19.
  • Including Web Technical AI Safety Unconference.
  • The paper submission deadline for WAISE is now public.
Comment by rmoehn on What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship · 2020-04-09T03:16:48.171Z · LW · GW

I'm curious why implementing the hyperparameter search in Python would have been prohibitively expensive, but wasn't in Hy. For context: I'm familiar with Clojure (which inspired Hy) and macros.

And I would like to know where you learned that sort of meta-programming.

Comment by rmoehn on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-02T00:23:59.618Z · LW · GW

Cardboard and plastic: Tottori Prefecture goes low-tech to protect officials from COVID-19

This made my day.

  • Cheap, low-tech prevention measures.
  • ‘“I hope this system will send out a message that even Tottori, where no infections have been reported yet, is being very vigilant.”’ – Yes!

I want Tottori spirit everywhere.

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-03-24T06:17:26.213Z · LW · GW

What could have been different about the world for you to succeed in getting a sustainable AI Safety research career?

If I had had a mentor early on, in the beginning of 2016, that would have been great. A mentor who has patience for a bungling young person and keeps nudging them back on the right path. A mentor who has time for a weekly video call. A mentor who sets the structure for the relationship. Because I wouldn't have known what structure is good.

I still don't know how to find such a person.

Added 2020-04-28: In hindsight, the mentor should have recognized that I lack a foundation of machine learning knowledge. They should have told me to have fun and study whatever AI-related topic I like, with as much backtracking as I like, for one or two years. Rather than trying to do research projects and to get a job. I wish I had that chance again. Following the MIRI Research Guide would have been just the right thing from me. But for some reason I strayed from that path.

What if you got more funding?

More funding would unblock all dependency cycles in the diagram above. This means that I could continue doing research. Would I do it? I think so, especially with a collaboration partner as described above. I tend to be doubtful about what I'm doing, but I also believe that I have something to contribute to the field. Not raw math power – other people are better at that. But more on the software development, process, management, people side.

What if you got some sort of productivity coaching?

I don't think I have a big problem with productivity. Are you asking because I wrote about dawdling above? I've fixed that mostly. And I'm so far not willing to give up the remaining big time consumers (family, Japanese, weightlifting, BJJ, sleep).

That said, it's always helpful to have someone look at what I'm doing and tell me where I can do better.

What if you had a collaboration partner?

This would help if the person filled in for my weaknesses. Ie. if they knew in depth about math and ML theory. If they liked to read articles and keep up with what the field is doing. If they liked to carve out new problems to be solved.

About the research sponsorship:

I'm all for supporting eager people. The tax issues and other formalities can be sorted out. Whether I would personally start earning to give or have time for discussions and feedback, I don't know yet. It depends on what I do next. Certainly I wouldn't mind if people ask me for it. I would like to be the kind of mentor that I wish I had. Of course, I'm still inexperienced, but I think I could help someone who is where I was four years ago.

I wouldn't want to evaluate the usefulness of people's proposals and make funding decisions. This would require keeping up with current research, which is something I dislike. Also, I'm already doubting the usefulness of my own research, so how would I know about others'?

If you need more detail, let me know and I'll book a time in your Calendly.

Comment by rmoehn on [Meta] Do you want AIS Webinars? · 2020-03-22T05:39:42.186Z · LW · GW

Yes, I can do that to get things started. For at least the first five webinars. Later I might drop out in order to concentrate on whatever I'm doing then.

I'm usually available between 21:30 and 12:00 UTC. You can also check my Calendly:

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-03-22T05:34:34.338Z · LW · GW

I'll get back to this by 24 March.

Brief note on sponsoring: I like the idea. Practically one might need to jump through some extra hoops in order to get these donations deducted from one's taxes.

Comment by rmoehn on [Meta] Do you want AIS Webinars? · 2020-03-22T00:19:53.355Z · LW · GW

This is a great intitiative! If I was still working on AIS, I would be very keen on running a webinar, too.

Comment by rmoehn on How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? · 2020-03-20T22:12:35.200Z · LW · GW

I would follow Manager Tools guidance. They have a whole section called Remote/Virtual Teams and a new cast on Managing During a Pandemic - The COVID-19 Cast.

I don't have any experience as a manager. But I've been following their guidance in many other areas with success. And they usually give a detailed justification of their guidance within each cast.

Comment by rmoehn on Makeshift face touch warner · 2020-03-19T22:00:25.446Z · LW · GW

I see.

Comment by rmoehn on Makeshift face touch warner · 2020-03-19T07:54:10.757Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Yeah, yours must be more accurate and also cost-competitive, if you factor in the manual labor for building my device. The only advantage of mine is that people can make it at home, which means there are no supply problems.

The Japanese in the background is Asahi Shinbun (a newspaper). I live in Japan, so this is my go-to desk protector when working with a knife. 🔪📰 :-) How come you know how to distinguish Japanese from Chinese characters?

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-03-17T09:20:42.756Z · LW · GW

Thanks for sharing your story and for encouraging me! I will certainly keep in touch with the AI alignment community.

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-03-14T03:04:22.537Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the extended quote! :-) As I wrote, I'm sceptical of Jim Collins' claims. On the other hand – people can't just noodle around and expect to be lucky. There must be certain activities that lead to more success than others. So there is some value in Collins-type research in that it finds likely candidates for success-inducing activities.

Comment by rmoehn on rmoehn's Shortform · 2020-03-13T07:28:20.890Z · LW · GW

Updated the Prediced AI alignment event/meeting calendar.

Many changes this time – it's worth checking out.

Comment by rmoehn on I'm leaving AI alignment – you better stay · 2020-03-12T11:54:52.648Z · LW · GW

Good point about the misaligned skillset.

Relationships to results can take many forms.

  • Joint works and collaborations, as you say.
  • Receive feedback on work products and use it to improve them.
  • Discussion/feedback on research direction.
  • Moral support and cheering in general.
  • Or someone who lights a fire under your bum, if that's what you need.
  • Access to computing resources if you have a good relationship with a university.
  • Mentoring.
  • Quick answers to technical questions if you have access to an expert.
  • Probably more.

This only lists the receiving side, whereas every good relationship is based on give-and-take. Some people get almost all their results by leveraging their network. Not in a parasitic way – they provide a lot of value by connecting others.

Comment by rmoehn on Growth rate of COVID-19 outbreaks · 2020-03-10T09:38:52.022Z · LW · GW

About odd reporting in Japan:

Comment by rmoehn on rmoehn's Shortform · 2020-03-09T23:43:26.824Z · LW · GW

I also posted this on the Coronavirus Open Thread: And Elizabeth points out that there's a website that does it: I bet it'll give me a good startle some time today.

Comment by rmoehn on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T23:40:51.079Z · LW · GW


Comment by rmoehn on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T21:25:15.997Z · LW · GW

How about an app that trains you not to touch your face?

Point your phone's camera or a webcam at yourself while you're working. The app produces a beep whenever you move your hand near your face.

Technically feasible, I'd say. Someone familiar with iOS/Android computer vision APIs should be able to put it together in a few days.

Comment by rmoehn on rmoehn's Shortform · 2020-03-09T12:23:20.796Z · LW · GW

How about an app that trains you not to touch your face?

Point your phone's camera or a webcam at yourself while you're working. The app produces a beep whenever you move your hand near your face.

Technically feasible, I'd say. Someone familiar with iOS/Android computer vision APIs should be able to put it together in a few days.

Comment by rmoehn on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-05T00:30:35.555Z · LW · GW

In that case you can use the straight 70 % isopropyl alcohol as a sanitizer and be fine. According to the WHO guidelines, only the isopropyl alcohol is the effective substance in the recipe. The hydrogen peroxide is ‘used to inactivate bacterial spores in the solution’. If you buy medical-grade 70 % isopropyl alcohol, there shouldn't be any bacterial spores in it.

The glycerol serves as a humectant. If you don't add it, you might have to use more sanitizer in order to keep your skin wet for the whole thirty seconds. And you'll have to keep your skin happy in some way separate from the sanitizing.