Posts

Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication 2020-03-19T09:08:28.846Z · score: 88 (36 votes)
Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics 2020-03-18T12:44:42.756Z · score: 74 (32 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charty - the winner is ... 2010-12-12T15:02:06.007Z · score: 21 (21 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charity: the finalists 2010-12-07T21:15:31.102Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charity -- Submit your articles 2010-12-02T20:57:31.410Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Superintelligent AI mentioned as a possible risk by Bill Gates 2010-11-28T11:51:50.475Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charity -- deadline Wednesday 1st December 2010-11-24T22:31:57.215Z · score: 16 (15 votes)
Competition to write the best stand-alone article on efficient charity 2010-11-21T16:57:35.003Z · score: 15 (22 votes)
Public Choice and the Altruist's Burden 2010-07-22T21:34:52.740Z · score: 22 (30 votes)
Politicians stymie human colonization of space to save make-work jobs 2010-07-18T12:57:47.388Z · score: 11 (20 votes)
Financial incentives don't get rid of bias? Prize for best answer. 2010-07-15T13:24:59.276Z · score: 3 (12 votes)
A proposal for a cryogenic grave for cryonics 2010-07-06T19:01:36.898Z · score: 17 (18 votes)
MWI, copies and probability 2010-06-25T16:46:08.379Z · score: 13 (20 votes)
Poll: What value extra copies? 2010-06-22T12:15:54.408Z · score: 5 (10 votes)
Aspergers Survey Re-results 2010-05-29T16:58:34.925Z · score: 8 (10 votes)
Shock Level 5: Big Worlds and Modal Realism 2010-05-25T23:19:44.391Z · score: 18 (38 votes)
The Tragedy of the Social Epistemology Commons 2010-05-21T12:42:38.103Z · score: 44 (57 votes)
The Social Coprocessor Model 2010-05-14T17:10:15.475Z · score: 22 (34 votes)
Aspergers Poll Results: LW is nerdier than the Math Olympiad? 2010-05-13T14:24:24.783Z · score: 14 (19 votes)
Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? 2010-05-10T23:55:45.936Z · score: 19 (22 votes)
What is missing from rationality? 2010-04-27T12:32:06.806Z · score: 19 (24 votes)
Report from Humanity+ UK 2010 2010-04-25T12:33:33.170Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
Ugh fields 2010-04-12T17:06:18.510Z · score: 182 (176 votes)
Anthropic answers to logical uncertainties? 2010-04-06T17:51:49.486Z · score: 9 (10 votes)
What is Rationality? 2010-04-01T20:14:09.309Z · score: 14 (15 votes)
David Pearce on Hedonic Moral realism 2010-02-03T17:27:31.982Z · score: 5 (12 votes)
Strong moral realism, meta-ethics and pseudo-questions. 2010-01-31T20:20:47.159Z · score: 18 (21 votes)
Simon Conway Morris: "Aliens are likely to look and behave like us". 2010-01-25T14:16:18.752Z · score: 2 (9 votes)
London meetup: "The Friendly AI Problem" 2010-01-19T23:35:47.131Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
Savulescu: "Genetically enhance humanity or face extinction" 2010-01-10T00:26:56.846Z · score: 4 (13 votes)
Max Tegmark on our place in history: "We're Not Insignificant After All" 2010-01-04T00:02:04.868Z · score: 18 (21 votes)
Help Roko become a better rationalist! 2009-12-02T08:23:37.643Z · score: -6 (15 votes)
11 core rationalist skills 2009-12-02T08:09:05.922Z · score: 47 (53 votes)
Being saner about gender and rationality 2009-07-20T07:17:13.855Z · score: 15 (69 votes)
How likely is a failure of nuclear deterrence? 2009-07-15T00:01:28.640Z · score: 7 (16 votes)
Our society lacks good self-preservation mechanisms 2009-07-12T09:26:23.365Z · score: 12 (23 votes)
The enemy within 2009-07-05T15:08:05.874Z · score: 19 (22 votes)
Richard Dawkins TV - Baloney Detection Kit video 2009-06-25T00:27:23.325Z · score: 1 (6 votes)
Shane Legg on prospect theory and computational finance 2009-06-21T17:57:09.235Z · score: 13 (16 votes)
Cascio in The Atlantic, more on cognitive enhancement as existential risk mitigation 2009-06-18T15:09:57.954Z · score: 20 (21 votes)
Intelligence enhancement as existential risk mitigation 2009-06-15T19:35:07.530Z · score: 17 (20 votes)
The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What To Do About It 2009-06-11T12:31:02.904Z · score: 37 (59 votes)
Expected futility for humans 2009-06-09T12:04:29.306Z · score: 11 (16 votes)
Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions 2009-06-02T13:19:04.275Z · score: 10 (15 votes)
Changing accepted public opinion and Skynet 2009-05-22T11:05:08.878Z · score: 15 (20 votes)
Rationality, Cryonics and Pascal's Wager 2009-04-08T20:28:48.644Z · score: 12 (19 votes)
Supporting the underdog is explained by Hanson’s Near/Far distinction 2009-04-05T20:22:02.593Z · score: 23 (28 votes)

Comments

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-28T08:43:36.001Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If the drugs save 80% of critically ill people from dying, then even if the remaining 20% overload the hospital system it might still be worth not trying to flatten the curve, just to avoid the economic damage from the lockdowns.

One would have to do a detailed analysis, but right now I seem to be getting the impression that the drugs actually aren't that good.

Anyway I still stand behind the point that there is likely to be a strategy bifurcation where it's best to either go pretty all-in on containment or go pretty all-in on herd immunity/deliberate infection, depending on just how bad it would be.

A 0.1% chance of death is worth about 1-3 months of lockdown, but age-weighting of deaths towards older people and lockdown damage skews this.

Without any change in the numbers I definitely still support containment.

Comment by roko on COVID-19 transmission: Are we overemphasizing touching rather than breathing? · 2020-03-26T23:24:26.932Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah but someone in the government would have to organise that, and they would take the blame if even one tiny thing went wrong.

Telling people to wash their hands is very safe and requires no effort. It is also helpful advice because some people actually have poor hand hygiene.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-26T22:12:56.616Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

thanks!

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-26T22:11:19.415Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I said, Far-UVC from 200-220nm is supposed to be safe to humans because of our layer of dead skin. This is kind of the whole point of the post and is in the references.

254nm has less energy per photon but it penetrates further through skin, meaning that 254nm is definitely dangerous.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-26T22:07:44.959Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the number of photons per second per watt of power is a lot greater for UVC than for gamma radiation.

Comment by roko on COVID-19 transmission: Are we overemphasizing touching rather than breathing? · 2020-03-24T21:37:58.381Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Are we overemphasizing touching rather than breathing?

I suspect that governments are favoring actionable advice over accuracy.

The west in general ran out of masks due to government incompetence and complacency, therefore they told us that masks don't work, because telling people that masks work but oops we don't have any would contribute to panic and discontent.

The virus spreads mostly through the air, but people can't easily stop that, so they emphasize hand-washing because it is actionable and gives people something to do and thereby reduces their anxiety. It is probably also slightly helpful - people already don't wash their hands enough and a bit more hand-washing has a low cost.

It's happened before. In WWII, they told people to collect various materials for the war effort, at least some of which were totally useless.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-23T21:38:55.531Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But I mean do we know what fraction of Wuhan Healthcare Workers were rendered useless by exhaustion and/or disease? It looked pretty bad, and I imagine it would have been much worse if the *whole* of China was going through the same thing as there would have been no outside help.

It's almost a shame that some country isn't doing mitigation because I would like to see just how much of a clusterf**k is turns into and how optimistic assumptions are crushed by reality. Of course in reality I don't want that because I think it would be very bad

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-23T21:36:22.216Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So the downside of this approach is that if everyone below 40 gets the disease you are entering a situation where the disease is all over the place, and it will be hard to keep the 40+ people fully safe. For example many older people need to be _in a hospital_ for various reasons, which is exactly where the virus is.

In addition you might be inflicting death and long-term disability on quite a lot of those under-40-year-olds.

And I think at the end of it, under 40s immune might not even be enough for herd immunity. You need something like 80% I think.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-23T16:51:26.652Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The idea of Far-UVC is that it is supposed to be safe due to the dead skin layer. Until we know for sure it's difficult to make the tradeoffs.


re (2), I suspect that melanin is not effective against UVC.

re (3), it's an interesting line of thought, but my suspicion is no.

Comment by roko on The Hammer and the Dance · 2020-03-22T19:13:09.244Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I would love to see a more quantitative analysis of what this dance would look like in a western country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfpeDzcsd1s

No, I mean being serious there is a danger here of being scared into not telling people the right answer because they won't listen. But that's wrong. Tell people the right answer, and then when 5 million people die, tell them to listen to you next time.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T19:35:15.113Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It depends on the test.

If you had an instant test with a very low false negative rate, and in quantities such that you could test every traveler, then there would be no reason to ban travel because you have created a situation where the virus cannot move, but using tests instead of banning human travel.

My impression is that you could do something almost as good with well-managed quarantine that lasted long enough for you to be sure about the test results.

Most travel is not worth the hassle of a 7-14-day quarantine though

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-21T16:28:00.544Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with this, plus note that UVC is actually more dangerous than radiation for bacteria, because the number of photons per watt is significantly greater and the energy per photon is already enough to do damage.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-21T16:26:33.467Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

no, definitely not. UVC is highly carcinogenic, and furthermore your lungs are a fractal which makes it impossible to shine light into all of the surface.

Comment by roko on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-20T19:30:13.554Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with this analysis completely.

There is a strategy bifurcation: Either you lock down hard and contain/eradicate, or you just accept the losses and tell people to go on as normal, with isolation of the vulnerable.

The middle path is not favorable. You take both the human damage and the economic damage.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-20T08:16:00.553Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If Wuhan was a worst case scenario, how come Italy has now overtaken it in deaths? (3400 Vs 3200)

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T22:05:00.960Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, because the Chinese are being smart and driving the disease to 0. That's whey they dismantled their temporary hospitals.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T18:59:34.406Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can we look at what happened in Wuhan, but subtract away any outside help they got?

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:20:06.612Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Even across a single country there will be variation in the effectiveness of local measures. When you have this dispersion in R0 what happens is most places go to 0 like you hoped, but some places don't.

Since that dispersion is unavoidable, you need a fractal system of borders - strong borders around countries, medium borders around states and cities, and weaker social distancing measures locally. Then the problem areas don't spread much, and they can be defeated in detail.

Look at the map of South korea after the superspreading event: https://imgur.com/l7RD345

98 cases in Seoul (pop: 10 million) and frickin' 4000 in Daegu (pop 2 million).

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:15:57.276Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · LW · GW
true claims that are irrelevant to decision-making

I think these true claims are highly relevant even if there is a very high chance that none of the authorities will follow them.

Covid-19 is a comparatively mild test of humanity's capacity to fight dangerous diseases. It's not the "real thing", the disease X that could kill hundreds of millions of people or bring our civilization crashing down.

As such I think it's very important for rationalists to build up a track record of making the right calls.

My only regret is that I didn't express a strong opinion even earlier in January.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T15:17:25.272Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
even though we'll run out of Remdesivir quickly, production will be ramping up. Chloroquine will be made available widely as well.

True, these things will limit the damage in lives if all goes well.

But I think there is a bit of a strategy bifurcation here: if the drugs allow the damage from covid-19 to be minimized to such an extent that we're happy with the "flatten" strategy - meaning a partial lockdown that helps to slow the virus down but still lets it go through the whole population, then at that point we should probably take some extra casualties and just allow the virus to go through the population as quickly as possible, thereby avoiding months and months of costly lockdowns.

If we are not happy with doing that, we should probably go for eradication.

I don't see a middle ground where a rational decision-maker would want to run the "flatten" strategy, though we may muddle through to there through indecision and incompetence.

Comment by roko on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-19T14:39:28.117Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
soon most of the cases will be in regions or communities where containment was less successful and so the number of cases will stop decreasing. If it's infeasible to literally stamp it out everywhere (which I've heard),

Borders, travel restrictions, cancellation of large events, contact tracing and testing will solve this.

Borders are necessary precisely because of this dispersion issue.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-19T13:50:40.565Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, it is something that one nation could develop and then others could pick it up once it was shown to work.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T13:48:58.820Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
if there is an upward slope to capacity

There could be a downward slope as healthcare workers get sick and various resources run out.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T13:04:03.285Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

1. The decision to close can lag behind rapidly developing facts on the ground, or worse the decision to close borders to a particular area could leak. This actually happened in Italy.


2. Mixing + uncertainty is bad. Even if you think the rates are equal, they might actually not be.


3. At this stage everyone should be on local lockdown, so for most people there is no benefit to traveling anyway.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T12:38:59.736Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
An important part of that will be running the numbers on something like Taleb's proposal

I would love to do this, but someone will have to pay me because I don't have loads of time/money to spare. Alternatively someone else, perhaps a professional, will do this. Ideally they should already be doing it.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T11:33:29.320Z · score: 5 (8 votes) · LW · GW
So I don't think advocating for border closures is high leverage at the moment.

No, I agree that it's not super-high leverage, but still worth saying. I'm just emphasizing that I called for it back in January when it was super high-leverage.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T11:24:17.255Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Ferguson et al paper on page 8 shows a lot more than a 3x to 5x hospital overcapacity. It's something like 30x for uncontrolled and 10x for their maximum mitigation plan.


https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T11:16:09.199Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
was wrong to think the government was starting to handle it decently, or that they would get their act together quickly enough - I wasn't pessimistic enough about how badly the current US administration screwed things up, or how long it would take them to let public health people actually take over managing the response - I've stopped hoping they will start doing that at all, despite the fact that it's insane they haven't.

I agree strongly with this sentiment.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T11:15:39.580Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW
you can't

This is a misuse of the word can't. People can, but people don't want to.

it's unclear we could manage eradication at this point, with the spread where it is - and calling for it is a waste of our time

If I don't say what the correct answer is because I and others believe that people won't listen, then I'm not doing my job as a rationalist. My top loyalty is to the truth, even if I am 99.99% sure people won't listen.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T11:10:51.311Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your comment, David.

The diagram with the red line is from Ferguson et al, and is labelled "Surge critical care bed capacity" in their paper.

For all of those reasons, I think your prescription is alarmist.

Why? If we follow a "Flatten the Curve" approach we will take significant casualties as well as significant economic damage. Flatten the curve in Ferguson et al assumes that lockdown lasts until September. The strategy that I endorse is to zero out the curve and eradicate the disease, and I think that some people could be back at work in 6 weeks if we do that, albeit with certain restrictions on travel and events. I would have to look at this a bit more, but it seems to me that an eradication plan will be much less economically costly.

Good Judgement's Dashboard has less than a 20% change of over 350k deaths

Yes, GJP is predicting 326,000 dead in expectation in the US alone. But I think a large input to that is people rationally expect that if it gets that bad there will be a massive lockdown that lasts for a long time. Lockdowns and deaths are two different costs we are paying, we want to minimize the sum of human plus economic costs.

Comment by roko on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-19T10:46:42.163Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Control systems with high lag like this are incredibly difficult to work with. Especially in the presence of exponential growth like this system has -- if you accidentally let R get a bit too high, it will be a week or two before you notice, and in that time you will have seeded a ton of cases that you will have to track down and deal with.

This is why you need to have borders on multiple scales and cancellation of large events.

If one case slips through, in a week or two they will infect a handful of new people. If you have set up a system of regional and national borders, as well as cancelled large events, you will find out about this trace the contacts and temporarily increase the strength of the lockdown in only that region.

This strategy nearly worked in South Korea, but then patient 31 was a superspreader:

https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-SOUTHKOREA-CLUSTERS/0100B5G33SB/index.html

Comment by roko on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-18T21:06:15.432Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the view in that piece here is consistent with what happened in Lombardia in Italy, but I haven't seen a detailed numerical argument against it.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-18T21:01:26.366Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am not an expert on viral and bacterial resistance to UV radiation. Some googling reveals that bacteria can evolve partial resistance to some forms of UV. In th following paper, the bacteria survived roughly a minute of UVB exposure from a 15W source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01438.x

But I don't think they can evolve to be totally resistant, i.e. just sit under a UV light at 250nm or 220nm indefinitely. UV is fundamentally harmful to bacteria because their germ line cannot be protected from it, kind of like how humans are fundamentally vulnerable to gamma rays.

The same goes for viruses, except they also cannot repair themselves and they're even smaller which makes them more vulnerable.

Comment by roko on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-18T19:51:52.046Z · score: 15 (6 votes) · LW · GW

An review of Ferguson et al's paper by Nassim Taleb has come out: https://necsi.edu/review-of-ferguson-et-al-impact-of-non-pharmaceutical-interventions

I think this document contains the essential strategy for quickly bringing covid-19 under control. I'll call it "Containment and Eradication":

1. Close national borders

2. Reduce R0 below 1 using a thorough lock-down, social distancing, testing, contact tracing and hygiene

3. Once the outbreak is quite small and testing capacity is decent, aim to drive the number of infected individuals as close to 0 as possible

4. Test aggressively and wait a couple of weeks

5. Gradually return people to mostly-normal life, but with large gatherings cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the possibility of super-spreader events, and international travel mostly cancelled.

6. Keep borders fully closed to until we have a vaccine, or at least impose long quarantine periods on travelers.

Approaches to covid-19 that involve getting a large number of people infected to build herd immunity and minimize the damage along the way are far inferior to this. The Ferguson et al analysis showed us just how messy that would get, but I think it was probably an underestimate of the expected disutility of these "mitigation" approaches, as its estimates of the infection fertility rates didn't take into account the effect of health systems being overwhelmed. Furthermore, attempts to "flatten the curve" impose both economic and human costs for an extended period.

This is the most encouraging thing I have read about covid-19 in a long time. I believe that "Containment and Eradication" is the way forward and that this should be signal boosted.

Comment by roko on Should LW have a public censorship policy? · 2010-12-12T20:44:26.040Z · score: 6 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Brennan is a fucking retard. No, you don't want to know. You want to signal affiliation with desirable groups, to send hard-to-fake signals of desirable presonality traits such as loyalty, intelligence, power and the presence of informed allies. You want to say everything bad you possibly can about the outgroup and everything good about the ingroup. You want to preech altruism and then make a plausible but unlikely reasoning error which conveniently stops you from having to give away anything costly.

All the other humans do all of these things. This is the true way of our kind. You will be punished if you deviate from the way, or even if you try to overtly mention that this is the way.

Comment by roko on $100 for the best article on efficient charty - the winner is ... · 2010-12-12T19:10:11.175Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes but in reality the amounts concerned are good value for what they get.

Comment by roko on $100 for the best article on efficient charty - the winner is ... · 2010-12-12T17:59:33.872Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I will message you with details

Comment by roko on Unpacking the Concept of "Blackmail" · 2010-12-12T17:51:58.286Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with "lose-lose" is that it relies upon there being a "defualt outcome given no interaction". Vladimir is trying to taboo this concept, at least in general. So I am going to focus on a relevant special case, namely specific interactions available in the ancestral environment.

Comment by roko on How To Lose 100 Karma In 6 Hours -- What Just Happened · 2010-12-12T12:51:34.092Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

the only information that I know and wish I did not know.

I don't think it's quite that extreme. For example, I wish I wasn't as intelligent as I am, wish I was more normal mentally and had more innate ability at socializing and less at math, wish I didn't suffer from smart sincere syndrome. I think these are all in roughly the same league as the banned material.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-12T12:19:33.887Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This all reminds me of the dirac delta function. Its width is infinitesimal but its area is 1. Sure, it's worth trying in the "Dirac Delta Function" sense.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-12T12:06:59.485Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, I see. Well, that's just a big factual disagreement then.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-12T11:56:10.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What risks there are, we can collectively do things about.

Not necessarily. The risk might be virtually unstoppable, like a huge oil tanker compared to the force of a single person swimming in the water trying to slow it down.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-12T11:51:25.792Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed that there are vested interests potentially biasing reasoning.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-12T00:58:20.545Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I meant if you divide the number of galaxies by the number of seconds to an event 100 years from now. Yes, not all reachable. Probably need to discount by an order of magnitude for reachability at lightspeed.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-12T00:16:29.694Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed that x-risk orgs are a biased source of info on P(risk) due to self-selection bias. Of course you have to look at other sources of info, you have to take the outside view on these questions, etc.

Personally I think that we are so ignorant and irrational as a species (humanity) and as a culture that there's simply no way to get a good, stable probability estimate for big important questions like this, much less to act rationally on the info.

But I think your pooh-pooh'ing such infantile and amateurish efforts as there is silly when the reasoning is entirely bogus.

Why don't you refocus your criticism on the more legitimate weakness of existential risks: that is highly likely to be irrelevant (either futile or unnecessary), since by its own prediction, the relevant risks are highly complex and hard to mitigate against, and people in general are highly unlikely to either understand the issues or cooperate on them.

The most likely route to survival would seem to be that the entire model of the future propounded here is wrong. But in that case we move into the domain of irrelevance.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-11T20:55:24.567Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The sort of thing that could give you nightmares is more like the stuff that is banned. This is different than the mere "existential risk" message.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-11T16:47:21.028Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A moment's googling finds this:

http://www.buglife.org.uk/Resources/Buglife/Buglife%20Annual%20Report%20-%20web.pdf

"Total Income £546,415"

($863 444)

I leave it to readers to judge whether Tim is flogging a dead horse here.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-11T16:41:30.139Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

To me, $200,000 for a charity seems to be pretty much the smallest possible amount of money. Can you find any charitable causes that recieve less than this?

Basically, you are saying that SIAI DOOM fearmongering is a trick to make money. But really, it fails to satisfy several important criteria:

  • it is shit at actually making money. I bet you that there are "save the earthworm" charities that make more money.

  • it is not actually frightening. I am not frightened; quick painless death in 50 years? boo-hoo. Whatever.

  • it is not optimized for believability. In fact it is almost optimized for anti-believability, "rapture of the nerds", much public ridicule, etc.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-11T14:26:52.042Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Many plausible ways to S^+ involve something odd or unexpected happening. WBE might make computational political structures, i.e. political structures based inside a computer full of WBEs. This might change the way humans cooperate.

Suffices to say that FAI doesn't have to come via the expected route of someone inventing AGI and then waiting until they invent "friendliness theory" for it.

Comment by roko on Best career models for doing research? · 2010-12-11T14:12:16.396Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(t(positive singularity) | positive singularity)

I'm going to say 75 years for that. But really, this is becoming very much total guesswork.

I do know that AGI -ve singularity won't happen in the next 2 decades and I think one can bet that it won't happen after that for another few decades either.