Posts

Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward 2020-02-06T16:10:00.405Z · score: 65 (14 votes)
Protecting Large Projects Against Mazedom 2020-02-03T17:10:00.520Z · score: 51 (11 votes)
Create a Full Alternative Stack 2020-01-31T17:10:00.543Z · score: 55 (12 votes)
Potential Ways to Fight Mazes 2020-01-28T22:50:00.352Z · score: 48 (10 votes)
Ten Causes of Mazedom 2020-01-25T13:40:00.434Z · score: 56 (15 votes)
How Doomed are Large Organizations? 2020-01-21T12:20:00.524Z · score: 70 (19 votes)
The Road to Mazedom 2020-01-18T14:10:00.846Z · score: 70 (15 votes)
How to Escape From Immoral Mazes 2020-01-16T13:10:00.787Z · score: 57 (15 votes)
How to Identify an Immoral Maze 2020-01-12T12:10:00.766Z · score: 63 (18 votes)
What is Success in an Immoral Maze? 2020-01-10T13:20:01.090Z · score: 37 (12 votes)
Stripping Away the Protections 2020-01-08T13:10:00.912Z · score: 42 (13 votes)
What is Life in an Immoral Maze? 2020-01-05T13:40:00.589Z · score: 62 (22 votes)
Does Big Business Hate Your Family? 2019-12-31T12:50:00.827Z · score: 47 (13 votes)
Imperfect Competition 2019-12-30T12:20:00.375Z · score: 52 (16 votes)
Perfect Competition 2019-12-29T13:30:00.395Z · score: 41 (16 votes)
Moloch Hasn’t Won 2019-12-28T16:30:00.947Z · score: 117 (41 votes)
Meditation Retreat: Immoral Mazes Sequence Introduction 2019-12-28T00:50:01.078Z · score: 63 (20 votes)
Vantress Gargoyle Dimir 2019-12-13T12:50:00.630Z · score: 1 (6 votes)
Linkpost: Searching Along the Trail of Crumbs 2019-12-05T14:20:00.448Z · score: 8 (3 votes)
Searching Along the Trail of Crumbs 2019-12-03T13:10:00.419Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
Linkpost: My Fires Part 8 (Deck Guide to Jeskai Cavaliers) posted at CoolStuffInc.com 2019-11-25T16:10:00.513Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Three on Two: Temur Walkers, Elk Blade, Goblin Blade and Dino Blade 2019-11-14T16:20:00.523Z · score: 10 (2 votes)
Ban the London Mulligan 2019-11-11T11:10:00.443Z · score: 14 (6 votes)
Artifact: What Went Wrong? 2019-10-08T12:10:01.019Z · score: 33 (9 votes)
Free Money at PredictIt? 2019-09-26T16:10:00.587Z · score: 52 (22 votes)
Timer Toxicities 2019-09-22T12:10:00.701Z · score: 44 (13 votes)
Free-to-Play Games: Three Key Trade-Offs 2019-09-10T12:10:00.440Z · score: 57 (17 votes)
Who To Root For: 2019 College Football Edition 2019-09-06T08:10:00.314Z · score: 11 (3 votes)
Dual Wielding 2019-08-27T14:10:00.715Z · score: 53 (27 votes)
Mistake Versus Conflict Theory of Against Billionaire Philanthropy 2019-08-01T13:10:01.408Z · score: 30 (24 votes)
Everybody Knows 2019-07-02T12:20:00.646Z · score: 76 (26 votes)
Magic Arena Bot Drafting 2019-06-18T16:00:00.402Z · score: 18 (6 votes)
Press Your Luck 2019-06-15T15:30:00.702Z · score: 14 (7 votes)
Some Ways Coordination is Hard 2019-06-13T13:00:00.443Z · score: 46 (10 votes)
Moral Mazes and Short Termism 2019-06-02T11:30:00.348Z · score: 64 (20 votes)
Quotes from Moral Mazes 2019-05-30T11:50:00.489Z · score: 89 (29 votes)
Laws of John Wick 2019-05-24T15:20:00.322Z · score: 21 (9 votes)
More Notes on Simple Rules 2019-05-21T14:50:00.305Z · score: 34 (10 votes)
Simple Rules of Law 2019-05-19T00:10:01.124Z · score: 53 (15 votes)
Tales from the Highway 2019-05-12T19:40:00.862Z · score: 15 (7 votes)
Tales From the American Medical System 2019-05-10T00:40:00.768Z · score: 55 (31 votes)
Dishonest Update Reporting 2019-05-04T14:10:00.742Z · score: 55 (14 votes)
Asymmetric Justice 2019-04-25T16:00:01.106Z · score: 149 (55 votes)
Counterfactuals about Social Media 2019-04-22T12:20:00.476Z · score: 54 (20 votes)
Reflections on Duo Standard 2019-04-18T23:20:01.037Z · score: 8 (1 votes)
Reflections on the Mythic Invitational 2019-04-17T11:50:00.315Z · score: 11 (3 votes)
Deck Guide: Biomancer’s Familiar 2019-03-26T15:20:00.420Z · score: 5 (4 votes)
Privacy 2019-03-15T20:20:00.269Z · score: 79 (26 votes)
Speculations on Duo Standard 2019-03-14T14:30:00.343Z · score: 10 (6 votes)
New York Restaurants I Love: Pizza 2019-03-12T12:10:01.002Z · score: 11 (6 votes)

Comments

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-11T12:31:59.104Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I believe that is mostly right. I would like to get better gears on this, though.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-11T12:29:34.271Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Trust and loyalty seem to me to clearly be virtues if placed wisely and in moderation. Like all virtues, you go too far and bad things happen. Industrial scaling gives you new ways to backfire, but there's certainly very non-industrial ways to go way overboard on either or both. Cults can be very small.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-11T12:25:50.968Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The plan would be to do a close listen to determine which songs are most important; ideally one would listen to the full albums (Pieces of You, Spirit, This Way, 0304 and Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, in that order), and in general I've updated more and more towards 'respect the artist once you like multiple songs of theirs, and listen to full albums in order' but that's a lot of music.

I think this is the minimum story of the journey I want to talk about.

Who Will Save Your Soul?

Pieces of You

Little Sister

I'm Sensitive

What's Simple is True

Down So Long

Innocence Maintained

Life Uncommon

Jesus Loves You

Serve the Ego

This Way

Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone

Intuition

Sweet Temptation

Yes U Can

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

Words Get in the Way

Stephenville, TX

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-07T01:41:03.790Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agree that would be cool if it was good enough that it got used. Unknown how good it would have to be before it would get used.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-07T01:40:16.331Z · score: 16 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It was never my intent to say that the solution to mazes is less competition between corporations or between organizations. If you look at the solutions that were proposed, none of them were about decreasing competition.

The idea I was going for in terms of mazes, as I tried to explain here (it is entirely possible I botched this explanation on top of the initial confusion), was that super-perfect competition between people to get ahead within an organization (or larger system that likewise has not enough slots for too many people) is the problem here.

I also maintain, as a distinct claim, that if we were to see true perfect or super-perfect competition in the overall world, that would have some very bad effects, and that the reason we don't see this is because perfect competition is a really weird set of assumptions that are not that close to applying in those situations, and I do think exploring these things more is interesting in its own right but isn't what I'm trying to centrally do. Related to that I would argue that no, sufficiently competitive markets don't do the thing you think they do, they do something else that can in some ways and situations be wonderful or even optimal, but that depends on what you care about and a lot of detail, and you can also get a big disaster.

Barring a massive edit or additional post creation I don't know how to do better than that in terms of responding.

Comment by zvi on Create a Full Alternative Stack · 2020-02-01T19:43:38.112Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was in no way trying to disguise that the problem of people faking alignment with the stack in order to extract resources is the biggest problem with the project, if someone were to actually try to implement it. If I get feedback that this wasn't clear enough I will edit to make it more clear. And certainly one does not simply throw money at the problem.

So that far, fair enough.

However, this also incorporates a number of assumptions, and a general view of how things function, that I do not share.

First, the idea that alignment is a singular problem, or that it either does or does not have a solution. That seems very wrong to me. Alignment has varying known solutions depending on the situation and which prices you are wiling to pay and how much you care, and varies based on what alignment you are trying to verify. You can also attempt structure the deal such that people that are non-aligned (e.g. with the maze nature, or even not very into being opposed to it) do not want what you are offering.

I don't think there are cheap solutions. And yes, eventually you will fail and have to start over, but I do think this is tractable for long enough to make a big difference.

Second, the idea that if there was a solution then it would be implemented because it outcompetes others just doesn't match my model on multiple levels. I don't think it would be worth paying the kind of prices the stack would be willing to pay, in order to align a generic corporation. It's not even clear that this level of anti-maze would be an advantage in that spot, given the general reaction to such a thing on many levels and the need for deep interaction with mazes. And it's often the case that there are big wins, and people just don't know about them, or they know about them but for some reason don't take them. I've stopped finding such things weird.

You can also do it backwards-only if you're too scared of this - award it to people who you already are confident in now, and don't extend it later to avoid corruption. It would be a good start on many goals.

In any case, yes, I have thought a lot about the practical problems, most of which such people already face much worse in other forms, and have many many thoughts about them, and the problem is hard. But not 'give up this doesn't actually help' kinds of hard.

Not going to go deeper than that here. If I decide to expand on the problem I'll do it with more posts (which are not currently planned).

Comment by zvi on Create a Full Alternative Stack · 2020-02-01T18:27:23.546Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The point is to compromise one's interactions with society in the sense that you want to change what they are. But in this frame, the idea is that your interactions were previously being compromised by the worry that some day you may need to extract money from society / mazes, and this seeks to prevent that.

Consider the Thiel fellowship. Yes, it helps people get their start, but their orders are to go out into the world and start a normal business and raise money the normal way. It's better than letting those people go to college, so yay fellowship, but it's totally not this thing. It was a way to let kids who knew that college was a trap skip college. Or at least, that's my understanding.

Thiel literally proposed funding me in the full stack way at a meeting - not personally for life, but for a proposed company, which was going to be biotech-related so it was much closer to normal procedure. He got the logic. But when he came back to his social situation he couldn't follow through. Biotech has to work this way for companies because of hold-up problems and dependencies, you agree on the later rounds in advance with criteria for unlocking them. It's not the full full stack, but it's the core idea that you need to be secure from concerns that would bury the real operation if you had to worry about them.

Creating a new entire community in a new location makes perfect sense, and is one good way to consider implementation.

Comment by zvi on Have epistemic conditions always been this bad? · 2020-01-30T20:49:58.104Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Dr Schrecker tells us that as a professional historian she "feels comfortable" with the evidence that it is true.

I love this line. It could not have come more straight out of Moral Mazes.

Comment by zvi on Potential Ways to Fight Mazes · 2020-01-29T21:07:03.871Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are not wrong. Fixed in original. Mods please reimport.

Comment by zvi on 2018 Review: Voting Results! · 2020-01-24T14:47:28.674Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Easy to make it possible with explicit quadratic voting but not interpret people who use non-quadratic voting to cast only 1-3 votes in this way.

Comment by zvi on How Doomed are Large Organizations? · 2020-01-22T21:28:03.406Z · score: 16 (8 votes) · LW · GW

1. I don't know enough details about China to offer a complete answer. I could speculate that China's government is relatively new, and has reinvented itself more recently than that in dramatic ways. Also that it is still taking part in catch-up growth, which looks more dramatic than it is and also causes direct disruptions of existing systems as things power up, which should help with all this. Also, that link (directly at least) seems to be mostly saying China is accomplishing things rather than the Chinese Government, a key distinction. China tore down the things stifling growth (e.g. the whole being Communist thing) to a large extent and the maze-style things that will next get in the way likely have not finished coming in to replace them.

There's also the possibility that China's growth is masking growing problems - if your maze level is ruining things at 2%/year (made up number) but you are growing at 8% a year otherwise, you still grow at 6%, or something.

Another "nice" thing for China is that the Chinese Communist Party seems to be maintaining power by providing real physical life improvements, naked-eye-visible rising living standards and economic growth. If that stopped, they would (or so a model I have low confidence in says) lose the Mandate of Heaven and be in a lot of trouble, potentially collapsing. As opposed to trying to win elections, that provides a strong incentive to care about the physical end-level results, especially if party officials at the top are going to be around for a long time and want to keep power. Could be lessons there of course.

I also have a very poor handle on what's actually happening in China and how they are really doing. I've heard that there's a ton of waste and lots and lots of regional debt serving as a time bomb. I've also seen claims they're kicking ass. Hard to know and I don't claim to know.

2. I do not think "social justice activism" is that large a share of corporate politics, especially in competitions between managers, it's more that there is a ton more SJ activity than anti-SJ activity and we notice such activity a lot more. Or to put it another way, woke ads and campaigns far exceed anti-SJ ads and campaigns but are still newsworthy, and if SJ activism were really that big a deal, they wouldn't be. That is entirely compatible with SJ-signaling becoming part of the winning-coalition-signaling set in some major corporations. The biggest difference is that it might extend down to the object-level workers and attack them, whereas most other such things get shrugged off, and again that it gets noticed a lot. As to why SJ over non-SJ, it seems SJ side is much better at applying leverage and helping move product, and is generally winning the mindshare fights especially in places like tech, so it gets the nod.

That much seems safe enough to say, but I don't want to press my luck by continuing to talk about such matters on the internet...

Comment by zvi on How Doomed are Large Organizations? · 2020-01-22T21:11:03.962Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think an example was WeWork, and Adam Newman was attempting to also pressure others to do so.

Comment by zvi on How Doomed are Large Organizations? · 2020-01-22T00:06:53.863Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Strongly agree. Tried to write one a while ago. It did not go well, hope to try again later.

Comment by zvi on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-21T12:22:00.457Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Encouragement to write the top level post, with offer of at least some help although presumably people who are there in Berkeley to see it would be more helpful in many ways. This matches my model of what is happening.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-20T15:32:21.800Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In both cases, I think 'start one's own business' should be at the top of the list. This can be a start-up designed to make a lot of money - and that's by far the highest EV play if you can take a real shot and afford to fail. But it does not need to be something so risky. If you have a trade where you can open a store, or put yourself and perhaps a small number of others out for hire, or even become a consultant of some kind, consider doing one of those before anything else.

Doctor -> private practice. Lawyer -> small law firm as possible. Programmer -> own projects, short term gigs, employee number 1.

Similarly, the easiest way to avoid a large business is to work for a small business. Especially good is of course to be employee #1 and get equity, but even employee #5 with nominal equity upside is pretty good.

I'd also encourage people not to think in terms of fixed career paths, but rather in terms of developing skills, doing real things, seeing what opportunities present themselves, etc. But my situation was always very unique, and I took paths most people can't, so I don't claim to be any kind of expert in all this. This comment is likely quick / half baked.

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-20T15:25:05.314Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I debated which of those two to use here. Will consider switching.

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-19T22:11:38.761Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On editing note, I think that subheaders requires that things happen in header order, but I want to go in timeline order, and I don't think you can do clean breaks given that restriction. I'm presuming you could group them into types of steps in useful ways if you were so inclined and had a reason to go in that direction.

On second note, I do worry that people will think that #4 is both more endogenous and does more work than I see it as being and doing, and use that as a reason to think of this is a localized and conditional problem. But in terms of how to solve that?

It's hard and important. Enough so that it's often going to be worth designing and/or splitting the whole structure in order to keep this problem in check, even if such splits don't otherwise make any sense. And in general there's a whole set of thoughts I could give on how to try and measure performance more accurately. I'll put that in the stack of possible future things to say, but long series already super long and I don't think I have anything great to suggest here, unfortunately.

Comment by zvi on Moloch Hasn’t Won · 2020-01-19T21:59:30.156Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did a little more work to make it flow better in OP, and I'm going to let it drop there unless a bunch of other people confirm they had this same issue and it actually mattered (and with the new version).

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-19T21:41:07.047Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My explicit advice above was that if you find yourself in that situation, down-scaling your lifestyle is prohibitive (e.g. it would break up your family) then you should seek to become a loser in the Rao sense. E.g. don't quit or outright rebel, but stop trying to advance further, do the minimum to not have anything disastrous happen, and make this clear to all parties at work, while trying to save as much as possible and plan a second act if you want one after that eventually fails to hold up.

If it's just 'you have comparative advantage doing this' then that's one of the big reasons I invested so much on the super-perfect competition concept - even if you do have this advantage, unless it is freaking impossibly huge, you are still better off not doing it because your edge won't be that big and you'll be facing far more competition than is justified by the prize. E.g. even if you really are so talented you 'deserve' to be a rock star, you still have to contend with all the people who try anyway, so only do it if you also can't do anything else, and here our edge over those fools who don't have such advantages is going to be much, much smalller, beyond those without the necessary minimum being ruled out, which my model says the system is at least good at.

If it's that you actively like this sort of thing, again I'd ask you to balance against the competition level and the fact that you get sick of anything if you get paid to do it enough for long enough, but I'd also wonder about what values/morality this question implied you already have. If I have ever been friends with such a person, I did not realize it. It seems like the less-murder-heavy version of Barry before he has a change of heart - TV hitman who claims it's what they're good at and that they somehow only kill bad people.


Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-19T21:31:10.465Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agree that it could be +EV to sign on where you would learn specific skills - e.g. I am very confident that Year 1 at my firm is a very good school they pay you to go to! The question is whether you can trust yourself to execute on the exit strategy in light of what will happen to you and the choices you will be presented with. I'd be pretty scared of this failing.

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-19T21:20:58.701Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Without anchoring anyone too much on my question elsewhere in the thread: I would say that this is certainly a central case of maze behavior and points in the correct direction, but as a definition of all maze behavior it is importantly too small a class of things. There is something more fundamental going on, and it is a Fnord (I have Fnord as the top of my future post pile, where Fnord is a thing that makes you want to not notice look at it or notice it.)

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-19T21:17:22.514Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that is what it is intended to mean, while noting that 'acting like a maze' or 'doing what it takes to get ahead in a maze' is in general a maze-creating and maze-supporting behavior.

Agree with Raemon that I haven't done the best job summarizing exactly what maze behaviors actually are. I attempted with this post to summarize my model of how mazes come to be and become powerful, but that is a different question. I will consider writing an explicit post to cover this, since it isn't in any of the scheduled posts either, but seems like an important thing to have. Thank you for pointing this out.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask others, without anchoring them with an answer: If you had to give a short summary answer to "What exactly are maze behaviors?" what would you say? I want to know what is being communicated, and also people might have their own insights/perspectives/behaviors.

Comment by zvi on Moloch Hasn’t Won · 2020-01-17T12:13:01.207Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Happy to delete the word 'you' there since it's doing no work. Not going to edit this version, but will update OP and mods are free to fix this one. Also took opportunity to do a sentence break-up.

As for saying explicitly that slavery is bad, well, pretty strong no. I'm not going to waste people's time doing that, nor am I going to invite further concern trolling, or the implication that when I do not explicitly condemn something it means I might secretly support it or something. If someone needs reassurance that someone talking about slavery as one of the horrible things also opposes a less horrible form of slavery, then they are not the target audience.

Comment by zvi on What is Success in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-17T12:05:25.942Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

'Rat race' is a highly related concept. It's mostly a subset, I think, although your view of the term may vary. Rat race illustrates the idea that when all the workers try harder to get ahead of other workers, everyone does lots more work, often to no useful end, without people on net getting ahead. Or, alternatively, that you do all this work just to stay in place. It certainly has implications of 'what I am doing doesn't actually matter' and also 'what I am doing is a zero-sum game" which implies the first thing.

Comment by zvi on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-17T01:26:35.230Z · score: 48 (24 votes) · LW · GW

As I commented elsewhere I think this is great, but there's one curious choice here, which is to compare exposure to The Singularity as a de-conversion experience and loss of faith rather than a conversion experience where one gets faith. The parallel is from someone going from believer to atheist, rather than atheist to believer.

Which in some ways totally makes sense, because rationality goes hand in hand with de-conversion, as the Sequences are quite explicit about over and over again, and often people joining the community are in fact de-converting from a religion (and when and if they convert to one, they almost always leave the community). And of course, because the Singularity is a real physical thing that might really happen and really do all this, and so on.

But I have the system-1 gut instinct that this is actually getting the sign wrong in ways that are going to make it hard to understand people's problem here and how to best solve it.

(As opposed to it actually being a religion, which it isn't.)

From the perspective of a person processing this kind of new information, the fact that the information is true or false, or supernatural versus physical, doesn't seem that relevant. What might be much more relevant is that you now believe that this new thing is super important and that you can potentially have really high leverage over that thing. Which then makes everything feel unimportant and worth sacrificing - you now need to be obsessed with new hugely important thing and anyone who isn't and could help needs to be woken up, etc etc.

If you suddenly don't believe in God and therefore don't know if you can be justified in buying hot cocoa, that's pretty weird. But if you suddenly do believe in God and therefore feel you can't drink hot cocoa, that's not that weird.

People who suddenly believe in God don't generally have the 'get up in the morning' question on their mind, because the religions mostly have good answers for that one. But the other stuff all seems to fit much better?

Or, think about the concept Anna discusses about people's models being 'tangled up' with stuff they've discarded because they lost faith. If God doesn't exist why not [do horrible things] and all that because nothing matters so do what you want. But this seems like mostly the opposite, it's that the previous justifications have been overwritten by bigger concerns.

Comment by zvi on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-17T01:11:12.654Z · score: 38 (14 votes) · LW · GW

This post is great and much needed, and makes me feel much better about the goings-on at CFAR.

It is easy to get the impression that the concerns raised in this post are not being seen, or are being seen from inside the framework of people making those same mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are disorientation that people know are disruptive and need to be dealt with, but other times I've encountered many who view such things as right and proper, and view not having such a perspective as blameworthy. I even frequently find an undertone of 'if you don't have this orientation something went wrong.'

It's clear from this post that this is not what is happening for Anna/CFAR, which is great news.

This now provides, to me, two distinct things.

One, a clear anchor from which to make it clear that failure to engage with regular life, and failure to continue to have regular moral values and desires and cares and hobbies and so on, is a failure mode of some sort of phase transition that we have been causing. That it is damaging, and it is to be avoided slash the damage contained and people helped to move on as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Two, the framework of reality-revealing versus reality-masking, which has universal application. If this resonates with people it might be a big step forward in being able to put words to key things, including things I'm trying to get at in the Mazes sequence.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-17T01:02:01.566Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1: First are should be 'what if'

2: Difference is that third-to-last question is about the 'can't afford it' concern, which is distinct from generally being trapped. Could see changing it to be last three, or unifying the notes.

3: Differently. Arcane here means 'complex and obscure details that need to be mastered and done correctly, or it won't work'. Incantation here means 'a thing you say in order to evoke a particular response' in this case a social web pattern.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-16T19:51:09.767Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I wrote The Fear down, I was thinking about a specific past Magic: The Gathering article, but I was unable to find it; if someone else knows where it still exists that would be great. The Fear was when people built their plans for matches in terror of the one card/thing that they had no way to deal with reasonably, as opposed to accepting that such a thing was unlikely but would be extremely bad if it happened, and messing tons of other things up. There's also a Lily Allen song of the same name which is related, and might be worth using if I can't find the article.

I don't know if I have much advice beyond what I already said above, but my basic response is that this isn't how life works, at least not going forward. There is no safe path, and maze work does not make your future safer. The biggest problem with The Fear is that it leads one to look for the actions that tell a story that you are doing the thing that means that when you lose/fail it won't be your fault, as opposed to the thing that actually makes you win/succeed.

Very happy that you found a good solution.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-16T19:45:06.421Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for all that. I worry about the same thing - that this will not feel/be sufficiently actionable for people, and they won't be that likely to change their situations based on it. As George Carlin says, some people need practical advice. I didn't know how to go about providing what such a person would need, on that level. How would you go about doing that? It feels like a book-length or longer problem, the same way one can't write a post on how to prepare for a street fight that would actually be that good, beyond giving basic pointers (like run away).

Comment by zvi on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2020-01-16T15:38:36.824Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I do not think this is a strong analysis. Things were a lot more complicated than this, on many levels. Analyzing that in detail would be more interesting. This post seems more interested in the question of 'what grade should we get for our efforts' than in learning from the situation going forward, which is what I think is the far more interesting problem.

That's not to say that the actual evaluation is especially unfair. I give myself very low marks because I had the trading skills to know better, or I should have had them, and the spare cycles to deal with it as well, with the key insight being that the fact that it was super hard to deal with was actually a reason to buy, not a reason to avoid buying. But it wasn't until I worked with much better traders (who also, of course, all failed to bother acting despite knowing about it, the desk head said BTC was a "screaming buy" at $1 long before I got there, then everyone did nothing) that I figured out what the real mistake here was. Any good analysis, to me, has to say why we should have believed BTC but not fallen for countless other things, even if it turns out that BTC did so well that it would have fine to fall for 100 (or 1000!) other similar things at the same time, in some sense...

Comment by zvi on Being a Robust Agent (v2) · 2020-01-16T15:23:52.426Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As you would expect from someone who was one of the inspirations for the post, I strongly approve of the insight/advice contained herein. I also agree with the previous review that there is not a known better write-up of this concept. I like that this gets the thing out there compactly.

Where I am disappointed is that this does not feel like it gets across the motivation behind this or why it is so important - I neither read this and think 'yes that explains why I care about this so much' or 'I expect that this would move the needle much on people's robustness as agents going forward if they read this.'

So I guess the takeaway for me looking back is, good first attempt and I wouldn't mind including it in the final list, but someone needs to try again?

It is worth noting that Jacob did *exactly* the adjustments that I would hope would result from this post if it worked as intended, so perhaps it is better than I give it credit for? Would be curious if anyone else had similar things to report.


Comment by zvi on Please Critique Things for the Review! · 2020-01-16T15:11:21.963Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm finding that posts have to be read and reviewed one at a time to do this properly. As a result there's no way I'm going to get to the bulk of the posts in time, even after deciding several days ago to make this one of my priorities for free time. And yeah, the whole thing feels mostly like work, which can't help.

Comment by zvi on On Doing the Improbable · 2020-01-16T13:23:08.484Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I love how cleanly this brings up its point and asks the question. My answer is essentially that you can do this if and only if you can create expectation of Successful Failure in some way. Thus, if failing person's real mission can be the friends they made along the way or skills they developed or lessons learned, or they still got a healthy paycheck, or the attempt brings them honor, or whatever, that's huge.

Writing a full response is on my list of things to eventually do, which is rare for posts that are over a year old.

Comment by zvi on The Rocket Alignment Problem · 2020-01-16T13:20:09.601Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Big fan of this but, like most of us, I knew all this already. What I want to know is, how effective is/was this when not preaching to the choir? What happens when someone who doesn't understand MIRI's mission starts to read this? I'd like to think it helps them grok what is going on reasonably often, but I could be fooling myself, and that question is ultimately the test of how vital this really is.

Comment by zvi on Local Validity as a Key to Sanity and Civilization · 2020-01-14T21:40:36.764Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I find it deeply sad that many of us feel the need to frequently link to this article - I don't think I have ever done so, because if I need to explain local validity, then perhaps I'm talking to the wrong people? But certainly the ignoring of this principle has gotten more and more blatant and common over time since this post, so it's becoming less reasonable to assume that people understand such things. Which is super scary.

Comment by zvi on How to Identify an Immoral Maze · 2020-01-14T17:02:25.568Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Overconfidence is a reasonable thing to worry about. This in particular, that finding people with soul makes you safe, does seem likely to be too strong a claim. It certainly greatly helps your odds, versus the alternative. But yes, it does seem plausible that some passionate people surviving could be compatible with remarkably high maze levels, especially if those people provide good out-facing looks or are willing to do absurd levels of grunt work for low pay as a result of their passions.

One key is that this asks about the people you work for, not the people you work with. That's an important distinction. Mazes are fine with object-level workers having passion, and even prefer it, since they'll work harder and more reliably for less pay, and complain less, and so on.

Comment by zvi on Explicit and Implicit Communication · 2020-01-13T00:23:30.988Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The content here is pretty awesome. I'm a little wary of including it in our review because it is, as author notes, more of a general-audience thing, but it's both a lot of fun and is making important points.

Comment by zvi on Noticing the Taste of Lotus · 2020-01-13T00:13:45.728Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Scott wonders how anyone could ever find this surprising. I think it's like many things - the underlying concept is obviously there once you point it out, but it's easier not to think about or notice it, and easier not to have a model of what's going on beyond a vague sense that it is there and that this counts as the virtuous level of noticing.

My sense over time of how important this is gets bigger, not smaller, and I see almost no one properly noticing the taste of the Lotus. So this seems like one of the most important posts.

Comment by zvi on Specification gaming examples in AI · 2020-01-12T23:54:31.280Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

These are an absolute blast. I'm not rating it as important because it all seems so obvious to me that it would go down like this, and it's hard to see why people need convincing, but perhaps they do? Either way, it's great fun to read the examples again.

Comment by zvi on Preliminary thoughts on moral weight · 2020-01-12T23:51:24.699Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · LW · GW

My actual honest reaction to this sort of thing: Please, please stop. This kind of thinking actively drives me and many others I know away from LW/EA/Rationality. I see it strongly as asking the wrong questions with the wrong moral frameworks, and using it to justify abominable conclusions and priorities, and ultimately the betrayal of humanity itself - even if people who talk like this don't write the last line of their arguments, it's not like the rest of us don't notice it. I don't have any idea what to say to someone who writes 'if I was told one pig was more important morally than one human I would not be surprised.'

That's not me trying to convince anyone of anything beyond that I have that reaction to this sort of thing, and that it seemed wrong for me not to say it given I'm writing reviews. No demon threads please, if I figure out how to say this in a way that would be convincing and actually explain, I'll try and do that. This is not that attempt.

Comment by zvi on Naming the Nameless · 2020-01-12T23:42:46.022Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This post kills me. Lots of great stuff, and I think this strongly makes the cut. Sarah has great insights into what is going on, then turns away from them right when following through would be most valuable. The post is explaining why she and an entire culture is being defrauded by aesthetics. That is it used to justify all sorts of things, including high prices and what is cool, based on things that have no underlying value. How it contains lots of hostile subliminal messages that are driving her crazy. It's very clear. And then she... doesn't see the fnords. So close!

Comment by zvi on Affordance Widths · 2020-01-12T23:41:18.217Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I remember thinking when I originally read this 'oh this is insightful' and then again when I re-read it I had the same thought. Then I realized that's exactly the type of one feels-like-an-insight thinking the review is trying to get us away from! I've never used the concept or even thought about it since I first read the post, nor encountered it elsewhere, despite assuming I would do so. Bad sign.

Comment by zvi on What is Success in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-12T12:05:42.975Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I thank you for this comment because it is important to know when something is being interpreted in this kind of fashion, and to what extent. If no one ever thinks you're using hyperbole, you're some combination of not using enough rhetorical flourish and spending way too much time obsessing over your work. Swarriner uses hyperbole too when noting that they can not imagine anyone taking this seriously, although I don't think it's a real issue. I think this line's current form is doing a lot more work than harm, and versions that were longer and more careful would not do the same work, but this type of thing is unusually toxic to LW.

As you note, I am not saying that anyone's life has non-positive value, regardless of profession (to themselves, as opposed to their impact on others, which varies widely). I'm also not saying they couldn't pay you enough in some theoretical sense of if a large enough truck was backed up and I was asked to spend a year at the Widget Corporation as a manager, or even five years, there is a point where I do it (I know $1 million/year doesn't do it, but $1 billion/year is massive overkill), although the path and incentives there are so different that the situation would not have the same toxicity. When I say couldn't, I (of course) mean won't, and their internal politics and policies and shareholders would prevent them from doing so even if the CEO wanted to.

When I say these lives are not worth it, I mean compared to the better options available, not to non-existence. I will lay out my advice to people in more detail two posts down the line (so, Wednesday or so), but one key thing that differentiates sweatshop from maze is that sweatshops hire people without good alternatives or skills, so the best alternative can be very, very bad. Mazes don't do that. To be a manager in a maze requires highly marketable skills (a point I likely should edit that post to make more explicit, so thank you again). At a minimum, you can certainly work lower level positions and/or at smaller places that offer reasonable pay but do not put the psychic burden on you, at the cost of scaling back your lifestyle but not endangering one's ability to survive.

Although, if you already have F-U money saved up from working in mazes, and music is what you care about, yes, absolutely focus on your music.

Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-07T12:45:51.887Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Many examples from people in the community, plus other people I have known, who found themselves in that situation, are a strong contributor to this. Some of them described their experiences very well. Also personal experience - I noticed that I myself had no idea how to do this outside of a few select areas where I had unusual experiences and friends who helped me achieve this, slash some of my talents/skills happen to have unusually direct paths to being useful work.

We can also look at general behavior in these situations, how people talk when they are looking for what to do next and clearly want to do something object-level both real and in fiction, etc etc. And we can look at the fact that it is strangely hard to find good hires for real object-level tasks even with solid pay.

Studies are basically not a thing anywhere in this sequence, they don't exist and I don't even know how one would do one if you had the funding and support to do so. That's one big reason why all of this remains deniable/invisible.

Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T21:02:48.086Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The context of the second quote gives me three instinctual reactions.

1. One can reasonably hold the belief that everyone makes mistakes and that the boss lacks crucial feedback/information if you don't give it to them. And the point here is that you get blamed for the failure of your boss regardless of whose fault that is because that's how blame works, it travels downward.

2. There are different kinds of belief and they interact in strange ways; you can hold 'ability is constant' in one sense while still thinking your boss is an idiot.

3. There is the belief that some people are idiots, and your boss might be one of them - the negative selection part of skill is real, it's just that there's no positive selection.

For the first quote, I agree that this quote in particular only makes this claim for relatively high levels (I'm not sure what 'general manager' means exactly, except in sports where it generally means the level of management just below the owners/top, above the manager, who has assistant managers). So good note - I was relying on my full experience of the book and it would be better if I'd provided stronger direct evidence. I quickly scanned to see if I pulled any other quotes that said the same thing about lower ranks, it seems like I didn't, but that message was repeated by a number of interviewees, many of whom did not isolate such high skill levels. And of course, restricting it to the two levels below the top does not make it much less insane.

Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T20:51:38.649Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a combination of (1) the book, (2) my personal experiences of various places including my attempt at running a business of my own, (3) my observations of what is going on in the world, (4) my interactions with major corporations when attempting to do business and otherwise, (5) talking with others who have been in such situations and (6) building up of models.

Is all of this potentially extrapolated from unusually bad experiences? It is certainly possible, but those experiences seem to have been chosen in ways that would not be likely to maximize their degree of badness beyond the issue of size. The book certainly wasn't trying to paint as gloomy a picture as it could have.

But of course, the picture is extreme. And no, none of the examples here or the ones I've directly experienced were tech as such.

In tech, I would describe the maze structure differently, and the maze would importantly extend beyond the corporation itself, but that's a complex topic I can't get into fully here.

Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T12:18:52.548Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I've actually never met anyone who worked at Apple, at least that I can remember. If anyone can stall this by sheer force of will it would have been Steve Jobs. I would be curious to what extent Apple is/was unique due to Steve Jobs, and to what extent it has or is even trying to hold onto that now. The new regime seems from simple outside impression to be much more normal-corporate.

Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T12:15:45.130Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for calling attention to that question. It wasn't on the core list and it should be there. It's sort of implicitly within that last question, but also importantly distinct and should be answered first. I should think more explicitly about that.

I do have a few good potential mechanisms I can point to, but will work to improve my model slash wait until I've laid out more of my model, rather than answer here.


Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T12:10:04.738Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, wrote that too quickly. My brain didn't ever actually think there were 25 people reporting to each other, but in rush to clarify made a highly misleading claim. Sorry about that. Edited in OP to clarify that these are not levels of management.

Central point is the same that it's a very different magnitude of problem with 5+ levels versus 1-3 levels.

Comment by zvi on What is Life in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-06T12:05:45.049Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The next post, called "Stripping Away the Protections," is about answering this question.

My basic answer is that there are many different ways to disrupt the dynamics that end in super-perfect competition, and here we see an unusually large number of them being absent, through a mix of intentional engineering of that and some amount of natural circumstance.

Difficulty of measurement (both inherent to the situation, and intentional prevention of accurate measurement) is a big factor.

Lacking entry and exit is a necessary factor more in the sense that if entry and exit were free, then that would protect against this outcome a lot, rather than this lack being especially big. Lacking free entry and exit is common, and actually having it is rare in general - managers make large investments in their paths, but so do lots of others. Perfect competition is really really weird.