Rational Feed

EA:

Is Skilled Hunting Unethical by elephantiskon (LW 2.0) – The author changes his mind about hunting. “I expect that they will nonetheless find the issues discussed in this article—wild animal welfare, movement-building, habit formation, moral uncertainty, how to set epistemic priors— both interesting and relevant to their day-to-day-lives. I also hope this article provides a useful example of how to examine an object-level belief and actually change your mind.”

Politics and Economics:

Galileo’s Middle Finger by Jacob Falkovich – Lessons about politics, activism, sex, evolution and most of all defense against the dark arts: “This is a review of Alice Dreger’s Galileo’s Middle Finger, a memoir about science and activism: when they get along and when they don’t. The review separated into three parts: a quick review of the book as a reading experience, a summary of the book’s story, and the lessons, intended and unintended, that I learned from it.”. [Discusses ‘autogynephilia’ and debates theories of trans individuals. Discuss this article with extra tact.]

In Defence Of Conflict Theory by ricraz (LW 2.0) – “Here’s my main argument against emphasising mistake theory over conflict theory: you’re only able to be a mistake theorist after the conflict theorists have done most of the hard work. Even if the lens of mistake theory is more useful in dealing with most of the political issues we engage with on a daily basis, that’s only the case because those issues are a) within our Overton window, so that they can be discussed, and b) considered important by either some powerful people, or many normal people, so that proposed solutions have a chance of being implemented.”

Liability Insurance by Paul Christiano – Owners of dangerous technology like guns should have to put up a large amount of capital with which to compensate victims. The amount of capital would be prohibitively high so most buyers would need insurance.

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Rational Feed

Scott:

Five More Years by Scott Alexander – a set of longer term predictions for the next five years. Topics: AI, Politics, BioEngineering, SpaceX and Crypto-currencies.

Rationalist:

Skeptical Modernism And How It Clarifies Post Modernism by Chris_Leong (LW 2.0) – “Scott Alexander wrote an article that attempted to put post-modernism in terms that rationalists could understand. He later retracted the article based on feedback from people who told him that it wasn’t a good explanation of post-modernism. I actually think that the content was good, but that he should have framed it differently. While he did a great job of defending a rationalist (or modernist) position that made significant concessions towards post-modernism, the beliefs conveyed in the article weren’t really post-modernism. Nonetheless, this is a useful perspective which deserves its own name, so I will henceforth refer to this as Skeptical Modernism.”

Circling by Unreal (LW 2.0) – What is circling, how does it relate to rationality and how can circling help reduce experiential distance between participants.

Podcast:

Caplan Debates Eric Hanushek about Education and Signaling by AEI – “The US spends about $12,500 a year per public-school student, which many argue is not enough to ensure a high-quality education for all students. Economics professor Bryan Caplan argues just the opposite in his forthcoming book, ‘The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money’, claiming that education is overrated, primarily serving as a credentialing institution that does not add much value. Does education enhance students’ knowledge and skills? Or does it mostly “signal” their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity — the qualities of a good employee? Join AEI as Bryan Caplan debates AEI’s Eric Hanushek about the value of education”

Rational Feed

Scott:

Even More Search Terms That Led People To This Blog by Scott Alexander – “Sometimes I look at what search terms lead people to SSC. Sometimes it’s the things you would think – ‘slate star codex’, ‘rationality’, the names of medications I’ve written about. Other times it’s a little weirder.”

Rationalist:

My Twelve Rules For Life by Russ Roberts – Econtalk host Russ Robert’s Rules. Comments on community, making time for yourself, saying you don’t know and being kind.

AI:

Interpretable: Machine Learning Through Teaching by Open Ai – “We’ve designed a method that encourages AIs to teach each other with examples that also make sense to humans. Our approach automatically selects the most informative examples to teach a concept — for instance, the best images to describe the concept of dogs — and experimentally we found our approach to be effective at teaching both AIs and humans.”

Politics and Economics:

The Case For Diversity by James Damore – James Damore’s short write up of the debate around diversity: The business case for diversity, Moral arguments, Bias, The minority experience, Closing thoughts.

Debate with Noah Smith on Fiscal Policy by Marginal Revolution – “Typically, during an economic expansion, central governments try to restrain spending and raise taxes to pay down debt accumulated during recessions — at least that’s the theory. Not this time. Bloomberg View economics columnist Tyler Cowen and Noah Smith met online to debate what’s different now.”

Rational Feed

Scott:

More Testimonials For SSC by Scott Alexander – A list of humorous quotes insulting Scott, SSC or rationalists.

Rationalist:

Wrong Models Are Good by Brian Lui – “A common belief is that we should only use correct mental models, but the reality is that some wrong models are worth keeping around.”

The Principled Intelligence Hypothesis by Katja Grace – A question implied by Hanson’s last book: “But if intelligence evolved for the prime purpose of evading rules, shouldn’t the smartest people be best at navigating rule evasion? Or at least reliably non-terrible at it?” Katja’s Answer: “I posit that technical intelligence comes from the drive to make these generalizations, not the drive to thwart them.”

Spamming Micro Intentions To Generate Willpower by moridinamael (LW 2.0) – Getting yourself out of a rut or motivating yourself to do a small task: “Intentions become clear and strong, not through force or the intensity of delivery of the intention, but rather, through a very light, gentle touch that is consistently, repeatedly reinforced.”

Politics and Economics:

Small Change Good Big Change Bad by Robin Hanson – “The standard debate about change: some see small changes and either like them or aren’t bothered enough to advocate what it would take to reverse them, while others imagine such trends continuing long enough to result in very large and disturbing changes, and then suggest stronger responses.”

In Which There Are Ghosts by sam[]zdat – Some thoughts on what makes art good, how artistic quality is perceived today and jump scares in horror movies. “Where value=good/bad distinctions (roughly), a whole bunch of those got thrown out the window. There were many reasons for this, most of them material, that’s going to take the rest of this blog’s life to try and get at. The upshot of this is that the only things that can pierce our thick hides anymore are political values, as in: good and evil don’t work, they don’t frighten us the same way, something else has to fill in for them, so you no longer reductio to absurdism and Satan but to Hitler and Stalin.”

Podcast:

Samantha Pk: Nuclear Security by 80,000 Hours – Some Topics: “In the case of nuclear war, what fraction of the world’s population would die? What is the biggest nuclear threat? How concerned should we be about North Korea? How often has the world experienced nuclear near misses? How might a conflict between India and Pakistan escalate to the nuclear level? How quickly must a president make a decision in the result of a suspected first strike? Are global sources of nuclear material safely secured? What role does cyber security have in preventing nuclear disasters? How can we improve relations between nuclear armed states? What do you think about the campaign for complete nuclear disarmament? If you could tell the US government to do three things, what are the key priorities today? Is it practical to get members of congress to pay attention to nuclear risks? Could modernisation of nuclear weapons actually make the world safer?”

Rational Feed

Scott:

We’ve Got Five Years What A Surprise by Scott Alexander – SSC has been running for five years. Scott thanks a variety of people who have helped make SSC great.

Rationalist:

Hufflepuff Cynicism by abramdemski (LW 2.0) – “In response to catching a glimpse of the dark world, and especially of the extent of human hypocrisy with respect to the dark world, one might take a dim view of one’s fellow humans. I describe an alternative, Hufflepuff cynicism, in which you lower your concept of what the standards were all along. I give arguments for and against this perspective.”

A Proper Scoring Rule For Confidence Intervals by Scott Garrabrant (LW 2.0) – “You probably already know that you can incentives honest reporting of probabilities using a proper scoring rule like log score, but did you know that you can also incentivize honest reporting of confidence intervals?”

EA:

Revisiting Leverage by The GiveWell Blog – Leverage is attempting to influence how other donors allocate their resources. Fungibility measures how much expenditure on a program will crowd out other sources of funding. Initially GiveWell ignored both fungibility and leverage. In 2017 they included explicit formal estimates of leverage for every recommended charity. Lots of details included are included in the post.

Politics and Economics:

My Own 12 Rules For Life by Grey Enlightenment – Jordan Petersen’s 12 rules for life. Grey Enlightenment gives his own set of rules. Some concepts: Conscientiousness, IQ, spreading your ideas, financial independence, tuning out the news media and the difficulty of finding out the full story.

Rational Feed

Scott:

Zoetropen Thread by Scott Alexander – Standard SSC Open Thread. Some comments on reciprocity.io an already existing rationalist dating site.

Rationalist:

Rationality Feed: Last Month’s Best Posts by deluks917 (LW 2.0) – My favorite rationalist content from the last month.

AI:

Some Conceptual Highlights From Disjunctive Scenarios Of Catastrophic AI Risk by Kaj Sotala – Superintelligence and AI Risk: “Focusing too much on any single scenario makes us more likely to miss out alternative scenarios. It also makes the scenarios susceptible to criticism from people who (correctly!) point out that we are postulating very specific scenarios that have lots of burdensome details. To address that, I discuss here a number of considerations that suggest disjunctive paths to catastrophic outcomes: paths that are of the form ‘A or B or C could happen, and any one of them happening could have bad consequences’.”

Podcast:

Enlightenment Now by The Ezra Klein Show – “In Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now, he mounts both his case that the world that this moment is astonishingly great from a historical perspective, and argues that there’s a reason for that: enlightenment values of science, reason, humanism, and faith in progress. Values that he says are under attack from a right that is retreating into zero-sum nationalism, a left that has lost faith in progress, and a public that doesn’t always appreciate just how much progress has been made. In this conversation, we talk about Pinker’s new book, as well as his views on political correctness on campus, how politics drives us to irrationality, and what future generations will look back on us with horror for doing.”

The Case Against Education by EconTalk – “Caplan argues that very little learning takes place in formal education and that very little of the return to college comes from skills or knowledge that is acquired in the classroom. Schooling, he concludes, as it is currently conducted is mostly a waste of time and money. Caplan bring a great deal of evidence to support his dramatic claim and much of the conversation focuses on the challenge of measuring and observing what students actually learn.”

Misc:

Atypical Treatment Resistant Depression by Sarah Constantin – “Roughly 20-30% of people with depression don’t respond to the first antidepressant or two they try. One of the harder-to-treat subtypes of depression is atypical depression, which comes with sleeping and eating more than usual (rather than less), and high emotional sensitivity. This report is an overview of options for treatment-resistant or atypical depression.”

Rational Feed

Rationalist:

What Do We Mean By Meetups by mingyuan (LW 2.0) – Ming interviewed members of eight rationality groups. What is the purpose of a rationality group and how do they create value? Which factors make a rationality group work?

Backchaining In Strategy by David Kingsley (LW 2.0) – Backchaining is successively working backwards from the goal in order to determine which actions to take. Backchaining can be useful and helps focus your actions on actually achieving the objective. However backchaining runs into problems if the goals are long-term in nature or involves too many unknown unknowns.

Anti-anti-natalism by Jacob Falkovich – Anti-natialism is the view that its bad to bring new humans into existence. “I tried to make sense of antinatalism, and I think it’s bad philosophy. But I also think it’s bad economics, and plays on the widely held intuition that an extra person makes the rest of humanity worse off by taking up some space, some resources, some piece of the pie that would have gone to others. I hold that this zero-sum view is ignorant of the reality of the modern economy. Having children is good for the children, good for you, and good for the world.”

AI:

Stable Pointers To Value Ii Environmental Goals by abramdemski (LW 2.0) – Three approaches for robust value learning: Standard reinforcement learning (RL) frameworks, including AIXI, which try to predict the reward they’ll get and take actions which maximize that expectation. Observation-utility agents (OU), which get around the problem by assessing the future plans with the current utility function subsystem rather than trying to predict what the subsystem will say. This removes the incentive to manipulate what the subsystem will say. Approval-directed agents (AD) maximize human approval of individual actions, rather than planning to maximize overall approval.

Politics and Economics:

Loans For Ladies by Chris Stucchio – Slides from a talk on the ethics of applied machine learning. Many algorithms are known to discriminate against various groups even if the algorithms are not intended to discriminate. The main conflict is between ‘individual fairness’ and ‘group fairness’. Significant discussion of racial stereotypes and how San Fransisco, the source of most AI ethics, values not noticing certain facts.