Rational Feed

Rationalist:

Unconscious Competence And Counter Incentives by mindlevelup – In many cases you have an incentive to lack accurate beliefs about your internal desires and state. Relatedly there are many cases where people you want to affect are the ones least likely to respond to whatever intervention you’ve set up.

AI:

Brains And Backprop A Key Timeline Crux by jacobjacob – Modern deep learning is based on gradient descent with backpropogation of error. If the human brain implements this algorithm than to get to AGI we just need to improve existing algorithms. This implies short time horizons for AGI. Discussion of the relevant neuroscience and deep learning is included.

EA:

Update How We Re Thinking About Grant Check Ins by Open Philanthropy – Most Grant making organizations require detailed progress reports from the organizations they fund. However OpenPhil merely conducts an informal followup by phone every 6 months or so. OpenPhil’s main reasoning is that they are trying to engage in ‘hits based giving’

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Rational Feed

Rationalist:

Growth Is Change So Is Death by Robin Hanson – “Those who most worry about big long term changes usually seem okay with small short term changes. Even when they accept that most change is small and that it accumulates into big change. This seems incoherent to me.”

AI:

February 2018 Newsletter by The MIRI Blog – MIRI monthly newsletter newsletter. Updates about MIRI and useful links related to AI.

Podcast:

Joe Gebbia: Co Founder Of Airbnb by Tim Ferriss – “Joe Gebbia is a designer, entrepreneur, and global explorer. He is the co-founder and CPO of Airbnb, which has changed the way the world travels and how people connect in more than 190 countries. In this wide-ranging and hilarious interview, Joe shares the decisions, hardship, failures, and successes that prepared him for Airbnb.”

Rational Feed

Scott:

Ssc Journal Club Friston On Computational Mood by Scott Alexander – “The idea of depression as a prior on bad outcomes seems pretty fricking obvious. I’m not even sure if it’s any different from the sort of stuff Aaron Beck was saying in the seventies. The big advance in this model is uniting ‘prior on bad outcomes’ with ‘low precision of predictions / low neural confidence’. The low-precision part helps explain anergia, anhedonia, low motivation, psychomotor retardation, sensory washout, and probably (with a little more work) depression with psychotic features. Flipped around, it offers an explanation of psychomotor agitation, grandiosity, psychosis, and pareidolia in mania. The only problem is that I still haven’t seen ‘prior on bad outcomes’ and ‘low precision’ really get unified.”

Rationalist:

The Friston Free Energy Stuff by Nostalgebraist – A great explanation and critique of Friston’s ‘Free energy’ theory that was recently reviewed by Scott.

My Attempt To Explain Looking Insight Meditation And by Kaj Sotala (LW) – An in depth explanation of how meditation actually works including a detailed and concrete account of how the author’s experience. The main problem that meditation solves is that we identify or fuse with our emotions too strongly. Meditation helps us notice emotions arising without getting caught up in them. The case of suffering: Flinching away from pain is actually what turns pain into suffering.

Person Moment Affecting Views by Katja Grace – A common view in philosophy is the ‘person affecting view’ which says that since something is only good/bad if its good/bad for a specific person. Hence if we compare two possible worlds we should ignore people who only exist in one of worlds. However it is commonly accepted that the notion of ‘person’ is not really coherent. People are really just clusters of ‘person-moments’ and these clusters can become less clear in some edge cases.

Politics and Economics:

A Quick Battle Field Guide To The New Culture Wars by Venkat (ribbonfarm) – A detailed model of how the culture war is and will play out. Nine different fronts are described. The author argues the current culture war is a real (if bloodless) war and discusses how one should react to it.

One Smart Guy’s Frank Take Working Major Tech Companies by Marginal Revolution – A reader email about working at google in the earlier days. What google got right (cutting lots of useless management, hiring top people, algorithmic raises and promotions) and what it got wrong (too much focus on cool stuff). Initially the problems were manageable but they degraded over time. Some thoughts about other tech companies.

Everything Is Going According To Plan by sam[]zdat – A long post about Science, Steven Pinker, Nhilism, the Enlightenment, Nietzsche and how Truth functions in and changes society.

Podcast:

Pesticide Suicide Prevention by 80,000 Hours – Pesticide ingestion is a common method of suicide globally accounting for 20% of global suicides. In Sri Lanka the government worked with the guest’s non-profit to dramatically reduce suicide by pesticide.

Rational Feed

Rationalist:

Surfing Uncertainty by Bayesian Investor – An exploration of some ideas in ‘Surfing Uncertainty’. This review, unlike the one on SSC, does not summarize the book. Major Topics: Attention, Autism / ADHD / Schizophrenia.

On Defense Mechanisms by Quaerendo (LW) – A brief sketch of: Freudian Defense mechanisms, how they work, twelve examples and how to cope in a constructive way.

Book Review Consciousness Explained by Charlie Steiner (LW) – A relatively long review/summary, containing many substantial quotes, of Daniel Dennett’s attempt to dissolve the question of consciousness.

Rational Feed

Scott:

God Help Us Lets Try To Understand Friston On Free Energy by Scott Alexander – Arguably the world’t top neuroscientist published an absurdly hard to understand model of the brain based on uncertainty reduction. Scott talks to a few of the small number of neuroscientists who claim to partially understand it. Scott then tries his hand at writing an explanation.

Rationalist:

Argument, Intuition And Recursion by Paul Christiano (LW) – “Mathematicians and philosophers answer clean questions that can be settled with formal argument. Scientists answer empirical questions that can be settled with experimentation. Collective epistemology is hard in domains where it’s hard to settle disputes with either formal argument or experimentation (or a combination), like policy or futurism.” Paul explains a model of how people can make progress in such challenging domains.

The Model To Beat: Status Rank by Robin Hanson – Wellbeing can depend on relative not absolute status. Hanson discusses the following study: “They looked at 87,000 Brits, and found that while income rank strongly predicted outcomes, neither individual (log) income nor an average (log) income of their reference group predicted outcomes, after controlling for rank (and also for age, gender, education, marital status, children, housing ownership, labor-force status, and disabilities). These seem to me remarkably strong and robust results.”

AI:

Iterated Distillation And Amplification by AI Alignment – “This is a guest post summarizing Paul Christiano’s proposed scheme for training machine learning systems that can be robustly aligned to complex and fuzzy values, which I call Iterated Distillation and Amplification (IDA) here. IDA is notably similar to AlphaGoZero and expert iteration.”

Podcast:

Nassim Nicholas by EconTalk – “Skin in the game and how it affects decision-making and policy in an uncertain world. This episode focuses on rationality, religion, and the challenge of thinking about probability and risk correctly in a dynamic world.”

Stephen Webb On Where Is Everybody by Rationally Speaking – “What evidence have we gotten so far that helps us answer the Fermi problem? How do we estimate how rare/difficult it is for human-level intelligence to evolve? And why does it matter what the answer to Fermi’s question is?”

Joe Kennedy by The Ezra Klein Show – Joe Kennedy: “Where should Democrats go on health care, on economics, on drugs? Is the divide over identity politics and economic populism really a ‘false choice,’ as Kennedy argues? And how do Democrats talk about unity when Trump keeps driving the national conversation into divisive issues?”

Rational Feed

Rationalist:

Jordan Peterson by Jacob Falkovich – Reasons Jordan Petersen is controversial in the rationalist community. Rationalist cut Jordan alot of slack because or his laser like focus on telling the truth. Jordan’s position on gay marriage. Fake frameworks and Jordan’s ideas about truth. How Jordan helps rationalists find motivation and meaning.

Correct Models Are Bad by Brian Lui – “We may think that correct mental models are always good to have, but the reality is that some correct models are useless or even harmful.”

Luxuriating In Privacy by Sarah Perry (ribbonfarm) – ” I have been somewhat of a cheerleader for group ritual and small group agency, lamenting the capacities and mental states lost in the transition away from a communal, close-knit society, toward an atomized, market-driven society. In reality, the thought of living in a communal, close-knit society, surrounded daily with family and friends, perhaps living in close quarters with many siblings or children, fills me with horror. Here I will allow my own heart its expression, and be a cheerleader for privacy. For something precious has been gained as well as lost in the transition to social modernity.”