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.
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.”
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.”
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?”