Open Thread 305
This is the weekly visible open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. ACX has an unofficial subreddit, Discord, and bulletin board, and in-person meetups around the world. 95% of content is free, but for the remaining 5% you can subscribe here. Also:
1: Some good comments on the monosemanticity post, including dyoshida on simulation, johnny_lin’s attempt to gamify explaining AI, theahura on the analogy to polygenicity, sclmlw on cell signaling pathways, bestgreatestsuper on manifolds. And Benji York links a post on 11-dimensional abstract structures in the human brain. Many of these seem to be getting at the same idea where there are evolved systems scientists have so far failed to really understand - AIs, the genome, cellular signaling pathways - and maybe the same idea of a polysemantic → monosemantic reduction will help with all of them. I would love to see a longer treatment of this by someone who knows what they’re talking about.
2: In my defense of EA, I said of its failures (primarily SBF) that “I’m not sure they cancel out the effect of saving one life, let alone 200,000”. A friend convinced me that this was an unfair exaggeration. There are purported exchange rates between money and lives, destroying billions in value is pretty bad by all of them, and there are knock-on effects on social trust from fraud that suggest its negative effects should be valued even higher. I regret this sentence, no longer stand by it, and have added it to my Mistakes page.
3: Related: I’m a big fan of the philosophical principles behind EA. I’m also mostly a big fan of the community, in the sense that it includes some of the best people I know - but I only know some parts of it, it’s also included bad actors, and friends have reminded me to remind you not to suspend normal healthy skepticism just because someone’s in a community with a good philosophy.
4: Pseudonymous accelerationist leader “Beff Jezos” was doxxed by Forbes. I disagree with Jezos on the issues, but want to reiterate that doxxing isn’t acceptable. I don’t have a great way to fight back, but in sympathy I’ve blocked the journalist responsible (Emily Baker-White) on X, will avoid linking Forbes on this blog for at least a year, and will never give an interview to any Forbes journalist - if you think of other things I can do, let me know. Apologists said my doxxing was okay because I’d revealed my real name elsewhere so I was “asking for it”; they caught Jezos by applying voice recognition software to his podcast appearances, so I hope even those people agree that the Jezos case crossed a line.
Also, I complain a lot about the accelerationists’ failure to present real arguments or respond to critiques, but this is a good time to remember they’re still doing better than the media and its allies: