Sveriges 100 mest populära podcasts

Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Astral Codex Ten Podcast

The official audio version of Astral Codex Ten, with an archive of posts from Slate Star Codex. It's just me reading Scott Alexander's blog posts.


iTunes / Overcast / RSS



My Left Kidney

A person has two kidneys; one advises him to do good and one advises him to do evil. And it stands to reason that the one advising him to do good is to his right and the one that advises him to do evil is to his left.

? Talmud (Berakhot 61a)


As I left the Uber, I saw with horror the growing wet spot around my crotch. ?It?s not urine!?, I almost blurted to the driver, before considering that 1) this would just call attention to it and 2) it was urine. ?It?s not my urine,? was my brain?s next proposal - but no, that was also false. ?It is urine, and it is mine, but just because it?s pooling around my crotch doesn?t mean I peed myself; that?s just a coincidence!? That one would have been true, but by the time I thought of it he had driven away.

Like most such situations, it began with a Vox article.


Länk till avsnitt

?Impact Market Mini-Grants Results

Last March we (ACX and Manifold Markets) did a test run of an impact market, a novel way of running charitable grants. You can read the details at the links, but it?s basically a VC ecosystem for charity: profit-seeking investors fund promising projects and grantmakers buy credit for successes from the investors. To test it out, we promised at least $20,000 in retroactive grants for forecasting-related projects, and intrepid guinea-pig investors funded 18 projects they thought we might want to buy.

Over the past six months, founders have worked on their projects. Some collapsed, losing their investors all their money. Others flourished, shooting up in value far beyond investor predictions. We got five judges (including me) to assess the final value of each of the 18 projects. Their results mostly determine what I will be offering investors for their impact certificates (see caveats below). They are:

Länk till avsnitt

Pause For Thought: The AI Pause Debate

Last month, Ben West of the Center for Effective Altruism hosted a debate among long-termists, forecasters, and x-risk activists about pausing AI.

Everyone involved thought AI was dangerous and might even destroy the world, so you might expect a pause - maybe even a full stop - would be a no-brainer. It wasn?t. Participants couldn?t agree on basics of what they meant by ?pause?, whether it was possible, or whether it would make things better or worse.

There was at least some agreement on what a successful pause would have to entail. Participating governments would ban ?frontier AI models?, for example models using more training compute than GPT-4. Smaller models, or novel uses of new models would be fine, or else face an FDA-like regulatory agency. States would enforce the ban against domestic companies by monitoring high-performance microchips; they would enforce it against non-participating governments by banning export of such chips, plus the usual diplomatic levers for enforcing treaties (eg nuclear nonproliferation).

The main disagreements were:

Could such a pause possibly work?

If yes, would it be good or bad?

If good, when should we implement it? When should we lift it?

I?ve grouped opinions into five categories:

Länk till avsnitt

How Are The Gay Younger Brothers Doing?

In the 1990s, Blanchard and Bogaert proposed the Fraternal Birth Order Effect (FBOE). Men with more older brothers were more likely to be gay. ?The odds of having a gay son increase from approximately 2% for the first born son, to 3% for the second, 5% for the third and so on?. 

Länk till avsnitt

Links For September 2023

[Remember, I haven?t independently verified each link. On average, commenters will end up spotting evidence that around two or three of the links in each links post are wrong or misleading. I correct these as I see them, and will highlight important corrections later, but I can?t guarantee I will have caught them all by the time you read this.]


Länk till avsnitt

Book Review: The Alexander Romance

[if this looks familiar to you, see explanation here]

Sometimes scholars go on a search for ?the historical Jesus?. They start with the Gospels, then subtract everything that seems magical or implausible, then declare whatever?s left to be the truth.

The Alexander Romance is what happens when you spend a thousand years running this process in reverse. Each generation, you make the story of Alexander the Great a little wackier. By the Middle Ages, Alexander is fighting dinosaurs and riding a chariot pulled by griffins up to Heaven.

People ate it up. The Romance stayed near the top of the best-seller lists for over a thousand years. Some people claim (without citing sources) that it was the #2 most-read book of antiquity and the Middle Ages, after only the Bible. The Koran endorses it, the Talmud embellishes it, a Mongol Khan gave it rave reviews. While historians and critics tend to use phrases like ?contains nothing of historic or literary value?, this was the greatest page-turner of the ancient and medieval worlds.  

Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On Elon Musk

[original post: Book Review: Elon Musk]

1: Comments From People With Personal Experience
2: ...Debating Musk's Intelligence
3: ...Debating Musk's Mental Health
4: ...About Tesla
5: ...About The Boring Company
6: ...About X/Twitter
7: ...About Musk's Mars Plan
8: ...Comparing Musk To Other Famous Figures
9: Other Comments
10: Updates 

Länk till avsnitt

Book Review Contest 2023 Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered or voted in the book review contest. The winners are:

1st: The Educated Mind, reviewed by Brandon Hendrickson. Brandon is the founder of Science is WEIRD, a sprawling online science course that helps kids fall in love with the world. He?s also re-imagining what education can be at his Substack, The Lost Tools of Learning (

2nd: On the Marble Cliffs, reviewed by Daniel Böttger. Daniel writes the Seven Secular Sermons, a huge rationalist poetry/meditation art project, and has a blog post pitching it to ACX readers in particular.

3rd: Cities And The Wealth Of Nations, reviewed by Étienne Fortier-Dubois. Étienne is a writer and programmer in Montreal. He blogs at Atlas of Wonders and Monsters and was also the author of one of last year?s finalists, Making Nature.

First place gets $2,500, second place $1,000, third place gets $500. Please email me at [email protected] to tell me how to send you money; your choices are Paypal, Bitcoin, Ethereum, check in the mail, or donation to your favorite charity. Please contact me by October 1 or you lose your prize. 

Länk till avsnitt

Book Review: Elon Musk

Not the new one, sorry

This isn?t the new Musk biography everyone?s talking about. This is the 2015 Musk biography by Ashlee Vance. I started reading it in July, before I knew there was a new one. It?s fine: Musk never changes. He?s always been exactly the same person he is now

I read the book to try to figure out who that was. Musk is a paradox. He spearheaded the creation of the world?s most advanced rockets, which suggests that he is smart. He?s the richest man on Earth, which suggests that he makes good business decisions. But we constantly see this smart, good-business-decision-making person make seemingly stupid business decisions. He picks unnecessary fights with regulators. Files junk lawsuits he can?t possibly win. Abuses indispensable employees. Renames one of the most recognizable brands ever.

Musk creates cognitive dissonance: how can someone be so smart and so dumb at the same time? To reduce the dissonance, people have spawned a whole industry of Musk-bashing, trying to explain away each of his accomplishments: Peter Thiel gets all the credit for PayPal, Martin Eberhard gets all the credit for Tesla, NASA cash keeps SpaceX afloat, something something blood emeralds. Others try to come up with reasons he?s wholly smart - a 4D chessmaster whose apparent drunken stumbles lead inexorably to victory.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, And The Quest For A Fantastic Future delights in its refusal to resolve the dissonance. Musk has always been exactly the same person he is now, and exactly what he looks like. He is without deception, without subtlety, without unexpected depths. 

Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On Last Week's Model Cities Post

Comments On The Solano County City

Ecorche writes:

The Public's Radio article has a map in it that gives a better idea of the location. It looks like most of the land is closer to Rio Vista and does include a good stretch of riverfront. The land close to Travis is probably intended as industrial park rather than residential 

Länk till avsnitt

Vote In The 2023 Book Review Contest

If you?ve read the finalists of this year?s book review contest, vote for your favorite here. Voting will stay open until Wednesday.

Thanks to a helpful reader who offered to do the hard work, we?re going to try ranked choice voting. You?ll choose your first-, second-, and third-favorite book reviews. If your favorite gets eliminated, we?ll switch your vote to your second favorite, and so on. If for some reason I can?t figure out how to make this work on time, I?ll switch to first-past-the-post, ie only count your #1 vote. Feel free to vote for your own review, as long as you honestly choose your second and third favorites.


Länk till avsnitt

Contra Kirkegaard On Evolutionary Definitions Of Mental Illness

Emil Kirkegaard proposes a semi-objective definition of ?mental illness?.

He?s partly responding to me, but I think he mangles my position; he seems to think I admit mental illnesses are ?just preferences? but that which preferences are valid vs. diseased can be decided by ?what benefits my friends?.

I mostly don?t think mental illnesses are just preferences! I?ve been really clear on this! But Emil is right that I don?t deny that there can be a few cases where it?s hard to distinguish a mental illness from a preference - the clearest example is pedophilia vs. homosexuality. Both are ?preferences? for sex with unusual categories of people. But I would - making a value judgment - call pedophilia a mental illness: it?s bad for patients, bad for their potential victims, and bad for society. Also making a value judgment, I would call homosexuality an unusual but valid preference: it?s not my thing, but seems basically okay for everyone involved.

(I wouldn?t describe this as ?benefiting my friends? - I?m against children getting raped whether they?re my friends or not. I think this dig was unworthy of Emil, and ask that he correct it.)

Länk till avsnitt

Model City Monday 9/4/23: California Dreamin'

Tech moguls plan new city in Solano County

Guardian: Silicon Valley Elites Revealed As Buyers Of $800 Million In Land To Build Utopian City.

The specific elites include the Collison brothers, Reid Hoffman, Nat Friedman, Marc Andreessen, and others, led by the mysterious Jan Sramek. The specific land is farmland in Solano County, about an hour?s drive northeast of San Francisco. The specific utopian city is going to look like this.

The company involved (Flannery Associates aka California Forever) has been in stealth mode for several years, trying to buy land quietly without revealing how rich and desperate they are to anyone in a position to raise prices. Now they?ve released a website with utopian Norman-Rockwell-esque pictures, lots of talk about creating jobs and building better lives, and few specifics. 

Länk till avsnitt

My Presidential Platform

The American people deserve a choice. They deserve a candidate who will reject the failed policies of the past and embrace the failed policies of the future. It is my honor to announce I am throwing my hat into both the Democratic and Republican primaries (to double my chances), with the following platform: 

Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: Zuozhuan

Finalist #16 in the Book Review Contest

To tell the story of the fall of a realm, it?s best to start with its rise.

More than three thousand years ago, the Shang dynasty ruled the Chinese heartland. They raised a sprawling capital out of the yellow plains, and cast magnificent ritual vessels from bronze. One of the criteria of civilization is writing, and they had the first Chinese writing, incising questions on turtle shells and ox scapulae, applying a heated rod, and reading the response of the spirits in the pattern of cracks. ?This year will Shang receive good harvest?? ?Is the sick stomach due to ancestral harm?? ?Offer three hundred Qiang prisoners to [the deceased] Father Ding?? The kings of Shang maintained a hegemony over their neighbors through military prowess, and sacrificed war captives from their campaigns totaling in the tens of thousands for the favor of their ancestors. 

But the Shang faced growing threat from the Zhou, a once-subordinate people from west beyond the mountains. Inspired by a rare conjunction of the planets in 1059 BC, the Zhou declared that there was such a thing as the Mandate of Heaven, a divine right to rule?and while the Shang had once held it, their misrule and immorality had forced the Mandate to pass to the Zhou. Thirteen years later, the Zhou and their allies defeated the Shang in battle, seized their capital, drove their king to suicide, and supplanted them as overlords of the Central Plains.

If the Shang were goth jocks, the Zhou were prep nerds... 

Länk till avsnitt

Here's Why Automaticity Is Real Actually

?Literal Banana? on Carcinization writes Against Automaticity, which they describe as:

An explanation of why tricks like priming, nudge, the placebo effect, social contagion, the ?emotional inception? model of advertising, most ?cognitive biases,? and any field with ?behavioral? in its name are not real.

My summary (as always, read the real thing to keep me honest): for a lot of the ?90s and ?00s, social scientists were engaged in ttthe project of proving ?automaticity?, the claim that most human decisions are unconscious/unreasoned/automatic and therefore bad. Cognitive biases, social priming, advertising science, social contagion research, ?nudges?, etc, were all part of this grand agenda. 

Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On Fetishes

Original post: What Can Fetish Research Tell Us About AI?

Table Of Contents:

1: Alternative Theories Of Fetishes
2: Comments Including Testable Predictions
3: Comments That Were Very Angry About My Introductory Paragraph
4: Commenters Describing Their Own Fetishes
5: Other Comments

Länk till avsnitt

Mantic Monday 8/28/23

Superconductor autopsy -- Prediction mutual funds -- Flight delays

Sorry guys, LK-99 doesn?t work. The prediction markets have dropped from highs in the 40s down to 5 - 10. It?s over.

What does this tell us about prediction markets? Were they dumb to ever believe at all? Or were they aggregating the evidence effectively, only to update after new evidence came in?

I claim they were dumb. Although the media was running with the ?maybe there?s a room-temperature superconductor? story, the smartest physicists I knew were all very skeptical. The markets tracked the level of media hype, not the level of expert opinion. Here?s my evidence:

Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: Why Nations Fail

Finalist #15 in the Book Review Contest

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

In which I argue:

Why Nations Fail is not a very good book. 

Its authors' academic papers are much better, so I steelman their thesis as best I can, but it's still debatable.

Even if correct, it is much less interesting and useful than it appears.

Epistemic status: I have a decade-old PhD in economics (not in the field of economic growth) and a handful of peer-reviewed papers in moderately-ranked journals. I'm not claiming to make any original technical points, or to give a comprehensive evaluation of the economic growth literature. My criticisms are largely straight from the authors' own mouths.

Länk till avsnitt

Meetups Everywhere 2023: Times & Places

Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for ACX meetup organizers. Volunteers have arranged meetups in 169 cities around the world, from Baghdad to Bangalore to Buenos Aires.

You can find the list below, in the following order:

Africa & Middle East



North America

South America

You can see a map of all the events on the LessWrong community page. You can also see a searchable sheet at this Airtable link.

Within each region, it?s alphabetized first by country, then by city. For instance, the first entry in Europe is Vienna, Austria, and the first entry for Germany is Berlin. Each region and country has its own header. The USA is the exception where it is additionally sorted by state, with states having their own subheaders. Hopefully this is clear. You can also just have your web browser search for your city by pressing ctrl+f and typing it if you?re on Windows, or command+f and typing if you?re on Mac. If you?re on Linux, I assume you can figure this out.

Scott will provisionally be attending the meetup in Berkeley. ACX meetups coordinator Skyler will provisionally be attending Boston, Cavendish, Burlington, Berlin, Bremen, Amsterdam, Cardiff, London, and Berkeley. Some of the biggest ones might be announced on the blog, regardless of whether or not Scott or Skyler attends.

Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On Dating Preferences

Original post here. And I forgot to highlight a link to the directory of dating docs.

Table Of Contents

1: Comments That Remain At Least Sort Of Against Dating Docs
2: Comments Concerned That Dating Docs Are Bad For Status Or Signaling
3: Comments About Orthodox Judaism And Other Traditional Cultures
4: Comments Including Research
5: Comments By People With Demographically Unusual Relationships
6: Comments About The Five Fake Sample Profiles
7: Things I Changed My Mind About

Länk till avsnitt

More Thoughts On Critical Windows

On the fetish post, I discussed people who had some early sexual experience - like seeing a sexy cartoon character - and reacted in some profound way, like becoming a furry. Sometimes people have described this as a ?critical window? for sexuality (similar to the ?critical period? in language learning?) where young children ?imprint? on sexual experiences - and then can?t un-imprint on them later, even when they see many examples of sex that don?t involve cartoon animals.

One of my distant cousins won't eat tomatoes. His parents say when he was very young, he bit into a cherry tomato and it exploded into goo in his mouth, and he was so upset he wouldn't eat tomatoes from then on. Now he?s in his 30s and still hates them. Is this fairly described as a ?critical window? for food preferences?

Länk till avsnitt

Critical Periods For Language: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

Scott Young writes about Seven Expert Opinions I Agree With That Most People Don?t. I like most of them, but #6, Children don?t learn languages faster than adults, deserves a closer look.

Some people imagine babies have some magic language ability that lets them pick up their first language easily, even as we adults struggle through verb conjugations to pick up our second. But babies are embedded in a family of first-language speakers with no other options for communication. If an English-speaking adult was placed in a monolingual Spanish family, in a part of Spain with no English speakers, after a few years they might find they?d learned Spanish ?easily? too. So Scott says:

Länk till avsnitt

What Can Fetish Research Tell Us About AI?

 Epistemic status: Ha ha, only serious...

Arguing about gender is like taking OxyContin. There can be good reasons to do it. But most people don?t do it for the good reasons. And even if you start doing it for good reasons, you might get addicted and ruin your life. Walk through San Francisco if you want to see people who ruined their lives with opioids; browse Substack to get a visceral appreciation of the dangers of arguing about gender.

Still, I?ve been debating autogynephilia fetishes with Michael Bailey, tailcalled, Zack Davis, and Aella (Bailey and Davis think they?re deeply involved in transgender; tailcalled, Aella and I mostly don?t); I?ve also studied BDSM and lactation fetishes, and Aella has done even more fetish-ology work. In a world that might be on the verge of radical, even unimaginable changes, how do we justify spending time on such an unsavory field?

The real answer is - we don?t justify it. I?m easily nerd-sniped just like everyone else, and I assume the same is true of Aella, tailcalled, etc.

This post is about a fake answer which I think is funny, but which also has just enough truth to be worth thinking about: I think fetish research can help us understand AI and AI alignment.

Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: The Mind Of A Bee

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

Are bees smart? 

To answer that question, here?s a crab spider:

Sadly, this is not a review of a book called The Mind of a Crab Spider. But as you crab spider lovers know, crab spiders and bumble bees are natural rivals. 

Both bees and crab spiders are well-matched for strength and speed, and in the Rumble with the Bumble, the crab spider doesn?t necessarily win. Bees can often evade the spider, and live to pollinate another day. Lars Chittka, who wrote The Mind of a Bee, and who can safely be blamed for this book review, got thinking. He and his lab decided to build fake robotic crab spiders, and had them really robotically attack bumble bees when they visited flowers.

Länk till avsnitt

Bride Of Bay Area House Party

[previously in series: 1, 2, 3]

You spent the evening agonizing over which Bay Area House Party to attend. The YIMBY parties are always too crowded. VC parties were a low-interest-rate phenomenon. You?ve heard too many rumors of consent violations at the e/acc parties - they don?t know when to stop. And last time you went to a crypto bro party, you didn?t even have anything to drink, and somehow you still woke up the next morning lying in a gutter, minus your wallet and clothes. You finally decide on a Progress Studies party - the last one was kind of dull, but you hear they?re getting better.

Länk till avsnitt

In Defense Of Describable Dating Preferences

The New York Times has an article on ?dating docs?. These are a local phenomenon - I think an ex of mine might have been Patient Zero. I don?t begrudge the Times for writing about them. I?m just surprised they?re considered an interesting phenomenon. What could be more obvious than making sure potential dates know what you?re like?

Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: The Weirdest People in the World

Finalist #13 in the Book Review Contest

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,
Adam and Eve appear?

? Walt Whitman

When I grew up I was still part of a primitive culture, in the following sense: my elders told me the story of how our people came to be. It started with the Greeks: Pericles the statesman, Plato the first philosopher, Herodotus the first historian, the first playwrights, and before them all Homer, the blind first poet. Before Greece, something called prehistory stretched back. There were Iron and Bronze Ages, and before that the Stone Age. These were shadowy, mysterious realms. Then history went on to Europe. I learnt as little outside Europe as I did before Greece. There was one class on 20th century China, but that too was about China becoming modern, which meant European.

A big silent intellectual change of the past quarter century is the broadening of our self-concept.

Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On Putin

[original post: Dictator Book Club: Putin]

Table of Contents:

1. Comments Further Illuminating Putin?s Rise To Power
2. Comments Questioning Masha Gessen?s Objectivity
3. Comments Claiming Putin Is Very Slightly Less Bad Than The Book Suggests
4. Comments On Putin As Culture Warrior
5. Comments Expressing Concern That The FBI/CIA Are Capable Of Undermining Democracy In The US

Länk till avsnitt

Links for August 2023

[Remember, I haven?t independently verified each link. On average, commenters will end up spotting evidence that around two or three of the links in each links post are wrong or misleading. I correct these as I see them, and will highlight important corrections later, but I can?t guarantee I will have caught them all by the time you read this.]

Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

What does it take to be literally Hitler?

Länk till avsnitt

More Memorable Passages From "The Man Without A Face"

Actual serious review here, Amazon link to the book here. These were just some extra parts that stuck out to me.

Länk till avsnitt

Dictator Book Club: Putin

Review of Masha Gessen's "The Man Without A Face"

[previously in series: Erdogan, Modi, Orban, Xi]

I. Vladimir Putin?s Childhood As Metaphor For Life  

Vladimir Putin appeared on Earth fully-formed at the age of nine.

At least this is the opinion of Natalia Gevorkyan, his first authorized biographer. There were plenty of witnesses and records to every post-nine-year-old stage of Putin?s life. Before that, nothing. Gevorkyan thinks he might have been adopted. Putin?s official mother, Maria Putina, was 42 and sickly when he was born. In 1999, a Georgian peasant woman, Vera Putina, claimed to be his real mother, who had given him up for adoption when he was ten. Journalists dutifully investigated and found that a ?Vladimir Putin? had been registered at her village?s school, and that a local teacher remembered him as a bright pupil who loved Russian folk tales. What happened to him? Unclear; Artyom Borovik, the investigative journalist pursuing the story, died in a plane crash just before he could publish. Another investigative journalist, Antonio Russo, took up the story, but ?his body was found on the edge of a country road . . . bruised and showed signs of torture, with techniques related to special military services.?


Länk till avsnitt

Meetups Everywhere Fall 2023 - Call For Organizers

You can find the meetup organizer volunteer form here. If you want to know if anyone has signed up to run a meetup for your city, you can view that here. Everyone else, just wait until 8/25 and I'll give you more information on where to go then.


Länk till avsnitt

Mantic Monday 7/31/23: Room Temperature Superforecaster

Your Book Review: On the Marble Cliffs

Finalist #11 in the Book Review Contest

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

What kind of fiction could be remarkable enough for an Astral Codex Ten review?

How about the drug-fueled fantasies of a serial killer? Or perhaps the innovative, sophisticated prose of the first novel of a brilliant polymath? Or would you prefer a book written in such fantastically lucid language it feels more like a dream than a story? Possibly you?d be more interested in a book so unbelievably dangerous that the attempt to publish it was literally suicidal. Or maybe an unusual political book, such as an ultraconservative indictment of democracy by Adolf Hitler's favorite author? Or rather an indictment of both Hitler and Bolshevism, written by someone who was among the first to recognize Hitler as a true enemy of humanity?

I picked On the Marble Cliffs, because it is all of that at the same time.


Länk till avsnitt

Bad Definitions Of "Democracy" And "Accountability" Shade Into Totalitarianism

Suppose there?s freedom of religion: everyone can choose what religion to practice. Is there some sense in which this is ?undemocratic?? Would it be more ?democratic? if the democratically-elected government declared a state religion, and everyone had to follow it?

You could, in theory, define ?democratic? this way, so that the more areas of life are subjected to the control of a (democratically elected) government, the more democratic your society is. But in that case, the most democratic possible society is totalitarianism - a society where the government controls every facet of life, including what religion you practice, who you marry, and what job you work at. In this society there would be no room for human freedom.


Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On Social Model Of Disability

[original post: Contra The Social Model Of Disability]

Table Of Contents

1: Comments Defending The Social Model
2: Comments About The Social Model Being Used (Or Not) In Real Life
3: Other Comments
4: Summary / What I Learned

Länk till avsnitt

We're Not Platonists, We've Just Learned The Bitter Lesson

Machine Alignment Monday, 7/24/23

Intelligence explosion arguments don?t require Platonism. They just require intelligence to exist in the normal fuzzy way that all concepts exist.

First, I?ll describe what the normal way concepts exist is. I?ll have succeeded if I convince you that claims using the word ?intelligence? are coherent and potentially true.

Second, I?ll argue, based on humans and animals, that these coherent-and-potentially-true things are actually true.

Third, I?ll argue that so far this has been the most fruitful way to think about AI, and people who try to think about it differently make worse AIs.

Finally, I?ll argue this is sufficient for ideas of ?intelligence explosion? to be coherent.


Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: The Laws of Trading

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

A book about trading isn?t ever actually about trading.

It is either:

A former trader sharing stories from their glory days, e.g. Liar?s Poker, the exposé that morphed into a how-to guide, or

Tales of Icarus flying too close to the sun, where readers revel in schadenfreude, e.g., When Genius Failed.

With The Laws of Trading, Agustin Lebron has written something different: part love letter to trading, part philosophical treatise on epistemology and modeling the world around us, and part guide to applied decision-making. Lebron?s Laws are Laws of the Jungle, not Laws of Nature. He views financial markets as the most competitive Darwinian environment on Earth, where participants must adapt or die.


Länk till avsnitt

Highlights From The Comments On British Economic Decline

People are talking about British economic decline.

Not just the decline from bestriding the world in the 19th century to today. A more recent, more profound decline, starting in the early 2000s, when it fell off the track of normal developed-economy growth. See for example this graph from We Are In An Unprecedented Era Of UK Relative Macroeconomic Decline:


Länk till avsnitt

The Extinction Tournament

This month?s big news in forecasting: the Forecasting Research Institute has released the results of the Existential Risk Persuasion Tournament (XPT). XPT was supposed to use cutting-edge forecasting techniques to develop consensus estimates of the danger from various global risks like climate change, nuclear war, etc.

The plan was: get domain experts (eg climatologists, nuclear policy experts) and superforecasters (people with a proven track record of making very good predictions) in the same room. Have them talk to each other. Use team-based competition with monetary prizes to incentivize accurate answers. Between the domain experts? knowledge and the superforecasters? prediction-making ability, they should be able to converge on good predictions.

They didn?t. In most risk categories, the domain experts predicted higher chances of doom than the superforecasters. No amount of discussion could change minds on either side.

Länk till avsnitt

Contra The xAI Alignment Plan

Elon Musk has a new AI company, xAI. I appreciate that he seems very concerned about alignment. From his Twitter Spaces discussion:

I think I have been banging the drum on AI safety now for a long time. If I could press pause on AI or advanced AI digital superintelligence, I would. It doesn?t seem like that is realistic . . .

I could talk about this for a long time, it?s something that I?ve thought about for a really long time and actually was somewhat reluctant to do anything in this space because I am concerned about the immense power of a digital superintelligence. It?s something that, I think is maybe hard for us to even comprehend.

He describes his alignment strategy in that discussion and a later followup:

The premise is have the AI be maximally curious, maximally truth-seeking, I'm getting a little esoteric here, but I think from an AI safety standpoint, a maximally curious AI - one that's trying to understand the universe - I think is going to be pro-humanity from the standpoint that humanity is just much more interesting than not . . . Earth is vastly more interesting than Mars. . . that's like the best thing I can come up with from an AI safety standpoint. I think this is better than trying to explicitly program morality - if you try to program morality, you have to ask whose morality.

And even if you're extremely good at how you program morality into AI, there's the morality inversion problem - Waluigi - if you program Luigi, you inherently get Waluigi. I would be concerned about the way OpenAI is programming AI - about this is good, and that's not good.


Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: The Educated Mind

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

?The promise of a new educational theory?, writes Kieran Egan, ?has the magnetism of a newspaper headline like ?Small Earthquake in Chile: Few Hurt??.

But ? could a new kind of school make the world rational?

I discovered the work of Kieran Egan in a dreary academic library. The book I happened to find ? Getting it Wrong from the Beginning ? was an evisceration of progressive schools. As I worked at one at the time, I got a kick out of this.

To be sure, broadsides against progressivist education aren?t exactly hard to come by. But Egan?s account went to the root, deeper than any critique I had found. Better yet, as I read more, I discovered he was against traditionalist education, too ? and that he had constructed a new paradigm that incorporated the best of both.

Länk till avsnitt

Contra The Social Model Of Disability

What is the Social Model Of Disability? I?ll let its proponents describe it in their own words (emphases and line breaks mine)

The Social Model Of Disability Explained (top Google result for the term):

Individual limitations are not the cause of disability. Rather, it is society?s failure to provide appropriate services and adequately ensure that the needs of disabled people are taken into account in societal organization.

Disability rights group Scope:

The model says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference.

The American Psychological Association:

It is [the] environment that creates the handicaps and barriers, not the disability.

From this perspective, the way to address disability is to change the environment and society, rather than people with disabilities.

Foundation For People With Learning Disabilities:

The social model of disability proposes that what makes someone disabled is not their medical condition, but the attitudes and structures of society. 

University of California, San Francisco:

Disabilities are restrictions imposed by society. Impairments are the effects of any given condition. The solution, according to this model, lies not in fixing the person, but in changing our society.

Medical care, for example, should not focus on cures or treatments in order to rid our bodies of functional impairments. Instead, this care should focus on enhancing our daily function in society.

The Social Model?s main competitor is the Interactionist Model Of Disability, which says that disability is caused by an interaction of disease and society, and that it can be addressed by either treating the underlying condition or by adding social accommodations.

In contrast to the Interactionist Model, the Social Model insists that disability is only due to society and not disease, and that it may only be addressed through social changes and not medical treatments.

. . . this isn?t how the Social Model gets taught in real classrooms. Instead, it?s contrasted with ?the Medical Model?, a sort of Washington Generals of disability models which nobody will admit to believing. The Medical Model is ?disability is only caused by disease , society never contributes in any way, and nobody should ever accommodate it at all . . . ? Then the people describing it add ?. . . and also, it says disabled people should be stigmatized, and not treated as real humans, and denied basic rights?. Why does the first part imply the second? It doesn?t matter, because ?the Medical Model? was invented as a bogeyman to force people to run screaming into the outstretched arms of the Social Model.


Länk till avsnitt

Why Match School And Student Rank?

Matt Yglesias? five-year old son asks: why do we send the top students to the best colleges? Why not send the weakest students to the best colleges, since they need the most help? This is one of those questions that?s so naive it loops back and becomes interesting again.


Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: Secret Government

Finalist #8 in the Book Review Contest

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

There is widespread agreement among philosophers, political commentators, and the general public that transparency in government is an unalloyed good. Louis Brandeis famously articulates the common wisdom: ?Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman? (page 1).

Support for transparency is bipartisan. On his first day in office, Barack Obama said ?My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.? (page 1). On the Republican National Committee?s website, one reads ?Republicans believe that transparency is essential for good governance. Elected officials should be held accountable for their actions in Washington, D.C.? (page 2)

And so it is. Legislators? votes are published and stored in public online databases, their deliberations are televised, and their every action is extensively documented.


Länk till avsnitt

Links For July 2023

[Remember, I haven?t independently verified each link. On average, commenters will end up spotting evidence that around two or three of the links in each links post are wrong or misleading. I correct these as I see them, and will highlight important corrections later, but I can?t guarantee I will have caught them all by the time you read this.] 

Länk till avsnitt

Tales Of Takeover In CCF-World

Machine Alignment Monday, 7/3/2023

Tom Davidson?s Compute-Centric Framework report forecasts a continuous but fast AI takeoff, where people hand control of big parts of the economy to millions of near-human-level AI assistants .

I mentioned earlier that the CCF report comes out of Open Philanthropy?s school of futurism, which differs from the Yudkowsky school where a superintelligent AI quickly takes over. Open Philanthropy is less explicitly apocalyptic than Yudkowsky, but they have concerns of their own about the future of humanity.

I talked some people involved with the CCF report about possible scenarios. Thanks especially to Daniel Kokotajlo of OpenAI for his contributions.


Länk till avsnitt

Your Book Review: Safe Enough?

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I?ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you?ve read them all, I?ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

The date is June 9, 1985. The place is the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo, Ohio. It is just after 1:35 am, and the plant has a small malfunction: "As the assistant supervisor entered the control room, he saw that one of the main feedwater pumps had tripped offline." But instead of stabilizing, one safety system after another failed to engage.


Länk till avsnitt
Hur lyssnar man på podcast?

En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
Uppdateras med hjälp från iTunes.