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Comment author: VoiceOfRa 28 July 2015 01:03:58AM 1 point [-]

If you are a kid facing persecution and a high possibility of being murdered in your home country, coming to the UK and receiving an education here and going on to a career here is a massive utility gain, and if you go on to a successful and altruistic career it's an even bigger utility gain. The disutility of the kid coming here - maybe the teacher in the local state school has to split their attention between 31 pupils instead of the original 30 - is only a very small disutility.

Um, that style of logic doesn't work. You need to balance the (large but restricted to an individual) utility to the kid against the (small to each individual and spread out access many individuals) disutility to society. This is the kind of computation that's impossible to do intuitively (and probably impossible to do directly at all since we have no way to directly measure utility). It is, however, easy to see what the implications of a large scale population transfer are and to see that they are negative. You assert that there exists a threshold below which immigration is positive utility. However, you have no way to calculate it's value or show we are below it (or even show that it's not zero), without resorting to what looks like wishful thinking.

Comment author: Lumifer 28 July 2015 01:03:17AM 0 points [-]

"Irrational" and "weird" are quite different adjectives.

Comment author: eli_sennesh 28 July 2015 12:31:50AM 0 points [-]

Insofar as anyone expects saints to perform the function of demigods and intervene causally with miracles on behalf of the person praying, yes, it is "profoundly weird" magical thinking.

Why do you ask a site full of atheists if they think religion is irrational?

Comment author: eli_sennesh 28 July 2015 12:30:52AM 0 points [-]

What "profoundly weird" things does it involve?

Given that this is the Chinese we're talking about, expecting one's ancestors to improve investment returns in return for a good sacrifice.

Comment author: eli_sennesh 28 July 2015 12:29:16AM *  0 points [-]

I can point to a number of statistical studies that show that a large number of Westerners claim that their ancestors do continue to exist after death.

No, they believe-in-the-belief that their ancestors continue to exist after death. They rarely, and doubtingly, if ever, generate the concrete expectation that anything they can do puts them in causal contact with the ghosts of their ancestors, such that they would expect to see something different from their ancestors being permanently gone.

Comment author: eli_sennesh 28 July 2015 12:27:47AM 0 points [-]

We're talking about an AI presenting humans with consequences of a particular decision, with humans then making the final decision to go along with it or not.

No. We're not. That's dumb. Like, sorry to be spiteful, but that is already a bad move. You do not treat any scenario involving "an AI", without dissolving the concept, as desirable or realistic. You have "an AI", without having either removed its "an AI"-ness (in the LW sense of "an AI") entirely or guaranteed Friendliness? You're already dead.

Comment author: Lumifer 28 July 2015 12:23:36AM 1 point [-]

we should be doing science

Yep :-) That's why GlaDOS made an appearance in this thread :-D

Comment author: Acty 27 July 2015 11:14:22PM *  -1 points [-]

Your first point is convincing. I don't think that you're right that "creating new stock and giving it to non-shareholders" increases the utility of new "shareholders" and decreases the utility of old "shareholders" to roughly the same extent. If you are a kid facing persecution and a high possibility of being murdered in your home country, coming to the UK and receiving an education here and going on to a career here is a massive utility gain, and if you go on to a successful and altruistic career it's an even bigger utility gain. The disutility of the kid coming here - maybe the teacher in the local state school has to split their attention between 31 pupils instead of the original 30 - is only a very small disutility. There is a possibility that the kid becomes a criminal, but not that much higher than your average lower-socioeconomic-class Brit, and the probability that they become altruistic and successful is not that much lower than your average lower-socioeconomic-class Brit. I haven't seen as much data on this as I'd like, but being exposed to horrors in your childhood sounds like it ought to make you more likely to become an altruist of some kind.

However, I can see how that when you iterate this choice too much, you could reach a threshold past which the teacher just goes insane and can't pay attention to any of the kids, at which point nobody gains any utility. Clearly, if evidence shows such a threshold exists, you should try and shut off immigration before that threshold is reached. Britain doesn't seem to be devolving into bloodthirsty anarchy, so I'd argue that current immigration levels are not anywhere near reaching any such potential threshold level. But you make a very valid point. Thankyou for explaining to me how the concept of a border could be useful.

I'm much less convinced by your second point. Most humans just want to be safe and happy, and when guaranteed the basic essentials (housing, food, healthcare etc) will quite happily form social bubbles without needing to have those social bubbles secede and be ruled by their own governments. You can have one government model that does taxation and guarantees citizens' safety (which works for everyone), and then if you have values like "family values and traditions from culture XYZ", you can form a social bubble that upholds those values. The advantage of this model, over a different-states-for-different-clusters model, is that when you form your social bubble and decide to oppress certain people, there's absolutely nothing you can do to prevent those people just upping and leaving your social bubble.

I'll have to think more about your third point; I think I like it and can see your reasoning, but something is making me uneasy and I'll have to ponder what it might be. Thankyou very much for the thinking point nevertheless!

Comment author: Acty 27 July 2015 10:24:18PM *  -1 points [-]

You understood perfectly; Lumifer misunderstood. The section he quotes is missing a paragraph break, which ought to have shown that the crime-rate-altering intervention proposal was nothing to do with the survey proposal.

I think we should survey to determine whether terminal values differ ("The tradeoff isn't worth it") or factual beliefs differ ("There is no tradeoff / the tradeoff doesn't work the way you think it does").

We should do an intervention if we want to see whether a policy will work as intended, but I see no way to object to an idea like "Let's test these policies on a small scale before we implement one, to see which actually does the most good". The alternative is "Let's pick one of these policies without testing it and implement it". However much suffering might be created by running a small-scale test of a faulty policy, far more suffering would be created if you implemented the policy without testing it. (The prison thing was an example of a time at which we should attempt such an intervention - and we should attempt the intervention because I assume that the outcome of the survey-that-determines-what-exactly-we-all-disagree-on will discover that people actually genuinely disagree on the best way to bring the crime rate down, and this intervention will find out.)

Either way, we should be doing science - going out and observing what the territory actually looks like, not sitting in our armchairs and arguing over whose map is best.

Comment author: SeanMCoincon 27 July 2015 09:52:48PM 0 points [-]

Through great meringues, great science. :D

Comment author: endoself 27 July 2015 09:48:37PM 0 points [-]

Hi Yaacov!

The most active MIRIx group is at UCLA. Scott Garrabrant would be happy to talk to you if you are considering research aimed at reducing x-risk. Alternatively, some generic advice for improving your future abilities is to talk to interesting people, try to do hard things, and learn about things that people with similar goals do not know about.

Comment author: advael 27 July 2015 09:01:09PM 0 points [-]

Oh, I guess I misunderstood. I read it as "We should survey to determine whether terminal values differ (e.g. 'The tradeoff is not worth it') or whether factual beliefs differ (e.g. 'There is no tradeoff')"

But if we're talking about seeing whether policies actually work as intended, then yes, probably that would involve some kind of intervention. Then again, that kind of thing is done all the time, and properly run, can be low-impact and extremely informative.

Comment author: Lumifer 27 July 2015 07:14:09PM 1 point [-]

I am not sure where is this question coming from. I am not suggesting any particular studies or ways of conducting them.

Maybe it's worth going back to the post from which this subthread originated. Acty wrote:

If we set a benchmark that would satisfy our values ... then which policy is likely to better satisfy that benchmark...? But, of course, this is a factual question. We could resolve this by doing an experiment, maybe a survey of some kind.

First, Acty is mistaken in thinking that a survey will settle the question of which policy will actually satisfy the value benchmark. We're talking about real consequences of a policy and you don't find out what they are by conducting a public poll.

And second, if you do want to find the real consequences of a policy, you do need to run an intervention (aka an experiment) -- implement the policy in some limited fashion and see what happens.

Comment author: Squark 27 July 2015 07:02:44PM 2 points [-]

Hi Yaacov, welcome!

I guess that you can reduce X-risk by financing the relevant organizations, contributing to research, doing outreach or some combination of the three. You should probably decide which of these paths you expect to follow and plan accordingly.

Comment author: advael 27 July 2015 07:00:36PM 1 point [-]

What intervention would you suggest to study the incidence of factual versus terminal-value disagreements in opposing sides of a policy decision?

Comment author: Lumifer 27 July 2015 06:55:33PM 1 point [-]

Speaking of "profoundly weird" things, does the veneration of saints in Catholicism qualify? :-)

Comment author: Jiro 27 July 2015 06:53:25PM 0 points [-]

Sorry, I don't know enough about Chinese culture to answer. But I'd guess that either they do have weird beliefs (that I'm not familiar with so I can't name them), or they don't and honoring ancestors is an isolated thing they do as a ritual. (The answer may be different for different people, of course.)

Comment author: Lumifer 27 July 2015 06:39:29PM 0 points [-]

Because the things that people would do if they believed in and acted as though they believe in life after death are profoundly weird, and we don't see any of that around.

I don't see why they need to be "profoundly weird". Remember, this subthread started with "honoring ancestors". The Chinese culture is probably the most obvious one where honoring ancestors is a big thing. What "profoundly weird" things does it involve?

Comment author: Jiro 27 July 2015 06:36:07PM *  1 point [-]

Because the things that people would do if they believed in and acted as though they believe in life after death are profoundly weird, and we don't see any of that around. Can you imagine the same people who say that the dead "went to a better place" being sad that someone has not died, for instance? (Unless they're suffering so much or causing so much suffering that death is preferable even without an afterlife.)

Comment author: Squark 27 July 2015 06:35:51PM *  -1 points [-]

Disagreeing is ok. Disagreeing is often productive. Framing your disagreement as a personal attack is not ok. Lets treat each other with respect.

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