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jsalvatier comments on SIAI - An Examination - Less Wrong

143 Post author: BrandonReinhart 02 May 2011 07:08AM

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Comment author: jsalvatier 04 May 2011 03:18:12PM *  9 points [-]

Michael Vassar is working on an idea he calls the "Persistent Problems Group" or PPG. The idea is to assemble a blue-ribbon panel of recognizable experts to make sense of the academic literature on very applicable, popular, but poorly understood topics such as diet/nutrition. This would have obvious benefits for helping people understand what the literature has and hasn't established on important topics; it would also be a demonstration that there is such a thing as "skill at making sense of the world."

I am a little surprised about the existence of the Persistent Problems Group; it doesn't sound like it has a lot to do with SIAI's core mission (mitigating existential risk, as I understand it). I'd be interested in hearing more about that group and the logic behind the project.

Overall the transcript made me less hopeful about SIAI.

Comment author: gwern 04 May 2011 06:09:48PM 11 points [-]

'Persistent Problems Group'? What is this, an Iain Banks novel? :)

(On a side-note, that sounds like a horrible idea. 'Yes, let's walk right into those rapidly revolving blades! Surely our rationality will protect us.')

Comment author: [deleted] 04 May 2011 07:40:12PM 0 points [-]

Horrible, perhaps, but at some point necessary, no?

Comment author: TimFreeman 04 May 2011 08:09:52PM 7 points [-]

Is there any reason to believe that the Persistent Problems Group would do better at making sense of the literature than people who write survey papers? There are lots of survey papers published on various topics in the same journals that publish the original research, so if those are good enough we don't need yet another level of review to try to make sense of things.

Comment author: BrandonReinhart 04 May 2011 04:48:50PM 7 points [-]

"Michael Vassar's Persistent Problems Group idea does need funding, though it may or may not operate under the SIAI umbrella."

It sounds like they have a similar concern.

Comment author: XFrequentist 04 May 2011 07:18:58PM *  6 points [-]

Eric Drexler made what sounds to me like a very similar proposal, and something like this is already done by a few groups, unless I'm missing some distinguishing feature.

I'd be very interested in seeing what this particular group's conclusions were, as well as which methods they would choose to approach these questions. It does seem a little tangential to the SIAI's stated mission through.