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Comment author: Lumifer 07 September 2017 12:01:07AM 0 points [-]

I don't think a global optimum exists. People are different their optimums are different as well.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 07 September 2017 06:34:16PM 1 point [-]

Sorry did not quite mean that. Meant it would be nice for everyone if there was a service to do this :)

Comment author: CurtisSerVaas 06 September 2017 04:23:14PM 0 points [-]

This might take a few hours, but selecting a good book might save you significantly more time.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 06 September 2017 05:01:23PM 0 points [-]

I agree it might be locally optimal, globally very suboptimal

Comment author: fortyeridania 06 September 2017 06:53:52AM *  0 points [-]

In addition to what you've cited, here are some methods I've used and liked:

  1. Email professors to ask for recommendations. Be polite, concise, and specific (e.g., why exactly do you want to learn more about x?).

  2. David Frum says he used to pick a random book on his chosen topic, check which books kept showing up in the footnotes, then repeat with those books. A couple rounds yielded a good picture of who the recognized authorities were. (I pointed this out in a Rationality Quotes thread in 2015. Link: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lzn/rationality_quotes_thread_april_2015/c7qp.) Cons: This is time-consuming, sometimes requires physical access to many books you don't yet own, and tends to omit recent books.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 06 September 2017 01:33:25PM *  1 point [-]


This is literally doing PageRank, by hand, on books. There's got to be a better way

Comment author: cousin_it 05 September 2017 07:00:06PM *  3 points [-]

Removing obstacles isn't enough to create a status economy. Creating an inflow of status is much more important. If people can't think beyond the default "let's ask old timers to contribute", it will most likely fail. You need to find a creative idea or ten.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 05 September 2017 07:08:25PM 3 points [-]

The old LW status economy was enough for you to motivate you, no? Do you feel getting the old timers back would no be enough for you, or for other people?

Very curious about the inflow, what do you think that might look like? Any examples from other forums or social networks or games?

Comment author: Wei_Dai 05 September 2017 02:32:21PM *  0 points [-]

I guess I can see how it might be too much effort if you're trying to participate in online discussions in addition to academia (and your main effort by necessity has to be in academia because that's your livelihood). If you only had to do the former though, it doesn't seem that bad, at least in my experience. (Would appreciate a link to Scott Aaronson's post if you can find it.)

EDIT: Maybe as a busy academic, just look at posts that are already highly upvoted or have positive comments from people you trust. Is it still too much effort if you did that?

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 05 September 2017 06:34:38PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: cousin_it 05 September 2017 04:35:04PM *  7 points [-]

Thank you for not giving up on this discussion! Many people have mentioned the intellectual benefits of peer review, but I just thought of another argument that might be new to you.

Many of us agree that solving problems together is great fun. But what if it's just rationalization? What if we really want to participate in some status economy, and will come up with smart things to say only if we're paid with status in return? I know it's not true for you, because you came up with UDT on your own. But it's definitely true for me. Posting something like this and getting no response feels very discouraging to me, even if the topic is exciting. And since I'm close to the top of the LW heap, I imagine it's even more true for others.

The question then becomes, how do we set up a status economy that will encourage research? Peer review is one way, because publications and citations are a status badge desired by many people. Participating in a forum like LW when it's "hot" and frequented by high status folks is another way, but unfortunately we don't have that anymore. From that perspective it's easy to see why the massively popular HPMOR didn't attract many new researchers to AI risk, but attracted people to HPMOR speculation and rational fic writing. People do follow their interests sometimes, but mostly they try to find venues to show off.

Of course you could be happy with a system that's optimized for people like you, with few status rewards. But I suspect you'd miss out on many good contributors (think of all the smart people who drifted away from LW in recent years). I'd prefer to have something more like a pyramid or funnel, with popular appeal on one end and intellectual progress on the other. Academic credibility (including peer review) could be a key part of that funnel for us, and a central forum like LW would also help a lot. There are probably other measures that could work in synergy with these.

I wonder if people at MIRI think the same way. In a sense, the funnel idea was there from the beginning, as "raising the sanity waterline". CFAR can also be seen as part of that. But these efforts are mostly aimed at outreach, and I'm not sure they ever consciously tried to build a mechanism for converting status to research. What would it take to build such a mechanism today?

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 05 September 2017 04:47:51PM 3 points [-]
  • LW2 is in the works, and is an opportunity to make significant improvements to the model. Contribute ideas to make it better! I'll contribute some + yell at interesting people to get off FB or at least x-post

  • I think your honest admission of strong status motivation is very important. Big reason high-status ppl avoid the forum is not to be bogged down with n00bs and cranks. LW2 karma system+moderation will be really important to keep them around. Any ideas on improving it?

Comment author: ESRogs 03 September 2017 12:19:13AM 0 points [-]

is likely to be different

Did you mean "likely to be difficult"?

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 03 September 2017 05:16:22PM 1 point [-]

thanks, fixed!

Comment author: Wei_Dai 31 August 2017 06:04:40PM 2 points [-]

My opinion changed in the last couple years

What triggered this?

The strategy I'd suggest now is to try to join the academic conversation on their terms, as I did at the Cambridge conference.

MIRI seems to be doing more of this as well, but I'm not seeing any noticeable results so far. Judging by citations in Google Scholar, in the 2 years since that conference, it doesn't look like any academics have picked up on the ideas presented there by you and MIRI people or made further progress?

One other thing that worries me is, unless we can precisely diagnose what is causing academia to be unable to take the "outsider steps", it seems dangerous to make ourselves more like academia. What if that causes us to lose that ability ourselves?

I haven't thought much about talking to funders, good to hear you're pursuing that.

Well I'm doing what I can but I'm not sure I'm the best person for this job, given that I'm not very social/outgoing and my opportunities for travel are limited so it's hard to meet those funders and build up relationships.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 02 September 2017 11:16:57AM *  0 points [-]

One other thing that worries me is, unless we can precisely diagnose what is causing academia to be unable to take the "outsider steps", it seems dangerous to make ourselves more like academia. What if that causes us to lose that ability ourselves?

Seems that academic motivations can be "value", e.g discovering something of utility or "momentum", sort of like a beauty contest, more applicable in abstract areas where utility is not obvious. Possible third is immediate enjoyment which probably contributed to millennia of number theory before it became useful.

Doing novel non-incremental things for non-value (like valuing AI safety) reasons is likely to be difficult until enough acceptability is built up for momentum type motivations. (which also suggests trying to explicitly build up momentum as an intervention)

Comment author: cousin_it 01 September 2017 03:42:44PM *  1 point [-]

I have a lot of respect for Stuart and Wei, so this discussion is very interesting to me. That said, my own experiences with academia were a bit more pleasant, and I know many "normal" folks who regularly get their work published in journals. It certainly takes a ton of "academic market research", which is hard. But in the end I feel that it makes the work stronger and more appealing.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 01 September 2017 04:53:38PM 1 point [-]

My hypothesis based on this discussion is that it could be a lot harder to publish stuff outside of current academic mainstream. IIRC Hinton had trouble accepting foundational DL papers in the beginning. MIRI type stuff (and possibly Wei's crypto, though not sure about the details) could have been far enough from the mainstream to increase the hardness a lot.

Comment author: cousin_it 31 August 2017 07:03:29PM *  4 points [-]

Thanks for the reply! Can you tell more about the failure to publish ADT? I know that from arxiv, but don't know the details.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 01 September 2017 02:41:13PM 1 point [-]

Curious if you're at all updating using MIRIs poor publishing record as evidence of a problem based on the Stuart+Wei's story below. (Seems like trying to get through journal review might be a huge cost and do little to advance knowledge). Or you think this was an outlier or the class of things MIRI should be publishing is less subject for the kinds of problems mentioned.

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