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I was wondering - what fraction of people here agree with Holden's advice regarding donations, and his arguments? What fraction assumes there is a good chance he is essentially correct? What fraction finds it necessary to determine whenever Holden is essentially correct in his assessment, before working on counter argumentation, acknowledging that such investigation should be able to result in dissolution or suspension of SI?
It would seem to me, from the response, that the chosen course of action is to try to improve the presentation of the argument, rather than to try to verify truth values of the assertions (with the non-negligible likelihood of assertions being found false instead). This strikes me as very odd stance.
Ultimately: why SI seems certain that it has badly presented some valid reasoning, rather than tried to present some invalid reasoning?
edit: I am interested in knowing why people agree/disagree with Holden, and what likehood they give to him being essentially correct, rather than a number or a ratio (that would be subject to selection bias).
Presently, the 'utility maximizers' work as following: given a mathematical function f(x) , a solver finds the x that corresponds to a maximum (or, typically, minimum) of f(x) . The x is usually a vector describing the action of the agent, the f is a mathematically defined function which may e.g. simulate some world evolution and compute the expected worth of end state, given action x, as in f(x)=h(g(x)) where h computes worth of world state g(x), and g computes the world state at some future time assuming that action x was taken.
For instance, the f may represent some metric of risk, discomfort, and time, over a path chosen by a self driving car, in a driving simulator (which is not reductionist). In this case this metric (which is always non-negative) is to be minimized.
In a very trivial case, such as finding the cannon elevation at which the cannonball will land closest to the target, in vacuum, the solution can be found analytically.
In more complex cases multitude of methods are typically employed, combining iteration of potential solutions with analytical and iterative solving for local maximum or minimum. If this is combined with sensors and the model-updater, and actuators, an agent like a self driving car can be made.
Those are the utility functions as used in the field of artificial intelligence.
A system can be strongly superhuman at finding maximums to functions, and ultimately can be very general purpose, allowing it's use to build models which are efficiently invertible into a solution. However it must be understood that the intelligent component finds mathematical solutions to, ultimately, mathematical relations.
The utility functions as known and discussed on LW seem entirely different in nature. Them are defined on the real word, using natural language that conveys intent, and seem to be a rather ill defined concept for which the bottom-up formal definition may not even exist. The implementation of such concept, if at all possible, would seem to require a major breakthrough in the philosophy of mind.
This is an explanation of an important technical distinction mentioned in Holden Karnofsky's post.
On the discussion in general: It may well be the case that it is very difficult or impossible to define a system such as self driving car in terms of the concepts that are used on LW to talk about intelligences. In particular, the LW's notion of "utility" does not seem to allow to accurately describe the kind of tool that Holden Karnofsky was speaking of, in terms of this utility.
To clarify some point that is being discussed in several threads here, tool vs intentional agent distinction:
A tool for maximizing paperclips would - for efficiency purposes - have a world-model which it has god's eye view of (not accessing it through embedded sensors like eyes), implementing/defining a counter of paperclips within this model. Output of this counter is what is being maximized by a problem solving portion of the tool. Not the real world paperclips
No real world intentionality exist in this tool for maximizing paperclips; the paperclip-making-problem-solver would maximize the output of the counter, not real world paperclips. Such tool can be hooked up to actuators, and to sensors, and made to affect the world without human intermediary; but it won't implement real world intentionality.
An intentional agent for maximizing paperclips is the familiar 'paperclip maximizer', that truly loves the real world paperclips and wants to maximize them, and would try to improve it's understanding of the world to know if it's paperclip making efforts are successful.
The real world intentionality is ontologically basic in human language and consequently there is very strong bias to describe the former as the latter.
The distinction: the wireheading (either direct or through manipulation of inputs) is a valid solution to the problem that is being solved by the former, but not by the latter. Of course one could rationalize and postulate tool that is not general purpose enough as to wirehead, forgetting that the issue being feared is a tool that's general purpose to design better tool or self improve. That is an incredibly frustrating feature of rationalization. The aspects of problem are forgotten when thinking backwards.
The issues with the latter: We do not know if humans actually implement real world intentionality in such a way that it is not destroyed under full ability to self modify (and we can observe that we very much like to manipulate our own inputs; see art, porn, fiction, etc). We do not have single certain example of such stable real world intentionality, and we do not know how to implement it (that may well be impossible). We also are prone to assuming that two unsolved problems in AI - general problem solving and this real world intentionality - are a single problem, or are solved necessarily together. A map compression issue.