I intend to use my shortform feed for two purposes:

1. To post thoughts that I think are worth sharing that I can then reference in the future in order to explain some belief or opinion I have.

2. To post half-finished thoughts about the math or computer science thing I'm learning at the moment. These might be slightly boring and for that I apologize.

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I have mixed feelings and some rambly personal thoughts about the bet Tamay Besiroglu and I proposed a few days ago. 

The first thing I'd like to say is that we intended it as a bet, and only a bet, and yet some people seem to be treating it as if we had made an argument. Personally, I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that our post was "misleading" because we did not present an affirmative case for our views.

I agree that LessWrong culture benefits from arguments as well as bets, but it seems a bit weird to demand that every bet come with an argument attached. A norm that all bets must come with arguments would seem to substantially damper the incentives to make bets, because then each time people must spend what will likely be many hours painstakingly outlining their views on the subject.

That said, I do want to reply to people who say that our post was misleading on other grounds. Some said that we should have made different bets, or at different odds. In response, I can only say that coming up with good concrete bets about AI timelines is actually really damn hard, and so if you wish you come up with alternatives, you can be my guest. I tried my best, at least.

More people said that our bet was misleading since it would seem that we too (Tamay and I) implicitly believe in short timelines, because our bets amounted to the claim that AGI has a substantial chance of arriving in 4-8 years. However, I do not think this is true.

The type of AGI that we should be worried about is one that is capable of fundamentally transforming the world. More narrowly, and to generalize a bit, fast takeoff folks believe that we will only need a minimal seed AI that is capable of rewriting its source code, and recursively self-improving into superintelligence. Slow takeoff folks believe that we will need something capable of automating a wide range of labor.

Given the fast takeoff view, it is totally understandable to think that our bets imply a short timeline. However, (and I'm only speaking for myself here) I don't believe in a fast takeoff. I think there's a huge gap between AI doing well on a handful of benchmarks, and AI fundamentally re-shaping the economy. At the very least, AI has been doing well on a ton of benchmarks since 2012. Each time AI excels in one benchmark, a new one is usually invented that's a bit more tough, and hopefully gets us a little closer to measuring what we actually mean by general intelligence.

In the near-future, I hope to create a much longer and more nuanced post expanding on my thoughts on this subject, hopefully making it clear that I do care a lot about making real epistemic progress here. I'm not just trying to signal that I'm a calm and arrogant long-timelines guy who raises his nose at the panicky short timelines people, though I understand how my recent post could have given that impression.

fast takeoff folks believe that we will only need a minimal seed AI that is capable of rewriting its source code, and recursively self-improving into superintelligence

Speaking only for myself, the minimal seed AI is a strawman of why I believe in "fast takeoff". In the list of benchmarks you mentioned in your bet, I think APPS is one of the most important.

I think the "self-improving" part will come from the system "AI Researchers + code synthesis model" with a direct feedback loop (modulo enough hardware), cf. here. That's the self-improving superintelligence.

Reading through the recent Discord discussions with Eliezer, and reading and replying to comments, has given me the following impression of a crux of the takeoff debate. It may not be the crux. But it seems like a crux nonetheless, unless I'm misreading a lot of people. 

Let me try to state it clearly:

The foom theorists are saying something like, "Well, you can usually-in-hindsight say that things changed gradually, or continuously, along some measure. You can use these measures after-the-fact, but that won't tell you about the actual gradual-ness of the development of AI itself, because you won't know which measures are gradual in advance."

And then this addendum is also added, "Furthermore, I expect that the quantities which will experience discontinuities from the past will be those that are qualitatively important, in a way that is hard to measure. For example, 'ability to manufacture nanobots' or 'ability to hack into computers' are qualitative powers that we can expect AIs will develop rather suddenly, rather than gradually from precursor states, in the way that, e.g. progress in image classification accuracy was gradual over time. This means you can't easily falsify the position by just pointing to straight lines on a million graphs."

If you agree that foom is somewhat likely, then I would greatly appreciate if you think this is your crux, or if you think I've missed something. 

If this indeed falls into one of your cruxes, then I feel like I'm in a position to say, "I kinda know what motivates your belief but I still think it's probably wrong" at least in a weak sense, which seems important.

I lean toward the foom side, and I think I agree with the first statement. The intuition for me is that it's kinda like p-hacking (there are very many possible graphs, and some percentage of those will be gradual), or using a log-log plot (which makes everything look like a nice straight line, but are actually very broad predictions when properly accounting for uncertainty). Not sure if I agree with the addendum or not yet, and I'm not sure how much of a crux this is for me yet.