David Manheim


Modeling Transformative AI Risk (MTAIR)

Wiki Contributions


I think it would be really good to come up with a framing of these intuitions that wouldn't be controversial.


That seems great, I'd be very happy for someone to write this up more clearly. My key point was about people's claims and confidence about safety, and yes, clearly that was communicated less well than I hoped.

That's true - and from what I can see, this emerges from the culture in academia. There, people are doing research, and the goal is to see if something can be done, or to see what happens if you try something new. That's fine for discovery, but it's insufficient for safety. And that's why certain types of research, ones that pose dangers to researchers or the public, have at least some degree of oversight which imposes safety requirements. ML does not, yet.

Thanks, reading closely I see how you said that, but it wasn't clear initially. (There's an illusion of disagreement, which I'll christen the "twitter fight fallacy," where unless the opposite is said clearly, people automatically assume replies are disagreements.) 

I probably put in an extra 20-60 hours, so the total is probably closer to 150 - which surprises me. I will add that a lot of the conversion time was dealing with writing more, LaTeX figures and citations, which were all, I think, substantive valuable additions. (Changing to a more scholarly style was not substantively valuable, nor was struggling with latex margins and TikZ for the diagrams, and both took some part of the time.)

Thanks, agreed. And as an aside, I don't think it's entirely coincidental that neither of the people who agree with you are in the Bay.

I think that the costs usually are worth it far more often than it occurs, from an outside view - which was David's point, and what I was trying to respond to. I think that it's more valuable than one expects to actually just jump through the hoops. And especially for people who haven't yet ever had any outputs actually published, they really should do that at least once.

(Also, sorry for the zombie reply.)

You're very unusually proactive, and I think the median member of the community would be far better served if they were more engaged the way you are. Doing that without traditional peer reviewed work is fine, but unusual, and in many ways is more difficult than peer-reviewed publication. And for early career researchers, I think it's hard to be taken seriously without some more legible record - you have a PhD, but many others don't.

To respond briefly, I think that people underinvest in (D), and write sub-par forum posts rather than aim for the degree of clarity that would allow them to do (E) at far less marginal cost. I agree that people overinvest in (B)[1], but also think that it's very easy to tell yourself your work is "actual progress" when you're doing work that, if submitted to peer-reviewed outlets, would be quickly demolished as duplicative of work you're unaware of, or incompletely thought-out in other ways.

I also worry that many people have never written a peer reviewed paper, and aren't thinking through the tradeoff, they just never develop the necessary skills, and can't ever move to more academic outlets[2]. I say all of this as someone who routinely writes for both peer-reviewed outlets and for the various forums - my thinking needs to be clearer for reviewed work, and I agree that the extraneous costs are high, but I think that the tradeoff in terms of getting feedback and providing something for others to build on, especially others outside of the narrow EA-motivated community, is often worthwhile.

Edit to add: But yes, I unambiguously endorse starting with writing Arxiv papers, as they get a lot of the benefit without needing to deal with the costs of review. They do fail to get as much feedback, which is a downside. (It's also relatively easy to put something on Arxiv and submit to a journal for feedback, and decide whether to finish the process after review.)

  1. ^

     Though much of that work - reviews, restatements, etc. can be valuable despite that.

  2. ^

    To be fair, I may be underestimating the costs of learning the skills for those who haven't done this - but I do think there's tons of peer mentorship within EA which can work to greatly reduce those costs, if people are willing to use those resources.

they don't judge those costs to be worth it

Worth it to whom? And if they did work that's valuable, how much of that value is lost if others who could benefit don't see it, because it's written up only informally or not shared widely?

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