Ramana Kumar


Example: Markov Chain

Have you seen Erik P Hoel's work on causal abstraction? This post reminded me of it.

Causal Abstraction Toy Model: Medical Sensor

When you talk about counterfactuals do you mean interventions? Although I'm guessing the "everything still works" conclusion holds for both interventions and counterfactuals.

Name of Problem?

I think this is related to the word problem for the rewriting system defined by your programming language. When I first read this question I was thinking "Something to do with Church-Rosser?" -- but you can follow the links to see for yourself if that literature is what you're after.

Causal Abstraction Intro

Didn't watch the video but would have read the post. Might watch the video only because previous posts have been appetising enough.

Creating Environments to Design and Test Embedded Agents
the objective of agent-designers is to have the agent collect as many agents as possible

Typo: should say "dollars"?

Open question: are minimal circuits daemon-free?
if the daemon is obfuscated, there is no efficient procedure which takes the daemon circuit as input and produces a smaller circuit that still solves the problem.
So we can't find any efficient constructive argument. That rules out most of the obvious strategies.

I don't think the procedure needs to be efficient to solve the problem, since we only care about existence of a smaller circuit (not an efficient way to produce it).

Open question: are minimal circuits daemon-free?
I don't think this question has much intrinsic importance, because almost all realistic learning procedures involve a strong simplicity prior (e.g. weight sharing in neural networks).

Does this mean you do not expect daemons to occur in practice because they are too complicated?

Selection vs Control

Thanks for a great post! I have a small confusion/nit regarding natural selection. Despite its name, I don't think it's a good exemplar of a selection process. Going through the features of a selection process from the start of the post:

  • can directly instantiate any element of the search space. No: natural selection can only make local modifications to previously instantiated points. But you already dealt with this local search issue in Choices Don't Change Later Choices.
  • gets direct feedback on the quality of each element. Yes.
  • quality of element does not depend on previous choices. No, the evaluation of an element in natural selection depends a great deal on previous choices because they usually make up important parts of its environment. I think this is the thrust of the claim that natural selection is online (which I agree with).
  • only the final output matters. No? From the perspective of natural selection, I think the quality of the current output is what matters.

I'd love to know why natural selection seemed obvious as an example of a selection process, since it did not to me due to its poor score on the checklist above.