On perceived connections

Writing about this seems to be useful, both for me and some other people, so more on breakup pain: The fact is that I don’t have very much experience of long relationships, and that I haven’t had many deep friendships either. At this moment I feel like I only have one really deep friendship, and I don’t get to see that person nearly as often as I’d like. I’ve long...

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Letting go – but not *too* much

Dealing with breakup pain, part twenty million: I mentioned in a previous post that dealing with loss seems to come in stages. Grief is not grieving after one thing: rather there are many different things one has to come to terms with, all tangled up with each other. The most recent pain I had in the last few days involved repeatedly recalling various good moments we had. It felt unclear to me...

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No, I don’t think we need more existential terror

There’s a popular narrative that goes roughly like this: most of human history has been dangerous and uncertain, and that’s the kind of environment our minds work the best in. The reason why so many people these days are bored and depressed is because we’ve made the world *too* safe, we would actually be healthier and happier if the world was somewhat more dangerous and not so...

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On tangled and layered grief

A thing you’d think I’d already have figured way earlier, but only became obvious to me after this latest breakup, is that there are stages of grief (other than the anger-denial-etc. ones).   A number of times, I’ve felt like I’d already gotten through the pain… Only for it to come up again, with me getting increasingly frustrated – “didn’t I...

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Meditation instructions for self-compassion

I really liked, and have gotten a lot out of, the self-compassion advice in the book The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness. First, on the general attitude and approach: When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a...

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On my burnout

I’ve said a lot about depression, self-compassion, and breakup blues. I haven’t said much about burnout. I have that too. Have had for years, in fact. This is just the first time that I’ve had a chance to stop and heal. I did a day of work last week, the first one I’ve done since the end of November. It went well. It felt good. So I thought I would try to get a full...

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Self-compassion

Often when we are in pain, what we really want is some validation for the pain. Not advice. Not someone trying to make that pain go away (because it discomforts them). But someone to tell us that it’s okay to be in pain. That the things that bother us, are valid and normal reasons to feel bad about. Much of self-compassion seems to be the same. Not trying to stop being in pain. Not trying...

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Disjunctive AI scenarios: Individual or collective takeoff?

In this post, I examine Magnus Vinding’s argument against traditional “single AI fooms off” scenarios, as outlined in his book “Reflections on Intelligence”. While the argument itself is not novel – similar ones have been made before by Robin Hanson and J Storrs Hall, among others – I found Vinding’s case to be the most eloquently and compellingly put so...

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Working on self-compassion: befriending my childhood self

For some reason, I’ve always felt an instinctive dislike towards my childhood self. I generally like kids, but if somebody had magically produced a copy of the person that I was at 5 or 10 and asked me to look after that kid for a while, my automatic reaction would have been “no, I don’t like that kid”. I’ve also had somewhat of a bad self-esteem for a long, long...

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On being a triad and a team

For a few months this fall, I was part of a poly triad which ultimately didn’t work out… but the moments when it did work, worked. So well in fact, that I suspect that any relationship with only two people involved will from now on feel somehow lacking to me, no matter how good otherwise. There were two of us guys involved with one gal, with the guys starting out as strangers to each...

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Suddenly, a taste of freedom

So a few days back, I mentioned that after getting rid of my subconscious idealized assumptions of what a relationship “should” be like, I stopped being so desperate to be in a relationship. And some time before that, I mentioned that I’d decided to put the whole “saving the world” thing on hold for a few years and focus on taking care of myself first. As a result,...

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Finding slices of joy

Three weeks ago, I ran across an article called “Google’s former happiness guru developed a three-second brain exercise for finding joy“. Yes, the title is kinda cringe-worthy, but the content is good. Here are the most essential five paragraphs: Successfully reshaping your mindset, [Chade-Meng Tan] argues, has less to do with hours of therapy and more to do with mental...

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Relationship realizations

Learning experiences: just broke up with someone recently. Part of the problem was that I had some very strong, specific and idealized expectations of what a relationship “should” be like – expectations which caused a lot of trouble, but which I hadn’t really consciously realized that I had, until now. Digging up the expectations and beating them into mush with a baseball...

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Software for Moral Enhancement

An algorithm will never slip up in a weak moment. What if we could identify when we are likely to make mistakes, figure out what we’d want to do instead, and then outsource our decisions to a reliable algorithm? In what ways could we use software to make ourselves into better people?

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An appreciation of the Less Wrong Sequences

Ruby Bloom recently posted about the significance of Eliezer Yudkowsky‘s Less Wrong Sequences on his thinking. I felt compelled to do the same.   Several people have explicitly told me that I’m one of the most rational people they know. I can also think of at least one case where I was complimented by someone who was politically “my sworn enemy”, who said something...

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Error in Armstrong and Sotala 2012

Katja Grace has analyzed my and Stuart Armstrong’s 2012 paper “How We’re Predicting AI – or Failing To”. She discovered that one of the conclusions, “predictions made by AI experts were indistinguishable from those of non-experts”, is flawed due to “a spreadsheet construction and interpretation error”. In other words, I coded the data in...

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Smile, You Are On Tumblr.Com

I made a new tumblr blog. It has photos of smiling people! With more to come! Why? Previously I happened to need pictures of smiles for a personal project. After going through an archive of photos for a while, I realized that looking at all the happy people made me feel really happy and good. So I thought that I might make a habit out of looking at photos of smiling people, and sharing...

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Decisive Strategic Advantage without a Hard Takeoff (part 1)

A common question when discussing the social implications of AI is the question of whether to expect a soft takeoff or a hard takeoff. In a hard takeoff, an AI will, within a relatively short time, grow to superhuman levels of intelligence and become impossible for mere humans to control anymore. Essentially, a hard takeoff will allow the AI to achieve what’s a so-called decisive strategic...

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AI risk model: single or multiple AIs?

EDIT April 20th: Replaced original graph with a clearer one. My previous posts have basically been discussing a scenario where a single AI becomes powerful enough to threaten humanity. However, there is no reason to only focus on the scenario with a single AI. Depending on our assumptions, a number of AIs could also emerge at the same time. Here are some considerations. A single AI The classic...

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Disjunctive AI risk scenarios: AIs gaining the power to act autonomously

Previous post in series: AIs gaining a decisive advantage Series summary: Arguments for risks from general AI are sometimes criticized on the grounds that they rely on a series of linear events, each of which has to occur for the proposed scenario to go through. For example, that a sufficiently intelligent AI could escape from containment, that it could then go on to become powerful enough to...

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