- “Physical principles for scalable neural recording” maps the physical limits on brain activity mapping for several different methods. Potentially informative for whole brain emulation forecasting.
- Humor: Thanks, Textbooks is a Tumblr for amusing, weird textbook writing. For example, here’s one textbooks “colloquial” explanation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics: “You can’t shovel manure into the rear end of a horse and expect to get hay out its mouth.”
- Academic urban legends, a study.
- Markov, “Limits on fundamental limits to computation.”
- Funny: An honest political ad for Gil Fulbright.
- Well-produced explanatory video on automation and technological unemployment. Not enough caveats, but of course it’s more engaging that way.
- Molyneux, “How the (hard) problem of consciousness could emerge in robots.”
- And, an overview of reductionist approaches to consciousness, by James Reggia.
- Bensinger, Groundwork for AGI Safety Engineering.
- The Good Country Index.
- The Economist reviews Superintelligence.
- New from Tetlock et al., “Forecasting tournaments: tools for increasing transparency and improving the quality of debate.”
- Resolutions of mathematical conjectures over time.
- Peter McCluskey on Superintelligence and AI takeoff.
- Humor: Wrong Hands (visual puns).
- Michael Barr’s slides on the software defects which caused unintended acceleration in the 2005 Toyota Camry provide a good illustration of how easy it is for well-resourced projects to nevertheless fail to achieve high assurance software in numerous ways.
- Visualizing Africa’s progress.
Several decent, enjoyable books:
- Pennebaker’s The Secret Life of Pronouns
- Levy’s In the Plex
- Ellenberg’s How Not to Be Wrong
- Heller’s Ayn Rand and the World She Made
- Stone’s The Everything Store
- Stross’ The Launch Pad
- Hoffman’s The Dead Hand
Quammen’s Spillover was not particularly “enjoyable” given it’s subject matter, but it was informative and engaging.
Banerjee & Duflo’s Poor Economics is one of the most persuasive books I’ve read on the subject of poverty reduction.
Murray’s Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead was short and entertaining but a mixed bag.
Lochbaum et al’s Fukushima was a helpful overview of exactly what happened at Fukushima, in what order, what the policy response was, and what the health and political fallout was.
- “Approval-seeking”: Christiano’s latest post on indirect normativity for AGI.
- “Accuracy of forecasts in strategic intelligence” (in PNAS).
- Some long-term effective altruism advice by Nick Beckstead that I generally agree with: Working in AI or synbio and Finding a job at an organization focused on existential risk.
- Paul Christiano & Katja Grace made some amendments to MIRI’s AI predictions dataset. They explain their amendments and compute the new statistics here.
- Orseau’s two new AGI papers: “Teleporting universal intelligent agents” and “A formal model for multiple, copiable AIs.”
- Bostrom’s new Superintelligence talk, accompanying his book.
- Lilienfeld et al – “Why ineffective psychotherapies appear to work, a taxonomy.”
- A visualization of Superintelligence.
- Müller & Bostrom, Future progress in artificial intelligence: a poll among experts.
- Ord, The timing of labour aimed at reducing existential risk.
- In the USA, avionics software must be certified by designated specialists beholden to (e.g.) the FAA. But when it comes to software for self-driving cars, Google is pushing hard for a system of self-certification.
- So apparently there was a hit TV show in the late 90s, with more viewers than Game of Thrones, about a naked guy in a small room who had to survive entirely on sweepstakes winnings (e.g. dog food) for more than a year and who didn’t know he was on TV the whole time. Obviously, this happened in Japan.
I read Thiel’s Zero to One (2014) in May, but forgot to mention it in the May books post. I enjoyed it very much. His key argument is that progress comes from monopolies, not from strong competition, so we should encourage certain kinds of monopolies. I generally agree. I also agree with Thiel that technological progress has slowed since the 70s, with the (lone?) exception of IT.
The Info Mesa (2003), by Ed Regis, is fine but less interesting than Great Mambo Chicken (which I’m currently reading) and Nano (which I finished last month).
The Atomic Bazaar (2003), by William Langewiesche, tells the story of nuclear trafficking and the rise of poor countries with nuclear weapons programs, and especially the activities of Abdul Qadeer Khan. It was pretty good, though I wish it had done a better job of explaining the limits, opportunities, and incentives at play in the nuclear arms trade.
Age of Ambition (2014), by Evan Osnos, is a fantastically rich portrait of modern China. Highly recommended.
Human Accomplishment (2003), by Charles Murray, is a fine specimen of quantitative historical analysis. The final chapters are less persuasive than the rest of the book, but despite this terms like magisterial and tour de force come to mind. Murray does an excellent job walking the reader through his methodology, its pros and cons, the reasons for it, and the conclusions that can and can’t be drawn from it. You’ll probably like this if you enjoyed Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature.
Superintelligence (2014), by Nick Bostrom, is a fantastic summary of the last ~15 years of strategic thinking about machine superintelligence from (largely) FHI and MIRI, the two institutes focused most directly on the issue. If you want to get a sense of what’s been learned during that time, first read Bostrom’s 1997 paper on superintelligence (and other topics), and then read his new book. It comes out in the UK on July 3rd and in the USA on September 3rd. Highly recommended.
The Honest Truth about Dishonesty (2013), by Dan Ariely, is as fun and practical as the other Ariely books. Recommended.
- Beckstead, Will we eventually be able to colonize other stars?
- GiveWell conversation with Tom Dietterich about long-term AI safety.
- Two professional soccer players vs. 55 children (video).
- Sean Carroll: Physicists should stop saying silly things about philosophy.
- BPS Research Digest: How can we increase altruism towards future generations?
- Reminder: Quantum computers still aren’t faster than regular old computers.
- In Science: the existence of the American continents may have been deduced by a Medieval scholar from Central Asia.
- Ben Kuhn: A guide to giving away money.
- Interview with Gwern Branwen on intelligence amplification.
- Steven Hawking on Last Week Tonight talking about intelligence explosion and other topics (very funny).
- “Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.”
- Huh. So it turns out that Elon Musk is pretty concerned about AGI risk.
- Why Netflix never implemented the algorithm that won the Netflix $1 Million Challenge.
- A small study of which presentations of EA are most effective.
- “The number of new drugs approved per billion US dollars spent on R&D has halved roughly every 9 years since 1950… “
- How Google converted language translation into a problem of vector space mathematics.
- Philosopher Peter Unger has less respect for philosophy than I do.