Overcoming Bias - RSS Feed

This is a blog on why we believe and do what we do, why we pretend otherwise, how we might do better, and what our descendants might do, if they don't all die.

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AGI Is Sacred

Sacred things are especially valuable, sharply distinguished, and idealized as having less decay, messiness, inhomogeneities, or internal conflicts. We are not to mix the sacred (S) with the non-sacred (NS), nor to trade S for NS. Thus S should not have clear measures or money prices, and we shouldn’t enforce rules that promote NS at S expense. We...

Is Nothing Sacred?

“is nothing sacred?” is spoken used to express shock when something you think is valuable or important is being changed or harmed (more) Human groups often unite via agreeing on what to treat as “sacred”. While we don’t all agree on what is how sacred, almost all of us treat some things as pretty sacred way. Sacred things are especially valuable, sharply...

Moral Progress Is Not Like STEM Progress

In this post I want to return to the question of moral progress. But before addressing that directly, I first want to set up two reference cases for comparison. My first comparison case is statistics. Statistics is useful, and credit for the value that statistics adds to our discussions goes to several sources: to the statisticians who develop stat...

A Portrait of Civil Servants

Our choices of the areas of life where governments will more regulate or directly provide services are some of our most important policy choices. But while on the surface we hear a great many different arguments on these topics. and awful lot of them seem to come down to this claim: Government agencies can do better than private orgs because (A) they...

Violent Offense Under Bounties & Vouchers

I recently talked to some smart high school students about the voucher and bounty crime reform scenario. They imagined bounty hunters spending most of their time in chases and gun fights, as in cowboy or Star Wars movies. So they were against the scenario, preferring such violence roles to be filled by government employees. But in fact bounty hunters...

Who Should Be Our “Adults”?

Adult: “a mature, fully developed person. An adult has reached the age when they are legally responsible for their actions.” “to attend to the ordinary tasks required of a responsible adult” “children should be accompanied by an adult” “responsibility, independent decision-making, and financial independence” Mature: “fully grown physically” “developed...

Beware Upward Reference Classes

Sometimes when I see associates getting attention, I wonder, “do they really deserve more attention than me?” I less often look at those who get less attention than me, and ask whether I deserve more. Because they just don’t show up in my field of view as often; attention makes you more noticeable. If I were to formalize my doubts, I might ask, “Among...

Hating On Personal Equity

The New Yorker has new article called “Is Selling Yourself The Wave of the Future?”, purportedly on entrepreneurs Daniil and David Liberman efforts to finance their careers via equity (i.e., shares of future income) instead of debt or self-funding, and to entice others to do likewise. But like most New Yorker articles, most of its 8300 words are a profile...

Cook’s Critique of Our Earliness Argument

Tristan Cook has posted an impressive analysis, “Replicating and extending the grabby aliens model.” We are grateful for his detailed and careful work. Cook’s main focus is on indexical inference, showing how various estimates depend on different approaches to indexical analysis. But he has an appendix, ‘Updating n on the time remaining”, wherein he...

Beware Sacred Cows

We often think we are immune to a cognitive bias if we are aware that it exists, and understand why it happens. But in fact, general awareness is usually quite insufficient to eradicate a bias; you have to put effort into particular cases to make headway. (For example, each new generation greatly underestimates how far we are from AGI, even when they...

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