How effectively can we influence the far future?

The future, as Criswell was fond of saying, is where we will all spend the rest of our lives. And not only us but countless trillions of people who have yet to be born. At least potentially—that “countless trillions” assumes can avoid blowing ourselves up first. This suggests that anything we can do now to [Read More...]

In defense of Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy

In the comments on my Give me your philosophical questions! post, Vladimir Nesov said: I’d appreciate recommendations of sane first textbooks in any of the main topics, including history. Vladimir is a moderator at LessWrong, where Luke Muehlhauser has promoted textbooks as the best way to learn about any given subject. In fact, there’s a [Read More...]

Give me your philosophical questions!

I’ve decided to try an experiment with blogging a lot more about philosophy. How long this experiment goes on will depend in part on the response to it. If after testing the waters there seems to be not much demand, I’ll probably pack it in. If there turns out to be a huge amount of [Read More...]

Experts expect AI around mid-century, significant risk of bad outcomes

From a new paper by Nick Bostrom: These results should be taken with some grains of salt, but we think it is fair to say that the results show an agreement among experts that AI systems will probably reach overall human ability around 2040-50, certainly (with 90% probability) by 2075. From reaching human ability, it [Read More...]

Why I may not donate to MIRI/CFAR in the future

I spent much of the last two days writing a follow-up to my previous post on the LessWrong community’s crackpot problem. But then I looked over what I’d written and thought better of a lot of it. I stand by what I wrote in my original post, and as a member of the effective altruism [Read More...]

My blogging on LessWrong (will be updated)

Here is a complete list of my posts on LessWrong, both “Main” and “Discussion,” starting with the most recent. The list of just “Main” posts, by upvotes, is as follows (upvotes in parentheses, * indicates a promoted post): [Read more...]

The Diet Fix

I recently read the book The Diet Fix, and it’s main points seem worth briefly summarizing. Basically, as I myself have written about, just about any reasonable-sounding diet you try will likely enable you to lose weight in the short run, but very few people manage to keep weight off in the long run. The [Read More...]

The LessWrong/MIRI community’s problem with experts and crackpots

Luke Muehlhauser, executive director of MIRI, has a short but very important post up on the importance of expertise vs. intelligence and rationality: I think most people don’t respect individual differences in intelligence and rationality enough. But some people in my local community tend to exhibit the opposite failure mode. They put too much weight [Read More...]

Richard Carrier on Jesus and the Rank-Raglan hero-type

There’s one point in my comments on Richard Carrier’s On The Historicity of Jesus that’s worth expanding on—I’d initially meant to say more about it, but I was up late enough writing the post as it was. In my previous post, I mentioned that: Carrier, in trying to determine the prior probability that Jesus was [Read More...]


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