Robert_Wiblin comments on Let's conduct a survey on the quality of MIRI's implementation - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Marcus_A_Davis 20 February 2016 04:13:56AM 0 points [-]

This survey makes sense. However, I have a few caveats:

Think that AI risk is an important cause, but have no particular convictions about the best >approach or organisation for dealing with it. They shouldn't have worked for MIRI in the past, but >will presumably have some association with the general rationality or AI community.

Why should the person overseeing the survey think AI risk is an important cause? Doesn't that self-select for people who or more likely to be positive toward MIRI than whatever the baseline is for all people familiar with AI risk (and, obviously, competent to judge who to include in the survey)? The ideal person to me would be neutral and while of course finding someone who is truly neutral would likely prove impractical, selecting someone overtly positive would be a bad idea for the same reasons it would be to select someone overtly negative. The point is the aim should be towards neutrality.

They should also have a chance to comment on the survey itself >before it goes out. Ideally it >would be checked by someone who understand good survey >design, as subtle aspects of >wording can be important.

This should be a set time frame to draft a response to the survey before it goes public. A "chance" is too vague.

It should be impressed on participants the value of being open and thoughtful in their answers >for maximising the chances of solving the problem of AI risk in the long run.

Telling people to be open and thoughtful is great, but explicitly tying it to solving long run AI risk primes them to give certain kinds of answers.

Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 20 February 2016 04:40:11AM *  2 points [-]

"Why should the person overseeing the survey think AI risk is an important cause?"

Because someone who believes it's a real risk has strong personal incentives to try to make the survey informative and report the results correctly (i.e. they don't want to die). Someone who believed it's a dumb cause would be tempted to discredit the cause by making MIRI look bad (or at least wouldn't be as trusted by prospective MIRI donors).

Comment author: Marcus_A_Davis 20 February 2016 04:50:26AM 0 points [-]

Such personal incentives are important but, again, I didn't advocate getting someone hostile to AI risk. I proposed aiming for someone neutral. I know, no one is "truly" neutral but you have to weigh potential positive personal incentives of someone invested against potential motivated thinking (or more accurately in this case, "motivated selection").

Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 20 February 2016 08:33:57AM 1 point [-]

Someone who was just neutral on the cause area would probably be fine, but I think there are few of those as it's a divisive issue, and they probably wouldn't be that motivated to do the work.