Comment author: RobBensinger 13 November 2017 03:47:37AM *  1 point [-]

After the boxes have already been placed in front of me, however, I can no longer influence their contents, so it would be good if I two-boxed

You would get more utility if you were willing to one-box even when there's no external penalty or opportunity to bind yourself to the decision. Indeed, functional decision theory can be understood as a formalization of the intuition: "I would be better off if only I could behave in the way I would have precommitted to behave in every circumstance, without actually needing to anticipate each such circumstance in advance." Since the predictor in Newcomb's problem fills the boxes based on your actual action, regardless of the reasoning or contract-writing or other activities that motivate the action, this suffices to always get the higher payout (compared to causal or evidential decision theory).

There are also dilemmas where causal decision theory gets less utility even if it has the opportunity to precommit to the dilemma; e.g., retro blackmail.

For a fuller argument, see the paper "Functional Decision Theory" by Yudkowsky and Soares.

Comment author: JamesDrain 14 November 2017 12:10:45AM 0 points [-]

Ha, I think the problem is just that your formalization of Newcomb's problem is defined so that one-boxing is always the correct strategy, and I'm working with a different formulation. There are four forms of Newcomb's problem that jibe with my intuition, and they're all different from the formalization you're working with.

  1. Your source code is readable. Then the best strategy is whatever the best strategy is when you get to publicly commit e.g. you should tear off the wheel when playing chicken if you have the opportunity to do so before your opponent.
  2. Your source code is readable and so is your opponent's. Then you get mathy things like mutual simulation and lob's theorem.
  3. We're in the real world, so the only information the other player has to guess your strategy is information like your past behavior and reputation. (This is by far the most realistic situation in my opinion.)
  4. You're playing against someone who's an expert in reading body language, say. Then it might be impossible to fool them unless you can fool yourself into thinking you'll one-box. But of course, after the boxes are actually in front of you, it would be great for you if you had a change of heart.

Your version is something like 5. Your opponent can simulate you with 100% accuracy, including unforeseen events like something unexpected causing you to have a change of mind.

If we're creating AIs that others can simulate, then I guess we might as well make them immune to retro blackmail. I still don't see the implications for humans, who cannot be simulated with 100% fidelity and already have ample intuition about their reputations and know lots of ways to solve coordination problems.

Comment author: caspar42 07 November 2017 09:06:24PM *  4 points [-]

I agree that altruistic sentiments are a confounder in the prisoner's dilemma. Yudkowsky (who would cooperate against a copy) makes a similar point in The True Prisoner's Dilemma, and there are lots of psychology studies showing that humans cooperate with each other in the PD in cases where I think they (that is, each individually) shouldn't. (Cf. section 6.4 of the MSR paper.)

But I don't think that altruistic sentiments are the primary reason for why some philosophers and other sophisticated people tend to favor cooperation in the prisoner's dilemma against a copy. As you may know, Newcomb's problem is decision-theoretically similar to the PD against a copy. In contrast to the PD, however, it doesn't seem to evoke any altruistic sentiments. And yet, many people prefer EDT's recommendations in Newcomb's problem. Thus, the "altruism error theory" of cooperation in the PD is not particularly convincing.

I don't see much evidence in favor of the "wishful thinking" hypothesis. It, too, seems to fail in the non-multiverse problems like Newcomb's paradox. Also, it's easy to come up with lots of incorrect theories about how any particular view results from biased epistemics, so I have quite low credence in any such hypothesis that isn't backed up by any evidence.

before I’m willing to throw out causality

Of course, causal eliminativism (or skepticism) is one motivation to one-box in Newcomb's problem, but subscribing to eliminitavism is not necessary to do so.

For example, in Evidence, Decision and Causality Arif Ahmed argues that causality is irrelevant for decision making. (The book starts with: "Causality is a pointless superstition. These days it would take more than one book to persuade anyone of that. This book focuses on the ‘pointless’ bit, not the ‘superstition’ bit. I take for granted that there are causal relations and ask what doing so is good for. More narrowly still, I ask whether causal belief plays a special role in decision.") Alternatively, one could even endorse the use of causal relationships for informing one's decision but still endorse one-boxing. See, e.g., Yudkowsky, 2010; Fisher, n.d.; Spohn, 2012 or this talk by Ilya Shpitser.

Comment author: JamesDrain 12 November 2017 10:48:26PM *  1 point [-]

Newcomb's problem isn't a challenge to causal decision theory. I can solve Newcomb's problem by committing to one-boxing in any of a number of ways e.g. signing a contract or building a reputation as a one-boxer. After the boxes have already been placed in front of me, however, I can no longer influence their contents, so it would be good if I two-boxed if the rewards outweighed the penalty e.g. if it turned out the contract I signed was void, or if I don't care about my one-boxing reputation because I don't think I'm going to play this game again in the future.

The "wishful thinking" hypothesis might just apply to me then. I think it would be super cool if we could spontaneously cooperate with aliens in other universes.

Edit: Wow, ok I remember what I actually meant about wishful thinking. I meant that evidential decision theory literally prescribes wishful thinking. Also, if you made a copy of a purely selfish person and then told them of the fact, then I still think it would be rational to defect. Of course, if they could commit to cooperating before being copied, then that would be the right strategy.

Comment author: JamesDrain 05 November 2017 04:10:30AM *  1 point [-]

I’m worried that people’s altruistic sentiments are ruining their intuition about the prisoner’s dilemma. If Bob were an altruist, then there would be no dilemma. He would just cooperate. But within the framework of the one-shot prisoner’s dilemma, defecting is a dominant strategy – no matter what Alice does, Bob is better off defecting.

I’m all for caring about other value systems, but if there’s no causal connection between our actions and aliens’, then it’s impossible to trade with them. I can pump someone’s intuition by saying, “Imagine a wizard produced a copy of yourself and had the two of you play the prisoner’s dilemma. Surely you would cooperate?” But that thought experiment is messed up because I care about copies of myself in a way that defies the set up of the prisoner’s dilemma.

One way to get cooperation in the one-shot prisoner’s dilemma is if Bob and Alice can inspect each other’s source code and prove that the other player will cooperate if and only if they do. But then Alice and Bob can communicate with each other! By having provably committed to this strategy, Alice and Bob can cause other player’s with the same strategy to cooperate.

Evidential decision theory also preys on our sentiments. I’d like to live in a cool multiverse where there are aliens outside my light cone who do what I want them to, but it’s not like my actions can cause that world to be the one I was born into.

I’m all for chasing after infinities and being nice to aliens, but acausal trade makes no sense. I’m willing to take many other infinite gambles, like theism or simulationism, before I’m willing to throw out causality.

Comment author: JamesDrain 06 September 2017 03:17:44AM 2 points [-]

I could really have benefited from a list like this three or four years ago! I wasted a lot of time reading prestigious fiction (Gravity’s Rainbow, Infinite Jest, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses) and academic philosophy – none of which I liked or understood – as well as a lot of sketchy pop psych.

If Doing Good Better, 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, Animal Liberation, and Superintelligence are already taken, then I’d say the five most influential works I’ve read are: All of Steven Pinker’s books The Art and Craft of Problem Solving Here Be Dragons: Science, Technology and the Future of Humanity Nick Bostrom’s Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, Infinite Ethics, and Astronomical Waste, (I would add Anthropic Bias if I could understand it) The Tell-Tale Brain

Runner-ups include: To Be a Machine, Freakonomics, 1984, Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms, The One World Schoolhouse, Computability Theory, Human Accomplishment, Linear Algebra and Its Applications, Spivak’s Calculus, The Willpower Instinct, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Nurture Assumption, Introduction to Algorithms, Practical Programming (this is about weightlifting – not CS), Surely You’re Joking, Innumeracy and also Beyond Numeracy, An Anthropologist on Mars, The God Delusion, The Righteous Mind, Poor Economics, Mathematics 1001, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Selfish Gene, and Reasons and Persons. It’s not a book, but I feel like SlateStarCodex also belongs on this list.

Another good vegan book is Eating Animals.

I imagine I would also have been enthralled by a book like Soonish about emerging technologies (it hasn’t come out yet.)

In response to comment by JamesDrain on Open Thread #38
Comment author: Vincent-Soderberg 25 August 2017 08:15:41AM 0 points [-]

The link doesn't work sadly, but it sounds cool!

Message me on facebook or my email ( soderberg.vincent@gmail.com)

Comment author: JamesDrain 25 August 2017 03:01:08PM 0 points [-]

I fixed the link.

In response to Open Thread #38
Comment author: Vincent-Soderberg 24 August 2017 10:37:14AM 2 points [-]

An idea i've had for a while: Making an Effective Altruism/DGB board game might might be an high impact project.

The reasons for why that would be are rough, but sensible i think.

1: Games can teach mindsets and viewpoints of the world that other media cannot, and since much of EA is counterintuitive, a game can be a great learning tool.

2: It can serve the same purpose as an documentary (aka: an EA awareness tool)

3: could be fun to whip out at EA hangouts and play with people new to EA ; related to 1st point.

4: Board games are having an golden age right now, with more people buying them then ever, and marketing/releasing a board game is radically cheaper then in the past, as far as i can tell.

what are some reasons not to pursue this project?

Well...

1: making a game takes long time, and...

2: Terrible career capital (as far as i can tell)

So unless you have much game design experience, or can persuade a fellow game designer to do it, it's very much not worth your time. 80 000 hours and CEA may be able to do something with this project, but otherwise im drawing a blank.

I have made a rough sketch of how a game like this would work, but it's not very good because i am not a game designer.

Thoughts?

Comment author: JamesDrain 25 August 2017 03:29:13AM *  5 points [-]

I have a fully-formed EA board game that I debuted at EA Global in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. EAs seem to really like it! You can see over one hundred of the game's cards here https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Byv0L8a24QNJeDhfNFo5d1FhWHc

The way the game works is that every player has a random private morality that they want to satisfy (e.g. preference utilitarianism, hedonism, sadism, nihilism) and all players also want to collaboratively achieve normative good (accumulating 1000 human QALYs, 10,000 animals QALYs, and 10 x-risk points). Players get QALYs and x-risk points by donating to charities and answering trivia questions.

The coolest part of the game is the reincarnation mechanic: every player has a randomly chosen income taken from the real-world global distribution of wealth. Players also unlock animal reincarnation mode after stumbling upon the bad giant pit of suffering (the modal outcome of unlocking animal reincarnation is to be stuck as a chicken until the pit of suffering is destroyed, or until a friendly human acquires a V(eg*n) card.)

I'm also thinking about turning the game into an app or computer game, but I'll probably need an experienced coder to help me with that.