R

Remmelt

Research Coordinator @ Stop/Pause AI area at AI Safety Camp
984 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)

Bio

See explainer on why AGI could not be controlled enough to stay safe:
https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/xp6n2MG5vQkPpFEBH/the-control-problem-unsolved-or-unsolvable

 

Note: I am no longer part of EA because of the community’s/philosophy’s overreaches. I still post here about AI safety. 

Sequences
3

Bias in Evaluating AGI X-Risks
Developments toward Uncontrollable AI
Why Not Try Build Safe AGI?

Comments
223

Topic contributions
3

Hi JWS,

Responding to your thoughtful points:

  1. I agree you can have two bad actors at once. The fact that one bad actor is writing distorted critiques that misportray another, does not mean the other person is actually behaving well. The thing I find tough to unpack here is that some (not all) of the critiques I’ve read from you come straight from this fake “Fuentes” account. Given that the person behind that account is misportraying themselves and Émile in obvious places (I already gave a few examples), I would be very careful to not take their critiques at face value. Some years ago, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote about a hypothetical scenario where one agent is trying to make you believe X is true even if it’s false, and provides very convincing arguments that X is true anyway. How much should you “update” on their arguments that X is true anyway?

  2. Good nuance. I did not mean to say that you’re a “core” EA person. Please do consider that if you’re going to take this in your own hands (hopefully not Thanos style!) to defend EA from an outsider whose critiques are making EA look bad, then naturally you’ll get many upvotes from members of this community backing you up. Me writing dissonating comments like these on the EA Forum (despite that EAs like you know me) is putting myself into a minority position, where I make myself wide open to being socially discredited from any angle found by any member motivated against. I hesitate to use this analogy, but it’s a bit like returning to a circle of devout Christians to clear the name of an atheist, who turned out to be wrongly accused by an anonymous Christian. This is not a neutral context of conversation, and experiencing that is not pleasant. I think you did not quite consider this in how you worded your initial reply.

  3. [splitting this out from 2.] Where I agree with you is that Émile has repeatedly made overgeneralised blanket statements about people tied to the EA community. And I’ve been correcting Émile on this (eg. see point 1. here: https://x.com/RemmeltE/status/1695071975096340480), in a similar way as I did when advising Glen Weyl against publishing an overgeneralised caustic media article against EA (which along with feedback from someone else, made Glen decide not to publish). I don’t want illegitimate critiques of EA to be shared around, because it makes EAs close off to outside critiques and devote less energy to listening for where to change harmful mindsets/activities in the community.

Perhaps we can pick this up again in DMs or a Calendly call :)

Happy to have a call in a few weeks’ time. Let’s wait until after Émile’s essays regarding accusations and identity by “Fuentes” are (hopefully) out.

And just want to clarify that I do admire you and your work even if I don't agree with your conclusions. I think you're a much better EA critic (to the extent you identify as one) than Émile is.

Appreciating your considerate words here. Thank you.

Good point.

The “Mark Fuentes” backstory of being a public defender who only briefly was involved with EA does not add up. Someone on the periphery like that wouldn’t know enough about the community to fish up all of those quotes and talk about the people involved.

It does start to look like misuse of anonymity when even before “Mark Fuentes” other anonymised accounts like “Claressa Meals” were posting the exact same screenshots and variations of the same accusations. These can be traced back to one specific person.

Do you know who it is?

Yes, I know who it is. There are paper trails of posts all pointing to this one person.

If so, do you intend for readers to be able to figure it out based on what you've said?

I was not trying to communicate who “Fuentes” specifically was, more that he is an EA insider and not the fake person described in the Fuentes bio.

If so, why not just name them? Can you say how you traced them?

There will (likely) be a post out (by Émile) that goes into this in painstaking detail. So there’s really no reason for me to reveal their name now (given the forum’s doxing rules).

I think the moderator (JP) was acting carefully and fairly in redacting the details I shared. It’s against the forum rules to dox, and the details I shared were enough to make a good guess who the person is.

This is a tricky situation, because “Fuentes” is not an openly anonymous account, but a fake name account started with a fake bio.

They are pretending to be someone else, and have an axe to grind based on their communications in earlier years. In that sense, the situation is more like the Holden astroturfing case (who also held a personal interest in convincing people in a particular direction, though not necessarily “an axe to grind”).

Let’s check if we can find some common ground. From my side, I raised the following in DMs before, but we did not get to discuss it:

  • Can we agree that ”Mark Fuentes” is a fake name (not just a pseudonym, the bio is fake too)?
  • And agree that when a person is using a fake name (and a trail of other names and throwaway accounts) to target one specific person with critiques, that our prior should be that the “fake name” person is not constructing impartial critiques?

Adding this:

  • And agree that if the “fake name” person is constructing lots of critiques to target one specific person, that it would put the “targeted” person in an unfair position to expect them to address all of the critiques?

I'd note that Émile doesn't really push back on many of the claims in the Fuentes article

Yes. I think Émile should have just published their list of specific reasons why the “Fuentes” critiques were ungrounded. From what I heard, a friend dissuaded Émile from publishing that long list because it would suck more attention toward the exchange, when (as Owen Cotton-Barratt pointed at) there already are clear reasons why not to take “Fuentes” seriously.

It looks like Émile is going to publish that list now (now another anonymous account has reposted the “Fuentes” post).

For observers, if you want to go down the twitter rabbit hole when this all kicked off, and get the evidence with your own eyes, start here: https://nitter.poast.org/RemmeltE/status/1627153200930508800#m

Thanks, I recommend checking that thread too. You can see me remarking that I should have done background research before on Émile, and then probing for information.

and the stuff around Hillary Greaves and 'Alex Williams' seem far enough to rule someone as a bad-faith actor.

Actually, there is a reason for the Hillary Greaves misquote, as I mentioned in our DM discussion. All I can say is that Émile had no intention of publishing that misquote, and that Émile sent in a correction when they later found out about it.

The 'Alex Williams thing' is the only claim (of many) I looked into no more than a bit. I need to look more into that. Can get back to you on that, if you are still open to understanding more of what’s going on.

you treat Andreas far too harshly as well. You said of him "I think you are being intentionally deceptional here, and not actively truth-seeking."

Yes, I did think Andreas was writing in a way that was deceptive.

I shared one example of this in that thread: that Andreas claimed that Émile made a racist joke, which as far as I can tell Émile didn’t. Émile was pointing out the hypocrisy of Peter Boghossian, who had been actively dismissive of the struggles of ethic minorities until he adopted a child of Asian descent. After that, Peter responded sensitively to people making comments around that, now he was actually affected himself too. Emile made a joke pointing out Peter’s conflicting behaviour, and later publicly apologised because this was still a terrible joke to make.

This is one case of many where Émile turned out to be quoted and twisted out of context by “Mark Fuentes” (the fake name that can be traced back to someone in EA – someone I heard years before was a repressive manager, from staff at the first organisation he left).

Andreas just took on the assertion: that Émile must have said something racist (on prior surprising given how anti-racism Émile is).

And then Andreas later silently dropped his earlier claim of racism (saying he had written that Émile had made a “a puerile joke,” rather than what Andreas actually wrote: “a racist puerile joke”). EDIT: I see now that Andreas still called it a racist comment in the tweet above, and also linked to his original tweet. So Andreas did not misrepresent his earlier statement. My bad, my mistake.

Andreas had stated that he had followed up and checked the "Fuentes" claims, and that after this that he had confirmed the claims were substantially true. If Andreas had actually done his background research, he should have noticed at least a few of the many discrepancies.

Can you see how that therefore came across as “intentionally deceptive” and “not actively truth-seeking” to me?

The alternative case is that Andreas was not being thorough at all in his background research and/or motivated toward a certain conclusion. I am open to that possibility now. Though I wouldn’t call my response at the time “harsh” then. Andreas was not taking enough care.

I do not trust your perspective on this saga Remmelt.

Not sure how to respond to this social claim. I have been open in sharing my reasoning with you, and have listened to your concerns.

The fact that, over a year on, you don't seem to recognise this and (if anything) support Émile more against EA is a bad sign.

Can you see how that sentence can come across? Trying to split it out with its context, here’s what I get:

  • A. Remmelt did not come to the same conclusion that JWS came to: that some EA outsider is untrustworthy.
  • B. JWS is an EA insider. The conclusion by this EA insider must be correct (maybe because he privately messaged reasons and/or his comments received upvotes on the EA Forum).
  • C. Remmelt (who co-founded EA Netherlands but then gradually noticed harmful overreaches by EA) is supporting that outsider in their critiques of EA.
  • D. It is a bad sign to support an untrustworthy outsider’s critiques of EA.
  • E. Therefore this must be a bad sign, given C. (Remmelt is supporting the outsider’s critiques of EA) and assuming B. (the EA insider is correct that that outsider is untrustworthy).

We even had a Forum DM discussion about this a while ago, and I provided even more public cases of bad behaviour by Émile

Which of the claims you raised in our DMs, besides the 'Alex Williams' claim, did I not address?

Feel free to share here, then we can discuss further. Guess we are both busy, but I can make time to dig into specifics. Will check back later.

Thanks for correcting! I intentionally did not name them, but I see how mentioning two organisations they worked for is enough to identify them.

I actually think EAs have been rather quick to dismiss outside folks when those folks have different views on the world (that can’t be easily translated into EA speak).

I would be much more careful about opening up to insiders that are widely praised as leading figures in the community (like SBF) than to outsiders whose views are commonly perceived to be in conflict with the community’s aims.

Thank you for the incisive questions.

What is the current funding status of AISC? 

We received $57k through Manifund plus a $5k donation from a private donor.
 

Which funding bodies have you asked for funding from and do you know why they are not funding this (assuming they chose not to fund this)?

  • For LTFF and SFF, Oliver Habryka was our main evaluator. See his comment here.
  • For OpenPhil, see my comment here.
  • For Nonlinear, that's a network of donors who I guess mostly don't have that much funds to spent. But I don't know which if any donors there tried evaluating AISC and what their reasons were for not funding.
     

My understanding is you only just managed to get enough funding to run a budget version of AISC 10, so I presume that means you'll be looking for funding for AISC 11.

Yes, this is correct. Even then, it is stretching it, because we haven't gotten an income for running the just finished 150-participant edition (AISC 9). Backpay would be reasonable – to maintain our personal runways.

Good question!

I haven't written up a separate post on UCF and how it compares to other charity interventions.  I'd consider it, but I am already stretching myself with other work. 

I spent time digging into Uganda Community Farm’s plans last year, and ended up becoming a regular donor. From reading the write-ups and later asking Anthony about the sorghum training and grain-processing plant projects, I understood Anthony to be thoughtful and strategic about actually helping relieve poverty in the Kamuli & Buyende region.

Here are short explainers worth reading:

UCF focusses on training farmers and giving them the materials and tools needed to build up their own incomes, which is a much more targeted approach than just transferring money (though need to account for differences in local income levels too).

Personally, I think the EA community often focussed on measuring and mapping out consequences of global poverty interventions from afar and not as much on enabling charity entrepreneurs on the ground who have first-hand contextual knowledge on what’s holding their community back. My sense is that robust approaches will tend to consider both.

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