Tobias Dänzer

264 karmaJoined Jun 2021


Topic contributions

Argh, I only posted this because I'd checked the forum - quite thoroughly, or so I thought - and was surprised to see no existing post on the subject.

He meant that he wrote the linked post on hypotheses for how EAs and rationalists sometimes go crazy.

This was fun, thanks for writing it.

Typos & edit suggestions:

  • better at any of the the 39 categories -> any of the 39
  • the seven days comes from Genesis 7:4 -> seven days come from
  • the pious reveal the result of work trials within three days, the G-d-fearing in five days, and only the fool waits the entire seven days allotted. -> only fools wait [plural, for consistency] // the pious reveals [singular, for consistency]
  • people would hire employees after only looking at their resume -> resumes
  • for example, for are you allowed to -> for example, are you
  • your subordinates are like daughter-in-laws to you. -> daughters-in-law

What exactly does the "Request for Feedback" button do when writing a post? I began a post, clicked the aforementioned button, and my post got saved as a draft, with no other visible feedback as to what was happening, or whether the request was successful, or what would happen next.

Also, I kind of expected that I'd be able to mention what kind of feedback I'm actually interested in; a generic request for feedback is unlikely to give me the kind of feedback I'm interested in, after all. Is the idea here to add a draft section with details re: the request for feedback, or what?

Let me justify my complete disagreement.

I read your comment as applying insanely high quality requirements to what's already an absolutely thankless task. The result of applying your standards would be that the OP would not get written. In a world where criticism is too expensive, it won't get produced. This is good if the criticism is substance-less, but bad if it's of substance.

Also, professional journalists are paid for their work. In case of posts like these, who is supposed to pay the wages and provide the manpower to fulfill requirements like "running it by legal"? Are we going to ask all EA organisations to pay into a whistleblower fund, or what?

Also, for many standards and codes of ethics, their main purpose is not to provide a public good, or to improve epistemics, but to protect the professionals themselves. (For example, I sure wish doctors would tell patients if any of their colleagues should be avoided, but this is just not done.) So unequivocally adhering to such professional standards is not the right goal to strive for.

I also read your comment as containing a bunch of leading questions that presupposed a negative conclusion. Over eight paragraphs of questions, you're questioning the author and his sources, but the only time you question the source of the investigation is when it puts them in a positive light. Thus I found the following phrasing disingenious: "I don't know the answers to some of these, although I have personal hunches about others. But that's not what's important here."

Overall, I would be more sympathetic towards your perspective if the EA Forum was drowning in this kind of, as you call it, amateur investigative journalism. But I don't think we suffer from an oversupply. To the contrary, we could've used a lot more of that before FTX blew up.

Finally, instead of the decision-making algorithm of judging by the standards of professional investigative journalism, I suggest an alternative algorithm more like "does this standard make outcomes like FTX more or less likely". I think your suggestion makes it more likely.

This seems like a great project, so thanks a lot for doing this! <3

Suggestions & feedback

  • Begin future summary posts with a short but huge standard disclaimer of the main shortcomings of (these / all) AI summaries: can't guarantee accuracy; the emphasis might be wrong; middle sections of long posts are skipped for now; etc.
  • Besides the author byline, add additional info pulled from the original posts: like length or reading time; or amount of discussion (none / little / lots)
    • (Since you already have the author bylines, you could link the author names to their user profiles. Though that might just result in pointless clutter.)
    • (You could even flag posts which feature disproportionate amounts of scholarship, by e.g. identifying posts which link to a lot of academic papers, or which have lots of footnotes. But that has unclear benefits and feasibility, and is likely very out of scope.)
  • Currently summaries are grouped by EA Forum vs. LessWrong, but that seems like insufficient structure given the ~16 posts in each section. And I don't know how posts are sorted right now. So a third level of hierarchy seems warranted. Maybe these posts could be automatically grouped or sorted into topics like "AI" or "Longtermism" or something?
    • I don't know where the topics and the categorization would come from, though. Maybe from looking at the post tags? Unfortunately posts are tagged by hand and thus tags are inconsistently applied.
  • Spelling: "Lesswrong" section header -> "LessWrong"
  • There were some issues with the bylines, which I reported in this comment thread.
  • Summary limitations: Detect when a post contains mostly content which can't be properly summarized: probably images; probably some types of embeds (Manifold? Twitter?); maybe also other stuff like tables or LaTeX math formulas.

Regarding summary tone & format

  • In addition to the current output as a post on the EA Forum / LW, you could also make a spreadsheet of summaries (with columns for e.g. week, title, link, authors, summary paragraph), add new summaries to this spreadsheet, and then link to the spreadsheet at the beginning of each post. I'm not sure how useful that would be, but it would allow for e.g. follow-up automations; quarterly / yearly summaries of these weekly summary posts; etc.
  • Regarding the formatting of the summaries, one question to ask is "Who are these summaries for?" or "What value do summaries add?" or "What questions do summaries answer?".
    • E.g. a crucial one is "Should I read this?" / "Who would benefit from reading this?". Currently these summaries answer that question implicitly, but you could instead / in addition ask ChatGPT to answer this question explicitly.
  • Regarding the summary tone, I currently find the summaries a bit dry, so I don't find them particularly enjoyable to read. But I'm not sure if there's a tone which is less formal without being less accurate.

Opportunities for collaboration

  • Maybe you could collaborate with the people from Type III Audio in some way? They generate automatic audio transcripts for new posts while you generate automatic text summaries; so there might be some potential for cross-pollination.
  • I vaguely recall there also being some efforts to auto-tag posts via LLMs; that's another avenue for collaboration.

Another username issue: If there are multiple authors, they're ignored here, e.g. for "Impact obsession", the attribution for Ewelina_Tur is missing. Same with "CE alert", "Dimensions of pain", etc.

I've noticed one more username issue: The listed name is the one in the URL (e.g. jessica-liu-taylor) instead of the username (e.g. jessicata). Or e.g. Bill Benzon becomes bill-benzon. It's not clear to me why e.g. Raemon doesn't become raemon, though.

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