Survey of expert opinion on intelligence

The title refers to a survey regularly cited as an indicator of expert opinion on questions of race and intelligence, distributed mainly to psychologists and reported by Heiner Rindermann, David Becker, and Thomas R. Coyle. The survey is not a credible indicator of expert opinion…
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Atomically precise manufacturing in principle

In the 1992 book Nanosystems, K. Eric Drexler sketched some bounds on maximum capabilities of nanotechnology under classical physics and chemistry, alongside proposals for realizing those capabilities. The resulting picture of atomically precise manufacturing (APM)a a You m…
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You care about selection bias because you care about causation

When I see something criticized for selection bias, it’s almost always to caution against making inferences related to causation. In particular, the issue is almost never directly about the sample population being “unrepresentative” of a population you’re trying to make inference…
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What should Julia users know about?

Julia is a programming language designed to get high performance with code that’s easy to read and write. It’s really good! You should try it. If you already have, here’s my list of broadly useful things to be aware of that you might miss by just diving in. I don’t mean for this …
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Big worlds are hard to keep safe

A recent post by Thomaaas on the EA Forum describes some reasons that the risk of existential catastrophe might not go zero (or down!) in the future. I wanted to mention one other reason, which is that big worlds are hard to keep safe. For example, if catastrophe can be triggere…
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Why don’t I trust Scott Alexander?

In a 2014 email made public in 2021, Scott Alexander wrote to explain why he reads, writes about, and cultivates goodwill among a cluster of online writers then known as neoreactionaries.a a This label is a bit dated. As far as I can tell, these figures have at this point d…
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Repugnant astronomical ruin

Context: I’m not a utilitarian. This isn’t why I’m not a utilitarian—it’s just me playing with some perennial debates reappearing alongside Michael Nielsen’s notes, requests for critical writing on Effective Altruism, and prompts from Open Philanthropy. I do think utilitarians (…
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Hyping the Heat: A note on Steve Koonin’s Unsettled

Steve Koonin in Unsettled notices that presenting the ratio of record daily highs to record lows can be misleading about warming’s effect on extreme heat events. (Chapter 5, “Hyping the Heat”.) That’s true enough, but I find his argument somewhere between nitpicking and weak.

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Progress studies from afar

The web’s big thinkers periodically revisit big questions about modernity. Why is progress slowing down? (Is it?) Why is contemporary culture inferior to past golden ages? (Is it?) Sometimes the questions are more individualistic: Where are all the geniuses? Or, more cautiously a…
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Some things I’m excited about, 2022

I may continue to update this list, since these are just the first few things that came to mind. There’s nothing necessarily specific to 2022 here other than that I’m thinking about them now and there’ll be something to see in the relatively short term.

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