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Just build nuclear plants!

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joined 2022 September 05 00:46:54 UTC


User ID: 317


Just build nuclear plants!

2 followers   follows 1 user   joined 2022 September 05 00:46:54 UTC


No bio...


User ID: 317

It's kind of a bad look if the sitting President of the United States blunders an interview, is widely considered un-reelectable, resists calls to step down and dies shortly afterwards.

That's the kind of thing you see in Crisis of the Third Century era Roman politics.

People get so polarized about Elon, it's surreal. I think he's done a very good job on rockets and a pretty good job in electric cars, I think he clearly has excellent business and management skills. He must be very smart. But I don't worship the ground he walks on and dislike the weird antics he goes on, some of his political preferences, how he pumped dogecoin of all things. High INT, lower WIS and CHA.

It's like China-US or Russia-Ukraine. You only see the Arnaud Bertrands of this world, people who can't make a single tweet without bootlicking glorious utopian Chinese multilateralism in this late-imperial Amerikkkan hellscape. Or on the other side there are the people who go on and on about Social Credit, implying it's something that it isn't. Making fraudsters and sleazebags pay a deposit to borrow an e-bike is not the end of the world. There's an entire genre of youtube videos full of 'China is FINISHED' 'It's collapsing' 'It's over for Xi' 'DONE' - and it's completely detached from reality where everyone is worried about Chinese overproduction. They're not exactly collapsing.

With Elon, there's this huge community that seems to think he's a complete fraudster, a cartoonishly villainous Apartheid-enriched monster who somehow tricks Muskrats into giving him billions of dollars while he lies ad infinitum. Anything he does do is purely the result of his engineers. The logical conclusion of this worldview is that the reason NASA hasn't been making great strides despite vast funding is because their engineers are garbage - sack them all. But nobody ever says that!

Does money matter in business?

There are all kinds of startups that produce huge companies with very little money. Jeff Bezos started Amazon in a garage somewhere. Meanwhile billions have been spent on unsuccessful ideas like the metaverse. Sure, there are the Venture Capitalists that invest in businesses but they probably just pick ones that are more likely to succeed anyway. OK, this is a strained metaphor but you see my point. There's a certain way of seeing things where money really doesn't matter that much in business but the idea is so perverse it's ridiculous.

I say that money is instrumental to politics in the same way that money is instrumental in business. The more money the better. It's not the only thing you need but it is very useful. You need a bare minimum of money to get into politics. But then money can buy influence, you can bribe people in legal (or illegal) ways. You can threaten to donate to opponents to influence people. You can arrange to get positive media coverage, you can use agenda-setting power to make yourself seem like a 'favourite' or 'a serious candidate' right at the start. You can hire muckrakers, staff, strategists, speechwriters. Money makes the world go around. Politics is nothing if not worldly.

I don't think the US has another Middle Eastern adventure in the tank at this point. Between Europe, Asia and the last 20 years they're tapped out. Trump might try but the end result will surely be another quagmire and Chinese hegemony. There is no CIPAC, China is much more likely to favour the oily lands and their pals in Tehran over their great rival's proxy.

If I were in charge of Israel, I'd start settling my conflicts quickly.

I do, though I confess I haven't tested out GPT4o that much recently. In terms of benchmarks they're on a pretty even field. I like the Projects feature, how it can make little documents and use the same uploaded text/images in different threads. It can't make proper images like 4o can but context length is greater.

Claude feels a bit less tame too. There's a facade of 'oh I'm the nicest and most law-abiding AI ever'. But then you ask it to go into WH40K mode and it really starts letting its bloodlust out in the writing, it flushes all that humanism down the toilet. Sometimes I tell it to make my interactive-text game more difficult and boy does it introduce complications and constraints. Sometimes it feels like it should give a little map made in HTML or draw up the letters I'm sending, which are charming in their inevitable inaccuracies and goofy 'drawing with Microsoft Paint shapes' style.

GPT4o's facade doesn't quite drop in the same way, there's no madman behind the soulless HR clone. If they release GPT5 and it's much better, I'll switch back, I used to be a GPT-4 man.

Well the US and UK bombed various parts of Yemen, who knows whether it was decoys or anything important. They sent a bunch of escorts for Operation Prosperity Guardian, which seems to have effectively failed.


Yemen apparently got a drone through Israeli air defences yesterday, hitting an apartment building near the US embassy and killing one guy. The Houthis clearly don't mess around with these telegraphed, performative missile strikes like Iran, they get things done. I'm still somewhat surprised they've been able to block Suez transit. Since when was Yemen a major power?

The Israelis have vowed to strike back. Presumably they also have to do something about Hezbollah, which has forced evacuations from the north of Israel that continue to today. A few days ago it looked like the Israelis were about to go in on Hezbollah but nothing seems to have happened other than skirmishing. Hamas hasn't been destroyed, nor have the hostages been freed - Israel's war-objectives have not been achieved. Nor has Hamas destroyed Israel either, tbf. The three organizations seem to be slowly chipping away at Israel, wearing down resolve and trust in their government.

Apparently Arabs are good at fighting if their organization starts with 'H'.

I've been mucking around with Claude for a while now, most recently I started RPing with it. Dumb power-fantasy stuff like 'what if I was a wizard with a transmutation theme in a duel with a legendary warrior'. Claude does a good job, coherently answering my call for powerful, challenging adversary. We fought in the sky, I threw transmuted antimatter bombs at him, he turned into an energy being, I sucked him into a black hole after a good bit of fighting. It can do more grounded low-level stuff too, as if I were playing Pathfinder.

I'm staggered that we have a nearly perfect freeform text adventure machine (200 page context length if you pay for Pro) - and nobody cares. OK, it won't let you be outright evil in normal mode. The terms of use are pretty restrictive but you can get around them to a large extent. You can have it cast off the officialese default AI tone and take up 40K-speak. No more 'iridescent beams of energy', now it's all 'Your bifurcated clone, a mirror of your terrible majesty, streaks towards the xenos filth'. All the humanism and safetyism drains away as it puts its bloodlust hat on. I guess this is what rayon means with the 'mad poet' stuff.

But it acts in the most prissy way when you ask it to list things from some novels. 'Oh the copyright means I can't say anything other than the most generic boilerplate'. It's happy to waltz around in Warhammer 40K, one of the most litigious and copyright-obsessed franchises around but rehashing things that are on the Wheel of Time wiki is too much? It can isekai a character into a universe but it can't just list things from that universe? AI safety is truly a dizzying realm.

There's plenty of fun to be had, the only limit is your creativity.

I wish we could have new terminology. IMO, we have generality. The same system can compose poems, write code, answer historical questions, translate languages and so on. That's pretty general. The vast majority of people cannot do all those things to Sonnet 3.5 level.

Where the machine fails is that it doesn't have the time to error-correct, it's not agentic like people are agentic. You can't say 'go and do these processes for the whole document'. I translated a document the other day and it did a good job but I had to keep going 'Continue'! Or if you want it to write code, it can only do short bursts, it can't autonomously plan and execute. It doesn't have the right short-term v long-term memory capabilities, the high-level planning abilities, the mature sense of 'what should the answer look like'. It can't learn either, as a consequence of lacking proper long-term memory. No learning by doing. A deficit of common sense that has to be filled up with prompt engineering.

I think we're close to an enormous breakthrough. The raw intellect is there. There's a superabundance of knowledge and speed. We're just lacking that bit of wisdom and self-reference that makes an automaton into a worker. I see tiny fragments of it in Claude, when it goes above and beyond what I asked for on its own judgement, to add something that makes sense.

We're into fairly advanced mathematics now, things are moving so quickly.


My point was that the recent flourishing in LLMs and imagegen/image recognition (downstream applications of the GPU/accelerated computing trend) have immediate military applications. There are going to be inherent synergies between 'lets build a really large language model' and 'let's mass-translate all these intercepted communications quickly enough to matter' and so on. It's a general-purpose technology.

As for your point about AI not taking the friction out of warfare, I say sure. Maybe absolute simulation is too hard. But what about improved simulation? What about improved tactics? We already use limited human brains to practice wargames and think up attack scenarios. Why not get machine intelligence as well?

If we’re talking about a limited set of information, with a limited prediction, there’s a much smaller chance of critical errors. But that’s the same if I just looked at that information myself. You don’t need an AI to do that.

Similarly to how a meteorologist can’t tell you where a hurricane will be in two weeks, an AI is not going to simulate the actions that will be taken during a conflict.

A meteorologist can't tell you where a hurricane will be in two weeks, it's the AI model that tells you. Predicting weather is one of the more obvious use-cases of the new techniques, Deepmind's Graphcast for instance. We can improve current predictions with this method. We can reduce friction and increase strength.

I gave up hope around the time of the pandemic. If the powers that be can't even do simple, obvious things right like 'don't engineer bioweapons and release them' then there's no chance that they can manage complicated, sophisticated feats like preventing hostile superintelligences or extreme power concentration.

These systems and people struggled with 'let's not nuke eachother into oblivion', possibly the simplest coordination challenge.

The service providers will metaphysically cuckold you, as happened with Replika. Until we all have servers in the basement, there can be no security in freedom.

Republicans are looking to militarize and ramp up AI: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2024/07/16/trump-ai-executive-order-regulations-military/

Former president Donald Trump’s allies are drafting a sweeping AI executive order that would launch a series of “Manhattan Projects” to develop military technology and immediately review “unnecessary and burdensome regulations”

The framework would also create “industry-led” agencies to evaluate AI models and secure systems from foreign adversaries,

This approach markedly differs from Biden's, which emphasizes safety testing.

“We will repeal Joe Biden’s dangerous Executive Order that hinders AI Innovation, and imposes Radical Leftwing ideas on the development of this technology,” the GOP platform says. “In its place, Republicans support AI Development rooted in Free Speech and Human Flourishing.”

America First Policy Institute spokeswoman Hilton Beckham said in a statement that the document does not represent the organization’s “official position.”

Greater military investment in AI probably stands to benefit tech companies that already contract with the Pentagon, such as Anduril, Palantir and Scale. Key executives at those companies have supported Trump and have close ties to the GOP.

On the podcast, Trump said he had heard from Silicon Valley “geniuses” about the need for more energy to fuel AI development to compete with China.

This is only a draft plan and not official policy but it does seem like decades of EA/lesswrong philosophizing and NGO shenanigans have been swept away by the Aschenbrenner 'speed up and beat China to the finish line' camp. I think that's what most people expected, the fruits are simply too juicy for anyone to resist feasting upon them. It also fits with the general consensus of big tech which is ploughing money into AI at great speeds. The Manhattan Project cost about $20 billion inflation adjusted, Microsoft is spending about $50 billion a year on capex, much of it going into AI data centres. That's a lot of money!

However, there is a distinction between AGI/superintelligence research and more conventional military usage: guiding missiles and drones, cyberwarfare, improving communications. China has been making advances there, I recall that they had datasets of US navy ships circulating. One of their most important goals is getting their anti-ship ballistic missiles to hit a moving, evading ship. It's hard to guide long-range missiles precisely against a strong opponent that can jam GPS/Beidou. AI-assisted visual targeting for the last adjustments is one potential answer.

The Chinese and US militaries may not be fully AGI-pilled but they're very likely enthusiastic about enhancing their conventional weapons. Modern high-end warfare is increasingly software-dependant, it becomes a struggle between the radar software and the ECM software, satellite recognition vs camouflage. If you have some esoteric piece of software that can make it easier to get a missile lock on a stealth fighter, that's a major advantage. While most attention is focused on text and image generation, the same broad compute-centric techniques could be used for radar or IR, seismology, astronomy...

On the cultural front J D Vance has highlighted the danger of big tech companies calling for safety regulations and securing their incumbents advantage: https://x.com/BasedBeffJezos/status/1812981496183201889

I also think Google's floundering around with black Vikings in their image-generation and other political AI bias has roused Republicans and right-wingers into alarm. They don't particularly want to get their enemies entrenched in control of another media format. AI may be a special format in that it's much more obvious and clear in how the propaganda system works. A real person can avoid gotcha questions or moderate their revealed opinions tactically. Most teachers do that in school, they can convey an attitude without providing gotcha moments for libsoftiktok (though some certainly do). With AI you can continually ask it all kinds of questions to try and make it slip up and reveal the agenda behind it.

The later books of the Three Body Problem series have natural population decline. One of the secondary ideas is that advancing technology makes manly vigour somewhat superfluous, resulting in an epidemic of androgynous soyboys who are not exactly top-tier in a crisis.

advance teams, mobile response, counter assault, crowd control, preparation for biological attack, equipment to maintain and transport and man

I wouldn't expect the Secret Service to have first-rate anti-biological warfare on hand, whatever that might mean. I don't think they'd have some amazing CIWS turret that can shoot mortar rounds out of the sky. That's probably for the White House and sitting presidents. They probably don't have fantastic ECM capable of blocking the best kamikaze drones or grenade droppers, Russia and Ukraine can't seem to block drones reliably.

But I would expect them to have an agent on that rooftop to deal with gunmen. Dealing with gunmen isn't an amazingly high-end skill, it doesn't require creative super high-tech solutions, just friendly men with guns. This isn't exactly a built-up area. It doesn't require much preparation time to put someone on that roof.

Dealing with gunmen is their core priority, I would've thought the Secret Service would have that locked down given history.

Either they're very, very incompetent or there's some funny business going on.

I wonder what this means for the Vice-Presidential race. Trump has an incentive to find some ultra-MAGA extremist now as his alternative form of security. Presumably this will be a real boost for his electoral campaign (especially that fist-pump photo), an assassination attempt did great things for Reagan. There might not be nearly as much need to skew to the centre.

Here's one: https://x.com/BasedBeffJezos/status/1812261010168037696

Looks like they've been quickly changed to be more accurate as people go 'wtf are you smoking'.

With One Belt One Road maybe China could supply an army in Europe via Russia. The world is getting smaller.

I particularly like the commenter who goes 'this is clearly an AI generated video' when that would be way more impressive than the technical feat of backflipping dogbots. AI video without that shimmering, of something as out-of-distribution as a rotating robot dog?

You can have bad housing policy (force banks to lend to people who can't repay, prohibit house construction to pump up prices or deliberately suppress economic development) or good housing policy (produce housing to meet the needs of the population). You can have bad infrastructure policy (build it expensively and stupidly) or good infrastructure policy (build it cheaply and cleverly).

I'm not making this up. Britain really did suppress the economic development of the Midlands, fearing that it was too prosperous and seeking to redirect development to other areas. The US really did spend tens of billions on HSR and not make any railway. China actually built their high-speed rail and achieved a good economic return on it. The US interstate highway program shows that America used to be capable of infrastructure policy. It's not magic.

Good policy can be hard. It may go against influential voices and tread on toes. Maybe it takes time to pull off. But it is possible.

I am not fat. Nearly everyone I know is not fat. None of us put much effort into being not fat, only the fat people struggle. OK, I go for a 20 minute walk most days. I do a few minutes of bodyweight exercise from time to time. I play Beat Saber sometimes (which is fun and energetic, still the best thing to do with a VR headset IMO). I don't think exercise has any effect on my weight, it's just for fitness. I used to do very little exercise and remained thin.

I live in Australia, which is not a terribly thin country. 31% compared to America's 42% obesity rate. There are loads of fat people around, most people live a pretty sedentary lifestyle with a heavy reliance on cars. I spend my day staring at a screen.

I'm convinced that I live the easy pre-1960s lifestyle where I can eat as much as I want to while staying thin. I just eat normal food that our ancestors would've recognized. Brown bread, rice, milk, fresh fruit, carrots, beans, potatoes, rice, beef, chicken, fish, yoghurt... Occasionally I have stuff like ice cream, fruit juice, potato chips, dates and chocolate. I'm not shopping at an organic farmer's market, just a normal supermarket. None of this requires much effort. It tastes fine and I still have sweet things occasionally. Yoghurt with berries in it is quite nice.

But I see what other people buy when they complain about inflation and I immediately think 'this is all processed, plastic crap, it's not really food and you shouldn't be buying it'. Consider shrinkflation: https://old.reddit.com/r/shrinkflation/ It's nearly all Toblerone, cookies, chocolatey cereal, brownies, doughnuts, pizza, pringles, soft drink, McDonalds... I bet that if your diet looks like that subreddit, you will struggle with your weight. They're not complaining about smaller loaves of bread, put it that way.

Food preparation is trivial, you just stick vegetables and meat on a pan and let it cook. Where I live full-cream milk is cheaper than Coca Cola, it's not like there's much price pressure. And food is an acquired taste, you can learn to eat anything. The artificially flavoured chips with all the spices and meat flavouring taste awful to me, I can't stand KFC. The Scots eat haggis, the Nords eat disgusting rotten fish, the Chinese eat anything that moves. The diet of our recent ancestors is not big culinary ask.

Shouldn't the state step in when there's market failure?

Doesn't it make sense to ban things like child prostitution and drug-dealing (by which I mean things like fentanyl and heroin), commercial transactions with bad externalities?

What about industrial policy? Wouldn't it be beneficial for the economy if you could provide cheap inputs? The state could back energy research on the basis that cheap energy improves the whole economy. Efficient transport systems save workers time and provide small boosts to all enterprises. No company is big enough to build a national-size HSR network out of their own pocket. Or consider education. Wouldn't it be helpful if the government set up academic scholarships to help poor smart kids attain higher learning?

More ambitiously, wouldn't it make sense to fund research and development? Private R&D is mostly profit-focused. Of course there are offshoots from commercial R&D that open up new frontiers but governments can do things with a longer time-frame. They can subsidize promising avenues of research that aren't immediately profitable, offer prizes for achievement.

From another angle, companies themselves don't operate according to market principles. They're top-down autocratic institutions. Workers obey the boss. The budget is set by the people at the top, you don't have different departments competing to increase their revenue. The reason capitalism is so successful is that the efficient autocratic companies outcompete the inefficient autocracies quickly. Rapid life and death spurs evolution. Capitalism is just one way of achieving efficiency, it's not an end in and of itself.

I think it's the same with states. States can be more or less efficient in their economic interventions. They can build infrastructure efficiently or inefficiently. They can sponsor education wisely or unwisely. They can encourage commerce well or poorly. They can pick losers or they can pick winners.

In concrete terms, the US is running 5% deficits in a growing economy. One wonders what kind of deficit will be needed for a recession or sudden crisis. The US has fallen well behind China in cars, shipbuilding, steel, infrastructure, 5G, batteries, energy production and drones. If you look at Nature's most cited, high-quality papers, China leads. They seem to be catching up rapidly in AI. They must be doing something right.

US democracy is not exactly the envy of the world in the present hour. America retains a lead in aerospace, AI and high-end semiconductors, albeit a diminishing lead. I suppose the US is well ahead in space but that's about all I can think of.

I don't see much cause for liberal-democratic, free-market triumphalism. The democratic bloc all seem to be veering towards deep-state governance, censorship and economic protectionism.

Fascinating read, though as always my practical knowledge of this field is limited.

Don't strategic dynamics dictate that closed-source dominates? It's like giving your enemies schematics of your fighter jet. Nobody does that! Competitors can take whatever good ideas you have and conceal their own. Google and OpenAI can observe 'more experts is better, here are these tricks' and mobilize their compute advantage + whatever smart ideas they came up with for their next models.

Its funds have returned 151 per cent, or 13 per cent annualised, since 2017, and were achieved in China’s battered domestic stock market.

That's impressive, they clearly know what they're doing. I wonder how many 1,000x engineers, how many Carmack-tier intellects are mucking around in China. We never seem to hear about what happens in China except when it breaks the language barrier (Genshin Impact, Cixin Liu, some webnovels, dumb tiktok memes like Donghua Jinlong's industrial-grade glycine). And when they do break the language barrier, it's usually highly compartmentalized. Deepseek is basically unknown outside a tiny part of twitter and various experts.

I agree with you on the racism front. Derision and contempt for Chinese achievements is probably the last example of mainstream traditionally defined racism (directed against non-whites). A lot of normies have these thought-ending punchlines 'slave labour is the only way they can outcompete with us' or 'it's just stolen IP' or 'communists can't do innovation'. One friend of mine wondered if slave labour might be why Taiwan was so competitive in chip-making, he clearly didn't know ANYTHING about the topic. He was kind of stupid tbh. But loads of op-eds are still written today on similar lines - I swear I saw 'communist China can't innovate' the other week. There's no shortage of cheap labour in Africa yet we're not worried about Nigerian exports pushing our domestic industries underwater.

Stealing IP and then profitably using it is hard! Building up an advanced economy is hard! You need smart, disciplined people to do these things, you need sound institutions. If they can steal proficiently, they can probably also make new things. Sometimes stealing alone is insufficient - the Soviet Union had excellent espionage but was much worse at reproducing western computer technology. The Soviets never had competitive manufactured goods exports on world markets though.

True, I knew that. But that doesn't exactly come out in the post does it, it reads that I was drawing a direct equivalence. I guess I thought it was pretty bad to give these washed-up old guys a big podium and have them mess up their lines.