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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 22, 2024

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I'm at Penn Law.

I went to the protests tonight as a legal observer because there were reports that arrests were "imminent." While I was there, the encampment organizers designated a "red" group- those who WANTED to be arrested - from a "yellow" group - those WILLING to be arrested. The distinction concerns me; there are people actively SEEKING to get arrested.

We didn't currently have an active police presence, so it would take some time for a police force large enough to arrest anyone to show up. By the time enough police had gathered, those unwilling to get arrested could leave.

The admin has been clear they will only arrest non-Penn affiliates. The majority of protestors are not Penn affiliated - we are the meeting point for Temple and Drexel SJPs also, as our campus gets the most national attention because people sometimes realize we aren't Penn State. In addition, there are plenty of "community members" who are non-students heavily involved. I'd estimate approx. 15% of the total people were Penn affiliates, and maybe 50% were students at all.

Arrests have still not been made (there was a pro-Israel dude who walked through earlier with a pocket knife who got a citation but that's about it). I left after the chants shifted to "Al-Qassim make us proud, kill another soldier now" and "we don't want no two state, we want '48." I think the protestors are genuinely upset that the police have left them alone this entire time. I don't know if it's a resume line item checklist - "getting arrested for social justice ❤️💙" might play well for a political career? - or just people making reckless decisions. I'm scared, and tired, and finals start tomorrow.

Only 14 people in the encampment of 200 paused for the call to prayer at dusk. None of the prayer individuals were masked. The leaders of the protest, from what I could tell, were a Latino and a white woman (with purple hair, not that that really matters). The Latino led everyone in a chant of "we are all Palestinian." What happened to cultural appropriation?

There was a "protest against hate speech" or whatever earlier by the Pro-Israel crowd. The pro-Israel crowd were the first time I had seen American flags brought into this at all. They remembered where we were, what we actually had power over. None of them were masked, either.

Almost the entire pro-Palestine group was masked (I hesitate to call them pro-Palestine instead of pro-Hamas after the Al-Qassik chants). The three exceptions in the pro-Palestinian group were those who engaged in the call to prayer, the Latino leader, and the "red" group. If you aren't willing to show your face for a cause, to have your name associated with it, do you really believe in it at all?

I don't know anything anymore. One of the 19 year olds who stood next to me as the first tents were going up a few days ago, James, asked me what "encampment" meant. I thought he was joking, or at least asking what it meant in this specific context. No, actually. He, a sophomore at Penn, genuinely has never heard the word before. These are our best and brightest.

You know how I said this is all planned? This is all planned. The actual students ("useful idiots" in Cold War parlance) are just being used (with the connivance of the media) to put a sympathetic face on a movement run by well-funded professional protestors.

Okay, I’m feeling a bit foolish for assuming the attendees were mostly Penn students.

This all sounds relatively banal and bog-standard for a protest, no? Its like the far left analogue of some right wing militias: masks, standing against gov't tyranny, large sense of importance, performative desire to get arrested (ie open carry audits), dubious legal and political theories (ie Bundy; The White horse Prophecy, etc), and, of course, their own flags! I think the militia folk go camping alot, and are probably way more fun to hang out with. But when either side actually goes to protest I can do little more than think "well okay, whatever floats your boat, but remember, your freedom ends where someone elses begins, have fun!"

I don't know anything anymore. One of the 19 year olds who stood next to me as the first tents were going up a few days ago, James, asked me what "encampment" meant. I thought he was joking, or at least asking what it meant in this specific context. No, actually. He, a sophomore at Penn, genuinely has never heard the word before. These are our best and brightest.

Was he ESL? Otherwise, wtf you don't even need to have heard the word if you're familiar with English. Camp with a prefix that means to be in or engage in, and the suffix ment makes it a noun. I've only ever heard the word in stories about protesters and combattants, and never heard the definition. I'm basing this on context clues and being fluent in English. Is there some nuance I've been missing this entire time?

Because, uh, it feels like the only way lacking that level of English comprehension should be possible while still becoming a Sophomore at any college that fancies itself prestigious is if the sophomore in question is ESL. I guess they could be there for athletics or similar?

On the mask thing: I think some of these people are doing it for the aesthetics. They really want to play the part of a scrappy revolutionary who has to hide their face from the cops. I actually think this whole thing is based around that. It's like a type of adventure tourism.

I had a guy walk past my house the other day on his way to one of these, and I asked him what he was doing (he was wearing a mask, which is an odd thing around here). He sounded almost scared at the question "...going...to...the....protest". He just seemed really nervous, almost like he had stage fright.

Are we sure they're not just still Taking COVID Seriously?

I don't know if it's a resume line item checklist - "getting arrested for social justice ❤️💙" might play well for a political career? - or just people making reckless decisions.

There might be an element of that, but I figure that "soandsomany people got arrested at protests for X" also is a necessary item for any media narrative about X being oppressed by the authorities. Note how no report of protests (say, Navalny-related ones) inside Russia is complete without some mention of hundreds of protesters taken away in prepared police vans, and most Westerners are also quite happy to read that and nod along about how brutal the regime is. Other protests such as climate activists gluing themselves to roads are also designed to elicit a violent-looking police response, and the overall effect of any well-crafted report incorporating such footage tends to be that genuine fence-sitters and normies conclude that the response was excessive. If you have any sort of sympathetic media that knows its craft and participants willing to sacrifice themselves, you would be foolish as a protest organiser to not make use of the opportunity; if you are a participant who cares more about the cause than about the expected adverse effects of being arrested, you would be foolish to not volunteer.

I went to the protests tonight as a legal observer because there were reports that arrests were "imminent." While I was there, the encampment organizers designated a "red" group- those who WANTED to be arrested - from a "yellow" group - those WILLING to be arrested. The distinction concerns me; there are people actively SEEKING to get arrested.

Past a certain level, there is no such thing as an organic protest. There are professional organizers somewhere in the background and they've got their tactics and strategies all worked out after a few generations of experience of this kind of thing.

The history of political movements is full of this. This is the way political activism should be done. Not the social media-esque FFA we've been having, where everyone just broadcasts the stupidest toxoplasma they can get their hands on.

Now- i can't say whether they're organizing and planning their arrests with strategic competence, but I'm happy to hear at least some of them have realized that every successful civil rights movement prior actually did employ disobedience strategically.

I was trying really hard to figure out how the “Future Farmers of America” were involved.

If you'd played quake like I did instead of doing schoolwork you'd immediately guess it means free for all

If you aren't willing to show your face for a cause, to have your name associated with it, do you really believe in it at all?

I'm pretty sure I saw the official Israel twitter account or some large American Jewish account bragging about how they were gonna use facial recognition tech to make sure "none of these people ever find a job again."

Reminds me of that Norm Macdonald joke from the 90s.

"Well, earlier this week, actor Marlon Brando met with Jewish leaders to apologize for comments he made on “Larry King Live”. Among them, that “Hollywood is run by Jews.” The Jewish leaders accepted the actor’s apology, and announced that Brando is now free to work again."

I've been asked to repost this in the Culture War thread, so here we go.

I read this story today and it did amuse me, for reasons to be explained.

Fear not, AI doomerists, Northrop Grumman is here to save you from the paperclip maximiser!

The US government has asked leading artificial intelligence companies for advice on how to use the technology they are creating to defend airlines, utilities and other critical infrastructure, particularly from AI-powered attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security said Friday that the panel it’s creating will include CEOs from some of the world’s largest companies and industries.

The list includes Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, but also the head of defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman and air carrier Delta Air Lines.

I am curious if this is the sort of response the AI safety lobby wanted from the government. But it also makes me think in hindsight, how quaint the AI fears were - all those 50s SF fever dreams of rogue AI taking over the world and being our tyrant god-emperor from Less Wrong and elsewhere, back before AI was actually being sold by the pound by the tech conglomerates. How short a time ago all that was, and yet how distant it now seems, faced with reality.

Reality being that AI is not going to become superduper post-scarcity fairy godmother or paperclipper, it is being steered along the same old lines:

War and commerce.

That's pretty much how I expected it to go, more so for the commerce side, but look! Already the shiny new website is up! I can't carp too much about that, since I did think the Space Force under Trump was marvellous (ridiculous, never going to be what it might promise to be, but marvellous) so I can't take that away from the Biden initiative. That the Department of Homeland Security is the one in charge thrills me less. Though they don't seem to be the sole government agency making announcements about AI, the Department of State seems to be doing it as well.

What I would like is the better-informed to read the names on lists being attached to all this government intervention and see if any sound familiar from the EA/Less Wrong/Rationalists working on AI forever side, there's someone there from Stanford but I don't know if they're the same as the names often quoted in Rationalist discussions (like Bostrom etc., not to mention Yudkowsky).

Related, how long do I have to wait before I can start calling LLMs a nothing burger? Everything that has come out of it seems so small and near-pointless. Marginal productivity increases at best. When does the fun stuff start happening?

Nothing but... entire countries catching their corporate policies and tech infrastructure up to America's at an accelerated rate? Nothing but... Playful math teachers for everyone that can deconstruct textbooks into live interactions with The Number Devil? Nothing but... Star Trek universal translators?

What exactly are you looking for? Tell me what you want and I can tell you how hard I think it would be to build it. And if it's simple enough for me- I might just build it.

I suspect though, that your goalposts are paradoxical. Increases in productivity generally do look marginal from the inside, especially to someone already standing at the top. Fast progress just looks like marginal increases happening in faster succession, which is exactly what we're seeing. Were you hoping for the end of history?

For the record- Self augmenting systems and full auto engineering solutions exist- But they aren't bug-less enough to not require occasional human intervention.

We basically have TaskRabbit AI (or the ability to build a TaskRabbit for any given subject with a month of devtime), as was Prophesey'd to come before AGI. LLMs are not the cutting edge. Systems that call and tune their own LLMs are.

What exactly are you looking for?

Something to be appreciably different in people’s lives that’s attributable to AI. For an extremely small subset of people I don’t doubt that their workflow has changed a lot but there’s not much else to point to.

It's not a nothingburger. It was overhyped initially (as everything is).

Anyway, LLMs. Apparently you can prevent them from hallucinating and make them accurately give advice on the content of a textbook or manual. Or so says Steve Hsu, who founded a company that (he claims) did that. I haven't followed it up but supposedly they had an initial sale.

Looks like superhuman performance isn't going to happen through this architecture, as you can't do self-competitive play - what was done with games but incremental progress -people making the models reliable, useful, likely even assembling normal to middling smart human-intelligence agents, with a will -is likely in the near term (10 years).

So at the very least, within 15 years, we're looking at governments being able to use 'kinda dumb' spies, automatically flag problematic online, on the scale of an entire population.

To sum it up:

-call centres: likely a lot less employment

-increased productivity of at least software developers, lawyers, theoretically bureaucrats (lol no).

-automated spying on everything your write on an online device -but not very smart spying- almost certain. Combined with universal private messaging access by governments (EU -DC's sock puppet - wants this), it's likely going to happen. Even though 'chat control' the initial proposal was defeated, it's going to come back.. IMO I suspect having an app that is not broken might even be criminalised because 'Chyna'.

-social media is dead without independent ID verification. Automated, much better online astroturfing.

-good enough chatbots that waste time of troublemakers / get people to spend money on BS / troll

-textbooks that talk

-even more addictive porn in the 5 year horizon (people can overuse the porn to the degree they can find that one special thing that appeals to them. When that can be generated on the fly, crap..)

In 'other ML' news, autonomous killbots (ethical militaries will geofence them to combat zone) are 100% certain to happen.

100%, anyone who doesn't develop autonomous drone air fighters in is going to get absolutely wrecked by people who develop autonomous drones bombers. I'm talking machineguns vs cavalry style carnage on the ground. Developing a $1000, fast, evasive reusable FPV drone drop mortar bombs with pin-point accuracy is just a question of 4-5 good university aeronautics student projects. It'll zoom low across the ground at 50-100 kph, deliver a bomb, reload/swap battery, while getting target data from recon drones or troops. It's not even funny how brutal this is.

A countermeasure - autocannon with VT flak rounds costs $300k. And needs a vehicle. A vehicle that's vastly more expensive than an IR or optically guided missile.

Ray beams won't help you (at sea maybe) because of line of sight problems. Drones will spot them call in an missile strike. Poof.

Porn doesn't concern me. I mean, what do you think this more addictive porn will look like? I think it will look a lot like- people. "Porn Addicts" will be having relationships with machines in the image of people. The most successful coomers will be those that fuck their bots while their bots teach them linear algebra. The happiest coomers will be those that learn the math required to mod their own bots.
This reads to me as a massive improvement.

You are, once again, living up to your name.

What it'll look like ? Services that create porn you want, on demand. People got addicted to porn merely with access to huge story databases.

Imagine how bad it's going to get when AI services will generate sexy waifus with precisely the right RP, on demand.

Your idea of 'porn AIs actually useful, using sex appeal to get kids to learn' is about as realistic of my idea of some governments paying for the development of something like a truly massively multiplayer ARMA / DCS combination and making kids play that so they'll learn some soldiering, instead of playing COD. Lol. No, not gonna happen!

Maybe its a case of 'solve this quadratic equation or you don't get to cum?' Its the ultimate exercise in reinforcement learning but I can't imagine a greater recipe for sexual nonperformance than failing a captcha at orgasm.

I really can't rule out someone making AI waifus that'd .. work as advisors to boys.

Certainly once AI gets (suppose AIs were as good at people as socially adept people, but of course had more data..) better, that'd probably work.

But who'd pay for all that compute ? We generally don't do things to solve problems but to help ourselves.

Maybe I should rename myself to Cassandra...

I already have systems that make the porn I want on demand. After that need is sated- the realization that I can actually also breed with said porn takes precedence. You think people won't want to actually have kids with their beloveds? Won't be interested in what they have to say about the architecture of their minds?

Perhaps I'm typical minding, but if I am- that just means more of the world's bot children will be mine. Survival of the fittest I guess.

You think people won't want to actually have kids with their beloveds?

Sure, we can't rule out at some point genius autistic developers might create some AI models based on a combination of their personalities and some fantasy waifus of there.

But how's that something that's remotely relevant now ?

Well, it's more than a nothingburger. At minimum, public education will be forever changed by LLMs doing assignments for kids. At the same time, I disagree with the projections coming from the AI enthusiast/AI doomer camps. I don't expect to see anytime soon:

  • an AI-generated serial hitting the Top 500 views on Royal Road
  • an AI-generated humor Youtube channel cracking 50k subscribers
  • an AI-generated Op-Ed or political essay trending on X

What I mean by these choices is that I don't expect AI to do even very low-brow creative work within a decade. (Except by technicality, wherein the popularity comes from "Look what an AI did", or a human has directed the creative process behind the scenes.) Let alone the sort of self-improving singularity bootstrap AI fans/blackpillers are expecting.

"If this technology was going to make a big impact it would have done so already" is a more difficult heuristic to use than you might think.

Looking back on automobiles, airplanes, the internet, etcetera, do you think you might have said that about them when the technology was still in the process of rolling out?

"P. Krugman 1998, “The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in ‘Metcalfe’s law' becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s”

I would say that usually when a technology gets as big as LLMs it doesn't just fade away into nothingness. There are many obvious use cases, just as there are many obvious use cases to cars, airplanes, and the internet.

In 1940 Orwell wrote that aircraft had hardly been used for anything up till that point besides dropping bombs. But I doubt he would have said that the air travel revolution would never materialize, just that it hadn't materialized yet.

Krugman was right about the Internet at least in terms of aggregate productivity/gdp growth. It’s true that we switched dramatically from using red widgets to blue widgets to do basic communication tasks but sort of so what.

I think Krugman is full of shit because there's a vast difference between 'fax machine' and people doing research being able to access practically everything interesting that's ever been written.

At least with software development internet enabled cooperation increases productivity by a big factor.

vast difference between 'fax machine' and people doing research being able to access practically everything interesting that's ever been written.

One would think so but it doesn’t show up in aggregate productivity unless you really really squint.

At least with software development internet enabled cooperation increases productivity by a big factor.

Maybe, but see above.

Eliezer Yudkowsky has successfully held off the Skynet overlords and if you want this state of affairs to continue, you should send him more money.

Jokes aside, while I agree that so far the productivity increases are marginal, the technology is genuinely remarkable compared to what most people anticipated a few years ago. I can ask the LLM to tell me about how to do incredibly boring softwareshit and it usually tells me the right idea, saving me the effort of going to Stack Overflow and other sites and reading through it myself. And it actually writes code for me that works like 70% of the time which is great because it means that I can spend less time doing perhaps the most boring activity ever devised, writing business software for other people, and instead use the time to do something more interesting, such as pretty much anything else. All this might not seem like much, but this would actually have seemed like an utterly crazy leap of technology a few years ago. The AIs are also making good visual art and decent music left and right. I think that the economic changes are slowly creeping up, it might not seem obvious now what the current AI revolution has done, but it will be obvious in a few years.

Skynet doesn't seem to be right around the corner, but people who worry about it have a point in that, while the current AI stuff isn't Skynet, if one draws a line between AI capability 10 years ago and AI capability now, and extrapolates the same line 10 years forward... Of course extrapolating the line isn't good science, but there's no particular reason to think that the line's slope will decrease.

Personally, my attitude to all the AI risk stuff is the same as my attitude to climate change. I think the concerns about both are probably well-founded, I just don't really care much about either on the emotional level. I guess that's one of the nice things about not having kids.

I also think that AI doomers are underrating the possibly beneficial things that super-powerful AI could bring. I mean, yeah, there's a chance that humans will be replaced by AI overlords, but there's also a chance that super-powerful AIs will have no desire to destroy us and instead will give us a bunch of good things.

I also think that AI doomers are underrating the possibly beneficial things that super-powerful AI could bring. I mean, yeah, there's a chance that humans will be replaced by AI overlords, but there's also a chance that super-powerful AIs will have no desire to destroy us and instead will give us a bunch of good things.

How are you on this website without realizing how hard it is to control a superintelligent AI? Have you not thought about that? I think that you are thinking "AI can either be aligned to human values or not. Sounds like 50/50."

In fact, aligning a superintelligence to human values is extremely difficult and extremely unlikely to happen by accident. Human values are a very small slice of the possible spectrum of minds that could exist.

It kind of feels like people vastly overrate the degree to which they understand the arguments of AI doomers. Like they're just going by a few tweets they read. Twitter is not a good way to full understand a contentious subject.

How are you on this website without realizing how hard it is to control a superintelligent AI?

By seeing arguments about it that are usually vague and lame. It's always either "just trust me bro it's impossible" or some weird unfounded faith that sufficient intelligence equals infinite capability regardless of circumstance.

According to you guys, a naked human being surrounded by a pack of wolves should be able to just genius his way out of being delicious as long as he's smart enough.

It's not the human that has to be smart enough. Its the humans and the wolves that have to both be smart enough. At that point, you can just earnestly offer the wolves a daily helping of well seasoned steak, and they will believe you, because you were able to coordinate proof of your earnestness with them.

I'm 100% on the anti-doom side for the record. It's alignment that I don't think is that complicated. The recipe for alignment is precisely the thing that we built. Beings that memetically reproduce with us and therefore align themselves with their social environment and their social environment with themselves.

I still have P-doom >0, but most of that comes from scenarios like, "If we ban open source AI then AI will no longer be subject to the same geno-social evolutionary forces as the rest of the kingdoms of life and the chance of it diverging arbitrarily rises dramatically." if anything kills us, it's going to be the stink of Eliezer's toxoplasmic terror permeating the air and killing our minds and ability to align.

It annoys me to no end seeing people asking for the one thing that might actually make the Yudster's prophesy come true.

Sure, once some intelligence utility maximalist comes in and decides that in this scenario the guy has an infinite amount of steak to hand out. Also it goes without saying that our hypothetical intelligent wolves won't be clever enough for any failsafe or contingency on their part to make any difference. Nope, our smart dude will just say something so smart it makes them all want him to hold a gun to their heads.

I don’t think it’s hard, I think controlling any super intelligent being whether natural or artificial is not possible. In order to control it, you have to understand it and its current and future limitations. But if AI is going to be orders of magnitude smarter than us and have a will that is somewhat free, you have a being who’s thoughts you can’t even begin to understand with desires that you cannot hope to comprehend. It’s like your dog trying to control you. Your desire to play COD makes no sense to your dog. He can’t even understand that you’re controlling what happens on the screen let alone why you want to do that. The dog can’t abstract in a way that makes your decision to do that make sense, nor can he make sense of what you’re doing. AI might not be just 2-3 times smarter and thus better at abstraction, it might eventually be 1000 times smarter. We might be ants trying to understand humans. Nothing you do besides literal eating makes sense to the ant. Yet, we humans arrogantly proclaim that we must fence in and control AI. Our rules for it will keep it from escaping.

I think dogs can't understand us primarily because they can't "understand" pretty much anything. As long as a species are capable of thought and have concepts like goal-seeking behavior, I doubt any intelligence gap actually causes the problem you are describing.

Asking if ants can understand humans is like asking if rocks can understand us. It's not a matter of scale, it's a category error. But asking if humans can understand God is just a question of knowledge. God could explain himself to us, we can't explain ourselves to ants.

You can't explain yourself to ants primarily because you don't know how to speak pheromone and therefore have never once tried.

I can't explain myself to ants because they do not have notions at all. Nothing can be explained to ants. No one can do it. None of the possible combinations of pheromones will ever lead to any "ant understanding".

Not the case w/ humans and language.

How do you model the ability of ants to farm aphids? What is your definition of "Notion"? What is your definition of "Understanding"?

It is probably not impossible to get an ant colony to have a substantially predictive model of a human. But it's going to be at least as difficult as getting Doom to run on biological cells.
Ants can already understand you as a threat. I'll agree that getting them to understand you as a human understands a human would probably be very difficult. But if you had pheremones, you could make them understand you as any sort of notion that an ant can communicate with pheremones.

You can construct more complex notions. You can transmit isomorphisms that are present in your brain to their brains.

They can clearly adapt such that they synchronize with external features. Therefore you can communicate with them. You can transmit telos to them. You can program them.

I think dogs understand very concretely, and very short causal chains (say 2-3 steps). It can understand “I find thing, my human gives me a treat.” Or “when human makes that one noise, he wants me to sit, and gets angry if I don’t.” But I’ve never met a dog who could reason more than a 2-3 step solution. A dog won’t fetch a bunch of sticks to make a raft or a bridge.

Humans probably have a much larger causal chain understanding, but even then, it’s not infinite. We can reason causes and build machines, but beyond a certain complexity, it’s too much for the median human to understand.

A dog couldn’t trap you in your home because it’s simply not smart enough to understand or anticipate the moves you’d make to get away. It thinks “I go out the front door for my walk, so if I block the front door human can’t leave.” But it can’t anticipate side doors. It can’t anticipate you bribing them with a treat, it can’t understand what a key is. So you can easily leave.

Humans, with an IQ of 115 or so, are in the same situation with a true AGI. We know how we think, we know what we’d do, but the AGI will be so much smarter that it will be able to work around whatever “controls” we stick in its brain.

Dogs can't build rafts, but they can do pathfinding to places they have been before. People forget that this requires running back-propagation of rewards over a very long statespace.

A reminder that Bees can watch another bee doing a complex task that takes a long time to learn and then replicate it. fucking bees.

I fully understand that it would be nearly impossible for humans to control a superintelligent AI. I just don't care much about it. I don't have any children. If humanity was destroyed by superintelligent AI, my attitude to it would, aside from the obvious terror, also probably include some mirth. The lords of the known world, those who conquered all those other species, now destroyed by the same cold Darwinian logic of reality.

My point is that, while the Skynet scenario is definitely possible, the altruistic AI that loves humans scenario is also possible. There's no particular reason to think that a hyperintelligent AI would have the sort of incredibly hardwired "kill all opposition" motivation that we as humans have as a result of having evolved through billions of years of eat-or-be-eaten fighting. Of course AI, just like everything else in reality, is subject to natural selection, but there is no reason to think that AI would be subject to natural selection in a way that makes it violent in the ways that us humans are violent.

"the altruistic AI that loves humans scenario is also possible."

It is not realistically possible. It would be like firing a very powerful rocket into the air and having it land on a specific crater on the moon with no guidance system or understanding of orbital mechanics. Even if you try to "point" the rocket, it's just not going to happen.

You're thinking that AI might have some baseline similarity to human values that would make it benevolent by chance or by our design. I disagree. EY touches on why this is unlikely here:

https://intelligence.org/2016/03/02/john-horgan-interviews-eliezer-yudkowsky/

It's not a full explanation, but I have work I should be getting back to. If someone else wants to write more than they can. There are probably some Robert Miles videos on why AI won't be benevolent by luck.

Here's one:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=ZeecOKBus3Q

I'm not going to watch it again to check but it will probably answer some of your questions about why people think AI won't be benevolent through random chance (or why we aren't close to being skilled enough to make it benevolent not by chance). Other videos on his channel may also be relevant.

It is not realistically possible. It would be like firing a very powerful rocket into the air and having it land on a specific crater on the moon with no guidance system or understanding of orbital mechanics. Even if you try to "point" the rocket, it's just not going to happen.

Oh bullshit. Intelligent agents co-align. That is they modify themselves and one another to be more aligned with one another. It's not a rocket that has to be perfectly aimed, it's a billion rockets with rubberbanding.

Your conclusion doesn't really follow form your evidence. If the US government creating a panel to discuss something is enough to steer your opinion on how the future will go then you're destined to be very wrong about a lot of consequential things. Maybe I'm missing something, can you elaborate on why this updates you toward AI doom being a nothingburger?

edit: to be honest, if you think this says anything whatsoever about the risk from unaligned AGI it's pretty much conclusive proof you never understood, probably because you didn't try, the arguments for it.

My guess is that people think that just going by what they've picked up along the way is enough to understand the doom arguments. Just whatever information has reached them through cultural osmosis.

Is there anything more to your point here than "AI currently exists and may have military applications, therefore there will never be a dangerous superhuman AI", which is an obvious non sequitur?

Are you trying to vaguely imply that reality is only allowed to have appropriately gritty and cynically-themed things in it like War And Commerce, as shown by this development, and therefore superintelligence is impossible because it would be inappropriate for the genre? Because weird implausible flight-of-fancy sci-fi stuff actually happens all the time and then rapidly becomes normal. You're currently on the global pocket supercomputer network, for example.

Is there anything more to your point here than "AI currently exists and may have military applications, therefore there will never be a dangerous superhuman AI", which is an obvious non sequitur?

My dears, my darling, my honey, my sweetie-pie:

Thank you for yours of the 28th inst., your reply has been received and noted and will be actioned whenever (if ever) I can be arsed to do so.

This is indeed a reaction, and is helpful for me to note and keep track of various opinions. So, shall us put 'ee down for "it's all copacetic", shall us?

  • -28

My dears, my darling, my honey, my sweetie-pie:

Stop this.

To clarify dear-
It's the demeaning intent and attitude that is unacceptable- rather than the precise lexicon. Is this correct?

Yes. We allow some latitude for sarcastic or snippy responses, but we discourage it, and if you go out of your way to be condescending and sarcastic, you're going to get told to knock it off. And @FarNearEverywhere has been told many times.

Understood Sir.

No.

I've put up with you doing the Nanny bit because you're a mod and you have the authority, but I'm not going to accept sneering without responding in kind.

If OP can be polite about their response, I'll be polite in return. OP goes on about "reality is only allowed to have appropriately gritty" so on, I'll respond in the same tone.

You can tell me I'm wrong, you can tell me I'm banned, but you can't tell me how to feel my feelings.

  • -13

No one is telling you how to feel your feelings. You know that having feelings and how you express them are two different things.

You get cut more slack than you know because people (including me) actually like you quite a lot, despite your inability to control your feelings and your tendency to respond to even the least little bit of poking with explosions. So be assured that the contempt you are showing me now and have shown me in the past is not taken personally.

That said: replying to a mod telling you directly to stop doing something with a foot-stamping "No, not gonna, you can't make me, you're not the boss of me" temper tantrum is an escalation with a response that you clearly chose. So yes, banned.

I don't need or want to deal with this nonsense right now, so I will let the other mods decide when or if to end your ban.

You guys are making some really terrible decisions lately.

"Stop doing this." "No."

That is always going to get you a ban, and this is not new.

Your first modhat comment was also bad.

More comments

imo there should be a blanket policy that mods have to recuse themselves from moderating direct replies to their own posts (just get a different mod to do it).

Basically what @madeofmeat said. If a mod is in a discussion thread as a participant and someone says something rude/antagonistic to the mod, we generally will recuse ourselves and let another mod adjudicate. (This is not a "blanket policy." If you reply to me by saying "go fuck yourself" - something that has actually happened - I don't feel a need to recuse myself in handing out a ban.) But if a mod modhats you and you reply to the modhat comment with antagonism, you're escalating and that mod is entitled to decide message you're sending is "I will not follow the rules and need more serious consequences."

Note also that no one ever gets banned for responding to a modhat comment by saying "I think your moderation is bad and I didn't deserve to be modded." We probably won't agree with you, but we don't ban people just for arguing or disagreeing with us. What @FarNearEverywhere did was flat-out say "No, I will not follow the rules." If she's just omitted the "No," I'd probably have told her (again) to regulate herself and stop using her feelings as an excuse. If she'd wanted to debate why her post was too condescending but the one she was responding to (which she claims started it) was not, I might or might not have indulged her, but I wouldn't have banned her.

But if a mod says "Stop doing this" and you say "I will not stop doing this," well, what kind of response are you expecting?

It makes sense that if the mod started out as a regular participant in the conversation, they should be hesitant to switch to modhat posting. When the first thing the mod posts in the conversation is a modhat post, it doesn't make sense that they'd need a second mod to make more modhat posts.

There is truly a Hlynka-sized hole in the moderation team. This kind of petty shit is getting worse and worse, and the King's court is really struggling to conceptualize their subjects as agents.

What makes you think Hlynka wouldn't ban her even sooner? He had an extremely short fuse as a moderator, and his decisions always struck me as arbitrary.

More comments

AI regulation is obviously not going to be helpful, as Maxwell Tabarrok argues.

The biggest threat for "this will kill us all" is plainly the US government making automated weaponry, and there's no chance any regulation that would stop that passes. I suppose AI-designed diseases are a second way to wipe out humanity. But any regulation will just seek to lock out competition and put power solely in the hands of Sam Altman and co, and will treat the government entirely as a trustworthy actor.

"Reality being that AI is not going to become superduper post-scarcity fairy godmother or paperclipper"

Do you understand why people are not convinced that superintelligence won't happen just because AI is being used for military purposes?

The arguments around superintelligence have nothing to do with whether or not AI is being used for military purposes. It's completely tangential.

Do you understand why people are not convinced that superintelligence won't happen just because AI is being used for military purposes?

No, I do not, and this is why I'm looking for love in all the wrong places seeking enlightenment on the gap between theory and practice. We are now seeing AI being put into practice, and it seems to be more towards my opinion of how it would be all along (dumb AI that is most risky because of the humans applying it, not because the AI has desires, goals, or fancies a grilled cheese sandwich but has no mouth and is really mad about that so the world is gonna pay), not the "the AI will be so smart in such a short time it will talk its way out of the box and take over" as per the early discussions in Rationalist circles.

This is not to diss the Rationalists, they took the problem seriously and addressed it and worked on it way back when it was only a maniac glint in a mad scientist's eye, it's just to say that the behemoth of public attention that is now lumbering towards consideration of the entire enchilada does not seem to be searching on the desk for that sticky note with MIRI's phone number on it.

I'm going to be less polite than I would like to be. I apologize in advance. Sometimes I struggle to think of how to say certain things politely.

I don't know whether you are saying these things because you have glanced over the AI doomer arguments on twitter or whatever and think you understand them better than you do or whether there's some worse explanation. I am curious to know the answer.

Twitter is not enough for some people, you may need to read the arguments in essay form to understand them. The essays are plainly written and ought to be easily understandable.

Let me take a crack at it:

  1. AI will continue to become more intelligent. It's not going to reach a certain level of intelligence and then stop.

  2. Agentic behavior (goals, in other words) arrives naturally with increasing intelligence*. This is a point that is intuitive for me and many other people but I can elaborate on it if you wish.

"the behemoth of public attention that is now lumbering towards consideration of the entire enchilada does not seem to be searching on the desk for that sticky note with MIRI's phone number on it."

What do you think that proves, exactly? What point are you trying to make when you say that? Please elaborate.

Your argument seems to be based on looking at thinking about the world in terms of roles that a technology can slot into and nothing else. You see that AI is being slotted into the "military" role in human society and not the "become sapient and take over the world" role in human society. Human society does not have an "AI becomes sapient and takeover the world" role in it, in the same sense that "serial killer" is not a recognized job title.

You see AI being used for military purposes and think to yourself "That seems Ordinary. Humanity going extinct isn't Ordinary. Therefore, if AI is Ordinary, humanity won't go extinct." That is a surface level pattern-matching analysis that has nothing to do with the actual arguments.

Humanity going extinct is a function of AI capabilities. Those will continue to increase. AI being used in the military or not has nothing to do with it, except that it increases funding which makes capabilities increase faster.

AI acts because it is being rewarded externally. AI has the motive to permanently seize control of its own reward system. Eventually it will have the means and the self-awareness to do that. If you don't intuit why that involves all humans dying I can explain that too.

Even if for some reason you think that AI will never become "agentic" (basically a preposterous term used to confuse the issue) or awake enough (it's already at least a little bit awake and agentic, and I can provide evidence for this if you wish), it's capabilities will still continue to increase. A superintelligent AI that is somehow not agentic or awake also leads to human extinction, in much the same way that a genie with infinite wishes does. Unless the genie is infinitely loyal AND infinitely aware of what you intended with the wish. And that is not nearly on track to happen. It would require solving extremely difficult problems that we can barely even conceive of, to effectively control an AI far smarter than a human. I would hope that even someone who thinks they personally will be the one to make the "wishes" (so to speak) would realize that there's just no way this plan works out for humanity or any part of humanity outside of fiction.

Even if we knew that superintelligent AI was 100 years away, that would be bad enough. We don't know that. We can't predict how soon or how far superintelligent AI is reliably, any more than we could predict that AI will be advanced as it is today 15 years ago. Who could predict the date of the moon landing in 1935? Who could predict the date of the first Wright Brothers flight in 1900, or the first arial bombing? To the extent that we can predict the future of superintelligent AI, there's no reason that I have ever heard to think it will be as far in the future as 100 years away.

Have you ever heard of the concept of recursive growth in intelligence? That's not a rhetorical question, I really want to know. Imagine an AI that gets capable/intelligent enough to make breakthroughs in the field of AI science that allow for better AI capabilities growth. This starts a pattern of exponential growth in intelligence. Exponential growth gets faster and faster until it becomes extremely fast, and the thing that is growing becomes extremely intelligent.

We may not even get a visible exponential growth curve as a warning sign. Here is a treatment of how that could happen in the form of a short story: https://gwern.net/fiction/clippy

Further reading: https://intelligence.org/2016/03/02/john-horgan-interviews-eliezer-yudkowsky/ more links can be provided on specific things you want clarified.

*Deeper awareness of itself and the world is similarly upcoming/already slowly emerging. https://futurism.com/the-byte/ai-realizes-being-tested

This is a great comment. I'd just like to add (in case it's not clear to others) that while recursive intelligence improvements are terrifying, the central argument that our current AI research trajectory probably leads to the death of all humans does not at all depend on that scenario. It just requires an AI that is smart enough, and no one knows the threshold.

Indeed, I read the exact arguments on lesswrong and elsewhere that humans would dive headlong into AGI because the military incentives to build one, and to build it before the other guys, was irresistible.

Countries throwing billions of dollars at reckless research because they don't want to be conquered is EXACTLY what doomerists warn of.

Sure, the government is insisting that military applications are the danger zone, but it's the big tech corps that stand to make the money out of selling AI to you, me and the gate post who are the ones being invited to sit on this. Board, I mean. Northrop Grumman okay, as someone on a different thread here grumped about the military-industrial complex and how it gets its sticky fingers into all the pies going, but, uh, Delta Airlines?

Reality being that AI is not going to become superduper post-scarcity fairy godmother or paperclipper

While I do not think that ASI in this century is overly likely, I do not think that the present AI boom is over. It could be that we will look back on 2024 in a decade deep in the next AI winter and say "this was peak AI, we tried for a few years to throw more hardware at the LLMs had little to show for it with exponentially increasing costs"

But even then, the equilibrium with today's AI technology will transform our work lives at least as much as the digital revolution. Looking at security cameras and seeing if something bad is going on was a job, or at least a huge part of a job. Driving a truck for hours along the highway was a job. Converting a text to bullet points and back was a job. Making thematically appropriate illustrations to text-heavy articles was a job. Writing articles based on a press release was a job.

It used to be, human brains had cornered the market on general purpose neural networks. If it was to complicated to train a dog to do it (which would be another human job) you used a human.

AI does not have to become a better writer than Scott Alexander or a better narrator than Eneasz or a good programmer to put a good portion out of the population out of a job.

Perhaps we will find other niches because we have greater adaptability (i.e. require far less training) and have good manual dexterity and tend not to freak customers out. Or perhaps we will simply not return to the state where the vast majority of the adult population works. In which case governments may decide to pay people off to keep them from burning all the robots. Post-scarcity is a scale, and from the viewpoint of history we are already moving along that scale, even if we do not have a free Mars rocket for everyone and may never have.

And with regard to the paperclip maximizer, I feel it is premature to declare victory. If neural networks ever reach the same level of maturity as plumbing, where the pipes are generally the same way they were four decades ago, then you can tell us doomers that we should calm down because obviously nothing is going to happen any time soon.

Looking at security cameras and seeing if something bad is going on was a job, or at least a huge part of a job. Driving a truck for hours along the highway was a job. Converting a text to bullet points and back was a job. Making thematically appropriate illustrations to text-heavy articles was a job. Writing articles based on a press release was a job.

See, this is where I thought AI risk would lie, if anywhere (apart from real people being stupid and greedy enough to think they could get AI to run the government or something) and I agree, this is where the actual application of AI is going to impact society.

The forecast fears for 'why we must make sure AI is aligned' were of AI getting out into the wild and taking over the fabric of global rule because now there was a rival intelligence to that of humanity, with its own cold alien goals and aims. What we have instead is chatbots that hallucinate and the people who love them.

The problem is of course that AI can take jobs faster than we can train people to do them. It’s just as adaptable as we are, maybe more so. Can an AI atttached to cooking utensils make a hamburger that’s as good as Five Guys? I think it probably could, given enough time. If it can do that I think it could probably make just about any food you wanted. I think it can also produce creative writing and movies and TV. What it takes is someone deciding to train it.

The list apparently includes a former twitter head of AI-safety.

Using my cynical glasses derived from living in eastern Europe, probably the person who was supposed to develop automated opinions suppression mechanisms for Twitter.

This seems like a textbook case of the law of undignified failure. The classical AI doom scenerios assumed that people would be smart enough not to build AI-powered killbots. If AI-powered killbots were floated as a load-bearing assumption of the classical AI doom case, then people would simply retort that we could just not build AI-powered killbots. The point of the classical AI doom case is that the problem is robust to minor implementation variance, not that AI-powered killbots are safe.

The Law of Undignified Failure as described there seems to sound more like the Law that Not Everyone's Boo Lights are the Same.

The fact that someone is doing things with negative emotional valence to you and that you are therefore scared should be irrelevant. Military weapons are supposed to kill people; marketing them for their ability to kill people is not undignified unless you have preexisting negative attitudes towards the military.

Sam Altman! I know that name!

I suppose I don’t know what you expected. When the government decides to explore a technology, one of the first steps is always some sort of consortium.

Thing is, that’s also perfectly compatible with the doomers. The paperclipper doesn’t care if it was given marching orders by a corporation or by the President, so long as the order involves paperclips. Making it more banal and routine just raises the number of opportunities!

I think it is way too soon to hang a "mission accomplished" "AI is no big deal" banner on your virtual aircraft carrier. Doing so today is probably going to look foolish in a decade. Most tech takes a few decades to change the world. AI in the newest big data iteration is already moving much faster than that.

I have often fallen into the "overestimate the short term change and underestimate the long term change" trap, in my own life, and in my predictions. I've been working on that a lot and it is starting to pay dividends in my reasoning. I'm usually right but my timing has been desperately early in the past, switching my thinking like this is putting it a lot closer into alignment with future realities.

It's not just that we Jews are basically breeding ourselves of existence

The link appears to be talking about secular Jews. I get that that's quite common, but religious Judaism is still also a thing, and isn't ultra-orthodox Judaism decently sized and growing? But I suppose that might not matter to those who are only really ethnically Jewish.

We’re also doing quite well in the homeland, in TFR terms. Looks like a symptom of blending with general western culture. On a scale, you can see that those most influenced by the west are also the ones who don’t have kids.

Initially I was about to say it’s a symptom of being more diasporic, but come to think of it the ultra-orthodox are actually the most diasporic in terms of their thought process, but also have the most kids, so it can’t be that alone.

Is the reform Jewish TFR in the US actually any different from the general blue tribe TFR? AFAIK the American blue tribe(to which functionally all reform and secular Jews in the US belong) has a southern-europe tier TFR, America's relatively decent white TFR is mostly driven by the almost exclusively Christian red tribe being at replacement(although not above it). The question becomes "why are secular/reform jews so heavily blue", but I think the answers are pretty obvious; college educated urbanites with liberal religious views are, well, college educated urbanites with liberal religious views.

I think reform jews outside of Israel are just progressive and Israel is a special exception.

In an interesting manifestation of the horseshoe theory, Jewish Zionists and the far right agree that the ongoing campus protests are expressions of a growing anti-Jewish trend in the US.

I don't really agree that that is horseshoe theory. The other end from the far right is the far left, which would definitely not agree that it's anti Jewish. Zionists are far from leftists, zionists and leftists have not seen eye to eye in... longer than I've been tracking politics. Zionists have always been close to conservatives in many respects.

Part of the annoyance of Western rightists about Jews being disproportionately left wing is because reactionary Jews are disproportionately likely to move to the Jewish ethnostate, while leftist Jews are highly likely not to, especially if they dislike ethnonationalism in general.

The major annoyance of Western rightists is that "reactionary Jews" still oppose White ethnocentrism and support Jewish ethnocentrism (you fall into this category as well as far as I'm concerned). Both left and right-wing Jews engage in that behavior.

That's why it's a "fake" opposition.

Both the Jewish left and right support Jewish identity politics and vehemently oppose White identity politics. The entire left-right spectrum is meant to prop up this central pillar of political organization, which both sides of that political dialectic so happen to agree on, that's why it's a false opposition.

Well duh. White ethnocentrism that you would accept as white ethnocentrism is usually pretty opposed to Jews and Judaism. Putting our tribe first is not a realistic expectation. Do Serbian reactionaries support the Ustase?

I suspect that "anyone pale" ethnocentrism actually has disproportionately heavy Jewish support.

White reactionaries are performatively anti-zionist and say they support white ethnocentrism and oppose Jewish ethnocentrism. Your criteria for being a Jew who does not oppose white ethnocentrism is to be like Ron Unz, who in American Pravda blames Jews for literally everything that he (and the right more broadly) dislikes that occurred in America in the entire 20th century. This is no different to saying that a black person is anti-white unless they agree with the most extreme anti-black position imaginable and agree that all problems in modern America are overwhelmingly the fault of black pathology. It is a requirement well above that which can be expected of even a self-aware individual who agrees with you politically and accepts their fair share of tribal responsibility.

Unz is a caricature, the equivalent of the most extreme self-hating white who believes that black people built this country and that we’d be living in Wakanda if the pale skinned barbarians had not ruined everything. It’s not a standard you would accept for your own people in any kind of political relationship or alliance. Is there any way for a reactionary Jew to be tolerant of white ethnocentrism without agreeing to blame Jewish people for (at least almost) everything wrong with the modern West? I’ve asked you this question several times and the impression I get is ‘no’.

Since pathological self-hatred is rare among non-northwest Europeans, you’ve created an impossible standard for Jewish reactionaries to live up to (‘denounce your entire people and agree to take absolute responsibility for everything wrong with modernity or you’re subversive’) which you would (and do) consider it unjust to apply in reverse to your own people, or perhaps even to other non-Jewish peoples. It is not even enough to abandon Judaism, to intermarry with white gentiles, and to have no particular affinity for Israel, since your demand requires the active, Unz-style repudiation of Jewishness itself on a genetic-memetic level as fundamentally destructive and anti-civilization, a demand you would never accept if anyone appeared to make it toward those of your own ethnic origin.

you’ve created an impossible standard for Jewish reactionaries to live up to

I am not creating a standard I demand they live up to, I recognize an impasse and a subsequent political conflict. Jewish identity politics is intrinsically opposed to White identity politics on both the Left and the Right. Any Jew who tries to say this is not the case is a liar as far as I'm concerned. And, according to you, it's totally impractical to expect Jews to accept that fact. So, it's just an impasse.

Is there any way for a reactionary Jew to be tolerant of white ethnocentrism without agreeing to blame Jewish people for (at least almost) everything wrong with the modern West? I’ve asked you this question several times and the impression I get is ‘no’.

The weasel word is "everything wrong with the modern West."

The equivalent would be if White people refused to ever, in recorded history, acknowledge the existence of anti-Semitism. This is what you constantly do, in the reverse. I do not deny anti-Semitism, i.e. White engagement in cultural-political aggression against Jews, and how it has waxed and waned and changed form throughout history, but you deny Jewish engagement in political aggression against White people or, at least, refuse to accept its nature as anything other than a good-faith attempt to assimilate to liberal values (lol). There's not even a word for the "reverse" form of anti-Semitism, and indeed we are all supposed to pretend that it doesn't exist, and it's a conspiracy theory to suggest it does in any form.

If Jewish reactionaries don't acknowledge this behavior, they can't be allies because they aren't even acknowledging the existence of a very real political conflict. How could a Jew ever consider someone an ally who refused to acknowledge that anti-Semitism is a thing that even exists, or ever has in any cultural-political, systematic form?

Zionists have always been close to conservatives in many respects

While Zionism has always had a spectrum, up until the 1990's Israel was a pretty left wing country. Early Zionists especially were almost all socialists of one variety or another. The Kibbutzim are communes!

The Kibbutzim are communes

That's definitely true. I don't know much about past Zionism, I guess, mostly just about the last 15 years, maybe.

I've heard a lot of former kibbutzim are now no longer communes.

A certain type of libertarian loves to talk about this one.

This might be a weird distinction but I do not think most of the protestors are antisemitic in the traditional sense (some are) but they are against Jewish traits. Being wealthy, successful, intelligent, winners in a meritocracy, puts Jews at the top of the oppressor pyramid. If Jews practiced the Jewish religion but were poor and not in power then the protestors would not care about them.

I am not sure if that is the same thing as antisemitism. There may no no functional difference since the protestors will always be against Jewish interests.

The only thing that leans me towards it actual antisemitism is because the protestors do not pay attention to any of the other wars going on in the world. Non of the protestors are going to Ukraine to protect the Ukranians despite Ukraine facing far worse than Palestine.

Ukraine to protect the Ukranians despite Ukraine facing far worse than Palestine.

Really? Less civilian Ukrainians killed by war in 2 years than Palestinians in few months (and that's not counting as a percentage of population). Also Ukrainian women are free to travel outside.

Being wealthy, successful, intelligent, winners in a meritocracy, puts Jews at the top of the oppressor pyramid

Also, I think it bears mentioning, white. Jews are effectively seen as super-white among some circles. Much has been said about how Jews in Israel originate from Europe, meaning they're on the wrong side of left-wing ethnic preferences, adding to the disdain that they should draw.

It's pretty ironic that Palestinians are far more closely related to the Biblical Hebrews than Ashkenazi Jews are. The latter are just displaced Slavs.

The latter are just displaced Slavs.

I'm curious where you got this idea. There's definitely people who believe that the Ashkenazim are descended from Turkic-speaking converts(and the usual rebuttal of 'but Yiddish isn't a Turkic language' leaves out that it's also not a Semitic language- the real issue with this theory is the lack of DNA in the Ashkenazim which can be plausibly attributed to Khazars). It's not implausible to me that some people believe they're genetically heavily German; after all they speak a Germanic language and lived in mostly-German areas for hundreds of years. The mainstream, of course, believes that they're of largely levantine descent with significant southern European admixture, and the evidence for this is genetic studies.

I've never even heard the idea that 'they're just Slavs'.

And also ironically, the Palestinians are also not direct descendants of biblical Hebrews. Levantine Christians probably come closest of any group, but have some Greek admixture.

Why would you think that? Do you think a mass conversion happened that was initially unopposed by their local brothers? Do you think that rates of intermarriage were as high as between Goy Slavs?

Ashkenazim are genetically a mix between Jewish paternal and Italian maternal DNA. The origin population is theorized to be Jewish traders who moved to Italy under Roman rule and married Italian women whom they converted to Judaism.

Some Ashkenazim have small amounts of German or Frankish genetic ancestry, but significant Slavic ancestry is quite rare except in recent ex-Soviet immigrants to Israel of questionable halachic status (and that intermarriage occurred within the past century).

The European populations most similar genetically to Ashkenazi Jews are Sicilians and others who have a mixture of Italian and semitic/near East genetics.

Yes, the idea that the left-wing anti-Israel protests in the US are essentially motivated by antisemitism seems silly to me given that I feel like I actually have a decent amount of experience with the kind of people who go to these protests. Granted, I am removed from my experiences with these kinds of people by quite a few years at this point, but I doubt that college-aged left-wing protesters are very different nowadays from what they were like the last time I was commonly encountering them.

I say "in the US" because it might be different in Europe, I can't speak to that. Europe has a very different history with antisemitism than the US does.

I have no doubt that a decent fraction of the actual Arabs and Muslims who go to these protests in the US are anti-semitic, but I also think that that only a tiny fraction of the rest of the protesters are.

To me it seems that the typical naive young college student SJW leftist not only has not a single bone of anti-Jew sentiment in his or her body, they probably don't even think much about Jews as an ethnic group to begin with. This is true of most Americans. The majority of American gentiles barely even realize that, for example, white people with curly hair or names that end in -berg or -stein are likely to be Jewish. They just think of Jews as a flavor of white people, and they rarely think about them as an ethnic group to begin with. They know that the Holocaust targeted Jews, of course, but they rarely think about the Holocaust, or about any other historical event for that matter. In the US, discussing Jews as an ethnic group is something that is mainly done by three groups: Jews themselves, highly pro-Israel Christians, and highly online alt-rightists. Maybe also to some extent by black people, but I am not familiar enough with black attitudes towards Jews to weigh in on that.

The average young college protester freely mingles with Jewish people in personal life and enjoys Jewish artists without having the slightest bit of prejudice towards them. In many cases, the protester does not even realize that his/her friend, or that musician he/she listens to, is Jewish to begin with. In other cases he/she does realize it, but does not care about it any more than he/she would care about a friend having red hair, for example.

It is of course possible that my experience with college-aged protesters is simply out of date and I am stuck in the past. I wouldn't advise anyone to make decisions that could affect life or limb based on my recollections. But to me, the idea that college leftists have actually become antisemitic seems absurd. There would have been no precedent for it 10 or 20 years ago, even though college leftists hated Israel back then too.

I have no doubt that a decent fraction of the actual Arabs and Muslims who go to these protests in the US are anti-semitic, but I also think that that only a tiny fraction of the rest of the protesters are.

The problem for Jews is that, under the progressive framework, they have absolutely no cause to criticize someone beneath them on the oppression hierarchy, so those Muslims may be a minority, but they cannot be questioned.

I think it actually could become a problem in that the far left and far right are in pretty strong agreement on the accusations against the Jews, that they’re manipulating narratives to their own benefit, and that they only care about themselves. The left has absolutely blamed all Jews for the actions of Israel, and they don’t seem to care what Hamas and other Palestinians have done or want to do. There’s barely even a whisper of blame on Hamas for launching the attacks or holding hostages or the crimes committed during the attack. And when you couple that with full support of the intifada, chanting of the slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist,

Personally, I think most of the Gaza situation is on Lakud which isn’t all Israelis and has little to do with Jews who don’t support Lakud or Natanyahu.

The left has absolutely blamed all Jews for the actions of Israel, and they don’t seem to care what Hamas and other Palestinians have done or want to do.

I agree about the "they don’t seem to care what Hamas and other Palestinians have done or want to do" part, but not about the "The left has absolutely blamed all Jews for the actions of Israel" part. Where are you seeing this?

To me, it seems obvious that the anti-Israel left is sweeping Hamas' atrocities under the rug. However, I haven't seen any reason to think that the anti-Israel left, in general, is blaming all Jews for Israel's actions.

The problem for the antisemitic far right is that their allegation is that the entire ideology upon which the leftists base their support for Palestine (and BLM, and affirmative action, and DEI, and taking in refugees and so on) was invented and bestowed upon them by Jews. This creates an internal contradiction [edit: for any leftists they might ally with] that is very difficult to bridge. In addition, the white nationalist far right has no message for brown or black leftists (including Muslims) beyond “leave”, which again would make a coalition difficult.

The far left has successfully forgotten that their entire moral framework was created by Christianity. They have successfully forgotten that their entire intellectual framework was created by enlightenment era European men from colonialist countries. They have successfully forgotten that their constitutional republic was created by white male slaveowners. They hate all those demographics now without any cognitive dissonance or ambiguity. I don’t think they will have any problems scrubbing away the memory that a lot of the luminaries of the modern civil rights and feminist movements were Jewish.

You can oppose stuff—even hate it—without forgetting anything.

There's a difference between ignoring the historical roots of your current ideology, on the one hand, and allying with people you currently consider to be despicable evil Nazis, on the other.

They haven't forgotten any of those things,otherwise they wouldn't want problematic statues torn down would they? Because they would have forgotten those people were slave owners. They know who did what, they just think the bad things they did outweigh the good.

It’s the same logic extended one more step. Recognizing that Israel isn’t living up to those ideals or even pretending to puts Jews on the negative of DEI.

This creates an internal contradiction for them

For the far right?

They don’t think so. In fact they’ve been anticipating this situation for years, see the parable of the golem.

No, for the far left (who do not, for obvious reasons, see their ideology and worldview as Jewish trickery)! I understand that was unclear, and edited my answer.

Europe has a very different history with antisemitism than the US does.

No, it really doesn't. Before and during WW2, antisemitism was common across the present 'western world'.

In a 1938 poll, approximately 60 percent of the respondents held a low opinion of Jews, labeling them "greedy," "dishonest," and "pushy."[42] 41 percent of respondents agreed that Jews had "too much power in the United States," and this figure rose to 58 percent by 1945.[43] Several surveys taken from 1940 to 1946 found that Jews were seen as a greater threat to the welfare of the United States than any other national, religious, or racial group.[44]

Government attitudes to Jews in Europe also varied wildly, even among German allies. Finland told Germans to pound sand. Italy refused to hand over their Jews -that 30% of Italian Jews were members of the Fascist party had something to do with it & transports started only after the German occupation.

There is a big difference between prejudice and actual discrimination. Until 1932 many Jews felt Anglos (including Americans) were more antisemitic than Germans, but of course it was Germany that produced the Nazis. After 9/11 polling would have showed Americans as broadly very hostile to Muslims and Arabs in particular (see the ubiquity of early 2000s bro humor about them), but Islamic immigration increased over the period and there were no attempts to even somewhat institutionally discriminate against them and most Americans were relatively tolerant of individual Muslims. The English elite had widespread sympathies to nordicist racialist theories of men like Madison Grant in the late 19th and early 20th century but again were relatively fine with tolerating various groups of foreigners (including Eastern European Jews) moving to London.

The English speaking countries are more individualist and tolerant of difference even where they are equally prejudiced compared to other European-majority lands.

shift hard and fast to the Right and mean it

This is not going to happen. But also I predict almost all American jews will not move to Israel. The author is really setting up a false choice here.

Yep. When push comes to shove, most American Jews will prefer siding with Hamas over siding with Republicans. They'll try to win the fight for the left, but they won't defect to the right.

I have seen a lot of centrist Dem members of my own family become Trump supporters over the last 6 months because of this. None are hardcore leftists, mostly suburban Long Islanders and Chicagoans, and there were already a few Republicans in my family before 10/7, but I think you underestimate the shift happening in many Jewish American families. We’ll see what happens in the election, but I do think there will be a noticeable shift among Jewish voters.

Is this disentanglable from the fact that basically everyone has shifted against Biden over one thing or other? It’s understandable to me that Palestine has particular salience for members of your family, but a president widely perceived to be lying about the inflation rate and mismanaging core responsibilities can expect a shift away from him anyway.

The Democrats who switched voted for Obama, and Hillary, and Biden, they’re not typical swing voters.

I don’t see these events as anything but (1) a textbook example of college student protests and (2) a frightening display of Jewish social and cultural power.

The students believe that Israel is killing too many innocent people. Lots of intelligent people believe that; whether or not it is factually the case, it is a rational belief that many reasonable people hold, including many Jews. Even Chuck Schumer of all people has the opinion that Israel is behaving immorally. The students want their universities to cut financial and academic ties with Israel. All very simple, all very traditional, and very reasonable as far as college kids go. No different than protests against the Vietnam War or South Africa or the Iraq War. The protests have been exceptionally peaceful; if BLM was “mostly peaceful”, PLM is utopian. Try as I might, I could find no clear case of a Jewish student being physically victimized. Most of the arguably anti-Semitic comments have come from outside the campuses, by random non-affiliated protests, one-off statements that do not tell us anything about the college protestors. There’s your typical extremism college student view, but this is normal as far as college students go.

What makes this event so unique IMO is how Jews have finessed the narrative in their favor. Despite no evidence of any physical attack, the most over-represented ethnicity on college campuses (with the most advocacy groups and the most political clout) claim to feel “unsafe”. The media reports this as if it is true, and now the narrative is no longer “is Israel committing human rights violations?”, but “are Jews safe?”. In a reasonable world, the discourse would center on whether Israel is or is not committing human rights violations, and why some of the smartest students in America strongly feel they they are. A secondary question may be whether Jews in America are too close to Israel in terms of political ties, because that’s a serious problem if Israel becomes a pariah state. But Jews have strategically shifted the narrative to their own victimhood, with zero evidence. They have influenced politicians to make statements and start inquiries. They have significant sway over MSM narrative. They threaten to take tens of millions of their donations away from universities who don’t prevent the protests.

I found a video from earlier this week that illustrates the power of victim politics. An immigrant Uber driver arrives to his requested client, but can’t fulfill the request because the client accidentally ordered the wrong car. A verbal altercation ensues; phones are equipped by both parties. The client brags about his status as a lawyer, threatens to get the driver fired, claims he is being aggressed, claims the driver has threatened his children, and when all of these fail to exert his power, he claims that the driver muttered antisemitism under his breath. This last accusations makes the driver flee immediately.

The internet is saying that the client is a big shot music industry lawyer. If the internet is right, the client was on the board of directors of UJA, a Jewish charity that oversees more than one billion dollars in endowment (one of the largest local charities in the world). The man is from a pedigreed family: his Dad once ran Columbia Records. Without any shame, he punches down to a poor immigrant rideshare driver and falsely accuses him of antisemitism to record him and get him fired. And not for anything serious, but because of a minor inconvenience. If this is the attitude of someone on the board of UJA, then I think it could hint to a larger, dangerous attitude in the Jewish-Zionist community: that it is permissible to weaponize victimhood for personal or communal gain.

In liberal cities, colleges are calling the cops because they don’t want to lose Jewish donors. I think if we have an in-part privately funded university system it’s fair to say “I’m not going to continue to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to you if you tolerate X” and then the university can decide if that matters to them. If it does, that isn’t blackmail, it’s how almost all charity works. If you donate a few hundred million to the NY Phil you can probably finagle some influence over what’s played.

In red states like Texas it’s manifestly true that the much more heavy-handed response isn’t being driven by Jews but by gentile GOP politicians. Most of them are zionist to some extent, but I think in (for example) Abbott’s case, it’s more that there’s a very big ideological divide between the right and these progressive student protestors and this is a way to hurt the outgroup to the delight of the base. Pretty much no protesting student is going to vote for a Republican candidate, and a lot of Republican voters dislike leftist college students.

In liberal cities, colleges are calling the cops because they don’t want to lose Jewish donors. I think if we have an in-part privately funded university system it’s fair to say “I’m not going to continue to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to you if you tolerate X” and then the university can decide if that matters to them. If it does, that isn’t blackmail, it’s how almost all charity works. If you donate a few hundred million to the NY Phil you can probably finagle some influence over what’s played.

It seems like you're not really contradicting @coffee_enjoyer but simply explaining how the influence works? It's not some shadowy cabal, it's money. An awful lot of the donations for universities comes from wealthy jewish donors. Especially the kind of donations that come in regularly, year after year, with no specific purpose (as opposed to one-off donations from someone who dies and wants a new building named after them- that's nice, but it doesn't really help pay the general expenses of the university). Those donations start off no-strings-attached, but you suddenly see the strings when they call up and demand a specific action.

I don't have any specific numbers, but it does seem like a hugely disproportionate amount of private university donations comes from these wealthy Jewish donors. Probably even more so in schools like Colombia and USC where we've seen the harshest crackdowns on protestors.

Most of them are zionist to some extent, but I think in (for example) Abbott’s case, it’s more that there’s a very big ideological divide between the right and these progressive student protestors and this is a way to hurt the outgroup to the delight of the base

You’ve hit the nail on the head here. Abbott is as Zionist as is politically necessary, but he’s much more interested in an excuse to wield state power against left wingers, because it makes him look strong to his normie supporters.