Forecasting Infrastructure


Thiel on Progress and Stagnation

Out of curiosity what's one of your more substantive disagreements with Thiel?

Competition: Amplify Rohin’s Prediction on AGI researchers & Safety Concerns

Forecast - 25 mins

  • I thought it was more likely that in the short run there could be a preference cascade among top AGI researchers, and as others have mentioned due to the operationalization of top AGI researchers might be true already.
  • If this doesn't become a majority concern by 2050, I expect it will be because of another AI Winter, and I tried to have my distribution reflect that (a little hamfistedly).
Rereading Atlas Shrugged

Thanks for posting this. I recently reread the Fountainhead, which I similarly enjoyed and got more out of than did my teenage self - it was like a narrative, emotional portrayal of the ideals in Marc Andreessen's It's Time to Build essay.

I interpreted your section on The Conflict as the choice between voice and exit.

Solving Math Problems by Relay

The larger scientific question was related to Factored Cognition, and getting a sense of the difficulty of solving problems through this type of "collaborative crowdsourcing". The hope was running this experiment would lead to insights that could then inform the direction of future experiments, in the way that you might fingertip feel your way around an unknown space to get a handle on where to go next. For example if it turned out to be easy for groups to execute this type of problem solving, we might push ahead with competitions between teams to develop the best strategies for context-free problem solving.

In that regard it didn't turn out to be particularly informative, because it wasn't easy for the groups to solve the math problems, and it's unclear if that's because of the problems selected, the team compositions, the software, etc. So re: the larger scientific question I don't think there's much to conclude.

But personally I felt that by watching relay participants I gained a lot of UX intuitions around what type of software design and strategy design is necessary for factored strategies - what I broadly think of as problem solving strategies that rely upon decomposition - to work. Two that immediately come to mind:

  • Create software design patterns that allow the user to hide/reveal information in intuitive ways. It was difficult, when thrown into a huge problem doc with little context, to know where to focus. I wanted a way for the previous user to only show me the info I needed. For example, the way workflow-y / Roam Research bullet points allow you to hide unneeded details, and how if you click on a bullet point you're brought into an entirely new context.
  • When designing strategies try focusing on the return signature: When coming up with new strategies for solving relay problems, at first it was entirely free form. I as a user would jump in, try pushing the problem as far as I could, and leave haphazard notes in the doc. Over time we developed more complex shorthand and shared strategies for solving a problem. One heuristic I now use when developing strategies for problem solving that use decomposition is to prioritizing thinking about what each sub part of the strategy will return to the top caller. That clarifies the interface, simplifies what the person working on the sub strategy needs to do, and promotes composability.

These ideas are helpful because - I posit - we're faced with Relay Game like problems all the time. When I work on a project, leave it for a week, and come back, I think I'm engaging in a relay between past Ben, present Ben, and future Ben. Some of these ideas informed my design of templates for collaborative group forecasting.

Solving Math Problems by Relay

Thanks, rewrote and tried to clarify. In essence the researchers were testing transmission of "strategies" for using a tool, where an individual was limited in what they could transmit to the next user, akin to this relay experiment.

In fact they found that trying to convey causal theories could undermine the next person's performance; they speculate that it reduced experimentation prematurely.

ESRogs's Shortform

Thanks for posting this. Why did you invest in those three startups in particular? Was it the market, the founders, personal connections? And was it a systematic search for startups to invest in, or more of an "opportunity-arose" situation?

What are the best tools for recording predictions?

I know Ozzie has been thinking about this, because we were chatting about how to use an Alfred workflow to post to it. Which I think would be great!

What are the best tools for recording predictions?

I've spent a fair bit of time in the forecasting space playing w/ different tools, and I never found one that I could reliably use for personal prediction tracking.

Ultimately for me it comes down to:

1.) Friction: the predictions I'm most interested in tracking are "5-second-level" predictions - "do I think this person is right", "is the fact that I have a cough and am tired a sign that I'm getting sick" etc. - and I need to be able to jot that down quickly.

2.) "Routine": There are certain sites that are toothbrush sites, aka I use them everyday. I'm much more likely to adopt a digital habit if I can use one of those sites to fulfill the function.

So my current workflow for private predictions is to use a textexpander snippet w/ Roam.

- [[Predictions]]
- {percentage}%
- [[operationalized]]:
- [[{date}]]
- {{[[TODO]]}} [[outcome]]:

It doesn't have graphs, but I can get a pretty good sense of how calibrated I am, and if I want I could quickly export the markdown and evaluate it.

Of course I want to mention as another good site - if you want to distributions that's definitely the way to go.

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