Discuss SENS, Ending Aging, longevity, immortality, croyonics, gerontology, etc.
Also discuss my discussion with Aubrey de Grey (AdG) (also available as ebook downloads here) and other AdG related posts.
Here's a YouTube playlist with 200 AdG videos. Other anti-aging ideas besides AdG's are also welcome.
A debate between Vadim Gladyshev and Aubrey de Grey
Interesting video. Some parts are technical and hard to follow.
AdG's 2005 TED talk has over 4 million views.
David Deutsch interviews AdG.
AdG TEDx talk (2010, under 4,000 views). That link goes to a playlist that appears to have 200 AdG videos.
Longevity Myth Busting - Aubrey de Grey
Some Questions To Consider
*Why AdG gives lots of speeches IRL?* Why voice instead of text? Why travel places instead of recording videos? Why have live audiences travel to the same location as AdG? Is this an inefficient way for the world to work, but the most efficient way for AdG to deal with it? Is it an inefficient way for AdG to behave? Why do people like or want it? What might change that? Is this a harder or easier problem than dealing with the pro-aging trance? Does it have any similarities or connections to the pro-aging trance? Is the pro-aging trance a very subject-specific thing or is it 90% generic static meme stuff with just a few subject-specific details?
If Paths Forward, Discussion Trees, Yes or No Philosophy, etc. caught on, people would be a lot better at discussing to actually reach a conclusion and not ignoring arguments and criticism.
Then SENS would very rapidly get a lot more funding *or* there would be some outstanding arguments about why it doesn't merit that funding. It wouldn't stay in its current limbo of appearing to have arguments meriting more funding but then those arguments seem to be largely ignored by almost everyone who controls a lot of money.
Better thinking/discussing methods give a large edge to good ideas. So SENS either is a good idea and would be massively benefitted, or we'd discover it's not and try something else instead, which AdG and all the rest would be glad to discover because this would involve arguments that actually convince them and answer all their questions and objections, so everyone would prefer to move on to some other research approaches. I don't expect SENS to be not worth funding and trying, but the point is in either scenario resolving arguments more is better, while leaving them so unresolved and disorganized is bad. Better philosophy would be good for SENS. (It'd also help with the research and scientific debates).
#15531 I agree better thinking/discussing methods would help SENS a lot, or give us something even better than SENS we're not currently considering.
I think the important question is: What high level approach has the best chance of preventing death for *me personally*? Two possibilities I've considered:
(1) Work on developing/promoting an aging solution despite the current known shortcomings in thinking/discussing methods.
(2) Work on developing/promoting better thinking/discussing methods. When I judge that's been successful enough, then work on developing/promoting an aging solution.
The main problem I see with approach (1) is the possibility that solving aging in my remaining lifespan despite the current known shortcomings is less likely to succeed than solving thinking/discussing methods followed by solving aging.
The main problem I see with approach (2) is the reverse of the problem with (1). That is, the possibility that solving thinking/discussing methods then aging in my remaining lifespan is less likely to succeed than solving aging despite the known shortcomings. A secondary problem with approach (2) is knowing when "enough" progress on thinking/discussing methods has been made and its time to switch to working on aging so I don't die.
Some ideas I consider relevant to choosing between those approaches:
* Growth of knowledge is unpredictable but we can make knowledge growth more or less likely by what we choose to actively work on. Because of that, I think (absent the other factor I discuss below) substantial growth of knowledge from working in two areas (thinking/discussing + aging) is more difficult and hence less likely than substantial growth in just one area (aging), even if in the case of two areas the first knowledge area substantially helps the growth of the knowledge in the second area.
The other important factor I considered is actual prerequisite relationships vs. just "helping". For example, how likely would successful growth of knowledge in getting to the moon be before successful growth of knowledge in rocketry? Seems super low - rocketry didn't just "help" us figure out how to get to the moon, it was essential to how we actually did it. There seems to be a clear prerequisite relationship between knowing how to build rockets and knowing how to go to the moon. But not necessarily! Maybe we could have developed teleportation or inter-planetary ladders or something if we weren't so distracted by rockets. I judge that unlikely, but not zero.
Anyway I don't think an improvement in thinking/discussing is a prerequisite to solving aging like rockets were a prerequisite for going to the moon. Improvement in thinking/discussing would help a lot with aging, like it would've helped a lot in getting to the moon, but it's not strictly or directly necessary.
* It's possible and I judge it likely that the same known shortcomings in thinking/discussing methods that would negatively affect my ability to work on aging directly would also negatively affect my ability to work on thinking/discussing methods. People irrationally resist solving aging and are generally bad at it, but they irrationally resist and are bad at improving their thinking/discussing methods even more.
If the thinking/discussing problem is super severe but I have to work on *something* hard despite it, I think the best hard thing to work on would be aging. That would be true even if the chances of success are low and success at aging will leave me with the harder thinking/discussing problem still to solve. Cuz if I solve aging, then I will probably have a lot more time later to work on the thinking/discussing problem itself. No other hard problem has the characteristic of giving me a massive increase in expected available problem solving time for everything else.
And on the other hand, if the thinking/discussing problem isn't super severe, then maybe it's not gonna interfere with solving aging as much as we fear. Other hard, complex problems like going to the moon *have* been solved despite our thinking/discussing problems. So why not aging?
I currently consider these ideas definitive in refuting approach (2) for my situation. But I'm not confident that I've thought about it very well.
I acknowledge there are some possible combinations of aging problem severity, thinking problem severity, prerequisite relationships, personal knowledge and lifespan where (2) would be the better choice. And I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong about thinking approach (1) is best for me overall. That bothers me, cuz the stakes are high.
I'm not yet doing much either way. I'm keeping an open mind about it while tentatively planning on approach (1).
#15535 Have you considered that you may be killed by war, by terrorists, by government policies that suppress and destroy medicine and healthcare, etc? There are a lot of other threats to civilization and to your life besides aging. The aging threat is more certain and if I had to pick one to get rid of, it sounds like the best pick. But some of the other threats are easier to do something about, and there's the danger that SENS or cryonics or something works but the other problems slaughter massive numbers of people anyway (it could even be more die that way than would have died if we fixed other stuff first and developed SENS later and more people died of aging).
If Bernie beats Trump in the 2020 election, how much is that a setback for anti-aging medicine, for healthcare, for peace, for preventing crime, for preventing war, for making the whole world wealthy and able to afford science/education/medicine, etc, etc?
Also there are major costs to switching specializations, especially to less related specializations (you could more easily switch to some things than others, and biology research is pretty far from your current knowledge). So you shouldn't necessarily work on the most important problem personally. Partly because you can do good work at something else and use it to fund the most important problem. And partly because we should have people working on many problems simultaneously and should efficiently allocate expertise. So basically the main reason to consider focusing on SENS personally would be if you're particularly good at it *or* if it's particularly under-funded, under-researched, etc. But in a normal situation, where it's already got tons of experts working on it, and a reasonable funding allocation, you could just work on a less important problem that you're better at and it'd be fine. I do think there's a case that SENS is underfunded, needs more smart people desperately, etc. and that maybe you could make a difference. The case should be written down and analyzed though. It should be recognized as something kinda unusual, a significant claim that goes against some standard ways things work.
Another factor worth major analysis is: suppose we fail. Maybe SENS is just too hard and won't work within the next 100 years due to some currently unknown problems. There are many failure scenarios. What sets up the next generations in a better position? What makes a more robust contribution to human progress rather than a risky bet? Working on good thinking related stuff is the best and most efficient thing to do for longterm knowledge growth for humanity, in general, assuming just partial progress. If progress goes slow, it should be the focus. SENS is only maybe better if a certain major milestone is reached relatively quickly, and was a worse place to use a lot of resources if it's not reached. It would suck if, when you die, you think "Dang SENS still isn't even close. My work failed. And in the meantime, people are still bad at thinking and that's sabotaging SENS and ~everything else. SENS and many other things are too hard until we have better parenting/education/rationality, and I didn't work on those, and so humanity has barely made progress, those still need to be done before much else gets fixed."
Another issue to consider is how much people in one field are able to use, accept, listen to, understand and otherwise benefit from expertise in another field. When this is low, there's more need for people to be experts about multiple things at once. When it's high, people can specialize, delegate, etc. better. Sadly basically everyone sucks too much to benefit much from rationality expertise. They don't know how to listen to it, believe it's legit, tell the difference between real and fake experts about it, etc. So they rely on their non-expert epistemology instead of outsourcing, or they outsource quite poorly. You can see this problem a ton in my conversation with AdG, and in the difficulty of me giving him advice. You, Andy Dufresne, and other long term FI people may be a better position in this respect: maybe you could work on SENS while also listening to some of my philosophy judgments/conclusions that you didn't personally research much. This is hard in various ways though, there are lots of ways it can go wrong, lots of problems. Another topic for analysis. Given the difficulties with this, it's more reason to work on rationality stuff yourself, b/c it's hard to rely on others doing that for you even to the limited extent it's directly relevant to anti-aging work.
Another thing is that anti-aging work actually consists of maybe different projects about many different topics. Besides medicine/biology science, there's communication with the public, fundraising, running businesses, attracting investors, writing up contracts, social networking, etc, etc. Some of these are areas where it's easier to have delegation, specialization and outsourcing: e.g. you can hire a marketing guy and, to some extent, the scientists don't need to know how to do marketing and will accept what he says and does. But you do need a CEO or leader or someone who can figure out which marketing guys are actually good to hire (just trusting general reputation, or getting the most expensive guys, is a poor method). And it's hard to split all this stuff up perfectly and to the extent some people end up working on several things, then being good at thinking in general is a big value. The more things you work on, the more you benefit from generic thinking skill instead of subject-specific stuff. Further, even if you specialize in one narrow thing only, you *still* will find that being a top expert means figuring out lots of generic stuff with high reach, cuz that' stuff tends to be good and using more parochial knowledge is often worse despite the narrowness of your goals.
> Anyway I don't think an improvement in thinking/discussing is a prerequisite to solving aging like rockets were a prerequisite for going to the moon. Improvement in thinking/discussing would help a lot with aging, like it would've helped a lot in getting to the moon, but it's not strictly or directly necessary.
Hard to say. Some of it may be pretty close to necessary. Dealing with aging means dealing with a lot of high quality knowledge, error correction, complexity, etc. That ~requires intellectual and software/document tools to organize all that, keep track of it, put it all together, etc. People already have and use some of those tools like spreadsheets, word processors and project management software but their knowledge is flawed and those flaws cause huge problems in practice with big/complex projects and that may have a big effect on curing aging. Similarly stuff like Goldratt's *Critical Chain* is highly relevant and matters, but maybe you can get by inefficiently without it (though how long does it really take to learn? but people resist it because they are irrational which makes it harder to use/spread/share. so it's hard to say what to do.)
> And on the other hand, if the thinking/discussing problem isn't super severe,
There are many reasons to think it's ***VERY*** severe. It's hard to quantify it in relation to how deadly it is for anti-aging work. Is it slowing us down by a factor of 5 or 5000? That also depends on how big/good a fix we're considering for the comparison scenario. Are we talking everyone being like me? Better? Half as good? A tenth as good?
> I currently consider these ideas definitive in refuting approach (2) for my situation. But I'm not confident that I've thought about it very well.
I think you need way more analysis to reach a seriously-considered conclusion. The above indicates some areas that merit more debate on both sides. There's also some relevant stuff in my draft tree re world's most important problems. https://my.mindnode.com/KCJgkxN1qdzujnXvEH7i9XaFiK3qWiTyN76RJypz
Working on aging, in some ways, is a bit like betting we're really near the finish line. We want to solve aging while it's still hard/expensive, instead of following the normal procedure of powering up generically and then doing it when it's easy/cheap.
This is risky if you jump the gun and start overreaching and being really inefficient early and the finish line turns out to be out of reach. Then you just wasted a ton of resources and delayed actual success.
Overall, the amount people jump the gun on rushing to the finish line on all kinds of stuff – most far too unimportant for this to make any sense anyway – is so much that overall it's slowing down progress a lot. If people would just stop doing it, we'd get way more done.
The actual situation is more complicated because some aspects of anti-aging research are perfectly reasonable next steps to gradually advance our understanding of health/medicine/etc step by step. Anti-aging is a complex area with many different things being worked on, some better than others, and we do know enough about e.g. scientific method to reasonably do some scientific work rather than only working on rationality first (but we're still broadly bad enough at rationality and scientific method that they should be significantly higher priorities in general than science – that's much more efficient, at least for people who know how to work on them productively). Some anti-aging efforts aren't overreaching/inefficient. But some are overreaching/inefficient. And people have a poor understanding of which are which.
> Also there are major costs to switching specializations, especially to less related specializations (you could more easily switch to some things than others, and biology research is pretty far from your current knowledge). So you shouldn't necessarily work on the most important problem personally. Partly because you can do good work at something else and use it to fund the most important problem. And partly because we should have people working on many problems simultaneously and should efficiently allocate expertise.
Right. I intended my approach descriptions to be broad enough not to contradict specialization. I consider the following to be a subset of the potential approaches I considered:
Generate $1M per year of extra value using the most effecient method I know and then
(1) Spend $1M per year where I expect it to have the most impact developing/promoting a solution to the aging problem despite the current known shortcomings in thinking/discussing methods.
(2) Spend $1M per year where I expect it to have the most impact developing/promoting better thinking/discussing methods. When I judge that's been successful enough, then start spending $1M per year where I expect it to have the most impact on developing/promoting an aging solution.
> Have you considered that you may be killed by war, by terrorists, by government policies that suppress and destroy medicine and healthcare, etc? There are a lot of other threats to civilization and to your life besides aging. The aging threat is more certain and if I had to pick one to get rid of, it sounds like the best pick. But some of the other threats are easier to do something about, and there's the danger that SENS or cryonics or something works but the other problems slaughter massive numbers of people anyway (it could even be more die that way than would have died if we fixed other stuff first and developed SENS later and more people died of aging).
Yes I have considered that. I care about that stuff some too. When I was younger I cared about that stuff more than I do now. It was at that time relatively more likely to kill me and aging relatively less likely.
The older I get, the more likely it becomes that aging will cause my death rather than anything else.
> I do think there's a case that SENS is underfunded, needs more smart people desperately, etc. and that maybe you could make a difference. The case should be written down and analyzed though. It should be recognized as something kinda unusual, a significant claim that goes against some standard ways things work.
I think answering the criticisms I know of for working on aging now is the best way to approach that analysis. Do you know of a better way?
> It would suck if, when you die, you think "Dang SENS still isn't even close. My work failed.
It probably would suck. It would also suck if I think "Dang I didn't even seriously try to help the one project I knew of that could've saved me."
I think it would suck when I die no matter what I'm thinking about at the time. We're only talking about degrees of suck.
Everyone seems to treat deathbed regrets as this big danger / problem to avoid. I don't see it that way. I think having a regret for the last 40 years of life is a much bigger problem than having a regret for the last 4 minutes or even 4 months.
What Cases Matter
> Working on aging, in some ways, is a bit like betting we're really near the finish line. We want to solve aging while it's still hard/expensive, instead of following the normal procedure of powering up generically and then doing it when it's easy/cheap.
> This is risky if you jump the gun and start overreaching and being really inefficient early and the finish line turns out to be out of reach. Then you just wasted a ton of resources and delayed actual success.
But in the case where we're far from the finish line, I'm dead (most likely from aging) whether I work on aging or on something else.
There are fates worse than death of course, including spending the rest of my life working on stuff that I hate. But I'm not contemplating anything like that. In the context of my personal decision regarding what to work on (again "work on" intended broadly to include efficient specialization), I think the worst outcome is death by aging I could've prevented.
Given the worst outcome from the decision I'm contemplating is a preventable death, I think the case where I'm dead no matter what decision I make is irrelevant to me personally. If that's the real situation, then whether I over-reached or not doesn't matter cuz I'm dead. It may (probably does) matter to other people in a different situation, who might be in a position to live if I didn't over-reach but die if I did over-reach.
What Cases Matter - Opportunity Cost
It's relevant that I consider my personal opportunity cost of working on aging (again, "working on" to be taken broadly) to be quite low.
Some of the reasons are about my personal situation and preferences that don't apply equally or at all to others' situations. I don't know how to give a lot of detail without revealing personal information I want to keep private for now.
High level, I don't consider the other important problems at: https://my.mindnode.com/KCJgkxN1qdzujnXvEH7i9XaFiK3qWiTyN76RJypz to be good candidates for me to work on.
From what I know now, if I don't work on aging I probably won't work on anything else that's truly great / important. The opportunity cost of working on aging is limited to unimportant stuff.
That could change as I gain more knowledge.
AdG has a bunch of Quora answers.
Follow AdG on Twitter.
Good AdG speech to Effective Altruism: Rejuvenation biotechnology: Will “age” soon cease to mean “aging”?
AdG Quora: Will an increase in human lifespan cause a large population spike that puts more pressure on the environment? Worrying, false comments like:
> increase in the Earth’s carrying capacity that will result from the replacement of fossil fuels by renewables, of agriculture by artificial meat etc
AdG Quora: I seriously want to commit my long term goal in life to achieve the discovery of how to live forever in a youthful form. What is the correct educational path to go about in doing so?
> One of the things we do at SENS Research Foundation is help people find the best way to contribute to the effort to bring aging under medical control. There is no one answer - it depends entirely on who you are, what you’re good at, all manner of things. Therefore, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll get you a proper answer.
The SENS subreddit is not very active by Reddit standards but still has a bunch of links. More subreddits:
Aging (not a longevity subreddit)
Gerontology (has links to other subreddits and websites in the sidebar)
> From what I know now, if I don't work on aging I probably won't work on anything else that's truly great / important.
Broadly, why? I could see myself working on any of those problems.
And you can't get away from the bad-thinking/irrationality problem entirely. You have to think to evaluate if SENS is any good, to evaluate if you should take advice from me, AdG or anyone else, to create and evaluate any project plan, etc. Your thinking has to meet some quality standards or you will fail. Similarly every SENS-related researcher needs some minimum thinking quality to do productive work. Do people already have that? Inconsistently, sure. Sometimes they do productive work. But how consistently? How efficient are they being compared to if they did the same work using better thinking methods? How long would improved thinking training take to pay off? etc. These aren't things to ignore even if you focus on SENS. Some level of thinking quality and effectiveness is needed for every project listed, and current thinking standards in the world, while inconsistently adequate to be productive sometimes (rather than no one ever being productive), are nowhere near the level where you don't need to be worrying about the matter. And for some of the problems, like AGI, the productive work people do is really quite narrow or off-topic and constrained – while progress is made on some things, it's near-zero progress on AGI combined with incorrectly thinking it's significant AGI progress.
Similarly, the Google founders made Calico to help defeat aging, but they did it wrong and it's basically not productive, and tons of money is being wasted. Their bad and lazy thinking – more about virtue signaling than results – is a huge problem. But I don't want to overstate the problem because many other billionaires aren't trying to help rather than helping badly, so Calico isn't worse than that and may do some useful non-SENS type medical research. AdG says the reason Calico doesn't fix its problems is ego and social status stuff: Larry and Sergey don't want to admit they made any mistakes.
Calico sources: I knew some stuff about it when it was new but mainly I just read these two AdG answers today:
Quora: Why doesn't Aubrey de Grey collaborate with Calico?
Quora: What are the chances that Google Calico will become a failure like some Google projects were?
> > From what I know now, if I don't work on aging I probably won't work on anything else that's truly great / important.
> Broadly, why? I could see myself working on any of those problems.
Broadly, because without anti-aging tech I don't expect to be healthy and energetic long enough to benefit much from working on those other problems.
> And you can't get away from the bad-thinking/irrationality problem entirely. You have to think to evaluate if SENS is any good, to evaluate if you should take advice from me, AdG or anyone else, to create and evaluate any project plan, etc. Your thinking has to meet some quality standards or you will fail.
I agree. One reason I haven't done much work on aging yet is I'm not yet confident I know the right thing(s) to do to avoid preventable failure at it.
Preventable failure at being productive isn't even the worst outcome.
It's possible that by becoming involved in the wrong way I could distract / delay others who are being productive and make the effort take longer.
> Similarly every SENS-related researcher needs some minimum thinking quality to do productive work. Do people already have that? Inconsistently, sure. Sometimes they do productive work. But how consistently? How efficient are they being compared to if they did the same work using better thinking methods? How long would improved thinking training take to pay off? etc. These aren't things to ignore even if you focus on SENS.
I agree. Here's how I see that fitting with my 2 strategies from #15535:
(1) Work on specific thinking quality problems in others when I identify such problems as unavoidable blockers to an aging solution.
(2) Work on general thinking quality problems in others. When I judge that's been successful enough, then work on an aging solution (including working on any remaining thinking quality problems in others I identify as blockers to an aging solution).
Re (1), What sort of blockers matter ("unavoidable blockers")? For example, currently poor thinking throughout SENS and others is leading to using donation matching fundraising strategies and other major marketing errors. This blocks some but not all funding.
#15568 A blocker that matters is something that gets in the way of my chosen strategy for working on aging to the point of rendering it largely or completely ineffective.
For your donation matching example:
If I decide SENS or some other organization using donation matching is the right vehicle for my work on aging, and my strategy is to help the organization do what it's already doing, but faster than it would without my help...
And I decided the organization's level of funding was the primary thing limiting their speed...
And I decided the donation matching fundraising strategy was blocking them from substantially raising their current level of funding...
Then I'd consider the poor thinking that leads to donation matching and other marketing errors a blocker that I need to work on.
> If Bernie beats Trump in the 2020 election, how much is that a setback for anti-aging medicine, for healthcare, for peace, for preventing crime, for preventing war, for making the whole world wealthy and able to afford science/education/medicine, etc, etc?
Hard to say. I think it depends a lot on the reason(s) Bernie won.
If Bernie wins mainly because Trump said or did something especially stupid or had a heart attack during the debate and was in the ICU instead of campaigning for all of October, that'd be much less of a setback than if Bernie wins because a large majority of Americans decided they really want socialism and simultaneously gave Dems control of both the House and Senate.
However, I don't think I have meaningful influence over whether Bernie beats Trump in 2020. Nor do I think it's reasonable to expect I could have meaningful influence over the 2024 or 2028 election result even if I were to focus on fixing people's bad thinking methods that lead them to, among other things, support people like Bernie.
#15570 The best thing you could do for anti-aging is probably to make friends with anti-aging people, gain social status and contacts, and then get them to listen to some things curi says. Be a middleman and find a way to communicate some of his ideas, suggestions and criticisms to them. And tell curi some of their ideas and problems and get him to think about their stuff more b/c his thoughts can actually change stuff. Money can't buy anything like that.
#15574 I have considered similar ideas to your suggestion as a possible approach.
I have criticized and tentatively rejected that as a primary approach because:
- I am not particularly skilled at the kind of informal IRL social interactions that are most commonly used to make friends.
I'm not horrible at it to the point that I'd be for example unwelcome at parties. But I get little or nothing out of informal events because I'm significantly worse than average professionals at things like:
* Initiating and sustaining informal conversations
* Recognizing people by sight and greeting them appropriately
* Remembering other people's interests and relationships from past interactions
* Speaking with one person/group for the right amount of time so they remember me, but not as a pest
* Dressing well for the occasion
* Drinking enough alcohol to show I'm not a prude
* Joining an in-progress conversation I was not explicitly invited to
* Converting casual acquaintances into meaningful friendships
I definitely don't have any current edge / comparative advantage at that stuff. Of course I could learn to be better at it but...
- I don't like doing that stuff. Taken to extreme, the approach could become a fate worse than death for me (doing something I hate for the rest of my life).
I could attempt to change that preference but...
- I believe liking/doing social stuff is dangerous. I don't have a clear idea of the issue, but my understanding is trying to do social is ex: what caused DD to become much worse than he used to be.
So even if I knew how to change my preference (which I currently don't) I currently think that I shouldn't.
That said, I can see doing something like your suggestion as a secondary approach.
I'm much better at structured social interactions like meetings and presentations than I am at the informal stuff. I'm at least average. Probably a little above average. I can build a presentation and speak to a crowd and not be overly nervous, rambling, too soft, monotone, fail to make a point, flustered by questions, etc. My main flaws that I know of are that I tend to rely too heavily on slides, say filler words ("um", "ah") too much, and I don't make eye contact with the audience well. But those aren't extreme problems for me and so not typically fatal. I can speak up in meetings & say relevant things to the topic at hand. I can set agendas and run meetings that are more productive than average.
As part of doing some other strategy in aging, I may happen to make some friends/contacts/status among anti-aging people through more structured interactions. And if I do, of course it would make sense to talk about curi's ideas that I agree with. And if the aging people have problems I don't know how to solve, it'd make sense to talk about such problems to curi as long as I wasn't bound by NDA or something.
So not something I'd specifically set out to do, but a possible beneficial side-effect of some other strategy(s).
> I definitely don't have any current edge / comparative advantage at that stuff. Of course I could learn to be better at it but...
You don't need an edge there. Your edge would be at the interacting with curi/FI half of the project. You only need to be passable at the interacting with anti-aging half. Then, as a whole, you could have a large edge because no one better than you at interacting with anti-aging would be passable at interacting with curi.
In general, significant edges are much easier to get when you consider two or three traits at once, rather than seeking an edge at a single trait. E.g. best at CR+Oism is much less competitive than CR or Oism alone. Even CR+programmer, which is much more common than CR+Oism, is much less competitive than CR alone (I'd guess fewer than 10% of CRs are programmers).
> - I believe liking/doing social stuff is dangerous.
You might already be able to be very useful at this without signifiant changes to your ideas or values, as above.
But I made my suggestion ( #15574 ) in the context of your statements about prioritizing anti-aging over rationality and good thinking. It sounded like you wanted to focus on extending your life because you care about that far more than other values. But here you're already pushing back about wanting to be rational.
I took your idea and preference roughly as wanting to worry only a bare minimum about everything but aging. But either you care about other stuff like good thinking more than that or your idea of the bare minimum is unusually high.
> I made my suggestion ( #15574 ) in the context of your statements about prioritizing anti-aging over rationality and good thinking. It sounded like you wanted to focus on extending your life because you care about that far more than other values. But here you're already pushing back about wanting to be rational.
There's a nuance in pursuing the 'anti-aging' problem versus the 'bad thinking' problem I didn't get across.
I think about fixing or preventing my own bad thinking as a different project from doing the same in other people. The statements I made about prioritizing anti-aging over rationality and good thinking were about a project to fix other people so they could be more help with anti-aging (and everything else) later.
When ET says:
> I say addressing bad/irrational thinking is the priority because it plays a significant role in every other major (and minor) problem
Is ET talking about addressing bad/irrational thinking in himself, or in others, or both? I guessed it's mainly or exclusively about others, since ET himself already has a large lead & comparative advantage in self-rationality. I took it to mean something like: a project to make the rest of the world more rational - more like ET / FI.
Reconsidering it explicitly I see how that could be a bad guess. But that was the context of my statmeents about prioritizing anti-aging over rationality and good thinking.
#15589 Oh, that makes more sense. Is the cutoff at only working on your own thinking (with, incidentally, e.g. your public writing potentially helping others)? Or might you help one friend think better? A few family members? Maybe one or two people involved with SENS who seem more open to it? How/where/why do you draw a line about what to attempt or not? There's a lot of variety possible without trying to persuade millions.
I think the blocker definition I gave in #15570 works OK to define the scope.
My own bad thinking is clearly a blocker right now. I don't know what to work on in order to be effective at ending aging. I'm not even confident about avoiding harm to people already working on aging by distracting them or promoting bad ideas and thereby making the effort take longer.
The best thing I know to do right now is stay out of their way while I figure that stuff out.
I'm glad the public writing I do may help others. That's not its point, but it is a happy side-effect.
If I fix my own bad thinking well enough to figure out a good way to help and then find that one friend's bad thinking is a blocker to my strategy, I would try to help that friend think better enough to remove the blocker. For example suppose I can't find anyone else better for the role the friend is in and I need that role for my strategy to succeed.
If my family's bad thinking is a blocker to my strategy in a similar way, I would try to help them. Or people involved with SENS, etc.
I suppose if the best way to help I can come up with involves teaching and persuading millions to think better then that'd be in scope. I doubt that will be the case and even if it is I think arriving at it as a blocker to the best anti-aging strategy is different from setting out to solve the world's bad thinking problem in the first place. It'd probably have more limited goals, like help a million people think better about population instead of help a million people understand CR and Oism.
In your recent stream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2fIOUigMZM, at ~4:05 you said this comment was kind of odd. I don't know if you understood what I was talking about and disagree, or didn't understand what I was talking about.
I was referring to the tree I posted with all the criticisms I could think of against doing medical anti-aging research now: https://my.mindnode.com/yCzRcwj3urBN46ym5sxEsZFMzrxZfbQbSxaDp1bd
I think it'd be better to do a critical analysis (address all negative arguments) than try to make a case with positive arguments.
One reason is because the positive case seems overly simple: I don't want to die, and medical anti-aging has the best chance of keeping me from dying. Responding to that is where it gets interesting, and the responses are all negative arguments like the ones in my tree. Do you think I left any important ones out of my tree?
Also partly I think addressing criticisms is best right now because I haven't picked an approach and I'm not looking to contradict specialization, as I explained in #15538. If I were to decide to retrain as a biologist I think that'd require more positive explanation. I'd need to explain why that was better than spending the ~4-10 years earning money to hire biologists who were already trained.
> If I were to decide to retrain as a biologist I think that'd require more positive explanation.
Maybe the biggest thing that'd require is an explanation of what you're going to do as a biologist that's significantly different than what other biologists do. What's the major competitive advantage?
I talk about SENS stuff, mostly reading Engineering strategies for generating hypoimmunogenic cells with high clinical and commercial value on stream:
Stream 2 (near the end of the paper after this one and figured out what it's saying more in this one):
Not only that, but I'd need to explain what I would do as a biologist that I could not hire another biologist and direct them to do.
Most biologists are working on things that probably won't help solve aging. I could say that if I were a biologist, what I'd do different from them is that I would work on aging.
Maybe I have an even more specific project in mind that no biologist is currently working on. That's still not a good enough reason to retrain as a biologist. I could make money in my current profession and use it to hire a biologist to work on the specific project I have in mind.
I think a good explanation for retraining as a biologist would involve something like: I can't hire any other biologist to work on this project instead of retraining myself because all the good biologists think my project is immoral and wouldn't do it even if I paid them, or they're all hopelessly dumb about some prerequisite for the project and refuse to learn, or the project also requires something I have, other biologists don't have, and is difficult to collaborate on. Stuff like that is possible, but unlikely in my estimation.
AdG interview / book
Just came across this. Don't know what it covers but I didn't know there were any major publications after AdG's Ending Aging book
In your recent stream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2fIOUigMZM, at ~5:05 you said something like that I should have addressed looking back in retrospect generally instead of the literal deathbed regrets scenario.
One problem is that I don't know how to evaluate lots of contributions to the progress of humanity. I find philosophy in general really difficult to evaluate.
I can sorta evaluate concrete stuff like a 10% reduction in the overall tax rate, or a 10% increase in the effective storage capacity of computers, or 10% of people having an option to go to space in the next 50 years, or a 10% reduction in people living in poverty, versus 10% less people dying because we reached longevity escape velocity sooner than we would have otherwise.
I really can't compare any of that to helping 10% of people think 10% better...or .001% of people think 100,000% better, which is more what I think FI's about (at least right now).
In comparison to concrete stuff like I listed, I think anti-aging wins for me even if we're currently far away from an effective solution. I just don't care about any of that other stuff nearly as much.
> In comparison to concrete stuff like I listed, I think anti-aging wins for me even if we're currently far away from an effective solution. I just don't care about any of that other stuff nearly as much.
By saying "far away from an effective solution" you suggest the problem is a lot of work left to be done, and you would be happy to contribute towards the solution even if you provide only 50 work out of the 1,000,000 still needed.
There are scenarios to be concerned with that aren't like that, like doing counterproductive work (negative progress) or irrelevant work (~0 progress). These problems don't depend on distance to a solution and there are pretty clear reasons to try to avoid them.
In your recent stream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2fIOUigMZM, at ~5:55 you said some things like:
* Its bad to only care about not dying and not care about what happens if you die
* That type of thinking would destroy civilization if everyone adopted it
* People who are trying to be rational and get away from religion commonly have this problem
I don't think I have the problem you're describing. I think about this in terms of fates worse than death. I think the problems you describe fall under stuff I'd consider a fate worse than death.
Some things I'd consider fates worse than death:
1. Spending the rest of my life doing stuff I hate (already mentioned this)
2. Suffering from large and long term pain
3. Destroying more value than I've created in life
4. Standing by while my values are destroyed when I know how and am able to prevent that
Letting civilization collapse would fall under #4 if I knew how to prevent it. Apart from some limited scenarios, I don't know how to prevent it. If everyone else was working on aging I'd know to work on something else. In the election I know to explain that socialism is bad if the topic comes up. Etc.
Anyway, I take as a pre-requisite that I'm not knowingly considering any fates worse than death when considering working on aging. Because I'm not considering accepting any fates worse than death to work on aging, death is the worst outcome I'm considering.
Maybe that's still a problematic way to think of it but I don't think it has the specific problems you were referring to on stream.
Also, about this being a general problem of people trying to be rational and getting away from religion I also don't think that's common.
In fact, I think the reverse of the problem you describe is more common. What I mean is: People who are trying to be rational and get away from religion commonly care about other people and values apart from their own life too much rather than too little. They're *also* typically bad at figuring out and implementing things that have the practical effect of helping the world. What they attempt usually does more harm than good. But their intent is not to focus on their own life and not care about the world -- quite the opposite.
I think the problem you describe may be more common in smaller subsets of non-religious people like objectivists and atheist libertarians.
In your recent stream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSzlI8vBW-g at ~1:18:30 you said the SENS related paper at https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/10.2217/rme-2019-0117 was pretty trash.
I'm curious how broadly you apply that judgment and what you think it means.
For example, do you think the paper being trash and no other recent non-trash papers being easily found rules out the idea that SENS is much better than other other organizations working on the aging problem?
Does the paper being trash shed any light on whether the best anti-aging strategy would be to reform an existing organization or start an entirely new one?
Or does one paper being trash really not mean much and we'd need to look at a bunch more to have reasonable insights to the kind of questions above?
> By saying "far away from an effective solution" you suggest the problem is a lot of work left to be done, and you would be happy to contribute towards the solution even if you provide only 50 work out of the 1,000,000 still needed.
Yes. And I recognize in that scenario the other 999,950 work might be provided by other people before I die, or might not be.
> There are scenarios to be concerned with that aren't like that, like doing counterproductive work (negative progress) or irrelevant work (~0 progress). These problems don't depend on distance to a solution and there are pretty clear reasons to try to avoid them.
I agree and was already concerned about counterproductive work, which I view as a significant danger and which I've mentioned before. The danger of irrelevant work also matters - I don't wanna waste my time/resources.
I want to be confident that whatever I do isn't counterproductive or irrelevant. That's one reason why I haven't tried to do much about aging yet. I don't think I know enough yet to be confident I'm helping rather than hurting or wasting time.
#15799 I gave my conclusions more in the second stream about the paper. Nothing really changed in the third. I think the paper is one red flag, but normal, at the same time.
Your hypothetical about no non-trash papers doesn't work b/c the book Ending Aging is good (at least according to my evaluation when I first read it). It's not a paper but the format isn't the point here. If they actually had no good materials then yeah it'd be implausible they were good, but the reason i thought they were good is that they DO have good material.
I think material with actual research should be read to evaluate them better.
Someone reviewed Life Extension Advocacy Foundation for LW/EA: