Re: 6 points about Coherent Extrapolated Volition

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Sat Aug 06 2005 - 21:34:54 MDT

Coherence is a worthy objective for any model, but it is fundamentally
limited by context. Increasing coherence tends to imply increasing
"truth", all else being equal, but requires a broad base of independent
inputs with substantial individual credibility. Otherwise, you have
just one coherent model within the vast space of possible coherent
models exhibiting fitness. Looking back on evolutionary trajectories we
see a coherent path, but this does not provide for looking forward and
predicting a chaotic future.

It seems clear to me that the best strategy is a broad based one,
developing the tools that will amplify the awareness and effective
decision-making of those dispersed around us in meme-space, with
increasingly encompassing spheres of interaction--growth directed from
the expanding interests identified with Self via interaction with the
adjacent possible.

We're not going to find a convergent set of goals in the increasing
diversity of evolutionary progress. The best we can do is discover and
apply principles of effective interaction within this dynamical system
at this metastable level and enjoy the ride.

- Jef

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Michael Anissimov wrote:
>> Hi Eliezer,
>> Few quick questions on the CEV post - notice that you've turned
>> "Collective Extrapolated Volition" into "Coherent Extrapolated
>> Volition" here - is this a permanent jargon change or are you just
>> using the term "coherent" to make some sort of point in this
>> context? Please explain.
> I think it will be a permanent jargon change, though perhaps not a
> final equilibrium; who knows but that there may be more in store.
>> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>>> 3. The CEV writes an AI. This AI may or may not work in any way
>>> remotely resembling a volition-extrapolator.
>> ...though it's extremely likely it would, right?
> What? No. Possible, sure. Where would be the justification for
> calling it 'extremely likely'? Asked what we want at the
> object-level, we may or may not want anything that treats with our
> wants at the meta-level.
>> In the broadest sense, "volition extrapolation" basically means
>> "guessing what people want", right?
> Yes.
>>> 4. The CEV returns one coherent answer. The AI it returns may or may
>>> not display any given sort of coherence in how it treats different
>>> people, or create any given sort of coherent world.
>> Of course, if it doesn't display any sort of coherence in how it
>> treats different people, or doesn't create any sort of coherent
>> world, that would be a failure, right?
> This is only a licensable inference because many of our goals require
> coherence; not because coherence is a goal in itself. Survival
> implies at least local continuity between past and future selves;
> challenge, success, and fun implies at least local continuity between
> past and future worlds.
> I think I would personally prefer that roughly the same thing happen
> to the whole human species, so that we are not split to go one way and
> another never to meet again. But perhaps that will prove to be only a
> personal preference on my part, or only a transient delusion of morality.
>> Is this statement being put forth to help people distinguish the
>> difference between the CEV and the AI it creates?
> Yes.
>>> 5. The CEV runs for five minutes before producing an output. It is
>>> not meant to govern for centuries.
>> Though of course, there could be substantial mutual information
>> between the CEV and the AI it creates - correct?
> Mutual information in the Shannon sense? Absolutely! Of course!
> On the other hand, I'd be really disturbed to see sections of code
> copied verbatim. I would regard this as prima facie evidence of
> malfunction.
>> Though such an AI (nor the CEV which created it) would not "govern"
>> in the anthropomorphic sense, it would surely exert optimization
>> pressure upon the world. There are probably some people out there
>> who feel infinitely uncomfortable
> Wow, how does their brain pack in an infinite amount of uncomfort? Up
> until this point I'd been an infinite set atheist, on the grounds that
> no reliable witness has ever reported encountering an infinite set.
>> with the idea of a superintelligent AI with initial conditions set by
>> a human programming team creating changes in the world, and will
>> hence object to any such proposals, but of course it seems like this
>> event is basically unavoidable... I think it's important to
>> distinguish between people who are objecting to *any* FAI theory on
>> the grounds that they haven't come to terms with the reality of
>> recursive self-improvement yet, and people who have already accepted
>> that superintelligent AI will eventually come into existence whether
>> we like it or not, and that it's merely our duty to set the initial
>> conditions as best we can. It's sometimes difficult to tell the
>> difference between the two, people because it seems like people in
>> group #1 may occasionally pretend to be in group #2 for the sake of
>> argument (which ends up going nowhere).
>>> 6. The CEV by itself does not mess around with your life. The CEV
>>> just decides which AI to replace itself with.
>> ...but the CEV isn't explicitly being programmed to create an AI
>> output - aye?
> Pretty much, although I may have to make certain assumptions about the
> class of thingydingies wo which the output belongs, in order to create
> a clearly defined CEV computation producing the output. For example,
> one might require that the output be a computer program placed in
> charge of the existing RPOP infrastructure. That computer program
> could be an AI; or it could clean up the infrastructure and delete
> itself; or it could execute a predefined set of actions and then clean
> up and delete itself.
>> The AI output is based on the assumption that our wish if we knew
>> more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had
>> grown up farther together; where the extrapolation converges rather
>> than diverges, where our wishes cohere rather than interfere;
>> extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated, interpreted as we wish
>> that interpreted, we would decide to construct an AI that exerts a
>> sort of optimizing pressure on the world such that it makes it a
>> better place to live?
> No, that's exactly the sort of assumption you don't want to build into
> CEV. That's CEV as Nice Place To Live, which is a strong assumption
> about the sort of world humanity would enjoy inhabiting; quite
> distinct from CEV as Initial Dynamic. For example, in the original
> "Collective Volition" I suggested that we might coherently
> extrapolatedly wish the CEV output to create a small set of
> understandable background rules for our new world, and "hands off!"
> for individual destinies.
>> I would agree with this assumption - I just think it's worthwhile to
>> point out explicitly for the sake of clarity. Theoretically, the
>> (extremely improbable) output of CEV could merely be a single object,
>> like a banana, or something along those lines, yes?
> If a banana belongs to the class of possible outputs, then you're
> allowing the CEV to construct arbitrary physical devices as its
> output, rather than writing arbitrary computer programs. That
> requires dynamic action and planning by CEV in the real world, in the
> process of producing its first-order output, which therefore occurs
> before the CEV's replacement by its first-order output.
> Perhaps the (extremely improbable) output of CEV would be a program
> that uses SI infrastructure to construct one banana, and then cleans
> up the SI infrastructure and thereby deletes itself.

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