Research / AI safety:
- Wrote a paper on measuring side effects using relative reachability in May, and presented the results at the ICML GoalsRL workshop and the AI safety summer school. Since then, some new approaches have come out using my method as a baseline :).
- Made a list of 30 specification gaming examples in AI (assembled from several existing lists). Since the list was posted in April, 16 new examples have been contributed through the form (thanks everyone!). The list received some attention on Twitter, and I was interviewed about it by Wired and the Times.
- Was in the top 30% of NeurIPS reviewers.
- Gave talks at the Oxford AI Society, EA Global London, etc.
- Got involved in organizing the upcoming ICLR AI safety workshop, Safe Machine Learning: Specification, Robustness and Assurance.
Rationality / effectiveness:
- Attended the CFAR mentoring workshop in Prague, and started running rationality training sessions with Janos at our group house.
- Started using work cycles – focused work blocks (e.g. pomodoros) with built-in reflection prompts. I think this has increased my productivity and focus to some degree. The prompt “how will I get started?” has been surprisingly helpful given its simplicity.
- Stopped eating processed sugar for health reasons at the end of 2017 and have been avoiding it ever since.
- This has been surprisingly easy, especially compared to my earlier attempts to eat less sugar. I think there are two factors behind this: avoiding sugar made everything taste sweeter (so many things that used to taste good now seem inedibly sweet), and the mindset shift from “this is a luxury that I shouldn’t indulge in” to “this is not food”.
- Unfortunately, I can’t make any conclusions about the effects on my mood variables because of some issues with my data recording process :(.
- Declining levels of insomnia (excluding jetlag):
- 22% of nights in the first half of 2017, 16% in the second half of 2017, 16% in the first half of 2018, 10% in the second half of 2018.
- This is probably an effect of the sleep CBT program I did in 2017, though avoiding sugar might be a factor as well.
- Made some progress on reducing non-research commitments (talks, reviewing, organizing, etc).
- Set up some systems for this: a spreadsheet to keep track of requests to do things (with 0-3 ratings for workload and 0-2 ratings for regret) and a form to fill out whenever I’m thinking of accepting a commitment.
- My overall acceptance rate for commitments has gone down a bit from 29% in 2017 to 24% in 2018. The average regret per commitment went down from 0.66 in 2017 to 0.53 in 2018.
- However, since the number of requests has gone up, I ended up with more things to do overall: 12 commitments with a total of 23 units of workload in 2017 vs 19 commitments with a total of 33 units of workload in 2018. (1 unit of workload ~ 5 hours)
- Hiked in the Alps for the first time:
- Tour de Mont Blanc – a weeklong hike around Mont Blanc going through France, Italy and Switzerland. It felt funny to cross a mountain pass and end up in a different country without anyone checking my passport. There were a lot of meadows and cows.
- Monte Rosa glacier hike (Gnifetti normal route). We were all connected by a rope in case someone falls into a crack in the ice. The first night (at 3500m) I could not sleep at all due to altitude and had the interesting experience of a full day hike afterwards.
- Spontaneous solo trip to Amsterdam for my birthday
- Helped run the Dead Hand Path camp at Burning Man and organized a series of AI safety talks
- Read the Book of Why, Other Minds, The Player of Games, Life 3.0, The Elephant in the Brain.
- Did 5 chinups in a row (only once, usually I can do 3)
- Learned a headstand in yoga class
- Learned some new moves in aerial silks
- Our group house has been adopted by a neighbour’s cat (it all started with crashing parties). After some of our housemates moved a few blocks away, the cat has been splitting her time between the two houses.
2018 prediction outcomes
- Write at least 2 AI blog posts that are not about conferences (1 last year) (70%) – 4 posts
- Avoid processed sugar at least until end of March (90%) – yes (still going)
Do at most 4 non-research talks/panels (7 last year)(50%) – 5 talks
- Meditate on at least 250 days (50%) – 283 days
- Our AI safety team will have at least two papers accepted for publication at a major conference, not counting workshops (80%) – yes
I will write at least 6 blog posts(60%) – wrote 5 posts
- I will go to at least 100 exercise classes (80 last year) (60%) – 123 classes
- 1-2 housemate turnover at the Deep End (3 last year) (70%) – 2 housemates
- I will visit at least 3 new cities with population over 100,000 (4 last year) (50%) – Amsterdam, Geneva, Stockholm, Prague
- I will go on at least 2 hikes (4 last year) (90%) – 3 major hikes (Vancouver Island, Tour de Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa)
- 50-60%: 3 correct, 2 wrong
- 70-90%: 5 correct
- High-confidence predictions are underconfident, low-confidence predictions are well-calibrated.
2019 goals and predictions
- Author or coauthor two or more academic papers (50%)
- Accept at most 17 non-research commitments (24 last year) (60%)
- Meditate on at least 250 days (60%)
- Relative reachability paper accepted at a major conference, not counting workshops (60%)
- Continue avoiding processed sugar for the next year (85%)
- 1-2 housemate turnover at Deep End (2 last year) (80%)
- At least 5 rationality sessions will be hosted at Deep End (80%)