Exercise Pills, Fire Alarms and Not Doing What You Love.

Week #2. Rough week with work but managed to squeeze these few articles. This week is two long reads and a short one. And also a podcast episode that came to mind when I was reading about The Excercise Pill. Enjoy! and If you’re new here remember to subscribe.

This Week’s Reads

  1.  There’s No Fire Alarm for Artificial General Intelligence – “Fire alarms aren’t useful because they tell you there’s fire. They’re useful because they tell you it’s socially acceptable to react.”There is a risk associated with AI. How we’re responding to this risk is like how we respond to smoke coming from under a door. The opening paragraph about the psychology behind our reactions to fire alarms is pretty fascinating.
    In the classic experiment by Latane and Darley in 1968, eight groups of three students each were asked to fill out a questionnaire in a room that shortly after began filling up with smoke. Five out of the eight groups didn’t react or report the smoke, even as it became dense enough to make them start coughing. Subsequent manipulations showed that a lone student will respond 75% of the time; while a student accompanied by two actors told to feign apathy will respond only 10% of the time. This and other experiments seemed to pin down that what’s happening is pluralistic ignorance. We don’t want to look panicky by being afraid of what isn’t an emergency, so we try to look calm while glancing out of the corners of our eyes to see how others are reacting, but of course they are also trying to look calm.
    …the fire alarm tells us that it’s socially okay to react to the fire. It promises us with certainty that we won’t be embarrassed if we now proceed to exit in an orderly fashion.

    And in the meat of the topic this article about are some nuggets of wisdom to think about like

    History shows that for the general public, and even for scientists not in a key inner circle, and even for scientists in that key circle, it is very often the case that key technological developments still seem decades away, five years before they show up.
    …reading history books that neatly lay out lines of progress and their visible signs that we all know now were important and evidential…

    This makes me think also about climate change. The fact that we can see the signs, in the present, does that mean we’re past the point where shit will now get super bad. Because if as a whole we are bad at seeing signs, and we are seeing signs, how bad is it gonna get?

    And last but not least this bit

    ..like many cheap and easy solaces, saying the word “later” is addictive; and that this luxury is available to the rich as well as the poor.

    Note to self: Don’t learn the mental habit of just always saying ‘later’.
    See Article here [Eliezer Yudkowsky for MIRI]

  2. A pill to Make Excercise Obsolete – I knew of steroids, but this is new to me. From studies, taking this pill would have you be ” like a Fun-Run jogger waking up with the body of Mo Farah”. This pill called 516 when first tested on mice back in the 90s gave some seemingly great results:
    …after just four weeks on the drug, they had increased their endurance—how far they could run, and for how long—by as much as seventy-five per cent.

    The big flaw here is that no scientist can yet say exactly how exercise does what it does to our bodies, so I’m sure attempting to replicate it without understanding it is recipe for disaster. No to mention “The F.D.A. doesn’t currently recognize metabolic syndrome, let alone lack of exercise, as a disease.” So in order to bring it to market they’ll do trials as treatment for disease which only affects 1 in 5000 males. If it’s not apparently clear the dangers of this method of trialing have a listen this episode of Freakonics radio where the go indepth into how bad medicine make it to market.See article here [Nicola Twilley for The New Yorker]

  3. Dont Do What You Love – My opinions here are still in development but so far I do think one should include something they love in their life even if you can’t include it in your work.

     if you say getting the money is the most important thing, you will be spending your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living — that is, to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
    Allan Watts

    Have a read and remember “Don’t do something you hate for a living”.

    See article here [Rachel Nabors]

If you are up for podcasts definitely check out Freakonomics radio. Check out the three part series on bad medicine from their archives.

Cheers,
Bill

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