All of Christian Kleineidam's Comments + Replies

The Next Einstein Could Be From Anywhere: Why Developing Country Growth Matters for Progress

We see Asian American's overrepresented in some metrics such SAT scores and see them overrepresented in tech employment. There overrepresentation is not a sign of equal distribution.

It could just be that Asian parents encourage their children to study in a way that builds specific talents that are useful for success at global technology companies. 

The claim that talent is equally distributed means that talent is both independent from cultural upbringing and of genetics and not supported by finding a single demographic that does well at something. 

When it comes to innovation it's worth noting as well that having different talents as other people is useful for innovation. 

The Next Einstein Could Be From Anywhere: Why Developing Country Growth Matters for Progress

In the modern era, we can trace the history of elite universities from Germany to the United Kingdom, and up to today in the American northeast and Bay Area.

What do you mean by elite universities in Germany? In the UK there's a sharp difference between an elite university like Oxford and Cambridge and the rest that doesn't exist in Germany. 

As the saying goes, talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.

Why just assert that this is true without providing any arguments about why you think it’s true?

2Jonathan Mazumdar9moHi Christian - thanks for reading! The point on elite universities is distinctly about how these epicenters have shifted over time, not a snapshot in time today. Germany was home to the world leading higher education institutions in the 19th century. One example, from mathematics -- over the years the University of Göttingen was home to Gauss, Riemann, Hilbert, von Neumann, and others. The book cited, "Empires of Ideas", gets into this evolution and global movement of modern universities. On the point of talent being equally distributed, I think this is both self-evident and substantiated by many examples and the data. One example that is quite familiar is the proliferation of Indian immigrants now running the global technology companies. A empirical point is the paper we cite on IMO scores, which highlights the existence of talent and the subsequent limitations of opportunity: "an equally talented teenager with the same IMO score born in a low-income country produces 30% fewer publications and receives 50% fewer citations than a participant from a high-income country."
What if they gave an Industrial Revolution and nobody came?

Wages are both about productivity and about how much value workers capture of their work. I asked GPT4 for the factors of why London grew in the 16th century and one of the reasons it comes up with is:

Dissolution of the Monasteries: When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the 1530s, vast amounts of land and wealth were redistributed, often ending up in the hands of the mercantile class in London. This led to further growth and development in the city.

Monks at monasteries were a class of people that were very poorly paid. GPT4 describes the economic ef... (read more)

AMA: Bryan Bishop, Biohacker & Founder of Custodia Bank

How much is innovation in genetic engineering held back by regulation?

3kanzure1yHuman and agricultural work is held back somewhat. Golden rice was actually rather simple but the biologists took 14 years of safety testing before it was deployed. Several million people went blind in the meantime. This was completely avoidable. GMO rice is not going to take over the world and should not require 14 years of "safety testing". The precautionary principle gives people brain worms. Not the fun genetically modified kind of brainworms either. Regulation in general holds back a lot of progress in biology. During the pandemic, the FDA suspended the rules and suddenly we had extremely rapid innovation. When they suspended the rules, I thought that was ridiculous. If we know the rules are wrong and broken, then we should get rid of the rules, not have a temporary suspension. With the excess regulation, you also end up increasing the cost of getting drugs or other things to market and as a result you cut off the lower end of the market. This increases the costs and then investors need to get even higher returns in order to recoup investment. There is a competitive market for investment yield and regulation sort of shapes the kind of yields that you can get in biotech. As a result, money flowing into biotech innovation is pretty constrained, even if the money is available and people are theoretically interested in funding these kinds of things.
Against Altruism

Most of the EA longtermist arguments are about future people existing at all. If there's an extinction event, there will be no future people with complex values. 

Progress Movement News

Usually "optimistic news on science" means writing newspaper article that take a scientific study and misrepresent it as being more important than it really is to entertain people who like reading about science. A big part of human progress is about fixing problems and roadblocks to it. 

One big undercovered progress story might be the new CTIS in the EU that became mandatory for new clinical studies at the end of last month. Clinical trials are important to advance science.

I'd love to read good reporting on CTIS that actually goes into what's good and... (read more)

Philosophy in Space

I do understand that regular software updates can mitigate security threats.

Software updates give you protection against known attacks but not against zero-day attacks.

Jeff Bezos divorced largely because zero day attacks exist. He Saudi's hacked his phone by having access to zero days they brought and blackmailed him and he didn't do what they asked so they released data about his affair. 

The US famously had the data about all their personal with security clearances hacked by the Chinese.

Boeing seems to have a quite bureaucratic culture. Given that it... (read more)

Philosophy in Space

Generally, the cyber-security of most systems is subpar. The military goes to extraordinary lengths to make its systems secure.

Elon Musk's philosophy of building things includes pushing engineers to work as fast as possible to make progress. That's helpful for getting to orbit as fast as possible but it's not helpful for having a system that lacks zero-day vulnerabilities. 

1Kassi Dick1yI understand what you're saying. It seems like encryption is the answer to that problem, but I don't pretend to understand how that works, or how to implement it. I do understand that regular software updates can mitigate security threats. I agree, Musk drives people to the edge of what's possible. In a business as cut-throat as his, one must race other companies for the rights to very few jobs. SpaceX is essentially breaking ground just ahead of their competition. I have no doubt that the reason they maintain their slim advantage is because they are working ungodly amounts and demanding more of themselves everyday. I also have no doubt that anyone who can't take the heat would have a dozen other options to choose from. I can't guarantee the culture at Boeing or Blue Horizon is any different tho...
Philosophy in Space

When it comes to the philosophy of space technology, the effects of it on earth shouldn't be undercounted. Cheap satellites have a lot of implications for privacy when every spot on earth can be surveilled 24/7.

Orbital bombardment is a powerful weapon with a strength comparable to nuclear weapons and in cases like attacking underground bunkers even more powerful. At the same time, the existing fears of radiation don't exist for orbital bombardment. It's important to think well about how to handle the implications of powerful technology in orbit.

SpaceX tank... (read more)

1Kassi Dick1yThanks Christian, what makes you think their cyber-security is subpar?
Age of Invention: How the Dutch Did it Better

Gavel-kind succession laws, whereby all children got an equal share of their parents’ estates, rather than it all going to the eldest. English primogeniture, by contrast, apparently left a lot of gentlemen’s younger sons having to become apprenticed to merchants.

It would be interesting to understand more about the effects of those laws. Being able to give all the wealth to a single son makes it easier to invest all the wealth in a single commercial enterprise because that enterprise doesn't have to be broken up.

1Anton Howes5moUnfortunately the writer failed to elaborate, and I haven't got around to looking it up further yet.
A 21st Century Progress Myth

I would prefer if progress goes in a way that decreases the chance of nuclear war instead of minimizing its chance. 

I like living in a big city. I like being close to other interesting people. I'd prefer it if even more interesting people would live in a short distance. 

A 21st Century Progress Myth

When it comes to progress I would look for a world where reducing the damage done by nuclear weapons is not the prime consideration.

1Arturo Macias1yIt is obviously a critical consideration; beyond that, I would say that the best countries in the world are those with a long history of descentralization and a relatively less hierarchical urban structure: Switzerland, Germany and the United States. It makes life cheaper, allows people to live in bigger houses, the enviorment is better... Urbanization was a necessary evil and a necessary risk. Fortunately, less neccesary now.
A 21st Century Progress Myth

ideally some degree of population de-concentration

Why? I like being in a concentrated city. I like having a lot of interesting people near me. 

1Arturo Macias1yBecause cities are sitting ducks for nuclear weapons. We don't know if nuclear winter is real, but in case it were not, nuclear war would be survivable if human population and industry were spread.
AMA: Gale Pooley & Marian Tupy, Authors of "Superabundance"

What EU regulations that aren't really justified in terms of providing safety are most responsible for holding back innovation?

AMA: Ben Reinhardt, Speculative Technologies

A while ago there was a kickstarter project called Origami Bag. They basically have a material that has for most purposes a smooth purpose but at the same time behaves like velcro. 

While the product itself is not that interesting the material itself seems interesting. Naively, I would expect that it would find applications in which velcro is currently used like shoes because it seems much nicer.

To me, there's an open question of why a new material like this didn't find adoption. The fact that it didn't seems also to have applications that might be har... (read more)

AMA: Ben Reinhardt, Speculative Technologies

How likely is it that commercial products will be manufactured in the next one or two decades in space, making use of the zero-G environment?

2Benjamin Reinhardt1yNot an expert but I suspect it's unlikely that commercial products will be manufactured in space beyond expensive novelty items (do theraputics count as commercial?) Reason being that commercial usually implies large scale, which I suspect will be limited in things in space that are going to come to earth. Predicting the future is hard -- I hope I'm wrong!
Eli Dourado AMA

This list the existing NEPA lawsuits before the supreme court and while some of them have government agencies as the plaintiff many don't. 

Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms is one example. 

3elidourado1yGood catch. Looks like in the district court Geertson sued federal officials as per usual but Monsanto filed a motion to intervene and join the case.
A Catalog of Big Visions for Biology

Removing a group of people from the planet is what genocide is about. 

-3[comment deleted]1y
A Catalog of Big Visions for Biology

Violent men, in the sense that commits crime, are predominately young. In our society, the decision-makers who decide on war and peace are generally much older and not in that group. Queens waged more wars than kings. 

Let's commit massive genocide to archive world peace in itself is also not a peaceful plan.

-4[comment deleted]1y
Eli Dourado AMA

That still seems surprising to me. The Koch's for example seem to be very willing to spend a lot of money think tanks to advance the public good as they see it. 

Is there a reason why billionaires like the Koch's who are willing to spend money on policy changes don't care about NEPA?

Eli Dourado AMA

Given that the supreme court frequently ruled against NEPA, why aren't there more cases involving NEPA in front of the supreme court to curb its excesses?

5elidourado1yIt's true, the Supreme Court has ruled against vetocracy with NEPA every time, usually unanimously. I think for potential litigants, there isn't much value in going all the way to the Supreme Court. It's possible the court won't hear your case, so you have to take steps to comply with the lower court's ruling anyway. Once you're doing that, spending more on litigation isn't going to get you anything; you can always just fix the EIS and move forward. In other words, taking a case to the Supreme Court for the purpose of setting a new precedent is a public good, and a lot of people don't supply public goods all by themselves.