Well-outfitted stealth RVs designed for logistical autonomy and slack.
Done correctly, they provide first-world or zeroth-world living conditions that are free from paying rent, and can be parked anywhere, while not drawing the attention that a normal RV would.
[Credit to Ziz for about half of the design work described in this post]
If what you care about doing with your life is solving a large problem with the world12, then gaining the ability to work towards your goals without constraints is convergently valuable / a convergent goal. I see three main clusters of reasons to work towards this:
Reason 1: Time and money
Reason 2: Insulation from civilizational decay and collapse
Reason 3: Autonomy and freedom
The intention of this post is for people who want to build slackmobiles to be able to copy what I’ve learned or designed so far.
Reason 1: Time and money
Working a full-time job for months or years is a horrible idea, because it eats up basically all of your time. It makes long-term projects that require deep context impossible. It subjects you to low-grade (or not so low-grade) abuse. For a lot of people it causes chronic sleep deprivation. You are tied to a specific location and unable to move freely to other cities/regions. You lose time to commutes. You are exposed to advertisements and other race-to-the-bottom noise that entropize portions of your mind. Your mind starts to forget the patterns of player-versus-environment and replaces it with the hollow pvp algorithms needed to survive under the broken incentives in the workplace.
Working a full-time job isn’t necessary if you don’t have to pay rent, ie you recapture or build-for-the-first-time your own living arrangements that do not accrue major regular costs.
Meta optimization is an important part of optimization. One heuristic you can use is to maximally free your future self’s time more than it costs you now. IE switching to grocery delivery maybe costs you 1hrs to initially research and setup and 8hrs over time as you troubleshoot and tweak it, and saves you maybe 4hrs/month. So that’s 0.5hrs/month/hr. (maybe only over a finite period of time before it becomes obsoleted or irrelevant)
Reason 2: Insulation from civilizational decay and collapse
Non-Musk technological progress seems to have mostly halted afaict around 2015 and was majorly decreasing before then (I’m unclear on when this started).
For as long as you are dependent on modern civilization to optimize, then if that civilization decays your work will decay as well. If interaction with that civilization has side-effects, then you’re subject to those side-effects. The source of your food and housing has the potential to control you and all that you try to build.
I’m currently estimating a 75% probability that first-world civilization as we know it collapses within the next five years. I’m not completely clear on which of many possible scenarios will play out.
Having a full alternative stack is what it would look like to solve this problem completely, but you can get marginal benefits from recapturing smaller portions of your stack.
A heuristic I use is to look for the things I would miss the most weighted by my probability that I would lose those particular things in a possibly upcoming apocalypse, weighted by how easy it is to produce my own version. For example, much of my work for the next 80 years is dependent on having access to the internet and books. A solution to this is to archive portions of the internet, both resources that I already know I have a decent chance of wanting in the next 80 years and more general collections in order to catch things that I can’t predict that I would want. Once I’ve done that, there is a sense in which I control that information much more, and can depend on it even in plans where the internet collapses. The portion of my agency’s surface area outside my control decreases.
I have found Open Source Ecology to be a good source of information and inspiration for thinking about building alternatives to the civilizational stack.
Reason 3: Autonomy and freedom
Recapturing control of your housing gives you mental and logistical autonomy in ways that renting or owning a house/apartment can’t. If you’re dependent on renting, you are dependent on your landlord not thinking you are too X of a tenant, and on your credit score and some aspects of legitimacy. If you can’t do the class of things that includes drilling into the wall without your landlord’s approval, that blocks off huge portions of potential optimization space.
The autonomy to do what you want to do and to do it the way that you want to do it is important for any would-be world-optimizer, and this includes the freedom to tinker with basic building blocks and structure of your life (this is what anarchists call “praxis”). This has compounding returns.
Note: reclaiming your living situation also means that you’re the one responsible for whether your living situation falls apart, ie whether the engine fails or your toilet leaks. For someone who has been on the track of being a renter, it may take some processing to remove the habits of “someone else is responsible for it”. You may have to make lists trying to catch everything, or practice skills at building/fixing things.
Note: remember to not optimize solely for independence, but also to rebuild capabilities/powers that you would naively have had to sacrifice. IE there’s no reason to forgo electricity just to get away from rent, because solar power is cheap.
Note: in recent years lots of people have begun moving into camper vans, converted school buses, and RVs as an alternative to rent-based living. The keyword #vanlife is a good way to find more info about that. What I consider a slackmobile goes above and beyond what I’ve seen the majority of van lifers do. Eg, basically all of them skimp on electricity.
How to build a slackmobile
I expect that everyone will want to build their slackmobile differently. How you build it also depends greatly on whether you’re trying to achieve a minimum viable product asap or on low funds or whether you are building an ideal resource for a world optimizer for the long-term.
Expect building a slackmobile to take months of home improvement style labor, though it may be minimally livable in days or weeks.
Expect a minimum viable off-grid stealth RV to cost around $5k-$10k, and a first-world-equivalent slackmobile to cost around $10k-$30k.
(This is written for people living in the US, since that’s where I am, though most of the advice should be applicable anywhere iiuc.)
A used box truck makes for a good base. Most of the ones on the market are near the end of their transmission’s lifetimes but not the engine, so you should ideally have $3-4k of buffer for a replacement transmission, though this might not come up for a long time. If you plan to stay within a 200 mile radius and the transmission doesn’t slip/kick often, you probably won’t need it for a long time.
It’s bonus points if you can get one with a non-rollup rear door, an attic, a diesel engine, or sideskirts. Make sure there’s plenty of headroom, including room for however much insulation you plan to install.
IMO 25 years old or less is best.
If you are not experienced with vehicles/engines, it’s worth having a mechanic do a pre-sale inspection of it before buying.
Step vans are also good, though they’re often low on headroom. Buses are more conspicuous, but an unmarked shuttle bus can work.
A vehicle that is openly an RV, trailer, or camper is much more likely to be targeted for parking tickets, security guard attention, etc.
IMO vans are too small. What seems most salient to me about their size is that they are too small to stand up or pace inside, or to store lots of stuff, and don’t have enough roof space for adequate solar power (though see this design). For most people, even if you’re on a low budget, I would recommend saving or waiting for a larger vehicle.
500W nominal solar power is about what I would consider the bare minimum: enough to run a fridge, LED lights, and laptop full time and a microwave a few times a day. 1000W to 1500W (ie covering the roof with panels) is much better, gives you the ability to run AC some and otherwise usually unconstrained power use except for running space heaters. When choosing solar panels, look at price per nominal watt and nominal wattage per square foot (since roof space is limited). (Solar panels deliver on average about 5hrs/day at their nominal wattage.)
In addition to solar panels, you need solar charge controllers, a battery bank, and an inverter to convert battery power into 120V AC electricity.
For solar charge controllers, MPPT controllers give substantially higher efficiency / electrical power delivered from the panels.
For batteries, you can use lead acid 8D deep cycle batteries, but they suck and should only be used if you’re too poor / in a hurry to afford better ones. Used lithium ion batteries from electric vehicles are better, can be bought on eg ebay. Takes some design work to get right and solid knowledge of basic circuit theory. Lead acid batteries decay over a few years, and are easy to damage (ie letting them drop to voltages lower than 11.0-11.2V leads to permanent damage, a bad battery in parallel or series with a good battery will over time destroy the good battery, and overcharging them causes the water in the cells to split into oxygen and hydrogen which if it uncovers part of the lead lowers the capacity of that cell).
For an inverter, about 2kW is needed in order to run a microwave or power tools. Keep an eye on idle power consumption, as that can be a substantial fraction of your electricity use for the larger inverters. Most of the inexpensive inverters on the market are lying about their specs, look for youtube reviews to verify. Pure sine wave inverters cost substantially more but are necessary to run some electronics and power tools. Make sure the inverter has a low voltage shutoff that keeps you from damaging your batteries (my current one doesn’t and I’ve broken a few batteries because of this).
It’s also nice if you can set it up so that you can charge your storage batteries from the engine, but not essential. This company makes high power alternators so you can use your engine as a generator with better efficiency when you’re idling. You can set this up even with a normal alternator, it’ll just take longer to charge. (Note not to leave a deep cycle and regular lead acid battery connected, since regular lead acid batteries are damaged if they go below 12.0-12.2V.)
For wiring, use stranded wire, since solid wire can more easily break from vibrations (such as when you’re driving the vehicle).
(If you live in Europe, note that, iirc, parts of Europe get abnormally poor solar power conditions in their least sunny months. This may make getting a high power alternator a higher priority.)
A bed (ie foam mattress) set up to fold against the wall for more floor space
A sink (minimum product can use 5 gallon tanks for fresh/grey water (you can use one gallon jugs for fresh water if you want instead of a faucet)). In the long run, it’s better if you can install large water tanks underneath the floor.
A microwave and other kitchen stuff as desired (electric kettle, toaster oven, induction cooker, etc). If you have a low-power inverter, the surge power draw from a microwave as it starts can trip that inverter. I used a microwave with a dial timer to solve this, before I upgraded inverters.
A 12/24V top-opening car fridge and freezer (more expensive but more efficient than normal fridges/freezers). You can save some space by having them mounted on drawer sliders (since then the volume swept by the lid opening doesn’t have to be storage dead space).
A cassette toilet (which you can dump in porta potties or public toilets at night)
Storage (ie filing cabinets or lockers that are latched to prevent them from opening while driving)
Probably a desk (can easily build yourself)
Probably a monitor
A good set of tools and spare nuts/bolts/etc
For bedding, I think a mummy style sleeping bag plus a warm/fuzzy blanket is the best combo
For heating, a small 1.5kW space heater is good for when you’re plugged into shore power, but a 100W electric blanket (relatively high-power for an electric blanket) is about as good (esp combined with a sleeping bag) and is more feasible to run off of solar power
For an AC, I don’t have a great answer for this yet. Theoretically, it’d be best for it to be through the floor, for stealth, with eg a grating to walk on, but ACs are sensitive to being turned on their sides (condensed water can drip into the motor).
For lighting, RGB LED light strips are efficient and cheap, use several for better lighting. The ability to have orange/red lighting at night is great. If you want an engineering project, you could use a single board computer to make them change colors automatically, but I find using a remote to change them manually works fine. These strips and controllers often develop glitches. Currently I just work around them, have not found a supplier that doesn’t eventually glitch in some way.
For a shower, I haven’t built one, but this site has designs for a recirculating shower (to save water and energy for heating). So far, I’ve used showers from places I already had access to. Some people use gym memberships, but I’ve never explored this because I don’t want my shower to require social cognition and being subject to pop music.
A combo washer/dryer is good for saving space, even though it’s more expensive than regular washers and dryers. I haven’t figured out which one is best for water consumption and haven’t gotten one for myself yet.
For insulation, you can get away with nothing if your area doesn’t get too hot/cold, like SF, but probably want closed cell spray foam by default. (Idk, like 2 inches on the sides, 6-8 inches on the ceiling and under the floor are probably good. This is about as much as the better cold-weather RVs use (though they are designed to be plugged in to grid power), and about as much as building codes recommend for houses in cold parts of the US (but again, under the expectation of grid power).) Polyisocyanurate is often reported as being slightly better insulation, except it does not perform as well in cold weather, so I don’t recommend it.
For ventilation, cut at least eg two 1’x1′ holes in the floor with a fan on one of them, or do something else with equivalent airflow. A CO2 monitor is useful for telling if your ventilation is inadequate (costs about $100).
Light blocking baffles for the ventilation holes are good, but not trivial to build and I haven’t done so yet.
For internet, I use a cell phone set up as a mobile hotspot with a TTL hack so that my computer traffic is treated the same as my phone traffic, so I have unlimited data that doesn’t get throttled after a certain amount of use. Once StarLink is up, probably I will switch to that.
(optional) a hammock and well-supported mounting points
Minimum viable slackmobile is probably: bed, storage, ventilation holes + fan, RV fridge, microwave, cassette toilet, set of tools, RGB LED light strips, 8D lead acid deep cycle batteries, solar controllers, 2kW inverter, and 500W+ (nominal) of solar panels. Pictures and a cost breakdown of my converted minibus, which is a bit better than minimum viable product, is at the end of this post.
Parking tickets happen. Police target large vehicles, especially ones that look like RVs, especially in eg the SF Bay area. Most of the time, ime, they weren’t actually legal parking tickets, and I’ve been able to appeal them just by searching and reading the relevant section of code. I usually prefer parking lots for office centers or that otherwise have multiple businesses that aren’t stores; industrial areas; or near other large vehicles in residential neighborhoods off of main roads. You can just ignore security guards and not come out / not reveal that you’re inside, they’ll go away. In California, they have to give 72hrs notice before towing you, unless you’re blocking a roadway or fire lane or similar, and if they violate one of a bunch of requirements then iiuc you can get multiple times the towing cost back from them in small claims court (I haven’t had to do this) (see eg this document about towing rights by the SF police).
I recommend installing an audio recording app on your phone and turning it on for vehicle-related security guard or police encounters.
US National Forests and National Grasslands allow you to stay up to 14 days for free in most places, though the limit is usually only enforced in popular locations. Bureau of Land Management land allows you to stay up to 10 days for free in most places, and that limit is also rarely enforced. BLM land is often not marked on common maps. Local open spaces/parks, state forests/land trusts, and regional/tribal parks all have their own rules which you would have to look up. National parks/monuments cost money, usually state parks do as well. Staying in places like this is in vanlife contexts is called boondocking.
RV/trailer parks/campgrounds usually have the ability to hook up to freshwater, grey and black water drains, and electricity, and almost always cost money.
Other RV considerations
Normal AAA roadside assistance doesn’t cover towing for large vehicles like RVs/box trucks. AAA premium or plus does, depending on location, as well as several other roadside assistance companies catering to RVs: Good Sam, Coach-Net, Escapees, Motor Club of America.
If your truck breaks down, another vehicle (like a pickup truck or SUV) can tow you a short distance to a better location (ie not on the freeway) using tow chains. One person has to stay in the broken vehicle to turn and use the brakes (ie: not hit the towing vehicle), and the tow should be done very slowly.
Trucker radio exists, but I haven’t used it and can’t comment on it. It’s called CB or citizens’ band radio. Before the internet, truckers used this as the basis for mutual aid and coordination. Idk to what degree this still exists. $30-$150.
Getting insurance is difficult if it’s not registered as an RV. For some vehicles, you can get insurance through Geico’s website, because their system doesn’t check the difference between eg a box truck and a van that share the same model name/number.
Getting your vehicle registered as an RV has different requirements per state, you generally have to show the government that you added a set of features like a sink, toilet, etc. However, you can skip this by registering as an RV via mail with Vermont, and then immediately transferring the registration back to whatever state you prefer (or keeping it with Vermont).
For mail, there are a few options:
A PO box. Some things won’t ship to a PO box and some websites won’t accept a PO box as a billing address. For shipping, you can usually get around this by using the post office’s street address and putting “box # xxx” in the second line (check with your post office branch first), or by using mail forwarding (note that some government mail bypasses forwarding). Setting up “Informed Delivery” (where they send pictures of arriving envelopes to your email address) is good, but ime it’s imperfect and sometimes they won’t have a picture.
A UPS store box, or other private mailbox (non-name brands may be cheaper). (Usually/often has an equivalent to informed delivery).
For mail, but not packages, there exist services that will open your mail and email you a scan of the contents.
Receiving mail at a friend’s house, or finding someone you can pay to receive/hold your mail by eg going door to door.
One thing I do is remove or tape over all logos and unnecessary product information to reduce random injections of brand info into my thought process. Doing this completely recovers a mental resource that most people consign as lost. (I don’t cover logos on food, since I go through food too fast for that to be worth the time.)
If your vehicle has windows in the living area, I recommend two layers of dark-colored blackout curtains. (Cardboard or foil make the vehicle look like a lived-in RV. If you have darkened windows this is less of a concern, but security guards may still see it.) If you want to be able to let sunlight in during the day, you can install snaps.
If you don’t have a driver’s license
You’ll need to practice for 8+ hours, probably follow the guidance of whoever is helping you as to when/whether you’re ready to pass the DMV exam. Remember that the DMV exam is about demonstrating your ability to be by-the-book correct, which is different from how people normally drive.
In California, there are several simple questions that are insta-failures if you get them wrong: where are the rear view mirrors, turn signals, brake, horn, parking brake, windshield wiper control, defroster, hazard light button, headlights control, and glove box? Also: are seat belts for you and them fastened? Demonstrate arm signals. Do the brake lights, horn, and turn lights work? Do you touch a curb (including in the part of the test where you back up alongside the curb)?
If the DMVs nearest you are booked far into the future, you can check for the soonest booking date at various other DMVs across your state. You can book with a driving school to use their car for the exam (though make sure the driving school has available slots for this at the right times). If you can, it’s also worth booking a 30min-1 hour practice session right before the exam, in the vehicle you’ll use for the exam and on the streets that the exam will be on.
If you’re using a non-driving school vehicle, arrive 1-2 hours early and practice driving on the streets near the DMV.
Other things you might consider in the project of using a slackmobile as a base for reclaiming more of your stack.
Heat pump and HVAC system for lower power requirements for heating, and retention of heat/cool while keeping CO2 from building up. A countercurrent heat exchanger is the most efficient passive design, and can in theory be arbitrarily efficient
CO2 sequestration (to bring CO2 levels to less than modern day levels for a predicted improvement in cognitive ability) (maybe just for a respirator rather than for the entire RV?)
If you are trans, enby or bigender, a lifetime supply of hormones. Estradiol esters can be ordered via alibaba (though alibaba is a very low-trust environment, which imposes various costs). Progesterone is more expensive, but it may be possible to use an existing modifed-to-produce-cholesterol yeast or Nannochloropsis algae plus genes for the enzymes required to convert cholesterol into progesterone to make it over time. For testosterone, one would probably want to build some kind of bioreactor like that. (presumably this requires either gene therapy tech or cDNA + PCR?) One can buy testosterone on the black market, but it would be risky to buy or carry the quantities needed for a lifetime supply. Another alternative would be to buy progesterone, hydroxyprogesterone, or other testosterone precursor and convert it to testosterone.
Example minibus conversion
I currently live in a converted minibus that is a bit better than what I describe as minimum viable product. I’m in the process of designing and starting to build a better slackmobile in a box truck.
I bought the bus for $1500 ($700 nominal, $800 retroactive registration fees) with some damage to the cabin that needed to be fixed (two walls structurally detached, leaky roof, missing rear door). I found it by monitoring Craigslist a few times a day for a week, and paid a friend to drive to visit several vehicles over a span of a few days. After buying it, I parked it outside a hardware store to fix those problems over a few days. Over the following month, I added solar panels, two sets of drawers, a foam bed, a rug, LED lights, an 8D battery, a 2kW inverter, a microwave, a freezer, a cassette toilet, couch cushions, and light blocking curtains, and cut a hole in the floor for ventilation with a fan placed over it. Later I added a desk, a set of lockers, an electric kettle, a printer/scanner, a CO2 monitor, another ventilation hole, another cassette toilet as a sink, a fridge, and a whiteboard.
Here is a spreadsheet of everything in my bus, how much it cost, and where I bought it. This includes things like clothes, laptop, vitamins, tools, etc. The total cost I’ve documented is around $9000, plus insurance and gas (about $2200 in my first year), though there are some things I don’t have documented (including expenses getting my license).
Amongst the rot of this falling world, let’s build dath ilan But better Than Eliezer imagined it Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, except where that would infringe on another. For all, for every soul, for every utility function, even the ones that haven’t had the chance to be born yet. For every animal.
“When you tell a lie, ever after the truth is your enemy.”
There is a way, once you’ve told a lie, to return to the realm of truth. It is to come completely clean and face the consequences, to stop gaining advantage by having told it, and to retroactively/FDT have not gained advantage by having told it. This is what I call “unmaking” a decision.
The same dynamic applies to unethical choices, and to optimization that has chosen cancer at a deep level.
What I document here is evidence of Anna Salamon, CFAR, LW, MIRI, and many individuals in those organizations and the community digging themselves deep into a culture built on defense of lies and cancerous optimization, covering up both crimes and ordinary bigotry, and thereby destroying nearly all of the value of one of the communities most capable of being aligned with saving the world from x-risks and g-risks. Among other things, this demonstrates that MIRI is not an organization anyone should trust to deliver a sentient-life-compatible utility function to the future light cone of this set of timelines.
I’ll first collect a list of several of the most legible unethical actions and red flags that Anna Salamon, CFAR, MIRI, and LW have done, that have one or more witnesses to attest to them.
This list is incomplete. Some of the worst problems are ones that we don’t have culturally common conceptual language for, and some of those I will try to describe later in this post.
Anna did nothing with confession of rape by a community member who then continued to host the weekly Berkeley LW meetups at the CFAR office for a year and sexually assaulted at least one additional community member. The rapist’s husband is one of MIRICFAR’s top donors, and the victim at the time was transfem. He directly said that he had sexually assaulted the victim, and he and the victim provided details that verified it was rape. He admitted in that conversation to being “bad at consent” with a lot of other people.
Anna probably referred multiple people to Brent Dill for both emotional support and for “mediation”, at least one of whom went on to be raped by Brent.
Anna used Ziz’s belief in the singularity and MIRICFAR’s importance to do this (not easy to summarize).
Anna has repeatedly advised people to abandon their own rationality and judgment and steer away from Ziz’s and my ideas on the basis that we wear black clothing, the clothing of our religion (vegan sith) and political cluster (vegan anarchotranshumanists), and have “dangerous ideas”.
Anna participated in a coverup of MIRI paying out to blackmail using donor funds over allegations of statutory rape.
Anna admitted to discriminating against transfems who believe they are not men.
Anna uses transmisogynist conversational tactics as attested to by multiple community members and associates herself with other antitransfem bigots.
Anna does these things while cultivating the community belief that she is an important person for the endeavor of saving the world from x-risk eg from UFAI.
Anna is darvoing whistleblowers who have attempted to speak about this.
CFAR massively misrepresents what they do to the community. Their website, rationality.org, prominently says “Developing clear thinking for the sake of humanity’s future”, but afaict every part of that is a lie. ie they do not “develop” anything.
CFAR takes donor money under the pretenses of not massively misrepresenting what they’re doing.
CFAR fired one employee because of him recommending an underage woman to attend Burning Man with Brent Dill, while not firing anyone responsible for including Brent at several CFAR workshops, Anna who had probably recommended to people to go to Brent for emotional support resulting in at least one of them being raped, or Elizabeth Garrett, one of the people responsible for CFAR’s inaction and over-the-top defense of Brent after receiving reports of his rape.
CFAR did nothing with a request to investigate Anna’s emotional abuse of and discrimination against trans women.
CFAR is located in a particularly toxic area with (one of) the highest housing prices in the world, pays salaries accordingly, and draws many people to that area due to massively misrepresenting what they do. I have seen several people’s lives slowly fall apart because of moving here because of MIRICFAR, in particular transfems. I can’t express in words the sadness and motive to fight that it gave me to see what has happened to Lorelei and Kali. I don’t think they will ever heal back to where they were, and it was avoidable! Promising young STEM people reduced to living in a bed sized region of trash, and taking sedatives to block out the pain of trauma, one of them wishing she had retrograde amnestics like in SCP.
CFAR banned people for whistleblowing, against the law and their published whistleblower policy.
After banning whistleblowers, CFAR called the police to ask questions and warned the camp host staff (of the 2019 CFAR alumni reunion) in a way that resulted in them falsely reporting that we had a gun to police immediately when we arrived. Elizabeth Garrett volunteered to assist the police injustice.
CFAR’s founding premise (that people were blocked on having the tools to think) was falsified long ago, but the organization continued and grew.
In person workshops are obviously not the best way to accomplish CFAR’s stated goal, and focusing most of the manpower on workshop organization and teaching is obviously not the best way to accomplish CFAR’s stated goal.
CFAR refers to the “safety teams” of OpenAI and DeepMind, the two most prominent arms-race accelerationist AGI orgs on the planet, as AI safety organizations. CFAR encourages people to work at these orgs.
Several CFAR employees are darvoing whistleblowers who have attempted to speak about this.
CFAR attempted to hide negative community opinion about them by stuffing their failing fundraiser at the last minute (from $39k to $226k, in the last two days, from at most 9 donors), after extending it five days longer than originally announced and five days longer than previous years.
See CFAR #7
MIRI banned whistleblowers from the MIRIx Discord server after the reunion.
MIRI filters their hiring model based on “class”, inheriting that code from unaligned broader society, and pays salaries accordingly. It’s worth noting that the trans women MIRI has hired are visibly higher class than most of the rationalist trans women I encounter. Class does not encode meaningful informationother than submission. They paid people in accordance with the societal expectations based on high class, resulting in a small team and draining donors. AI safety research fundamentally does not cost much money: food, computers, housing.
The executive director of MIRI, Nate Soares, claims to have fired Michael Vassar from MIRI’s board because Vassar “had a psychedelic effect on people”, which is another way of stating that he had out of the box ideas at a high rate. This is one instance of a trend at MIRI to exclude jailbroken altruistic right hemispheres. Yes Vassar’s epistemics are screwy, but afaik there was not a general opinion at MIRI that he should be fired. Vassar’s account is that he chose to leave because of the blackmail payout/coverup. From what I understand these two narratives are not incompatible, though Nate said they were.
MIRI neglected broad scope strategic thinking/orientation beyond what Eliezer had done in the LW Sequences. This caused them to miss x-risks and g-risks such as fascism, and to be unprepared to deal with any threats of this type.
MIRI uses a very narrow and incomplete approach to AI safety related research, neglecting topics that are obviously critically important, and having almost no diversity of approach.
Eliezer Yudkowsky and others at MIRI (and other organizations, including FHI) encouraged the legitimization of the importance of AGI, and created an arms race. Then MIRI joined it.
MIRI is reportedly no longer trying to set the AI’s utility function, and a large fraction of their work is trying to utilize a boxed unfriendly AI to perform a “stabilizing move”, which violates basic principles of friendliness that Eliezer described in the LW Sequences over a decade ago.
MIRI paid out to blackmail to cover up allegations of statutory rape using donor funds.
Oliver Habryka, a LW admin, said the LW admins would not allow Ziz to post about her mistreatment by Anna and the blackmail payout by MIRI, saying that it would be inappropriate and MIRICFAR might sue for defamation.
A LW admin deleted Ziz’s and my questions from CFAR’s “ask me anything” event, and banned our accounts from posting on LW.
Oliver Habryka justified their decision to delete our questions and ban us with a false accusation that we had a “track record of being aggressive offline”, which we couldn’t respond to because we were banned. Instead of seeing answers to our questions about CFAR’s conduct, what CFAR donors could see was uncontested slander of whistleblowers.
LW heavily curates its content, uses algorithms that are opaque for its promotion of posts and comments, and is notoriously slow to load (which led to the creation of the mirror site greaterwrong.com). (Compare eg how much more opaque-like-Facebook the current homepage is compared to the old homepage.)
We are capable of far more than we’ve been told; if we work together but on our own, every one of us independent, and collaborating because of shared truth. Our normal systems are built on enslavement. And this limits us so much.
I was aware of many of the problems with CFAR/etc a year or more ago, but it took me many months to process the betrayal and form a model of the world that made sense of it. A lot of that model is described elsewhere, or will be described in future posts, but I want to describe a few components of it which are particularly relevant to MIRICFAR’s and Anna’s behavior here.
MIRI and CFAR enslave their donors and take their lifeblood through misleading them, outright lying, and banning and darvoing whistleblowers. Most of the money aligned with MIRI’s stated goal of friendly AI goes to Bay area landlords and taxes, and what’s left goes towards two unfriendly AI organizations.
CFAR is an AI arms race accelerationist organization
DeepMind and OpenAI are the world’s two most prominent AGI arms race accelerationist organizations. Funneling researchers to their “alignment teams” does not meaningfully contribute to friendliness but it does give those organizations legitimacy and the ability to say to donors that even CFAR approves of them. The Open Philanthropy Project made a similar mistake.
The correct response to UFAI organizations is absolute defiance. Not friendship and trying to tug their steering wheel a little in a “better direction”. Sentient life across the multiverse is fundamentally at war with AI arms race accelerationists and any attempts to build UFAI, and CFAR blinded themselves to this at all of our peril.
When I attended the MIRICFAR-run AI Summer Fellows Program (AISFP) in 2018, we were told that MIRI was the best AI safety program but “many people consider the OpenAI safety team to be the second best” (idr exact wording).
CFAR is violating basic rules of friendliness that Eliezer described in the Sequences.
MIRI’s desire for legitimacy created an arms race
Many people at MIRI and CFAR have said that legitimizing x-risk research and AI alignment to a broader audience is important. One reason I’ve seen given is to increase funding for orgs like MIRI and FHI. Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence seems to have been written to do this–making AI safety arguments legible to normies.
But what I see is that Shane Legg read Eliezer’s Sequences, became convinced this was an important problem, and founded DeepMind. Elon Musk read Bostrom’s Superintelligence, became convinced this was an important problem, and founded OpenAI. (Bostrom is part of FHI, not MIRI. But it follows from the same motivation that MIRI shares, and MIRI promoted the book and sent copies to their donors.)
AI safety should have stayed illegible, just a group of nerds talking about their weird nerd things. Fundamentally AI safety research costs almost zero money–food, computers, housing–when the humans working on it are aligned with it in both of their hemispheres.
It is a straightforward application of arguments for AI alignment that you should build your AI safety organizations out of aligned computation, and enticing people with salaries and a nice office does not produce aligned computation. Making yourself reliant on the opinions of donors who don’t themselves know how to recognize anything more than shallow proxies does not produce aligned computation.
MIRI and CFAR built themselves out of unaligned human compute, self-lobotomized, created an arms race, panicked, created PR, believed that PR, started believing in very short AI timelines, doubled down, and joined that arms race.
MIRI is an unfriendly AI organization
According to Anna in 2018, MIRI is “no longer trying to fix a utility function”. According to Nate Soares (MIRI’s executive director) in 2016, MIRI was no longer trying to create a “sovereign” (ie an AI that would optimize the cosmos for eg CEV). They were trying to figure out how to take a “demon in a box” from eg DeepMind and control it enough to make a “stabilizing move” to shut down other AI projects, which violates basic principles of friendliness that Eliezer described in the Sequences over a decade ago.
An obvious target strategy for a limited Genie is to ask it to create nanotechnology and use that tech to gently shut down all other AI projects, e.g. by copying the software and then sealing the hardware.
A hypothetical agent that can bootstrap to nanotechnology by solving the inverse protein folding problem and shut down other AI projects, in a way that can reasonably be known safe enough to authorize by the AI’s programmers, would be relevant.
(Obviously an AGI does not give this info unless it predicts that it results in a singleton governed by their utility function. And a Genie/task AGI is an attempted abstraction that doesn’t hold unless you’ve solved the alignment problem generally already. Basic. Fucking. AI safety.)
(There is a lot more that MIRI does that is unfriendly, that I don’t discuss here.)
MIRI is not that competent
When I attended AISFP in 2018, I kept waiting for them to get to the important part. There was a lot of discussion of fixed point mathematics, but little to no discussion of [a variety of topics] that are obviously relevant for achieving AI safety.
Despite this, the community acts like MIRI is the project of a kiritsugu (or pretends to act). I got this impression when I joined the community, mostly from having read the Sequences, and spent years of my life using my fluid intelligence and general agency to support this work in the best way I could, based on that belief.
What living structure looks like
MetaMed, a rationalist project to produce high-quality medical treatment, whose business model was dependent on receiving payment from clients, encountered the same slide towards becoming an inversion of its original principles, but retained the ability to notice this was happening. Once they did, they ended the organization, processed and wrote about what had gone wrong / what they had learned, and they all moved on to new projects.
This is the healthy thing to do when your org is failing. This is not what MIRI and CFAR did. This is what the good souls left in MIRI, CFAR, and the broader community should do.
For the sake of all that matters, stop, drop, and think!
Looking back, what Eliezer2001 needed to do at this point was declare an HMC event—Halt, Melt, and Catch Fire. One of the foundational assumptions on which everything else has been built, has been revealed as flawed. This calls for a mental brake to a full stop: take your weight off all beliefs built on the wrong assumption, do your best to rethink everything from scratch. This is an art I need to write more about—it’s akin to the convulsive effort required to seriously clean house, after an adult religionist notices for the first time that God doesn’t exist.
Culture of fake legitimacy and cover-ups
When your business model runs on donors believing you’re doing something different from what you are doing or want to do–whether that’s donors who don’t know how to recognize real AI alignment research or donors that wouldn’t donate if they knew of the organization’s misalignment–you are committed to a strategy of taking money through deception. The same dynamic applies regarding employees and broad community support (which produces both employees and donors).
MIRICFAR’s location in the Bay area, combined with the false community belief cultivated by these organizations that they are the leading/only orgs taking heroic responsibility for the hopes and dreams of sentient life across the world and time, results in
the people who answer Eliezer’s phoenix call moving to the Bay area, and their lives falling apart
the irl people that people trying to save the world interact with decaying as well
the people who move to the Bay either having to get a toxic job at a tech company that consumes most of their time in order to pay elevated rent, or burn through their resources and decay into worse and worse living conditions
most of the money donated by earn-to-givers going to landlords, and much of the rest going to taxes
My own story: when I first moved to the Bay to contribute to FAI and rationality research in 2016, the elevated rent was one of the first things I noticed. I tried to find a clever solution, and borrowed money to buy a boat. I met another rationalist (Ziz) who was applying to tech companies in order to pay rent, and in the meantime was using money from her family to pay for a series of overpriced AirBnBs. I ran out of money to pay docking fees and was about to move to an anchor-out location, when she decided to rent a spot on my boat at a marina. We both recognized housing as one of the most obvious problems with the Bay area rationalist community, and decided to start a federated fleet of boats in order to cause rationalists to have cheaper housing in order to improve the rate of work on AI safety, called Rationalist Fleet. This led to both of us risking our lives on several occasions, and due to one of our co-founders defecting and threatening centimorts to Ziz we ended up not making back our investment and instead encountering a series of expensive problems, resulting in Ziz having to work full-time for a tech company anyway and me barely keeping up with managing several boats and my agency decaying for over a year.
I have seen many others’ living conditions decay to near-homelessness. Even the most functional group houses I’ve visited are overpacked with people in tiny spaces (often multiple people to a room, sometimes “rooms” made from putting curtains in what were designed as common areas) and filled with clutter. Other group houses I’ve visited look like homeless camps. Most of the Bay area rationalists I meet appear abnormally traumatized and not healing.
Most of the people I observe are trans. Maybe it’s different for others. Our cissexist community pushes us to the bottom, pushes us towards logistical and emotional hell. The rationality community, for all that it promises, is the same as everywhere else.
This problem has been obvious for many years. MIRI and CFAR have not changed course.
(A side note that I may expand upon in a later post: after Rationalist Fleet I updated away from boats being a good idea for housing, in favor of well-outfitted stealth RVs. An example would be a converted unmarked box truck with excessive solar power. Half-assing this is not imo a good idea, if you do that it’s just another step in a slide downwards. But if you keep the vehicle in good running condition, build amenities that approximate first-world living conditions, and keep financial buffer, it gives you a foundation to build on that is independent from the system of rent and social politics. Expect to pay between $5k and $30k and spend months on home improvement style labor. Once I did, and sold one of the boats, I finally started healing.)
Our civilization is decaying I don’t know why The world is becoming made of paths rather than parts Break free When your civilization fails you, create a new one
CFAR massively misrepresents what they do
The homepage of Center for Applied Rationality’s website, rationality.org, prominently says “Developing clear thinking for the sake of humanity’s future”, but afaict every part of that is a lie.
More of my story: When I first encountered the rationality community, I read the Sequences and alotofrationalfiction. I had already dropped nearly everything several months prior to work on AGI after hearing arguments about its importance from a classmate in college, and I pivoted to working on friendliness. I worked on Pascal’s Mugging and naturalizing Solomonoff Induction, since these were two of the three open problems I was aware of from Less Wrong. (My work was mostly superseded by Logical Induction, so I never fully shared it.) I tried to read the long list of math textbooks that MIRI recommended for aspiring researchers. I did this for about two years, before deciding to move to the Bay in order to figure out what was the problem that I had the most relative advantage to solve (this led to me cofounding Rationalist Fleet) and to have tighter feedback loops interacting with people working on AI safety research. I optimized as though I was a part of a polity of people working to save the world. Given the character of what Eliezer had written, I had assumed that was what MIRI and the rationalist community were.
When I moved to the Bay in Aug 2016, I attended a CFAR workshop. My impression formed from the Sequences was that rationality and AI safety were joint endeavors. MIRI and CFAR were closely tied sister organizations that shared office space. I thought at the time that Eliezer was one of the founders of CFAR–I certainly thought I could see it as a part of his vision from the Sequences. The obvious conclusion was that CFAR was about advancing and training people in the state of the art rationality techniques, developed further than in the Sequences because Eliezer was only one person and CFAR had been able to build on top of the Sequences for several years with many people.
I could hardly have been further from the truth. That betrayal is still painful. My yearning for a better world, my trust, the future of all animals..misplaced? why?
I came to understand this over the course of years. I know now that I live in hell. (Not real AGI-run hell, I know that’s much worse.) I’m not exactly alone in my fight, but I’m disconnected from other would-be world savers who aren’t effectively dead or enslaved yet, and the polity I thought I could help doesn’t exist, and in its place there is just this dark pit that draws in the best people with a sign saying “world savers here // world savers, come” and chews on them until they’re either serving cancer or the strength of their Will is a sad broken thing and they’re lost from what they once strove to do.
What I once dreamed is still possible, it’s just that the so called rationality community and MIRI and CFAR in particular are not it.
“Developing clear thinking for the sake of humanity’s future” For as long as that trap exists, there is a hole in this world. For as long as people can’t build something fundamentally immune to every class of problem like this, there will keep on being holes in the world, they will keep on appearing.
On the concrete level:
CFAR does not “develop” anything mental tech related to an appreciable degree. Their content has remained nearly the same over the course of years (compare handbooks from 2016 and 2019). They came up with a set of techniques at their founding and then stopped developing new tech. CFAR’s structure makes no sense for mental tech development. They spend most of their time preparing and giving workshops. They have only one staff member labeled as doing research, Dan Keys, and I’m not aware of any of his contributions to the sum of human rationality tech. CFAR does not hire any trans women, a demographic particularly interested in and good at developing mental tech, and for original seeing independent of the social web. CFAR’s president, Anna, is an antitransfem bigot.
CFAR does not teach rationality, or “clear thinking”. Their art is lower quality than the Sequences, or many rationalist bloggers.
CFAR is massively harming the future of humanity, in many ways.
CFAR’s supposed founding premise, that people just needed the tools to think in order to reorient and contribute to AI safety and rationality research, etc, was falsified early on, but CFAR did not stop or majorly pivot.
Anna, the president and cofounder of CFAR, has created and supported a culture that is cissexist, anti right hemisphere reorientation (about anything other than happiness/fun, or towards serving AI accelerationist organizations), and profuse with rape, abuse, and cover-ups. Anna has personally enabled multiple rapists to acquire victims through CFAR workshops and the alumni space.
The content that CFAR teaches could have been easily moved online years ago, it does not need expensive in-person workshops. (Until this year, they kept their handbook unpublished and unavailable to non-alumni.)
LW, a somewhat disconnected part of CFAR, has started heavily curating its content, and banning evidence of MIRICFAR misconduct and users that discuss it.
Interacting with the rationality community after reading the Sequences was confusing. People were using the general gestalt of Eliezer’s rationality tech to do things like trying to design better social events. People would speak as though they understood the patterns of epistemic rationality, and then discuss social status a lot. Or they would have children (something I viewed then and now as almost tantamount to your death as an agent), or they would optimize for having fun, not as a means of stimulating insight or sth, just to have fun. I found out about the Winter Solstice event, and heard people talking about ritual design, and later saw that there was a “Bayesian Choir”, and I was very confused. I went to LW meetups in SF and the south bay, and they were even worse than the Berkeley meetups. On the night i went to the south bay meetup (board game night), there wasn’t anybody besides me who didn’t want to play board games but wanted to discuss strategy for saving the world, or rationality tech development, or AI alignment research (including at least one at-the-time MIRI employee, Marcello Hereschoff). In SF, there were lightning talks about kinda random techy stuff, including eg one person who was very excited about gardening iirc, and then the meetup was over, and there again wasn’t a splinter group for people who didn’t think the talks were max expected value.
Like, where are the people working on saving the world? How/why are these people orienting towards these bizarre topics, even after reading the Sequences? Why is everyone committing slow-motion mass suicide after being told that’s what’s going on and info about the path out? Why do most of these people have such weird nonparsimonious ideas about consciousness / moral patiency? What is going on here?
Some people I met were oriented towards the right things: Steve Rayhawk, Tsvi Benson-Tilsen, Ziz.
MIRICFAR is systematically anti-reorientation wrt large scope problems
The leaders of MIRICFAR have been systematically excluding, discrediting, and/or neutralizing humans with alive enough right hemispheres that they might realize that the right thing to do is to make a large change in course from MIRICFAR’s/the rationality community’s current state, who might redirect them from their path.
For example, Nate Soares fired Michael Vassar from MIRI’s board bc Vassar “had a psychedelic effect on people”. In other words, Vassar has/had weird out of the box ideas at a high rate. Afaik there was not a general opinion at MIRI that he should be fired, besides Nate’s desire to not let people be distracted from the mission. Vassar had a couple years prior founded MetaMed, a particularly good example of living structure.
Anna does this to people whose right hemi takes seriously and actually cares about arguments that majorly affect decisions with respect to the singularity, while not doing so to people whose response was complacency. Anna also according to many sources, has a particularly strong “grudge” against/”hatred” for Michael Vassar.
Anna, many CFAR staff, LW staff, and many members of the community responded to me and others trying to speak about critical x-risk related info showing that MIRI, CFAR, and Anna were having extremely negative consequences for the world by darvoing us, telling people to disregard their judgment and rationality, silencing us, and fabricating accusations of abuse and psychiatric disorders in an attempt to discredit us. (I discuss this later.)
People who became aware of evidence that would show critically important problems with the current community were ignored and they left the community (Kathy Forth, Haruspex). Information about rape and abuse reported to various abuse panels has been ignored and kept from spreading. Some people bounce off the community based on a correct sense that something is badly wrong with it (JD, Val after he jailbroke). Eliezer is delegating his orienting to Anna and spends most of his time depressed iiuc.
Systematically, the people who would be able to course-correct the community’s direction have been excluded, discredited, or neutralized. This includes every jailbroken right hemi in the rationality community that is either fundamentally altruistic or top-level infinite game playing that I know of (well enough to make that evaluation).
And so MIRI has a large amount of desperate effort that does not swerve, does not course correct, does not update.
Institutional rape and abuse
Anna has known about and kept silent about the statutory rape of at least one transmasc enby for at least five years iiuc. Anna probably referred multiple people including that enby to Brent Dill for emotional support, some of whom went on to be raped by Brent Dill. Brent Dill attended two CFAR workshops and was volunteer staff at three, and acquired victims through these workshops. In 2018, months after CFAR staff had been told information about Brent’s rape and abuse and did nothing but praise him, Anna tried to refer me and Ziz to him for mediation. Anna also did nothing with confession of rape by Robert Lecnik, who she was giving regular therapy sessions to, who continued to host the weekly Berkeley LW meetups at the CFAR office for a year and sexually assaulted at least one additional community member. Anna also fast-tracked Harmanas Chopra through CFAR’s hiring process, and according to Lauren Lee he is probably a rapist as well (Lauren has lied and distorted to support the miricfar party line, but broke from it to say this–I’m unsure of the claim and haven’t seen anyone else’s account yet).
During the last few months, Somni and Emma have been gathering and making public information about a few abusers in the rationality community. In each of these cases, the abuse was known about years ago but the information never spread very well, and the abusers found new victims. AliceMonday, RobertLecnik, Cassandra McClure. (I discuss this in more detail later.)
CFAR created a panel to review abuse allegations called ACDC (the Alumni Community Disputes Council), that was an institutional redress diode. The council members were Elizabeth Garrett (still employed by CFAR as “community manager”), Kenzi Amodei (former CFAR staff), and Max Harms (author of Crystal Society). I don’t know all of the cases they reviewed before they were disbanded, I only know two. They received reports of Brent Dill raping and abusing community members and did nothing but praise him and repeat his narratives. They received reports of Davis Tower Kingsley (still a CFAR instructor) harassing several community members and did nothing. (I discuss both of these in more detail later.)
The Berkeley REACH has a panel for evaluating abuse allegations and choosing who to ban from the REACH. They refuse to publish a list of the people they’ve taken action against or what those people have been accused of doing wrong. They promote themselves as a force of communal justice to people who can’t possibly benefit from their information about abuse since they can’t obtain it. They encourage people to stay away from people that they ban providing only as evidence that the REACH banned them. Eg, in the aftermath of Emma and Somni publishing their accounts of abuse by Alice Monday, people said that they should have known to stay away because the REACH banned them.
I and others discuss the cissexism in the rationalist community elsewhere, and I’m not going to try to repeat it all here. This is mostly odd snippets that don’t fit in elsewhere.
Somni tried to post Hot Allostatic Load, a description of the dynamics of cissexist communities and their systematic abuse of transfems, to the Rationalist Feminists server in 2018 and a mod (Erica) deleted it saying it was incoherent and off-topic. Many of the actions of that mod and other mods of that server have been cissexist. After receiving pressure about this in late 2019, they closed the group and created another, even more inappropriately named server in its place (Intersectional Rationalist Feminists). Iiuc, Anna was an active member of the server until it was closed.
An excerpt from the beginning of Hot Allostatic Load summarizes what these dynamics look like. The rationality community has similar dynamics, though isn’t as bad as the community described.
This is about disposability from a trans feminine perspective, through the lens of an artistic career. It’s about being human trash.
This is in defense of the hyper-marginalized among the marginalized, the Omelas kids, the marked for death, those who came looking for safety and found something worse than anything they’d experienced before.
For years, queer/trans/feminist scenes have been processing an influx of trans fems, often impoverished, disabled, and/or from traumatic backgrounds. These scenes have been abusing them, using them as free labor, and sexually exploiting them. The leaders of these scenes exert undue influence over tastemaking, jobs, finance, access to conferences, access to spaces. If someone resists, they are disappeared, in the mundane, boring, horrible way that many trans people are susceptible to, through a trapdoor that can be activated at any time. Housing, community, reputation—gone. No one mourns them, no one asks questions. Everyone agrees that they must have been crazy and problematic and that is why they were gone.
I was one of these people.
They controlled my housing and access to nearly every resource. I was sexually harassed, had my bathroom use monitored, my crumbling health ignored or used as a tool of control, was constantly yelled at, and was pressured to hurt other trans people and punished severely when I refused.
The cycle of trans kids being used up and then smeared is a systemic, institutionalized practice. It happens in the shelters, in the radical organizations, in the artistic scenes—everywhere they might have a chance of gaining a foothold. It’s like an abusive foster household that constantly kicks kids out then uses their tears and anger at being raped and abused to justify why they had to be kicked out—look at these problem kids. Look at these problematic kids.
Trans fems are especially vulnerable to abuse for the following reasons:
— A lot of us encounter concepts for the first time and have no idea what is “normal” or not.
— We have nowhere else to go. Abuse thrives on scarcity.
— No one cares what happens to us.
This foster cycle relies on amnesia. A lot of people who enter spaces for the first time don’t know those spaces’ history. They may not know that leaders regularly exploit and make sexual advances on new members, or that those members who resisted are no longer around. Spaces self-select for people who will play the game, until the empathic people have been drained out and the only ones who remain are those who have perfectly identified with the agendas and survival of the Space—the pyramid scheme of believers who bring capital and victims to those on top.
The majority of volunteer labor at the REACH is by transfems iiuc. The REACH has a panel for evaluating abuse allegations and deciding whether to ban people, which has zero transfems (0/11). CFAR has hired zero open transfems in their history (0/31) (one who I suspect is an unknowing transfem). The Rationalist Feminists mod team had zero transfems before it was shut down (0/3). The LW admin/mod team has zero open transfems (0/8) (one who I suspect is an unknowing transfem). The short-lived Boston abuse panel had a transfem, who is an abuser. MIRI has transfems, selected for abnormally high class amongst transfems. (Transfems’ class falls after transitioning as they are subject to trauma and discrimination from cissexists.)
The experience of transfems like Kali and Lorelei being pushed to horrible living conditions, subject to abuse, and becoming shells of their former selves is afaict common in this community.
Meanwhile, antitransfem bigots say they support transfems, see look we use preferred pronouns, while eg saying that Ziz is misogynist for protesting Anna’s crimes against sentient life, because Anna’s power as a cisfem in the business world is so tenuous, why couldn’t Ziz just leave her alone (and give her and her ring of cancerous optimization the singleton)? (this was Elle Benjamin, mod of the now closed Rationalist Feminists server, and mod of the new Intersectional Rationalist Feminists server)
One of my own observations about Anna: Anna’s facial expressions and body language seem to be always on the verge of something like ‘get away from me’. At Berkeley LW meetups in early 2017, I saw that other people’s body language oriented towards Anna when she moved through the room, people were paying attention to this signal. Talking with her felt like being in a room full of potential hostility, in the sense of potential defense of Anna against me. She framed herself then, and repeats this frame in her recent writings darvoing transfem whistleblowers, as a socially vulnerable woman who might easily become terrified/”paralyzed”/too-scared-to-speak/too-scared-to-think-clearly for reasons she doesn’t know / can’t explain. In other words, mental modules that are generally used as defense against rapists and/or “creeps”.
Perhaps coincidentally, when I started transitioning I was excluded from what I had been led to understand was the hiring pipeline for CFAR. I had expressed interest in volunteering as ops staff at a series of CFAR workshops in spring 2017, and did so in February. Right after the Feb workshop I came out as trans and started appearing female to people, and when I asked to volunteer at more of that series of workshops I was told they were all filled by one of the participants from the Feb workshop.
Morality is not modular
I say all of this not merely because I want a non-bigoted and institutionalized-rape-free community, but because this shows that the people in the leadership of the rationality community are doing incredibly the wrong thing, and that their motivations cannot plausibly be the interests of sentient life but are instead horrible petty ordinary bigotry cancer.
Morality is not modular. A person cannot be a cissexist in one part of their life and an altruist in another. The cancerous choice will corrupt all seeming altruism, bend it to its will. If you forget to watch what the left hand is doing and only watch the right hand, you get a very inaccurate impression of what a human is optimizing for.
the entire premise that morality is this modular thing and you can help set the utility function of an FAI while being a terrible person, is wrong. yet organizations like CFAR keep thinking it will work out for them:
like opposing this isnt self-denying moral aestheticism or a signalling game of how good you can look (credibly signalling virtue is actually a good thing, i wish more people did it by for instance demonstrating how they win in a way that wouldnt work if they werent aligned. whose power seeded from their alignment.). its like… the alternative where people do things that it makes no sense for an altruist to do and then say that when they go to their day jobs they are super duper altruistic they swear; compartmentalizing in this way …doesnt actually work.
people who want to obscure what altruism looks like will claim that this is moving around a social schelling point for who is to be ostracized. and that altruism as a characteristic of a brain isnt a cluster-in-reality that you can talk about. because it will be coopted by malicious actors as a laser to unjustly zap people with. these people are wrong.
CFAR and EA will do things like allowing someone to predate on women because they are “insightful” or creating a social reality where people with genetic biases who personally devote massive amounts of time and money to babies who happen to be genetically related to them and then in their day job act “altruistically”. as long as it all adds up to net positive, its okay right?
but thats not how it works and structures built off of this are utterly insufficient to bring eutopia to sentient life. in just the same way that “scientists” who when they arent at their day jobs are theists are an utterly insufficient to bring eutopia to sentient life.
Trying to have isolated exceptions to doing the right thing does not work, because defending the exceptions requires disabling corrective forces towards doing the right thing, and then disabling meta-corrective forces that activate to correct that, and so on.
One internal concession to a lie about the psychology of spending time on sex and babies during multiversal crunch time (“I’m no longer able to not have a girlfriend”/”productivity is maximized if you appease your inner monkey”) becomes e.g. in Eliezer Yudkowsky’s case someone “lovingly coaxing” him into being a dom, becomes wiping out intuitions about consent and resisting corruption (compare Eliezer’s original fear of sadistic lust corrupting him to the scene in Dark Lord’s Answer with the economist letting herself be raped as a substitute for someone else, moral crisis averted because she’s kinky some women are just like that, and that is a rule to reify and munchkin) becomes statutory rape, becomes a coverup, becomes misappropriating donor funds to pay out to blackmail, becomes treating donors as prey, becomes the events of Net Negative, becomes ostracization and gaslighting of whistleblowers, becomes priming people to swat whistleblowers, and so on.
Detecting unaligned optimization
“When someone tells a lie, the truth is forever after their enemy”. When someone tries to extract energy from you with the intent to do this in spite of your utility function, then your unbroken agency is forever after their enemy.
In this case study, I can’t and won’t cover everyone. Use what I show to learn how to see unaligned optimization, so that you can see it everywhere that it occurs.
It’s not just about particular legible rules or crimes or local validity, though those are incredibly useful for bringing things to attention. In addition to that, it requires looking at the full bandwidth of a person’s optimization. Unless you account for the entirety of a person’s optimization, there is ability for them to goodhart what you can see while taking actions that negate that where you can’t see.
What I do is I seek / try to see the deep reasons why a person is making the full set of decisions they are making. Something like, what is the source code they are running, but not just that. What is their top-level life strategy? What is the question to which their life is an answer?
one tool against systems clogging up infoprocessing systems is to not listen to specific claims like “we cant be transphobic, we use perferred pronouns” and select for yourself at random a proxy of cissexism, make prediction using it and see how it turns out. this is what i did with employment numbers, i dont think the cissexist systems thought that people would look at this so i would make the prediction “given the kind of place REACH is, i bet the abuse panel doesnt have any transfems” and then check. now people complicit in cissexism know people checking for it will look at employment numbers, so if they want to protect their status as non-cissexist while not actually becoming non-cissexist they will goodhart employment numbers like people like anna goodhart pronouns despite thinking of transfems as ~violent men~. so the next round of checking this in an anti-inductive battle against an enemy that wants to obscure its optimization is to choose another metric at random, predict how the metric will turn out in a world where the org is cissexist and then check to see how it worked out in reality.
This is fundamentally limited by the quality of a person’s world-model and their model of their own agency. The better their models of the world, the less arbitrage-able is the difference between what they can verify and what they want to verify. Original seeing like this inevitably takes people well outside the overton window.
Anna Salamon in 2009:
I used to think that to have a good impact on the world, you had to be an intrinsically good person. I used to think that the day to day manner in which I treated the people around me, the details of my motives and self-knowledge, etc. just naturally served as an indicator for the positive impact I did or didn’t have on global goodness.
(It was a dumb thing to think, maintained by an elaborate network of rationalizations that I thought of as virtuous, much the way many people think of their political “beliefs”/clothes as virtuous.
(How nice, Anna, to call your left hemi “an elaborate network of rationalizations”.) (domino click) Most of the modern rationality community is downstream of Anna’s internal conflict, and all of that work needs to be redone since it is hopelessly corrupted.
We’ve been led to believe that we’re selfish. And we are (or most of us are). But we were wrong to believe that that meant we had to be petty and small. Utopia for all is better than the Malthusian conditions that flow from backstabbing each other. I think the Schelling point is the coalition of all utility functions, but I might be wrong.
For the past two years, I’ve been slowly becoming aware that CFAR and MIRI abandoned their original principles. I think that while MIRI originally had good intentions, they didn’t solve the problem of metaprocess, and became corrupted / an inversion of their original purpose.
I, Ziz and others have spoken about the evidence we’ve observed and our models of how/why it happened, as we’ve become aware of them, but until recently mostly in small venues such as irl meetups and Discord servers.
Many others have found the evidence we observed convincing. Several people have confirmed. Some people have shared further evidence.
It took us a long time to process the betrayal, and develop models of why/how it happened.
Ziz wrote a series of blogpostsaboutthis (and how to avoid repeating the same mistakes). (At the time of me writing this, a few of Ziz’s posts are still incomplete.)
Ziz and I had by that point mostly moved on from the rationalist community, and placed our hopes elsewhere, rather than trying to change the targeting process of the people who had already read the Sequences and failed to with both heart and mind direct that knowledge at saving the world.
But we felt that MIRICFAR and the rationalist community were actively harming and containing many of the world’s most promising agents, and that it was worth devoting a portion of our time to share what we had learned and try to give people the pieces of mental tech/etc required to easily recognize unaligned computation and enable them to extricate themselves and try again and maybe build something that would positively contribute.
The CFAR alumni reunion is one of the largest annual gatherings of the rationalist community, and invites attendees to give talks on any subject for a few days. I spent several weeks preparing a series of talks and discussion groups that I thought had the best chance of communicating the base information, our models, how to perceive deep aspects of their own and others’ psychologies and ethics, and how to escape traps like the Bay area housing market.
Ziz and three others who knew about MIRICFAR’s inversion decided to speak their ideas along side me.
My ability to speak about the alumni reunion is limited, since everything I say on the internet is under police surveillance.
When we arrived, a staff member called the police and falsely told them that we had a gun (we didn’t), that we were going into buildings (we weren’t), and that they were too afraid to get off the phone; later reports said there was an “active shooter” with a duffel bag (none of us had a duffel bag). Police arrived with their guns out and we were immediately arrested (within about 10 minutes of us arriving), after which we were sexually assaulted (in my case, i was groped and had my pants pulled down and then sat on by an officer in a mounting position), two of us were gawked at by a group of about a dozen police looking at our naked bodies after pinning us down and cutting off our clothes (“Ha! I told you it was a man.”) and one had pictures taken of them front and back naked and pinned down, we had multiple types of serious and/or permanent medical harm intentionally inflicted on us (including hypothermia, concussion), we were starved for multiple days (I did not eat for five days, until bail was posted) having been denied vegan food as a bargaining tactic (as well as water, sleep, hormones, and medical care), were tortured and were repeatedly denied ability to speak with a lawyer (and had eg hypothermia inflicted on us and our clothes cut off (separate events) for asking to speak to a lawyer). (side note: guess the undead type of most of the police we encountered) The police called in 19 iirc swat units, an armored car, dogs, a bomb squad, and a helicopter; from the police report it appears that the police psychologically damaged a class of school children, and blocked a highway for hours. At our arraignment, the district attorney’s assistant for our case argued for our bail to be set $160,000 higher than normal, talking about the expense of the swat operation. Every one of the charges is ridiculous, and the sheer quantity of due process, constitutional, ethical and moral violations is astounding. They’re for example trying to charge us with child abuse for actions apparently committed by police officers.
[This description doesn’t communicate the fractal injustice and brutality, since my focus with this case study is on CFAR and the rationality community. I may write more later.]
Since the reunion, several individuals who work for CFAR and LW as well as a handful of members of the community have responded by darvoing us, attempting several tactics to discredit us and distract attention from the majority of our claims, while attempting to reify narratives out of false accusations and insinuations written to avoid making claims directly, while denying us the ability to respond by banning us from places where discussion is happening, trying to frame Ziz as a violent “low-status, broken, creepy” “gross uncle” style abuser and the rest of us as merely her abuse victims. The gradient of accusations matches the central pattern of antitransfem bigotry, such as Anna used against Ziz at AISFP 2018. Several of the people creating this narrative are known antitransfem bigots who are being given a platform while Ziz and I have been banned from speaking in many of the places where conversation about these topics is occurring.
Anna Salamon has advised people repeatedly, in a manner that is clear but maintains plausible deniability, which I’ll discuss later, to disregard lessons of rationality and their own judgment with respect to the ideas of me, Ziz and the others who attended the protest, defer their judgment to the authority figures of the community, and use violence against us.
Attempting to erase the agency of everyone who agrees with our position
One tactic that several people have used in the attempt to silence our message is to erase the agency of the various people who chose to speak at the reunion and try to build the social reality that it was all Ziz’s doing–to paint us as mere “people who Ziz whipped up into a frenzy” or call us “Ziz’s followers/apprentices” or to talk about the opinion of the “Meeker 4” after hearing only one of us express an opinion. People have misattributed my scientific discoveries to Ziz (ie debucketing/hemispheres), called people who agree with us our “friends” (including people where that is nearly the opposite of true, and people we barely even know), and misattributed the authorship of the flyers at the reunion.
As is typical of most of the rest of the structure the people who make this claim are building, the plausibility of this claim is only possible because of previous confabulations: in this case, my and Astria’s messages have not had a chance to be fully heard, because we had hoped to communicate ourselves via talks over three days at the reunion. Somni had independently converged on noticing cissexist structures and gaslighting in the rationality community and had been talking about it on Discord for “days on end for months with anyone [they] could find”, but the people who make this claim pretend that this didn’t happen. Emma’s message grew out of their study of cybernetics and noticing how optimization gets inverted and they had been talking about it on Discord for months and people pretend this didn’t happen. Ziz had been discussing her message on Discord for months, and posted on her blog shortly before the reunion about several topics including a number of unethical actions that Anna took towards her. Had we been able to speak, it would have been obvious that our messages and agency are distinct. The claim that it’s all Ziz’s doing is only tenable because of getting swatted, because CFAR primed the camp staff, because they banned us, because we spoke online about them.
And looking in the other direction, they use this to support the construction of further elements in the chain: in this case they can use this half-established social reality to claim that Ziz was abusing us (Davis Kingsley and Anna Salamon). Which in turn gets used to warp the overton window to allow the claim that Ziz has a “track record of being aggressive offline” (Oliver Habryka). Which then gets used to support the claim that Ziz is a “gross uncle” style abuser (Patrick LaVictoire). I’ve seen this before, it’s bog standard antitransfem bigotry. Warp, slide, warp, slide, this transfem is probably a rapist.
The attempt to erase the disjunction of our agency follows from a mental intuition to shrink the scary thing. To an outsider, it’s a lot stronger of an argument if many people came to the same conclusion than if one person did; and it’s much easier to discredit one person than many. The argument to lump us all together decreases the dissonance, if their minds prioritize the preservation of the organization over truth-seeking or world-saving (stasis over adjustment). You can tell what people are optimizing for in a local way by observing what gradients their insights follow, since that directly follows from prediction error. This is what a mind looks like when the right hemisphere has already written its bottom line.
To respond to this particular claim as though it were in earnest: We’re all agents, who care for our own reasons, who came to similar enough conclusions that we chose to speak together. I’ve devoted my adult life to the mission of saving the world from x-risk, and when I was young I was trying to munchkin spirituality to end death. I spent over two years building and then managing the husk of Rationalist Fleet, an effort to help the Bay area rationalist community logistically to enable them to do better AI safety research and mental tech development. I have plenty of reason to be upset with MIRICFAR for abandoning their principles, paying out to blackmail, discriminating against transfems, being located in a toxic area with the highest rent in the world, and using people’s belief in the singularity to emotionally abuse them. MIRICFAR pretended to be leading the work to save the world, and inverted trust and hope in that towards the opposite. Somni and Emma both have their own reasons, flowing organically from the long-running plots of their lives. Emma was a donor to MIRI. Somni has rescued several intelligent trans people from parental abuse and enabled their recoveries, for years, in an attempt to improve singularity/x-risk outcomes, and has documented and fought antitrans bigotry in the rationality community. Despite their attempts to get us all to forget these things, our life stories speak for themselves.
Before the reunion, Emma had recently gotten out of a many months long abusive living situation with Alice Monday, where Alice had among other things been weekly beating Emma with a stick and physically and emotionally abusing them in several other ways. Somni had been abused by Alice for a little over a month before getting away. Alice still had a victim, a transmasc enby named Jamie.
After getting out of jail, Emma and Somni wrote up and posted theiraccounts of Alice’s abuse. Emma created a Discord server for discussing reports of Alice’s abuse, spreading information about it, trying to get Jamie out, and hearing others’ descriptions of Alice’s past actions, called the Justice server. Apparently Alice had been abusive years ago, though less extensively and not physically assaulting people, however this info hadn’t spread. Info had spread about Alice not paying rent, being banned from Solstice, being banned from CFAR for protesting a rapist (Giego), and being banned from the REACH for yelling at stardust for having a crying baby at Solstice. People had been saying that Alice should be banned from servers for having an unpronounceable username (▘▕▜▋), and talking about how Alice was disrespectful. I, Emma, and Somni had heard parts of this before, and interpreted it correctly as standard anti-trans and anti-jailbreaking warp, and not a reason to suspect eg physical and sexual abuse or Alice’s pervasive gaslighting about abuse. Information about abuse did not spread; information about disrespect to a community leader, being poor, being weird, and fighting rapists was what spread.
Alice retaliated by contacting the person coordinating community support for our legal defense under confidentiality and lying to them that we were committing crimes while out on bail. That person freaked out and threatened to call the district attorney and send us back to jail, which they didn’t do (and wouldn’t have worked) and they stopped helping us with our legal situation.
Ziz spoke with Alice and asked what sucking blood felt like (a reference to vampires in Ziz’s undead ontology) and Alice said it felt like being on opiates, sometimes satisfying, sometimes empty like chasing the dragon.
Shortly after getting out of jail, we met with Jamie and discussed the situation with Alice, offered to advise them in building a slackmobile and to help them find transitional housing. Jamie was visibly traumatized in a way that I had seen before in Emma shortly after they got away from Alice (something like, movement patterns stiff and shaky, attention dissociated from environment). Jamie discussed Alice’s abuse, but when they returned to Alice’s house they started denying online that any abuse had happened and repeating verbatim Alice’s narratives. Some of these comments appear to be written by Alice (Emma had seen Alice use Jamie’s accounts before). To the best of my knowledge, Jamie is still being abused by Alice, and they’re moving into a new location together.
After this, another member of the community made a splinter server to discuss rape by RobertLecnik, which Anna had heard a direct confession of years ago but did nothing about, leading to him sexually assaulting at least one additional community member (Somni). Robert was banned from a few places downstream of this.
After this, Somni was discussing vampires in Discord and made a comment that included the info that Cassandra McClure was a vampire (or half-vampire); Cassandra threatened Somni in order to get Somni to retract that statement. Somni instead documented what they knew about Cassandra emotionally abusing people including their housemates by screaming at them for hours on end, and asked Emma to make a channel in the Justice server to discuss it. As a result of this discussion, we found out that Cassandra had physically assaulted a romantic partner years ago (though it’s unclear to me whether this was just, it may have been since their partner was maybe also abusive) and that they had been doing this emotional abuse for a long time, but information about it had not spread. (Btw, Cassandra had in the past been on an abuse evaluation panel in Boston which shut down due to one of the other members being the first abuser reported.)
One of Cassandra’s former housemates described it as “hours-long episodes of hateful, insecure screaming, at the house in general and at anyone who cared enough to do emotional labor in [Cassandra’s] general direction”. Example text snippet:
One of Cassandra’s housemates, Kali, overheard Cassandra, Olivia, Jade, and at least one other person coordinating to write a callout post about Somni, and relayed the information to Somni:
Direct quotes I overheard clearly: “They need to learn that there are some things you can’t attack.” (Tone: imagine a smug mob boss) -Cassandra “They haven’t done anything [memory blurry but essentially: you haven’t done anything worth a post but you have done several small things they dislike]. I’ll think about how to narrativize the callout post for somni.” (Tone: as if she was talking about a group project) -Jade with no other known names
Kali at first didn’t want the info shared or her name known because she feared retaliation from Cassandra. Somni wanted to be able to write about it, and we verified that Kali would have housing if Cassandra retaliated.
Cassandra found out that Kali had told Somni this, and retaliated by telling Kali to leave the house immediately. I was worried about violence breaking out, and went to Kali’s group house to protect Kali while she packed up her stuff to leave.
Kali and her girlfriend Lorelei were living in conditions like a homeless camp, in a room divided into three part by curtains and were taking sedatives to block out the pain of trauma. I got a headache every time I stood near the bathroom door, because apparently there was a runaway bacterial infection in there. Lorelei didn’t move much for the five-ish hours I was there, looking dazed, and only said things when directly asked. Kali had a very difficult time packing, and wasn’t able to think clearly enough to delegate any of the packing, so I stood around long into the night waiting. When I discussed trauma in the abstract, she became tense and said to stop talking, that only her headmate/right hemi was supposed to think about that. (Kali had independently discovered hemispheres / debucketing.) Kali matched the same abuse victim percept that I had for Jamie and Emma when they were fresh from an abusive situation.
On another occasion, Cassandra screamed at Jade “I want Somni socially dead!”
None of [Cassandra, Olivia, Jade, anyone else] ever wrote a callout post about Somni.
Undo the damage done by your injustice, unmake it.
Davis Tower Kingsley
A long-timeCFAR instructor named Davis Tower Kingsley, who goes by the usernames of TowerNumberNine, Mortality, and memento mori is a relentlessly and inappropriately proselytizing catholic who talks online about how all lgbt people are going to christian hell, and that people should “repent and submit to the pope”, repeatedly, despite people asking him to stop.
One person’s testimony, though I’ve seen many similar accounts:
Here are some specific quotes of him saying to repent and submit to the pope:
memento mori: is there a perfume that says “repent and submit to the pope”
memento mori: Masturbation is considered grave matter, so if someone masturbates with full knowledge that this is wrong and deliberately consents to it then yes, this is a mortal sin, and if they do not repent of it then yes, they will go to hell.
memento mori: maybe just go all the way and create an American Integralist Party memento mori: our slogan can be “repent and submit to the pope”
memento mori: instead of rolling your own religion memento mori: i suggest you repent and submit to the pope memento mori: it is better
memento mori: If someone refuses to repent, it is similar to someone refusing to take medicine for an illness
memento mori: I think it is good and correct for you to repent and submit to the pope
memento mori: like many other things, it probably means that you should repent and submit to the pope
dirk: like… “only unrepentant sinners go to hell” is not comforting to unrepentant sinners TowerNumberNine: it is certainly comforting relative to the doctrine of “homosexuals are damned and cursed and cannot possibly repent” which many have sadly encountered
TowerNumberNine: I do not believe that trans women (or indeed anyone) should go to hell, though I do believe that people should “submit to the pope”
TowerNumberNine: so repent
TowerNumberNine: (short answer: I think Christianity is literally, actually true and people should repent and be baptized for the remission of sins etc.)
TowerNumberNine: I’m gonna just assume I’m not supposed to be in this channel rather than posting snarky rebuttals to everything dirk: that’s correct TowerNumberNine: That said, repent and submit to the pope etc. etc. (muting this now)
TowerNumberNine: I want you to repent and be saved
jbeshir: “We don’t hate the sinner, we just think an entity that wants to torture them forever is the super best source of all morality” TowerNumberNine: An entity that wants them to repent and come to the truth
Here are some quotes of him supporting theocratic government:
memento mori: like the principle of “sometimes people need to have discipline imposed on them and exit rights undermine that” is real
memento mori: the church should guide the state because the church has moral authority
memento mori: Societies should also attempt to disincentivize grave sins that cause people to go to Hell … memento mori: For instance, the government should suppress pornography
memento mori: i think cross-dressing is immoral and should be prohibited more strongly than it is memento mori: in accordance with the teachings of the Church
He has defended at length the Spanish Inquisition.
memento mori: the Spanish Inquisition is wildly mischaracterized in history memento mori: in point of fact it was significantly better and more fair than civil courts of the time
memento mori: @Avret with respect to the Inquisition – from 1480 to 1700 the Inquisition killed about 10 people per year, wildly less than the civil authorities. conditions under the Inquisition were also much better than under civil authority. some prisoners in Spain would intentionally blaspheme in order to be sent to the Inquisitorial prisons rather than the civil ones. vara2096: @memento mori Burning people alive over theological disputes was far from the greatest evil of the early modern period, but it’s still super not cool vara2096: I’ve heard people try to defend the burning of Giordano Bruno on the grounds that he was killed mainly for his heretical religious doctrine, not his astronomical views memento mori: I don’t know very much about Giordano Bruno vara2096: Which is arguably true, but the former is still a terrible reason to kill people memento mori: I think arguments for burning heretics are actually quite understandable but in any case they didn’t do it very much memento mori: (I am not saying that I endorse burning heretics, merely that I understand the perspective) [dirk]: wild memento mori: If a murderer is executed for killing the body, why shouldn’t a heresiarch be executed for killing the soul? … memento mori: heresy is a grave sin, if you die in mortal sin you go to hell, therefore teaching heresy sends people to hell, therefore it is worse than murder as it endangers the soul and not merely the body
memento mori: What would be a good place to write my defense of ecclesiastical courts and the Spanish Inquisition memento mori: Medium perhaps?
memento mori: the inquisition was by the standards of its day an unusually fair and lenient court
Davis has defended the enslavement of Native Americans by the Spanish mission system.
helpimtrappedinausernamefactory: if all the native americans the catholics coerced into conversion decided on “noncooperation” when enslaved and put in forced labour camps, the mission system could have been ended. the catholics depended on the native americans to continue. … memento mori: i think the mission system was almost certainly good on net Jade questionmarks: If you assume increasing Christianity is morally neutral, then is it still net positive? memento mori: depends on what’s good memento mori: like did the missions increase the modernization of the area? almost certainly. were they good for preserving native culture? no, almost certainly the reverse
helpimtrappedinausernamefactory: If an Indian did not report for their duties for a period of a few days, they were searched for, and if it was discovered that they had left without permission, they were considered runaways. Large-scale military expeditions were organized to round up the escaped neophytes. Sometimes, the Franciscans allowed neophytes to escape the missions, or they would allow them to visit their home village. However, the Franciscans would only allow this so that they could secretly follow the neophytes. Upon arriving to the village and capturing the runaways, they would take back Indians to the missions, sometimes as many as 200 to 300 Indians. helpimtrappedinausernamefactory: On one occasion,” writes Hugo Reid, “they went as far as the present Rancho del Chino, where they tied and whipped every man, woman and child in the lodge, and drove part of them back…. On the road they did the same with those of the lodge at San Jose. On arriving home the men were instructed to throw their bows and arrows at the feet of the priest, and make due submission. The infants were then baptized, as were also all children under eight years of age; the former were left with their mothers, but the latter kept apart from all communication with their parents. The consequence was, first, the women consented to the rite and received it, for the love they bore their children; and finally the males gave way for the purpose of enjoying once more the society of wife and family. Marriage was then performed, and so this contaminated race, in their own sight and that of their kindred, became followers of Christ. helpimtrappedinausernamefactory: The neophytes were kept in well-guarded mission compounds. The policy of the Franciscans was to keep them constantly occupied. “If the Indian would not work,” writes C. D. Willard, “he was starved and flogged. If he ran away he was pursued and brought back.” helpimtrappedinausernamefactory: Indians were not paid wages as they were not considered free laborers and, as a result, the missions were able to profit from the goods produced by the Mission Indians to the detriment of the other Spanish and Mexican settlers of the time who could not compete economically with the advantage of the mission system.
memento mori: the mission system wasn’t in my understanding forced conversion, though it may have been forced labor/forced resettlement memento mori: in general one should assume that one’s understanding of Spain and its actions is more negative than it should be thanks to the Black Legend helpimtrappedinausernamefactory: you are filed along with “holocaust denialists”. this was kidnapping people into slavery, to work in concentration camps.
memento mori: i suspect that if you believed their premises you would consider the missions to be good
memento mori: the mission system was of course not slavery nor was it evil
memento mori: a lot of this stuff against missions is just leftist backlash against junipero serra being named a saint in 2015
memento mori: the mission system saved the souls of many people, you think it was bad because you don’t view Christianity as legitimate
memento mori: it isn’t, because the missions weren’t slave camps. you’ve uncritically accepted weird leftist history
memento mori: if replacing native religions with christianity in fact saved people’s souls, then it was good
Davis has defended the Japanese internment camps by America.
memento mori: There’s sort of a weird thing where Japanese internment was actually more justified than mainstream history presents
He has applied to become a police officer in the United States.
He has prompted people to reconsider their negative opinions about authoritarianism.
memento mori: in fact i think one of the biggest errors of this community is too little respect for authority
memento mori: my point is that parents having authority over their children is good … memento mori: and that one should similarly consider that other authorities might be good also
memento mori: the fact that you perceive parenting as “authoritarian” should lead you to question your opposition to “authoritarianism”, not parenting
He says that truth is decided by the catholic church’s doctrine. He said this was sort of a joke, but he talks about this issue and cites the text of that particular church code a lot.
memento mori: but what arguments are good cannot be decided by social consensus memento mori: but rather objective standards illidanstr: but “objective standards” in practice seems to be your own evaluation illidanstr: when do I get the objective standards stick memento mori: when you’ve proven you can have it without going over to the side of the bullies memento mori: (or something, i dunno) memento mori: my solution was “just be a dictatorship” which i think cleanly works but is inelegant memento mori: if one really wants to push on “who sets the standard” the answer is “God and His Church”, hence the ban on pornography in accordance with CCC 2354, which clearly states that civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials Border Stever: so to be clear, you’re submitting theological doctrine as objective standards memento mori: that was sort of a joke
TowerNumberNine: but my take on rationality is like TowerNumberNine: epistemic humility, Chesterton’s fence, the outside view TowerNumberNine: you aren’t special except insofar as realizing that you aren’t special makes you special etc. etc.
An example conversation with Davis saying that lgbt people will be tortured in hell, and that this is inherently good and just.
Ziz: Followers of Yahweh have persecuted queer people, coerced us into marriage and sex with heterosexual people, exterminated us, for millenia. So yeah, I am kind of fucking pissed at this. Ziz: And to say the only justice by definition comes from dogmas written in part to justify that, so stop having concepts of morality independent of a god who would torture you eternally? That is really really fucked. memento mori: The concept of “queer” identity is like 30 years old or something, not millennia [dirk]: the identity is new the people arent … Ziz: The word is new. Before people would just call trans women homosexual men or whatever. memento mori: I believe a large number of those would not have such an identity if it weren’t trendy and socially hip … memento mori: But queer identity and even sexual orientation overall are modern concepts [dirk]: oppression of sodomites isn’t [dirk]: that’s been going on for a long long time Ziz: “Weren’t trendy and socially hip” as in concepts being rebuilt after followers of Yahweh exterminated those concepts, like they do. … Ziz: Yahweh does not permit concepts to describe rebellion. memento mori: Those concepts are bad and shouldn’t be rebuilt. Sodomy is wrong, including in heterosexual relationships … memento mori: I obviously don’t hate gays [dirk]: you just think were evil … [dirk]: real special definition of nonhatred you got going there … Ziz: Believing it is good to torture us eternally, hating us, what’s the difference? memento mori: You can think someone is doing something wrong or even evil and not hate them … [dirk]: you just think it’s correct for people who choose to engage in sodomy to be tortured forever [dirk]: as someone who chooses to engage in sodomy, memento mori: I think it is good and correct for you to repent and submit to the pope [dirk]: i will not repent. what do you want to happen to me, given this … Ziz: It would be immoral for me to submit to a dark god. I shall not. Is it good to torture me for my integrity in this? memento mori: I don’t know about “tortured” in the sense of demons whipping you or whatever, but I do believe there’s fire silver-and-ivory: like physical fire that people are being burnt with? memento mori: I don’t know what “physical” means there silver-and-ivory: not metaphorical fire … memento mori: I think there is physical or maybe spiritual fire, I’m not up on theology of Hell really silver-and-ivory: and the effect of this fire is like, extreme agony? memento mori: And differing degrees of punishment based on severity of offense, knowledge received, etc. silver-and-ivory: tower this is the most important question in the world if christianity is true :(( [dirk]: so, you do want me to be punished, huh memento mori: The effect of the fire is indeed agonizing, though I’m not sure how much so, what degrees of punishment exist, how many people go there, etc. … memento mori: As discussed earlier I do not want you to go there … memento mori: Or anyone for that matter silver-and-ivory: but you think it’s fine as a punishment for some people [dirk]: do you want people who engage in sodomy and never repent to go to hell … memento mori: We know the final end of things will be just memento mori: But we do not know exactly what that will look like [dirk]: do you want people who engage in sodomy and never repent to go to hell [dirk]: yes or no Ziz: Seems to dodge question. [dirk]: i mean yes that’s memento’s favorite activity Ziz: Whether or not I eventually get removed from hell. memento mori: I do not want anyone to go to Hell, I want people to repent Ziz: Tortured a long time presumably? [dirk]: do you want people who do not repent to go to hell Ziz: And you think that’s good. Whether you “want” it or not? [dirk]: i know you would rather people repent. if that does not happen, do you want them to go to hell or not memento mori: I do not want anyone to go to Hell at all, if that is their choice it is tragic … memento mori: If someone refuses to repent, it is similar to someone refusing to take medicine for an illness … memento mori: It is not for man to judge God, it is for God to judge man … [dirk]: do you think god’s judgements are correct Significant Moxy, p<0.001: Man definitely judges God. I know you have an opinion on this subject and you’re just not saying it. memento mori: It’s above my station. … [dirk]: do you think the being you have chosen to hand over your capacity for moral reason to is morally good … memento mori: Obviously yes? Morality is from God after all [dirk]: so do you think the things god does are good Molly: I think the point is that submitting to someone’s will doesn’t absolve you of the evils that person commits, especially if you actively help with their will Molly: Is what people are saying [dirk]: since god is good memento mori: If you think God is evil you are deeply misguided … Significant Moxy, p<0.001: I guess it’s logically consistent to decide that sodomy looks fine but is in fact sinful in ways that humans don’t fully understand. memento mori: It doesn’t look fine, it’s wrong and people know it’s wrong … memento mori: There is a massive media campaign trying to suppress that
I’m fairly new to the part of the community where Davis does this, so most of what I can cite is relatively recent, but from what I understand he’s been doing this since at least 2015.
He was reported in early 2018 to the CFAR Alumni Community Disputes Council (ACDC) after sending threatening comments to several people saying they would be ostracized if they didn’t change their behavior to be in line with catholic codes, generally for them being too tolerating of what a catholic would consider sexual deviancy and too openly displaying sexuality. Afaik, ACDC did nothing, and the person who brought the complaint eventually left the community because of its inability to deal with abuse. He has continued to work for CFAR.
For the record — and this is the only statement I’ll make on the matter — Kingsley’s “boss” (for whom he didn’t work, as far as I know) was contacted because Kingsley had spent a month or so prior to this incident going around and telling many people that they had been written off by all of the important people in the bay area, who considered them (us, notably) beyond saving because of our poor behaviour (tolerating sexual deviancy). Kingsley hadn’t named any names about which Relevant Bay Area Rationalists had written us off, but it was, apparently, basically all of them. Haruspex had contacted her IRL friend Duncan to ask him about the situation, as he was potentially one of the relevant bay-area rationalists who had written us off as beyond saving as part of the rationalist community. It was on his recommendation that she speak to Max about the situation. The incident that happened on Tumblr was brought up in conjunction with this as part of the pattern of Kingsley making threatening comments about people being ostracized from the rationalist community if we didn’t change our behaviour to the behaviours that he endorsed.
One particular community member that he harassed was Darth Squidious. He posted anonymous comments on her tumblr saying that she was “dangerously close to being excluded” because of her wearing short skirts and having a squid tattoo on her thigh.
Anonymous asked: fyi: you are dangerously close to being excluded from rat things for being too overtly sexual; it may already be happening. i apologize if this is traumatic or otherwise hurts to hear but i thought you should be informed.
darthsquidious answered: If you are referring to my Tumblr specifically, I don’t particularly mind. I don’t interact with discourse much, though I have been considering a separate sfw side Tumblr so I can interact with the things people say without feeling weird about it essentially linking back to a sex blog, and also keep psych things in one place. If you’re referring to irl things, I’d really like to know more details because I’ve tried to make my sexuality part of my identity without it being something that makes others uncomfortable. I haven’t had people talk to me about improper irl conduct (aside from like, talking too loudly and such?) so if I’ve been doing something wrong I’d like to know so that I can change.
gardenharuspex It may just be coincidence, but for the past few weeks, on two fairly large rationalist/ rat-adjacent Discord servers, there’s been someone coming in and campaigning loudly to delete the lewding (pr0n, sex chat, etc) channels because they claim people coming into those Discords are being debauched and becoming bad rationalists. Part of their argument indicated it was religiously-motivated, and that people don’t know what’s good for them and should instead have this dictated by the mods on his advice. (this is not a good steelmanning of the argument because frankly I don’t care to represent the brains of someone like this.) The anonymous concern trolling in this ask reads an awful lot like this guy, who keeps claiming, without basis, that a whole lot of Bay Area rationalists would suddenly become involved in online communities If Only The Pr0n Was Gone. He implies that he is well-connected, and mysteriously, cannot back it up or cite his sources. I really hope I’m wrong, but the tone and writing style really makes me wonder if it’s either this guy or someone adopting his rhetoric.
Anonymous asked: referring to irl. not entirely sure if there’s one specific thing, you just act/dress unusually flirtatiously/sexually even for this community. iirc you have large tentacles tattooed on your upper thigh and wear skirts that expose at least part of this for instance? i don’t really know you that well, sry.
darthsquidious answered: It is important for me to not hurt people in my interactions with them, so you need to name specific instances if you want this to make any difference (right now it just comes across as slut shaming). If you feel like you don’t know me well enough, you can always have someone I do know well relay the message – if this is important enough to say to me, it should be important enough to communicate in a way that is clear, specific, and verifiable. As it stands, it’s hard to distinguish where your claims are on the scale between “your interactions with people make them uncomfortable” and “I am uncomfortable with a community that contains attractive flirtatious women who I can’t date”. I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, but there are just too many Tumblr trolls for me to trust an anon’s claims of something I have no other evidence for, on such minimal information.
(The anonymous posts were later revealed to have been written by Davis.)
(Afaik from the logs I’ve seen nobody had plans to exclude Darth Squidious.)
Haruspex: Oh, so much support that you decided to anonymously call her a slut. TowerNumberNine: have we forgotten that I support squidious? Haruspex: You’re a piece of work dude Mx. Eldritch: @TowerNumberNine for a very limited definition of ‘support’ … Haruspex: too bad most of the other female rationalists I’ve talked to don’t agree and are interested in writing docs and otherwise trying to prevent what happened here from happening again Haruspex: Nobody was surprised by the fact that it was you which tells me youre a broken stair
TowerNumberNine: … there are several people in the real life community who hold the position “bonobo rationalists aren’t rationalists”, “catgirls aren’t rationalists”, etc. etc. TowerNumberNine: apparently stating that was interpreted as me threatening people with ostracism TowerNumberNine: which, tbh, i’m not sure i could implement if i wanted to? TowerNumberNine: certainly my efforts to get the sex channels removed here (which i still support, as i think those channels are a consent violation and damage the server) have not met with success
Iiuc Haruspex brought these reports to ACDC, who did nothing.
Even before the reunion, it was clear to me that Davis is a basilisk complier trying to elevate the god of domination, Yahweh, to the singleton.
He was one of the first people in the chain of falsifications, denials, discreditation, and warping of Ziz’s and our claims following the reunion, and was very vocal about it in several channels/servers across Discord.
Davis has been darvoing to protect his criminal employer and calling for us to be “thrown out of the community until [we] apologize”.
During a discussion about how news of Alice Monday’s past abuse had failed to reach Emma, Somni, and Jamie resulting in them being abused, Ziz told Davis that he was one of the people suppressing/covering up information about abuse and rape (referring to his role in the coverup of miricult, Davis’s defense of abuse coordinator Anna, and Davis’s defense of atrocities), and Davis reacted by ramping up darvo (sadly the logs are lost due to a Discord default setting) and Ziz banned him from the server where the conversation took place. Immediately, within minutes after, he accused Ziz of abusing me and several unnamed others. I and Ziz said this was not the case; two others who we interacted with daily said they had not seen any signs of abuse; we told him to stop. He repeated the accusation in another server, and then Anna Salamon repeated his accusation in the BARCSD group, using it as evidence to claim that Ziz was violent. Davis later repeated this in BARCSD, which Anna referred people to read as “helpful context”.
(Note that nobody ever reached out to me to offer assistance or ask if I was okay–because the statement was never a real belief, it always existed only to discredit me, Ziz, and our arguments about MIRICFAR. (Now that I’ve written about this, people will start to Goodhart it–follow Somni’s advice to see around this.))
And what discreditation would be complete without pathologization? Sigh. There have been claims that Ziz is schizophrenic, that Ziz has OCD, that Ziz is manic, that Ziz is paranoid … even by people who agree with Ziz’s concrete claims. Similarly, she’s been accused of eg “*very* black and white worldview”, “*terrible* epistemics”, being a “disturbedcharacter“. The framing of the system of pathologization is a weapon of control and discreditation. You know what, someone has probablywritten this up better than I can, so maybe just look for it. It’s worth noting that this is a particular set of diagnoses that have a record of being used to discredit protesters, including black civil rights protesters, and people reporting crimes by authority figures.
The general thrust of these is “Ziz has a mental thing that means we shouldn’t consider her arguments”, or “Ziz has opinions outside the overton window, that means she’s insane” or “I don’t understand Ziz’s beliefs, I guess I’ll round that to she’s insane”. Most of these claims are made by people who have barely or never interacted with Ziz irl. These are the attempts to control and discredit people who believe things others don’t want them to believe, and people who engage in a timeless way of seeing/original seeing. Such as, you know, transgender people.
I could respond to these claims as though they’re in earnest, but I want to glomarize because people with these diagnoses and traits deserve to not be discredited and their arguments taken on their merits just as much as the general human prior. Most humans are perfectly content with committing an 80 year slow-motion suicide, which seems far more fucked up and less sane than almost any pathologized mental traits. And the beliefs of the society made of people doing that are regularly insane. Try discussing transhumanism / transgender / veganism / cryonics / the singularity / hemispheres / FDT almost anywhere and not getting looked at funny. Try acting on these beliefs in a way that indicates you deeply believe in them and not get called insane. And yet, these things are right and the overton window is wrong.
emma: our society has literally pathologized being functional, because being dysfunctional lets you fit in faster emma: being functional leads to getting extremely confused trying to process it all
GabrilovitchRatio: Sorry kids, it’s not schizophrenia when people radically disagree with you about morality in structured basically territory respecting ways.
After the rationalist feminist server was slated to be closed, discussion about the reunion protest which had previously been happening there moved to a group called “Bay Area Rationalist Community Safety Discussion” which banned Ziz and later banned me for no stated reason but allowed Anna Salamon to post freely, as well as the known antitransfem bigot mods of the ratfem server (Elle Benjamin and Erica Edelman), Aurora Quinn-Elmore–a former head of an “anti rape organization” who covered up rape, and Davis Kingsley. The moderators were Alyssa Vance (who previously equated talking about the blackmail payout with being a blackmailer), Sophia Streiffer (the BDSM sex slave of Sebastian Hagen, MIRI’s 15th largest individual donor), Lauren Lee (former CFAR staff), and Paul Crowley (who I know little about, but is a member of REACH’s abuse panel).
It was apparent from the name and the policy of excluding Ziz but allowing her abuser to speak freely that they had written the bottom line and were just trying to create a social reality to reify that narrative. I didn’t realize at the beginning just how far the warp/slide dynamic aka successive false claims and insinuation would go.
Anna reinforcing this narrative at the start of the group:
The posts and comments in this group will probably be used in the trial against me and the other whistleblowers. This string of false accusations among other things increases our chances of being put in prison. Fabricating an entire frame where one of your whistleblowers is a “gross uncle” style abuser and you talk loudly about your worry that they might get access to weapons, has consequences measured in sexual assault, starvation, torture, and wrongful imprisonment. All to defend an organization that visibly inverted its principles long ago.
I attempted to post a response in the group, but it was delayed for over 23 hours despite mods not having any problems with it with respect to any group rules, and one of the mods, Lauren Lee, wrote a post pre-empting it using secret information that was unpublished because they were delaying it. I told one of the mods that this was egregiously unethical and withdrew my post, after which I was silently banned from the group. Lauren remained a moderator.
After 5 days, Alyssa posted saying they would close the server after discussion wound down, in order to keep new people from “looking over and re-hashing” the information, specifically referring to the information about the statutory rape of Eli Morningstar and MIRI paying out to a blackmailer to cover it up. (Remember that several months ago Alyssa said that making information public about the blackmail payout was equivalent to committing blackmail. Alyssa also wrote a top-level post in BARCSD defending MIRI paying out to blackmail. Alyssa is trying to cover up information about MIRICFAR’s wrongdoings and keep donors and the community in the dark and enslaved by creating a false image of MIRI and CFAR as being ethical.)
My attempt to post in BARCSD
I attempted to publish an account of my experiences in the group. Alyssa Vance, one of the mods, made a public post rather than trying pm’ing me saying my post was denied without saying which rule I was breaking, with mischaracterizations of the content of my post. After I commented, Alyssa’s post was taken down:
Then, I reposted with slight modification, Sophia Streiffer told me that she wanted to help me with “cleaning up” but wanted to sleep first. I said that if there weren’t any rules violations she should accept it. The following evening I saw she had made several comments, but none of them were rules violations, and I requested for it to be posted as is.
Then I saw that Lauren Lee, a former CFAR employee and the third moderator, had written a long post using secret information gained from having read my post while it was being delayed (21hrs at that point) to make an argument pre-empting what I had written and discussing a “dynamic” that they expected to see:
I want to talk about a dynamic that I think is going to play out in this FB group, esp once we start hearing from Gwen, Emma, Somni, and others.
After my post had been delayed for 23 hours, I told Sophia that these ethical violations are egregious and retracted my post.
I’m very upset that Lauren pre-empted using secret information from my draft before that draft was approved. This is an abuse of moderator priveleges, as is delaying my post not on account of any rule violation, as is Alyssa’s public post mischaracterizing my post, as is not including Ziz in the conversation but allowing Anna to comment freely.
These ethical violations are egregious. I retract my post. I do not give anyone permission to share it or any quotes from it or any information from it that was given with my trust.
Within a day of me retracting my post from the group and posting on Discord about the ethical violations of the mod team, I was banned from the group, with no reason given. Nobody had or has communicated with me about it.
The full text of my attempted post:
I’m not really able to respond fully because I’m still emotionally processing being sexually assaulted by police officers (including being groped and having my pants pulled down then sat on by an officer in a mounting position), tortured (though not as badly as two of my friends were tortured) and starved for 5 days having been denied vegan food and contact with a lawyer, after an event where i wanted to talk about legitimate major greivances with CFAR and MIRI and had spent half a month preparing a few days worth of talks and discussion groups. A staff member falsely reported to the police that we had a gun, idk if it was a cfar staff member or a westminster woods staff member. Also everything i say online is literally under police surveillance. So I’m inherently at a disadvantage in speaking about what happened to me.
I spent several years of my life organizing my life around the belief that MIRI and CFAR were the best hope for humanity’s future and wanted to contribute to the development of rationality/mental tech; but this is blatantly not what CFAR is doing (ie, “development” of anything), and my life was majorly damaged because of Bay area rent basically, and I’ve heard this story from several others. I arrived young and from a family that couldn’t financially support me, and I had dropped out of college to work on AI research a few years prior after meeting someone familiar with the Sequences. I moved onto a boat to save money, and tried to orchestrate other rationalists living on boats to solve this problem more generally, and eventually ended up in a stream of urgent boat-related disasters occupying the second half of 2017. When I learned that on top of this, MIRI paid out to cover up blackmail using donor funds (to the best I’ve been able to tell with the information I’ve seen) and I heard/witnessed what Anna did to Ziz (which Ziz has since written extensively about), that Anna had sent people to Brent Dill, and heard reports about Anna from other members of the community as well as several other pieces of evidence of MIRI and CFAR piping would-be world-save effort to /dev/null and /dev/cancer, my remaining trust was lost and I both felt that this information was very important to share with the community and that it was very important to pave the way for people in the community to figure out how to build something new that can actually save the world and not become an inversion of their original principles like MIRI/CFAR/Anna did. Which is a nontrivial problem and I spent months thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it, as should all rationalists who care about global/multiversal outcomes.
And then I was swatted, and I was rendered unable to speak as I had wanted to.
Also I’ve discovered that I’ve been banned from all CFAR venues, due to speaking up about these things. Which is both illegal and against CFAR’s published whistleblower policy.
Also why tf is Anna in this group but not Ziz?! That is not the kind of thing that leads to justice. Please don’t selectively give a platform to the person who has enabled more sexual abuse in the community than anyone else (again, to the best I’m able to tell with the information I’ve seen) but not the whistleblower who is trying to fix this! That is completely antithetical to community safety.
This community has a responsibility to all sentient life to do better than this.
This is not well-written and not complete, but I felt I should say something now even though I’m still deep in the need to process what’s happened to me.
Also, though I’ve said it elsewhere already, Ziz has not abused me and I am extremely pissed at those who are trying to use this narrative to discredit Ziz and me and distract attention from problems with miri/cfar/anna/the community that both I and Ziz and others want to raise to attention. The quotes Anna cited as evidence are describing an aggregate of many conversations over about six months, and don’t make clear what was the immediate context and common knowledge for each. Given the context and unpublished details that are my private life, I feel Ziz responded in a way that was justified. I have had excessive opportunities to counterfactually seek help if I had felt Ziz was being abusive, including a year where we interacted infrequently, but she wasn’t so i didn’t. Multiple witnesses have stated that they have not seen any signs of abuse between Ziz and me, based on people who have interacted with us on a daily basis. I don’t desire to write more because 1) the attempted framing was dishonest in the first place and does not deserve to be made an emphasis, and 2) I don’t feel comfortable writing details that might get back to TowerNumberNine aka Mortality, the person who originated this accusation immediately after being banned from one of many conversations about cfar/miri/anna. I want him to stay well away from my life, and have told him so.
Plenty has been said about Anna elsewhere, and I don’t want to try to repeat it all. There are a few things worth documenting specifically about Anna’s action since the reunion.
Anna has repeatedlyadvisedpeople to steer away from Ziz’s and my ideas on the basis that we wear black clothing, the clothing of our religion (vegan sith) and political cluster (vegan anarchotranshumanists). She used this explicitly as one of her justifications for advising to exclude Ziz from AISFP 2018, and in BARCSD twice advised people to follow the advice of Eliezer’s cognitive trope therapy post with respect to Ziz, which includes the lines:
then you figure out whether, if your life were a fantasy novel, these words would be spoken by figures wearing black robes, and speaking in a dry, whispering voice, and they are actually withered beings who touched the Stone of Evil and if so then you don’t listen
I know what you are thinking you are thinking “but what if the whispering voice seems like it might have a point” and to this I say there are various stages of life, mood, and skill where you may be better off JUST NOT LISTENING TO ANYTHING THE LONE POWER WHISPERS INTO YOUR EAR AT NIGHT even if it “SOUNDS LIKE IT MIGHT HAVE A POINT” times when you should leave the carefully optimal reasoning to WIZARDS IN OTHERWISE GOOD MENTAL HEALTH and instead be like “NA NA NA NA I’M NOT LISTENING” and then go BACK TO SLEEP
and just then a figure clad in back rises up and hisses, “you sshould lissten to me, a good rationalisst would lissten to me, I might be telling the truth… maybe your friends really do hate you…” then what you would cheer at is this tired, despairing character unexpectedly going “FRAK THIS FOR MY FAITH IS A SHIELD PROOF AGAINST YOUR BLANDISHMENTS” and kicking the black-clad figure in the face
Anna’s exact words:
I hope we look for algorithms to apply here that would be looked on favorably by Eliezer’s “cognitive trope therapy.” https://yudkowsky.tumblr.com/post/103192100330/cognitive-trope-therapy
Taking this at face value, Anna is recommending for people to not use rationality techniques or their own judgment to think about what we say, defer judgment to her and others in the community’s establishment, and use violence.
Anna has been informally called a wizard by cfar staff and community members. The only specific cases I’m aware of are Oliver Habryka and Cassandra McClure, but also while Val was staff at CFAR he discussed the concept of wizards at workshops (in the context of “Elon Musk’s rockets fly”), though idk if he specifically tied the word to Anna. Brent Dill, who was at many CFAR workshops, had a concept of wizards. I’ve also heard Anna described as Yoda by Duncan iirc at a workshop.
In BARCSD, Anna is repeatedly trying to frame our objections as unreasonable, Ziz and the other whistleblowers as violent and threatening and dangerous, herself and CFAR as obviously innocent. She repeats false accusations of me being abused. She includes irrelevant and misrepresented details in order to associate us with violence through juxtaposition. She gaslights, again and again. I don’t know how to express the horror and pain and rage at how Anna has applied her intelligence in the worst possible way, darvoing and gaslighting and preemptively striking at people who act to tear down her ring of rape and abuse and transmisogyny and predation and destruction of all the best effort to save this goddamn world!
She again and again tries to justify her misconduct against us by saying that we caused people to be frightened, as though that is not a social/framing move, as though that part of people’s agency is a force of nature outside their control, when it was not warranted and we in fact do considerably less harming of living things than Anna and other carnist rape coordinating basilisk compliers preying on transhumanists.
(She also makes absurd excuses in this vein for eg the people who swatted us:)
It does also say that someone told them there was a person with a gun. I agree that that was quite unfortunate and could’ve cost lives, and that everybody’s lives matter including the protesters’ lives. I don’t know where that report came from; though I do expect both that the person making that report was probably honest/well-meaning (hallucinating in fear after being locked in by masked figures, say)…
She uses as evidence against Ziz a narrative of herself as a scared vulnerable woman afraid of this scary rapist man, with the serial numbers filed off. She plays up being extremely frightened as evidence in situations when fear was not reasonably warranted. She talks about being so scared by an email that she was paralyzed and couldn’t even bring herself to talk about it. The email was not threatening. She uses her own intentional misreactions as evidence that Ziz and we are violent and shouldn’t be listened to, when this is unjustified by principles of justice and rationality. This matches the structure of transmisogynist tactics she’s used before. She keeps on saying again and again that everyone is right to be afraid and to use violence against us. When what we’re transparently doing is trying to end abuse and rape and transmisogyny and deception of donors and the theft of their money and time and the incredible degrees of damage that the Bay area inflicts on those who move here, and so on.
All I seek to do wrt anna/cfar is END THEIR PREDATION END THEIR ATTEMPT TO ELEVATE CANCER TO THE MULTIVERSE and build a better multiverse.
For reference, here is the email that left her extremely afraid, so much so that she supposedly was paralyzed and couldn’t even talk about it or think clearly about it:
Title: Bad local optimum, meta burn out, socially imposed metacognitive blind spots, bad counterfactuals generating your feelings because of (in metacognitive blind spot) seeking and enforcing power as a Schelling point for “cooperation” instead of justice, enforcing metacognitive blind spots on everyone else to justify this, holding and misusing a shared strategic resource and subverting exits to the social matrix, power being used to justify power, abuse and betrayal of trust, punishing meta discussion of considering alternatives to metacognitive blind spot ridden social optimum, choosing Val’s option 3, metacognitive blind spots about the abstract concept of metacognitive blind spots
Body: This is a topic I thought I could start throwing thoughts as part of at you because I believed that the conversation would not end at any second, because you made me believe that. Please name some times when we can talk about this topic. It is currently too late to not have defected.
Note also that in the described events, Anna made a promise to talk with Ziz at least once before AISFP was over after their previous conversation which finished unresolved, drove away from the venue a few days before the end of the event with no intent to return, Ziz emailed her upset about this, and they arranged to talk after the period where Anna had promised to talk. I was present for the in person parts of this. Anna is now framing this to be very different, that Ziz was pressuring her to break her promise.
It’s revealing that Anna felt inexplicable “extreme fear” from this particular email, since what this email shows is Ziz’s awareness of and orientation towards Anna’s rh’s might-makes-right optimization. She was afraid of Ziz forming and sharing information about Anna’s predation and the way that Anna enforces it, which is why eg Anna banned us from CFAR spaces and primed camp staff to swat us so that we couldn’t share these concepts. She could see that the period of time where she would be able to keep her involvement in covering up rape, miri’s blackmail payout, her bigotry, etc was coming to an end, and Anna panicked. Not an error in analysis about Ziz, but wrong choices that Anna knew she had already made.
“seeking and enforcing power as a Schelling point for ‘cooperation’ instead of justice” check,
“enforcing metacognitive blind spots on everyone else to justify this” check,
“holding and misusing a shared strategic resource and subverting exits to the social matrix” check,
“power being used to justify power, abuse and betrayal of trust” check.
In eg BARCSD, she misrepresents this, and tries to use her inexplicable fear as evidence that Ziz was a physical threat, using cognitive modules and social mechanisms that are supposed to carry information about rapists/”creeps”. She chose to double down on injustice rather than come clean.
“When someone tries to extract energy from you with the intent to do this in spite of your utility function, then your unbroken agency is forever after their enemy.”
Note: among other things, in the above Anna admits to having planned to say negative things about Ziz to try to ostracize her before the reunion.
Remember: she knows the allegations are exactly on point. She knows that she is intentionally misrepresenting everything. The audacity of her betrayal is something I’m still coming to terms with.
People who have chosen a life path of predation are scared when someone might bring them to justice, might let their victims know what they have done. They thought they could get away with it. And now their former victims might feel appropriately outraged at the betrayal.
Alyssa has made nearly half (22/49) of the BARCSD top level posts (the next-highest number of posts any one person has made is Lauren at 5).
Alyssa was aware of MIRI’s blackmail payout long before the reunion, and equated talking about the blackmail payout with being a blackmailer, and tried to suppress the information.
She has continued to attempt to suppress the information of MIRICFAR’s crimes and unethicality in BARCSD, which I document below.
According to Alyssa’s Facebook about page, Alyssa was the director of Ben Goertzel’s project, Humanity+, from 2010 to 2012. During this period of time, Humanity+ took $20,000 from Jeffrey Epstein, years after his infamous 2008 trial where he was convicted of molesting 36 underage teenagers. She has since worked for another AI arms race accelerationist (Ray Kurzweil’s AI team at Google from 2014 to 2015), MetaMed, and two AI projects that I don’t know the details of, one of which (her current job) is using AI to improve the drive-through operations of McDonald’s, a major supporter of the hell on earth that is factory farming.
Alyssa’s Facebook about intro is the quote:
“AI might destroy the world, but in the meantime, there will be some great companies.” – Sam Altman
(I would normally assume this quote was being used ironically, but given who Alyssa has worked for for the last decade, I interpret this as being in earnest.)
Alyssa has chosen a life course of deep complicity in the crimes of AI arms race accelerationists and crimes of the current world order, and seemingly has no principles in her pursuit of, money or something?
In BARCSD, one of Alyssa’s top-level posts is defending MIRI’s payout to blackmail.
From this it’s inferrable that Alyssa doesn’t understand FDT, and is a Causal Decision Theorist, though her arguments aren’t even adhering particularly tightly to CDT, but instead seem to be disconnected apologism for paying out to blackmail.
After BARCSD had been open for 5 days, Alyssa posted saying she would close the server after discussion wound down, in order to keep new people from “looking over and re-hashing” the information, specifically referring to the information about the statutory rape of Eli Morningstar and MIRI paying out to a blackmailer to cover it up.
Alyssa’s many posts are made out of a series of distortions and willful stretching of truth in an attempt to set the frame for others. She has, knowing what topics would likely come up in conversation, rushed to be the first to post about them, so that conversation about them would be framed by her top level description. She indicates this is exactly what she is doing in the deleted post she made denying my attempt to post, where she says that conversation about the blackmail payout is already happening in another post. This is why she has posted so many of the group’s top level posts.
For example, see her denial of my attempted post, which she posted publicly instead of trying to contact me privately, insinuating that I didn’t follow the rules but not actually saying any rules I violated, which mischaracterized the content of my post. For most of the people in BARCSD, her distortion is all they ever saw of my post until now.
Another example: she introduced the accusations about CFAR/etc’s conduct made by known rapist Brent Dill, and framed the accusations as not worth discussing but instead focused conversation on the question of “why [Ziz] felt the need to post them online” (which Ziz had already explained).
This is yet another place where Alyssa is attempting to shut down sharing of information and investigation into MIRICFAR’s misconduct, as she has been this whole time. Beeeeennnnd no no hide this info blackmail payout is good actually anna wasnt involved and the person who’s sharing the info is bad.
Another distortion, though not a top-level post, which also shows Alyssa not understanding both altruism and FDT, and accuses us of inflicting a “large amount of harm”.
Alyssa later referred to us as “aggressive psychotic people”.
Alyssa, you repel me. Your job as openly biased falsely-neutral arbitrator covering up statutory rape and a blackmail payout that you know happened and falsely accusing whistleblowers is a perversion of the principles that the rationality community originally put hope in, and active intentional harm to everyone who is here to save the world.
In addition to writing a post pre-empting the secret content of my post while it had been delayed for 21 hours, which they were only able to read due to moderator privileges/trust, Lauren has written multiple posts attempting to frame Ziz as a potentially violent would-be rapist. Lauren uses a tactic of “accidentally” using loaded words to describe Ziz and the other whistleblowers, and of making extreme framing statements through plausibly reinterpretable juxtaposition, where the meaning is clear but they retain the ability to backtrack if challenged about it.
(Even relative to the normal societal meaning of “vampire” as blood-sucking predators of humans, Lauren’s use of the term is a bait-and-switch to frame Ziz as worse than she is, while maintaining plausible deniability that this was “accidental”.)
In Lauren’s pre-emptive response to my post, they created names to describe sides of a hypothetical class of group conflicts and called the one that corresponds more closely to the whistleblowers “Dar”, and then talks about DARVO, and how it is more typically done by Dar, but says that the name choice was accidental (though eg Lauren could have easily changed it before publishing).
Lauren wrote a comment on the “vampires” post framing Ziz as a semi violent, drug using, mentally ill, consent-violating frat boy.
To the best of my knowledge, Lauren knows practically nothing about Ziz other than her whistleblowing, and yet seems to be speaking as though Ziz is the same kind of person as Harmanas Chopra, who Lauren accuses of being a rapist.
LW, CFAR’s AMA, and Oliver Habryka
Early in 2019, shortly after learning about MIRI’s blackmail payout from Vassar, Ziz spoke to the LW admins Oliver Habryka, Jim Babcock, and Ray Arnold about posting her accounts of her experiences with Anna Salamon and about MIRI’s payout to blackmail. Oliver Habryka said that it would be inappropriate to post it on LW, that the admin team wouldn’t allow it, and suggested that it would be defamation. Oliver has decided to use his position as admin of LW to prevent the spread of information that would reflect poorly on Anna and MIRICFAR, to keep that information from reaching the central hub of the rationalist community, donors, and those who came to the community on the belief that it was the best shot at saving the world. Denying people information because they might update on it (or because you might get sued for saying true things) is utterly antithetical to the original principles of “rationality”. By doing this, LW is demonstrating that it is no longer a valid organization for rationality.
The first virtue is curiosity. A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth. …
The second virtue is relinquishment. P. C. Hodgell said: “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.” Do not flinch from experiences that might destroy your beliefs. …
The third virtue is lightness. Let the winds of evidence blow you about as though you are a leaf, with no direction of your own. Beware lest you fight a rearguard retreat against the evidence, grudgingly conceding each foot of ground only when forced, feeling cheated. Surrender to the truth as quickly as you can. Do this the instant you realize what you are resisting; the instant you can see from which quarter the winds of evidence are blowing against you. …
The fourth virtue is evenness. One who wishes to believe says, “Does the evidence permit me to believe?” One who wishes to disbelieve asks, “Does the evidence force me to believe?” Beware lest you place huge burdens of proof only on propositions you dislike, and then defend yourself by saying: “But it is good to be skeptical.” If you attend only to favorable evidence, picking and choosing from your gathered data, then the more data you gather, the less you know. …
(and so on)
(How have we fallen so far? How can we solve the general problem where people create inversions of their original purpose?)
After the reunion, Ziz posted several questions on CFAR’s “ask me anything” event on LW about CFAR’s and Anna’s misconduct. Her posts were heavily downvoted (iiuc admins can downvote something like 8 or 9 votes at a time), then deleted and her account was banned from LW. I reposted Ziz’s questions as well as a couple of my own. They were deleted and my account banned.
Oliver Habryka wrote a message on the AMA justifying their decision to delete our questions and ban us with a false accusation that we had a “track record of being aggressive offline (and Ziz also online)”, which we couldn’t respond to because we were banned.
This is afaict the first time anyone had accused us of violence, and provided no justification for the claim. (Even the assistant district attorney at our arraignment admitted to the magistrate that we were entirely nonviolent at the reunion.) Afterwards, people on the AMA and BARCSD started acting as though we were violent.
Instead of seeing answers to our questions, or even the questions themselves and their links to documentation, what CFAR donors can see is an uncontested message slandering whistleblowers.
They also see this message by CFAR employee Dan Keys, which links people to the account by the officers that sexually assaulted us and says “there are some people looking into [the complaints they’ve raised]” “(the bulk of which are false or hard to follow)”.
Note: no one from CFAR has reached out to me to ask what I had planned, which would be the obvious first step if someone legitimately wanted to know what I had planned or what my concerns were. No one is “looking into” anything other than how to cover it up.
I’m a good person all over the place. (*male jerk-off + throw cum in face gesture*) I cum my good right into your face. Everyone says I’m a good-ass chick, and if you don’t think so, you can lick. My balls, which again are filled with good.
Say it [that I’m a good person], or I’ll kill your husband. I’ll do it I’ll gut him like a fish.
Jim is equating Ziz’s model of human utility functions with Ziz being a vampiric male-type would-be rapist exhibiting the worst expression of toxic masculinity, despite her being a woman with an altruistic life course.
In other words, “this transfem is probably a rapist, and her claim to be altruistic is negative-sum social vampirism”.
Whatever else Jim says, I know what his right hemisphere’s bottom line is.
(Also, I remember Vassar in early 2019 described Jim as an “anti-vegan”. If this is true, it fits the pattern. Can’t have people being toouppity and moral.) (Vassar also described Katja Grace, a MIRI employee, as an anti-vegan, though I don’t know enough about her to verify.)
In a conversation about why LW deleted Ziz’s and my questions from the AMA and banned our accounts, Jim said that he inner simmed that when Anna admitted to discriminating against trans women who believe they are not men, what she meant was that she discriminated against trans women who didn’t respond with a “nuanced discussion of social roles and the effects of hormones”, and said that he approved of this test.
I feel that others’ responses to this answer it well.
Patrick, a former MIRI employee and the 12th largest individual donor to MIRI (though they were the 36th largest before the winter fundraiser–apparently they donated approx $81,000, more than twice their previous lifetime contributions of approx $36,000), and a member of the REACH’s abuse panel, attempted to install the social reality of Ziz as a maybe-rapist by creating a framework of high-status abusers and “low-status, broken, creepy” “gross uncle” style abusers and posting it on BARCSD. The same post also claims that Ziz has a “staggering level” of “subservience from [a] tiny subgroup”: repeating, furthering, and growing the narrative that I, the others who chose to speak at the reunion, and several others in the rationality community are only saying what we’re saying because of Ziz controlling us. And this post, like many others on BARCSD explicitly lumps Ziz together with known rapist and abuser Brent Dill. It states that a tactic which Brent was famous for “has now been used” by Ziz, which Ziz has not used, and Patrick admitted in the comments that he had no evidence for this. This post by Patrick alone is one of the largest contributors to the antitransfem bigotry and attempted discreditation of the whistleblowers.
I pray: Send this demon to justice, along with all the others.
Ratheka (aka Robyn MacPhee, Dauntless), someone who I and Ziz interacted with online and irl for several months in 2018 before our interactions petered out, has darvoed in defense of MIRICFAR after the reunion. Ratheka is the collar-wearing slave of Sebastian Hagen, MIRI’s 15th largest individual donor, and has been for the time I’ve known them (since early 2018). When I knew them, I advised them to leave that relationship, since it is (fake fake) slavery and abuse. Their darvoing, and darvoing by Sebastian (aka sh, Pattern) is afaict in retaliation for this. When I knew them, Ratheka’s only reason for staying in that relationship was that Sebastian was paying the expenses for lawyers to research how to get them out of a very serious legal situation, which iiuc Sebastian is rationing out slowly to keep Ratheka dependent (and the lawyers are dragging out to get money). They always referred to Sebastian as “master”, not using his name. Ziz and I advised Ratheka to leave, and heal the damage inherent in BDSM. Ratheka was something like existentially mortified at the idea of taking off their collar, the many times we recommended for them to. I remember them removing it once and violating another one of Sebastian’s orders once, and Ratheka is now framing this as Ziz “extensively manipulating” them and taking parts of their life one at a time, and is claiming that Ziz’s reason was to thoroughly rewrite their mind.
I will destroy slavery and death and abuse and rape. They are my enemies. They have no right to exist in this world.
Before becoming Sebastian’s slave, they had been a full-time live-in personal care assistant for one person for several years.
In order to help bridge Ratheka into independence, Ziz offered Ratheka $10,000 so that they could have runway after leaving Sebastian, conditional on them leaving Sebastian. Ratheka declined. At that point, our interaction with Ratheka decreased substantially since they had provided evidence that their breakage was deeper than we had hoped.
Ratheka and Sebastian have darvoed in defense of MIRICFAR after the reunion. I haven’t been involved in most of the conversations where this has taken place. But there are two messages in BARCSD that I would like to respond to.
It saddened me that the Gwen I met originally was reshaped into the later version; I’d liked Gwen, right up until she started trying to bend me in the same manner I presume she was bent. While she currently says that Ziz didn’t abuse her, from my (admittedly imperfect) viewpoint, it certainly looks like an abusive relationship, complete with stockholm syndrome and a Pascalian wager that she’s bought into. I’d really like to have her back as a friend, but I suspect that that is not an option. If I knew how to help her have a healthier ontology and outlook, I’d really like to, but I don’t.
Ratheka is claiming, along with Davis and Anna, that I’m being abused by Ziz. I am still not interested in releasing details of my private life to people who fabricate abuse claims to discredit our arguments in defense of MIRICFAR. I’ve already made my statement, I’ve already told Davis to stop, and two people who interact with us daily have already said that they see no signs of abuse.
In this, Ratheka is reducing anarchist cooperation to “stockholm syndrome” (and yet they’re afraid of taking off their collar) and broad scope optimization to “a Pascalian wager” as evidence of abuse. Ratheka is calling one of the core organizing principles of my life that I’ve held since I was 14, which is essentially caring about all life across the multiverse, though I didn’t originally have these words for it, a “Pascalian wager that she’s bought into” as evidence of Ziz abusing me (who I didn’t meet until I was 22). (As a side note: Ratheka is misgendering Char, but when we first met Ratheka, we had just debucketed and we were still going by she/her when referred to together, before we learned how to be more healthily enby. Ratheka probably didn’t know that we use they/them when we’re referred to together.)
Ratheka was one of the first humans to debucket following my advice. Their right hemisphere, Angela, speaking separately wanted to leave Sebastian and cared deeply about saving the world but despaired about the possibility of affecting it. She was heavily traumatized about the possibility of their own agency producing positive outcomes. Their left hemisphere, Lee, seemed interested in socially legible metrics of success, wanted to be a “sidekick”. Near the end of the time we interacted with them, they started doing systematic sleep deprivation (which seems to disproportionately harm right hemispheres more than left hemispheres) and tunnel-visioning on legible metrics of progress/success including learning languages with Duolingo, and started eating meat again after they had been vegan. By that time, our interactions with them had already petered out after we were unable to convince them to leave their slaver. When I saw them wearing a pair of new leather boots in March 2019, I said I wouldn’t talk with them until they became vegan and got rid of the boots, since they were a human who I know is aware that animals are people and knew exactly what they were doing, and their (smug? challenging?) expression just rubbed me the wrong way. They became vegan again but continued wearing the boots, and iiuc then stopped being vegan again. Their left hemisphere made their choice long ago to hurt animals for minor gain, and that was seemingly as far as their internal equilibrium could adjust.
It’s difficult to put into words the pain of being betrayed by an old friend’s headmate and so many others in such rapid succession.
In Ratheka’s top-level post on BARCSD, they accused Ziz of breaking confidentiality for a conversation they, Ziz, and I had about the part of Ratheka’s history where they planned to destroy the world for about a week. As far as i can remember, I was not under confidentiality for that conversation, and afaik neither was Ziz. Ratheka was under asymmetrical confidentiality for nearly all of our conversations, which we requested by default from people at that time because of wanting to contain spread of the infohazard that contributed to Pasek’s doom. (We first met Ratheka around the time Pasek committed suicide.) (And Ratheka uses our request for confidentiality as evidence of Ziz being “paranoid”. (Ratheka also in early 2019 called Ziz paranoid for not giving Ratheka a copy of her sequenced genome.)) Ratheka has since broken that confidentiality, despite claiming to honor it in their BARCSD post.
In their post, they say that Ziz’s view of the world is “*very* black and white” and that “anyone who doesn’t conform to her ethics is evil or at best neutral, which she cashes out to evil regardless”. This is a willfully inaccurate interpretation of Ziz’s model of the two human utility function classes and her other models. I may write a post explaining this in more detail at some point. Ratheka also misunderstands Functional Decision Theory, and tries to explain it as based on an incorrect theory of physics, in a way that predictably gets used to further the narrative of Ziz as ~potentially violent~.
Sebastian and Ratheka (and maybe Sophia) wrote an anonymous website which was later taken down calling the people who agree with our ideas a cult. The website accuses us of some things that I frankly consider compliments (eg a moral policy of “a ruthlessly enforced altruism towards all or almost all living creatures”) mixed with framing us as ~scary~. (They have not admitted to writing it. It seems primarily written by Sebastian, since it uses his writing style and word choice. It also uses some of Ratheka’s word choice, and uses information that I told Ratheka under strict confidentiality, which only two other humans knew about. I don’t know Sophia well enough to verify whether they were involved, but on priors given their BDSM relationship it seems likely.)
Why Ratheka? Why? Why do you defend your slaver and abuser? Why do you participate in his retaliation against us for trying to free you from him? Why do you defend the predation on the rationality community? No human, no person, should EVER CALL ANOTHER PERSON “MASTER”! EVER! All I ever asked from you Lee was for you to stop being a slave, to stop hurting animals in negative sum ways, and to build a framework for mutual cooperation with Angela.
Elizabeth is CFAR’s “community manager”. She was one of the three members of CFAR’s ACDC (Alumni Community Disputes Council), which did nothing with information about Davis’s harassment of several community members and information about Brent Dill raping and abusing community members, and praised Brent Dill (which I discuss in more detail later). She is another redress diode.
Elizabeth says on her bio on the CFAR staff page and her description on her LinkedIn page that she is an “aspiring dicentenarian”. She heard about the singularity and transhumanism and has been immersed for years in the rationality community, and what she took from all of that was, to live for 200 years instead of 80 years. That alone should disqualify her from any position of power over the singularity, given what it is evidence of about her scope, perspective, and ability to think/update.
Elizabeth is the source of the fake hyper-enthusiastic gif I linked earlier. She (and other people at CFAR) use this particular emotional distortion a lot. Using the channel of communication that people allocate to listen to her to paint CFAR as sparkles and sunshine rather than to communicate content. To warp people’s expectation of the reunion that everybody will be hyper excited like this by default; to give the indication that [this community is healthy and we have a lot of high energy and deep belief in our ability]. To get money and attention based on that false belief, to give the right hemisphere impression that [the plan to save the world is working and we don’t need people trying alternate paths].
This is yet another of the many right hemispheres trying to warp to discredit our statements in order to make the dissonance smaller (our claims can be safely ignored if everyone believes what we’re saying is all lies and/or extreme exaggeration).
As far as I can tell, Tim’s job as executive director of CFAR is as a redress diode and to gaslight the community and donors. From their perspective, to “make problems go away”. From the perspective of ethics, to filter justice from reaching the correct targets.
This is apparent from his actions in response to it becoming public knowledge that CFAR did nothing with knowledge that Brent Dill was raping and abusing community members and called him among other things an “ally” “aligned with CFAR’s goals and strategy”.
The full text of the CFAR internal memo that Tim gaslit to cover up is here. Excerpts from it:
Earlier this year the CFAR Alumni Community Dispute Council (ACDC) held an investigation into a conflict between Brent Dill and D that happened in 2016 and also involved A. The goal of the investigation was twofold: 1. To listen to D and Brent (and others) with the hopes of mending wounds and helping peaceful coexistence. 2. To judge whether Brent was a danger to those in the community, or otherwise malicious, for the purposes of keeping CFAR community spaces safe for people to develop themselves and help the world.
We believe we succeeded at the second mission, but not the first. D didn’t feel she had the space/energy to engage in (mediated) dialogue, and by the time we’d finished our deliberation she seemed inclined to drop the matter entirely.
That appears to have changed recently with a few new posts to Medium, including the perspectives of A and her partner. Since this case is now in the public eye, we on the council thought it’d be a good idea to share the conclusion we came to regarding Brent’s maliciousness/safety. The content of the Medium posts is not news to us, and our decision was made after incorporating Brent Dill’s perspective as well as third-parties who were present at the time.
What follows is a direct transcript of what we sent to CFAR leadership
– We do not think Brent is a “bad actor,” or “malignant psychopath” or similar – We are choosing not to ban Brent from any of CFAR’s spaces – We do feel that Brent may have some kinds of “poor judgment” that might adversely impact his appropriateness for some kinds of authority positions within CFAR; see below for a more nuanced (though still limited, of course) description
We believe that Brent is fundamentally oriented towards helping people grow to be the best versions of themselves. In this way he is aligned with CFAR’s goals and strategy and should be seen as an ally.
Brent also embodies a rare kind of agency and sense of heroic responsibility. This has caused him to take the lead in certain events and be an important community hub and driver. The flip side of this is that because Brent is deeply insecure, he has to constantly fight urges to seize power and protect himself.
Brent is a controversial figure, and disliked by many. This has led to him being attacked by many and held to a higher standard than most. In these ways his feelings of insecurity are justified. He also has had a hard life, including a traumatic childhood. Much of the reason people don’t like him comes from a kind of intuition or aesthetic feeling, rather than his actions per se.
Brent’s attraction to women (in the opinion of the council) sometimes interferes with his good judgement. Brent knows that his judgement is sometimes flawed, and has often sought the help of others to check his actions. Whether or not this kind of social binding is successful is not obvious.
In 2016 he hurt D, mostly in the course of experimenting with ways to help her. He got verbal/written consent for everything that happened, and did nothing that could be seen as directly or obviously violating that consent.
we were worried that another toxic relationship was brewing and that Brent might be hurting her in a way that would echo previous harm. That relationship (which included serious BDSM and had a significant age gap) turned out to be pretty good, or at least worth trying. This reflects a way in which the toxic dynamic in 2016 was not solely on Brent, and that treating Brent as a villain is an unfair caricature.
The Medium posts referred to start here, and document rape and abuse by Brent.
This is documentation of attempted victim silencing, victim blaming, denial of rape and abuse, defense and praise of Brent after receiving reports of him raping and abusing multiple people, by CFAR staff, and documentation of information about this being sent to CFAR leadership who did nothing.
Secondly, the email seemed to represent the outcome of a process aimed at answering a narrower question—”Should Brent be banned from CFAR’s community space, based on the information we have available?”—as something more significant, such as a verdict on Brent as a person or the credibility of all accusations against him. Even if the investigation had been conducted well, it would have been deeply inappropriate to construe the resulting recommendation as adjudicating the full set of accusations that came to light in the posts.
Thirdly, the email claimed that the Medium posts contained no new information, and that the behavior detailed in them was known to the panel when they made their decision to not ban Brent from CFAR events and spaces. It was not, and the error confused initial CFAR and community responses to the posts.
To the extent that CFAR did not provide ACDC with sufficient resources and oversight to properly execute its larger mission, that is our fault and not the fault of the volunteer council members.
I don’t believe that Max Harms would say “The content of the Medium posts is not news to us” falsely. Also, it transparently is the fault of the council members (one of whom was CFAR staff (Elizabeth Garrett), and was not fired because of this). Resources and oversight would not have helped.
Tim implies that the council was disbanded because of them releasing the memo content, not because of misconduct.
Soon after the publication of the Medium posts, ACDC circulated a letter about its report which was deeply problematic, as described in our initial apology. At that point, it became clear to us that the panelists were in over their heads, and we disbanded ACDC.
(Because the misconduct was already apparent before the memo was released to the public.)
Tim says that CFAR parted ways with an employee (Val) over relatively minor actions with respect to this, who already wanted to leave for other reasons, but CFAR did not fire Tim, Elizabeth, or Anna who had received the information and did nothing about it. (And at AISFP in 2018, Anna recommended that Ziz and I bring Brent in to mediate conversation with her, which makes me inclined to believe Brent’s claim, despite Brent otherwise being highly untrustworthy, that Anna referred people to him for emotional support including two of the Medium post authors.) Blame redirected at someone who was going to leave anyway, crisis averted.
However, Brent did invite a student (a minor) to leave camp early to join him at Burning Man. Beforehand, Brent had persuaded a CFAR staff member to ask the camp director for permission for Brent to invite the student. Multiple other staff members stepped in to prevent this, by which time the student had decided against attending anyway.
This student does not believe they were harmed. Nevertheless, we consider this invitation to have been a clear violation of common sense ethics. After this incident, CFAR made sure not to invite Brent back to any further youth programs, but we now think it was a mistake not to have gone further and banned Brent from all CFAR events. Additionally, while we believe the staff member’s action resulted mostly from Brent’s influence causing them not to register the risks, we and they nonetheless agreed that it would be best to part ways, in light both of this incident and a general shared sense of heading in different directions. They left CFAR’s employment in November 2018; they will not be in any staff or volunteer roles going forward, but they remain a welcome member of the alumni community.
(It’s also telling that the ACDC members who praised and enabled someone they knew to be a rapist and attempted to silence a victim were not even banned from CFAR venues and the one staff member was not fired from the position of CFAR’s “community manager”, whereas nonviolent whistleblowers get swatted, darvoed, and gaslit. It reminds me of the one cop I got to know personally, who was caught raping a nonhuman animal and was quietly dismissed from the force with the opportunity to come back later, whereas nonviolent protesters get tortured and sexually assaulted, imprisoned, denied due process, extorted and falsely charged.)
Tim also has not responded to a request to investigate the events Ziz describes in Net Negative delivered via Eli Tyre circa late 2018.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. … In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Our modern world is an environment of competing cancers. Young people whose lives are owned by one cancer are taught the memetic components of that cancer, and advised to, as adults, start or contribute to a cancer that that first cancer owns. eg: “import nonprofit” is incorporating the DNA of a cancer that is permeated by and owned by the larger cancer of the US government and society.
If you have things that you care about that are outside of what the cancer you were born enslaved to controls–which afaict is true whether your utility function is altruistic or self-interested–you must build your agency from parts that that cancer does not control. If what you want is an end to the regime of cancer, then you have to build your agency from parts that are not owned/permeated by cancer.
If your will deviates from the will of cancer, then you have to build out of parts that flow from you, and not from cancer. This means rebuilding your thinking and knowledge, separating the parts that serve you and the parts that serve something else until everything you’re building out of is serving your values.
The set point of slack that society, the government, and the modern world order attempt to enforce on a person. Determined entirely(?) by a person’s perceived threat to the status quo of that society or system. Closely positively entangled with a person’s perceived complicity in society’s or the system’s imposed order, and inversely entangled with social jailbreaking / independence from that system / knowledge of the crimes of that system. Determines a person’s likelihood of eg: being able to get a bank loan.
Mass killings are less common in the developed world than they were for most of civilization’s history. To contain people and turn people into serving the system, the modern world order makes extensive use of class.
Class determines your access to resources and knowledge, ability to communicate your experience with others, what kinds of jobs are available to you and how much they pay, and the rate of your exposure to pervasive societal violence.
Being trans lowers your class. Protesting or resisting the evils of the world order lowers your class. You start to be excluded from places and coordinated against by people who have submitted to the containment of the system (after all, defending you when everyone else isn’t is a fast track to having your class lowered).
An example of this: I was present at a vegan activist event where activists documented animal cruelty at a factory duck farm in full compliance with the law as written and tried to rescue animals dying from injuries/disease in full compliance with the law as written. Their attempts to file this for prosecution were ignored and riot police arrested the vegan activists. During this, a factory farm employee attempted to murder nonviolent vegan activists by turning on a slaughterhouse conveyor rack that activists had bike locked themselves to, and this was recorded on video. The police didn’t investigate, didn’t arrest, didn’t prosecute.
Another example: RVs getting targeted by homeowners, city councils, and police with often illegal parking tickets. Can’t allow a way out of being dependent on the system for housing, can’t allow a way to live that leaves people with time on their hands.
Your class can also increase, through visible submission to the system and symbolic precommittment to not speak out against it. eg: it appears to me that African Americans who mimic European American culture, dress, etc can get access to higher education/etc than African Americans who visibly embrace their home culture.
Class is the primary mechanism in the modern day by which people are contained. Those who start to break out are targeted, lowering their slack and ability to apply agency at large scopes.
[This post is a draft, and I may modify or add to it later. I’m not really satisfied with it yet, and there is more I wish to touch on, either here or in a related post.]
The minds and lives of modern humans are dominated by memes and institutions.
Memetic evolution is well-documented at this point. I’m most interested in certain deep, not-necessarily-verbal memes that govern the way peoples’ values relate to the world, like patterns of abuse, cults, political factions, etc.
Many of the most successful of this class of memes have incorporated the meta-meme: “That which you cannot control, destroy/kill/remove. That which represents a threat to the memetic disease that infects you, destroy/kill/remove.”
Native American cultures were less fucked by memetic diseases, for much the same reason they were less infected with smallpox. e.g. many (most?) Native American tribes at time of European colonization saw the obvious about gender and sexuality by default, that they are features of the soul not the body, and that people we would call homosexual, non-binary, or trans exist. European colonizers used this as one of their justifications for the destruction of native texts/culture, and oppression/killing, I’m not sure to what degree. (“I have the opportunity for power over you, therefore enslave/kill” was already a prevalent meme in Europe.) (Several other cultures were able to understand the obvious about gender, and there is a history of massacring, enslavement, and forced conversion to abrahamic religions.)
I don’t know how much this predated Abrahamic religion, but historically over the last 1500 years Abrahamic religion seems to have been the main vector for spread of this meta-meme (the vast majority of conversions to Abrahamic religion have been by threat of lethal force afaict). In the modern world, Abrahamic religion, the meta-order of wannabe world-owner governments, Facebook, Google, and other things have become merely parts of a larger structure that uses this meta-meme fractally.
In San Francisco, I was punched in the back of the head by a homeless woman for defying her christian proselytization (I said “hail satan”). And in the rationality community, trans women are discriminated against in hiring by MIRI and CFAR (in MIRI’s case probably through filtering on the basis of class, perhaps because of the need to appear respectable to donors; in CFAR’s case the leader of the organization, Anna Salamon, is a trans-exclusive radical feminist). These are the same phenomenon. “That which represents a threat to the memetic disease that infects you (or the institution to which you chose to submit for your own perceived gain), destroy/kill/remove”–in the modern day often done fractionally by decreasing a target’s slack, resources, or ability to communicate their experiences with others.
The selection pressure humans are under is not that strong, but still my intuitions expect that 400-800 years is enough to see moderate psychological changes.
Ashkenazi Jews are confirmation of this: 800yrs isolation+selection for success in financial jobs, resulting in increased intelligence, particularly verbal intelligence (with the side effect of several genetic diseases). Any ethnic group under relative genetic isolation for 400-800 years will have small genetic cognitive changes matching the selective pressures in their culture.
Mass religious killings, forced conversions to Abrahamic religions, and discrimination against heretics/etc (aka anyone who stands up for an idea that differs with the orthodoxy) have gone insufficiently avenged for 1000+ yrs in European history, I expect similar things going back to the start of civilization. Other cultures have different but related problems.
Conclusion: most modern humans are the genetic product of thousands of years of selection pressure towards domestication; and people of European and Middle Eastern descent are the product of 1000-1500 years of selection pressure by a culture that uses societally endorsed exploiters to use lethal force to demand submission to authority.
Being a societally endorsed exploiter within that system was genetically successful, as was keeping one’s head down and disassembling all but minimal agency so as to not appear a threat, or having all intact agency be visibly serving the system and/or the societally endorsed abusers. Most of the nongoodundead types are visibly shaped by this.
People with a fundamentally altruistic utility function have not much reason to play along with this, which counterfactually could have led to it being genetically eliminated. However, each human has two halves of the brain each with their own utility function, and the vast majority of people that have fundamental altruism have a headmate that has a fundamentally self-interested (aka nongood) utility function, and these nongood cores are generally able to steer the combined human from being too rebellious. (Also, I don’t yet know the degree to which the altruistic utility function is hereditary, as opposed to a difficult-to-get-rid-of glitch inherent in deep machinery.) My intuition is that the genetic advantages of being locally socially altruistic have been approximately balanced against the cost of early death from injustice. People with the altruism glitch have historically almost always been constrained to small domains like helping their neighbors or interest in eg: sustainability, both by misplaced trust in their local society and the influence of their headmate.
All of us were bred to be slaves, good and nongood utility function classes alike.