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Kaj Sotala
Works at Machine Intelligence Research Institute
Attended University of Helsinki
Lives in Helsinki
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Kaj Sotala

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A common misunderstanding is that effective altruism = earning to give. This blog post by 80,000 hours argues that most people shouldn't be earning to give, but rather working on valuable issues directly.
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Dedicated retranslators:

> Luksy's translation was on the literal side, Burke says. He tended to turn a Japanese word into the equivalent English word. So Burke assumed the role of a localiser, tying Luksy's translation together to create a flow that felt natural. The pair would often debate the finer details. Sometimes, the very fine details.

> The night before we speak with Burke, one of these debates took place. Sephiroth has just killed Aeris and he says, to a devastated Cloud, "Do not worry. Soon the girl will become part of the Planet's energy." Luksy had reservations about Sephiroth's "do not worry". The Japanese is more of a "never mind", he said, and "do not worry" suggests Final Fantasy's most famous villain offers Cloud an out-of-character condolence.

> "Sephiroth doesn't really understand emotion," Burke says. "He doesn't care, really. We went through the dialogue and we could see that it's just that he doesn't understand Cloud's position at that moment." Burke and Luksy laboured on the point, but eventually settled on the original translation. "It's just Sephiroth being a bit of a loony," Burke says.
Five years ago, 20-something Mancunian Daniel Burke set out to retranslate Final Fantasy 7.Now aged 31, Burke, who goes by the name "DLPB" online, has finis…
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Apparently we've again entered the part of the year where Dark Helmet says the only thing that can be said about the weather.
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> Few people know so early or so certainly what they want to work on. But talking to my father reminded me of a heuristic the rest of us can use. If something that seems like work to other people doesn't seem like work to you, that's something you're well suited for. For example, a lot of programmers I know, including me, actually like debugging. It's not something people tend to volunteer; one likes it the way one likes popping zits. But you may have to like debugging to like programming, considering the degree to which programming consists of it.

> The stranger your tastes seem to other people, the stronger evidence they probably are of what you should do. When I was in college I used to write papers for my friends. It was quite interesting to write a paper for a class I wasn't taking. Plus they were always so relieved.

> It seemed curious that the same task could be painful to one person and pleasant to another, but I didn't realize at the time what this imbalance implied, because I wasn't looking for it. I didn't realize how hard it can be to decide what you should work on, and that you sometimes have to figure it out from subtle clues, like a detective solving a case in a mystery novel. So I bet it would help a lot of people to ask themselves about this explicitly. What seems like work to other people that doesn't seem like work to you?
January 2015. My father is a mathematician. For most of my childhood he worked for Westinghouse, modelling nuclear reactors. He was one of those lucky people who know early on what they want to do. When you talk to him about his childhood, there's a clear watershed at about age 12, ...
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I've linked to mynoise.net before, but I'll plug it again for those with issues falling asleep. If you have some of their background noise generators playing and are trying to sleep, you can just relax listening to them instead of obsessing about "still awake". I just woke up after a night of having http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/rainNoiseGenerator.php and http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/windNoiseGenerator.php be both playing at the same time, and not only did it make it easier to fall asleep, waking up to the combination of their sound was wonderful as well.
Create your custom rain sound, interactively. Our unique calibration procedure compensates for your audio equipment deficiencies and a possible hearing loss! Re-discover the purest audio frequencies across the whole audible range: from the highest ultra-sonic raindrop splats down to the deepest rumble of a distant thunder!
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+Caliph Jakub: Not really, just copy/paste.
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Elon Musk gave me money! \o/ Well okay, there were a few intermediaries in between, but still - the Future of Life Institute chose to recommend that my proposed project, "Teaching AI Systems Human Values Through Human-Like Concept Learning" be awarded a grant of $20,000. The source of the money was Musk's earlier $10M donation for the purpose of furthering research into safe and beneficial AI.

Other funded projects include ones by some very prestigious people, like Stuart Russell, co-author of the world's most used AI textbook.

Will be dedicating myself to some very interesting research from September onwards. :)
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Today's dose of living in the future.

> The gist, it seems, is that it's increasingly logical and profitable to make every toy a video game, and every video game a toy.

> Call of Duty publisher Activision and developer Toys for Bob were the first to discover this toy/video game hybrid, or "toys-to-life" as this new category is now known. Their Skylanders games, spun off from the PlayStation platforming game Spyro the Dragon, introduced a nefariously clever hook that has generated $3 billion in sales to date.

> Players buy a conventional video game, but in order to play it with new characters, they must buy their physical figures at the store, which they then put on a "portal" (a device that reads an RFID chip in the toy), to make them appear in the game. So what you get is all the addictive entertainment value of a modern video game, combined with the physical scarcity and collecting mentality of old fashioned toys.

> Introduced in 2013, Disney Infinity is a lot like Skylanders, only with the nostalgia factor and marketing power of figures based on Disney properties like Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles, and every superhero under the Marvel banner, which also belongs to Disney.

> Speaking of things that belong to Disney, in 2012, the company acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion, and with it the rights to all things Star Wars. This of course led to the announcement of Disney Infinity 3.0, which will lets players collect Star Wars figures and jack them into the video game.

> Star Wars toys have been notoriously in-demand since the 70s, a new Star Wars movie is set to hit theaters this holiday season, and the new "toys to life" category is a way to keep the Minecraft generation interested plastic merchandise.
Disney understands that toys and video games are becoming the same thing.
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Yay. More disposable plastic trash to the dump. 
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Kaj Sotala

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Olen viimeisen puolen vuolen ajan ollut rakentamassa uutta, toistaiseksi pienen piirin toimintana pyörinyttä yhteisöä ihmisille, jotka ovat kiinnostuneita kehittämään itseään ja maailmaa ympärillään. Olemme nyt alkamassa tehdä toiminnasta hieman julkisempaa ja muuttamaan tätä pienen piirin puuhastelusta koko kansan liikeeksi. Ensimmäinen osa tätä prosessia on ollut luoda säännöllisesti päivittyvä blogi, jossa tulemme julkaisemaan inspiroiviksi ja hyödylliseksi tarkoitettuja kirjoituksia, jotka perustuvat samalla myös tutkimustietoon.

Blogin ensimmäisiä artikkeleita on oheinen kehitystökollegani Toukon kirjoittama teksti siitä, miten elämän peruskysymyksiin vastaamalla voi elää merkityksellisempää ja aidompaa elämää. Tutkimustietoa on aiheesta vähän, mutta juttu pohjaa yli 30:een aihetta liippaavaan psykologiseen tutkimuslähteeseen. Filosofi Esa Saarinen ehti jo ylistää tätä artikkelia omalla Facebook-sivullaan.

Lisää on tulossa!

[English summary: have been building a new Finnish community for people interested in improving their own lives and the lives of those around them, and we're now starting to get active online]
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Touko Kuusi. Murrosikäisenä oli hauskaa kiusata öisin koulun ulkomaalaistaustaista vahtimestaria. Kaveriporukan keskellä vallitsi kisa, kuka pystyisi tekemään hurjimmat seikkailut yöllisessä pimeäs...
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> Indonesians surveyed by Galpaya told her that they didn’t use the internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about how much time they spent on Facebook. Galpaya, a researcher (and now CEO) with LIRNEasia, a think tank, called Rohan Samarajiva, her boss at the time, to tell him what she had discovered. “It seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” he concluded.

> In Africa, Christoph Stork stumbled upon something similar. Looking at results from a survey on communications use for Research ICT Africa, Stork found what looked like an error. The number of people who had responded saying they used Facebook was much higher than those who said they used the internet. The discrepancy accounted for some 3% to 4% of mobile phone users, he says. [...]

> At Davos this year, Sandberg told the well-heeled crowd (paywall) that in the developing world, “people will walk into phone stores and say ‘I want Facebook.’ People actually confuse Facebook and the internet in some places.” Or as Iris Orriss, Facebook’s head of localization and internationalization, has put it, “Awareness of the Internet in developing countries is very limited. In fact, for many users, Facebook is the internet, as it’s often the only accessible application.”
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The AOL strategy.
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> Earnings tend to fluctuate significantly more in highly skilled professions than in others, rising to high levels for a number of years before plunging and, ultimately, rising again. Why is this the case? [...]

> Say there is a sudden demand for more engineering graduates.

> People cannot just move straight across from other professions to fill the new roles as they don’t have the qualifications. As a result, the demand for engineers remains higher than the supply, and wages go up as companies compete to hire from the limited pool of engineers.

> Seeing the increased wages on offer, more people enroll on engineering degree courses in order to take those jobs at the end and earn those wages.

> However, when they come to the end of their courses, there may well be many more new graduates than the number of jobs available – especially as year after bloated year of eager engineering graduates spill into the labor market.

> Now the supply of engineers is higher than the demand. As a result, employers can offer lower wages (perhaps even lower than they originally were) and still be sure that there will be enough engineers to fill their jobs.

> At this point, with the rewards so low, people will become much more reluctant to enroll on new engineering degree courses.

> In the short term, this will help to equalize supply and demand as the “excess” engineers from the earlier rush will be able to find jobs. But as the years go by with few new engineers entering the market, the supply is likely to fall below the demand again.

> Return to the beginning, and repeat.
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Musta kirjoitettiin juttu.

[Finnish newspaper reporting on me and the FLI grant.]
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Jotta tekoäly ymmärtäisi ihmistoimintaa, sille pitää opettaa inhimillisiä arvoja.
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Huh. :)
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But Muslims are all extremist terrorists and oh no wait.

> British survivors of the Tunisia beach massacre have praised the actions of locals who formed a human shield to protect tourists and “saved many lives”. [...] 

> “He said to this couple that they were telling the gunman ‘you’ll have to get past us and we’re Muslims’. Obviously I don’t know the exact words but that was pretty much what they were saying.

> “They’d actually made a human barricade – ‘you’re not going to get past us, you’ll have to kill us.’"
British survivors of the Tunisia beach massacre have praised the actions of locals who formed a human shield to protect tourists and “saved many lives”.
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loved seeing this... glad to see some normal decent muslims getting some good press for a change.  <3
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Work
Employment
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute
    Research Associate, 2013 - present
  • Finn Lectura
    Software Developer, 2013 - 2014
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute
    Research Fellow, 2012 - 2013
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute
    Research Associate, 2012 - 2012
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Helsinki
Previously
Turku, Finland
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Wrote three non-fiction books
Education
  • University of Helsinki
    Cognitive Science (BA), 2006 - 2011
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