Hello there 👋

My name is Tim Chan and I work as an independent AI safety researcher collaborating with the Center on Long-Term Risk. This website currently mostly contains posts I wrote from when I was super interested in the philosophy of mind. I might add other stuff here in the future. For some of my more recent work on multi-agent AI safety please check out my GitHub (click the icon below).

Common-sense sentience is dubious

Summary This post lays out some problems/uncertainties I have with various stances in the philosophy of mind, almost all of which implicitly or explicitly privilege ‘common sense’. The main point is that our intuitions aren’t shaped to be useful at finding out whether something actually experiences/experiences things in a particular way. Instead, those intuitions are strongly influenced by (1) the evolutionary need to navigate ancestral social environments and (2) what your culture believes - which I argue don’t necessarily have much to do with the truth of the matter....

Timothy Chan

My favorite articles by Brian Tomasik and what they are about

Introduction Brian Tomasik has written a lot of essays on reducing suffering. In this post, I’ve picked out my favorites. If you’re thinking about reading his work, this list could be a good place to start. Note that this is based on what I personally find interesting; it is not a definitive guide. These are listed in no particular order. Dissolving Confusion about Consciousness Consciousness is a “cluster in thingspace” comprising physical systems that we consider to be similar in some way....

Timothy Chan

Thinking of Humans as "Concept Classifiers"

Disclaimer: This post concerns epistemology rather than ontology. Claims are not about what “seemingly physics-independent” phenomena exist, and how they are, but rather concern how we form ideas about such things. Summary Our brains, as physical objects, physically create and utilize various concepts - including seemingly “physics-independent” concepts such as morality, selfhood, and the sentience of others. Their physical origins cast doubt on whether these physically-formed, “seemingly physics-independent” concepts truly reflect corresponding supposedly “non-physical” realities....

Timothy Chan