My continued exploration of Korzybski and the history of rationality.
What I know about it from high school and general articles on the net doesn't satisfy. Maybe because I have critical holes in my knowledge.
From what I think I know: we're having AC running in the lines. AC means if we zoom down, we'll see that an electron is zipping along this direction, and after 1/50 sec (or 1/100?) that very electron will zip back in the opposite direction, ideally back to the specific point we're looking at, because phases are supposed to be equal.
So how does resistance come into the picture at atomic scale? Conductors heat up after a while, so maybe th... (Read more)
The classic criticism of the lottery is that the people who play are the ones who can least afford to lose; that the lottery is a sink of money, draining wealth from those who most need it. Some lottery advocates, and even some commentors on Overcoming Bias, have tried to defend lottery-ticket buying as a rational purchase of fantasy—paying a dollar for a day’s worth of pleasant anticipation, imagining yourself as a millionaire.
But consider exactly what this implies. It would mean that you’re occupying your valuable brain with a fantasy whose real probability is nearl... (Read more)
Posts like this have been written before, but I think it's worth making the point periodically.
Lurker ratios have likely increased over time. Comments and discussion are an important feedback mechanism for content creators. So if you see stuff you like, and you'd like to see more posts like it, it's quite helpful to comment. Many people report being intimidated about posting, especially if the platform in question has a highly specific vocabulary and norms. I wanted to offer a couple of the heuristics I use for making comments as well as invite others to boggle/comment/discuss w... (Read more)
(Cross-posted from EA Forum.)
This just appeared in this week’s MIT Technology Review: Oren Etzioni, “How to know if AI is about to destroy civilization.” Etzioni is a noted skeptic of AI risk. Here are some things I jotted down:
Etzioni’s key points / arguments:
A month ago I wrote about disaster preparedness, and while the current coronavirus outbreak had started it wasn't something I knew about yet. Now that there's a real possibility that it will spread globally, it's worth preparing for this specific disaster.
The ideal time to start thinking about how to respond was probably several weeks ago: some supplies like masks are already hard to find or very expensive. On the other hand, paying enough attention to potential issues that you catch them early is pretty unpleasant unless you enjoy it as a hobby. This is a strong advantage of pr... (Read more)
As the story goes, there was once a programmer with a bug. They wanted help solving the bug, so they asked a college. In the process of explaining the bug to the college, they solved the bug.
The theory is that in the process of explaining the bug, the programmer was forced to unravel parts of their model for how their code worked. In the process of this unraveling, they discovered parts of their model that were false, which led to a solution.
The programmer realized that they could just use a rubber duck instead of a human.
(And they say that programmers are going to be among the la... (Read more)
I intend to use my shortform feed for two purposes:
1. To post thoughts that I think are worth sharing that I can then reference in the future in order to explain some belief or opinion I have.
2. To post half-finished thoughts about the math or computer science thing I'm learning at the moment. These might be slightly boring and for that I apologize.
We just spent almost two months reviewing the best posts of 2018. It was a lot of development work, and many LW users put in a lot of work to review and vote on things.
We’ve begun work on the actual printed book, which’ll be distributed at various conferences and events as well as shipped to the featured authors. I expect the finished product to influence the overall effect of the Review. But meanwhile, having completed the “review” part, I think there’s enough information to start asking:
Was it worth it? Should we do it again? How should we do it differently?
One of the main responses to yesterday's post on preparing for a potential quarantine was something like:
Hoarding causes shortages. Leave masks for people that need them.Another commenter made a similar argument with food.
I think the biggest question here is whether you think there's time and capacity for producers to react to increased demand. For example, some mask factories are not running right now because they're in affected areas, but many others are still running. More people trying to buy masks raises the market price, which makes it worth it for these factories ... (Read more)
I’ve recently been writing a sequence on how subagents can undermine impact penalties such as attainable utility preservation. I’m not happy with that sequence; it’s messy and without examples (apart from its first post), people didn’t understand it, and it suffers from the fact that I discovered key ideas as I went along.
So I’ve combined everything there into a single post, explained with examples and an abundance of pictures. Hopefully an over- rather than an under-abundance of pictures. Of the original sequence, I've only kept the mathe... (Read more)
If it’s worth saying, but not worth its own post, here's a place to put it. (You can also make a shortform post)
And, if you are new to LessWrong, here's the place to introduce yourself. Personal stories, anecdotes, or just general comments on how you found us and what you hope to get from the site and community are welcome.
If you want to explore the community more, I recommend reading the Library, checking recent Curated posts, seeing if there are any meetups in your area, and checking out the Getting Started section of the LessWrong FAQ.
The Open Thread sequence is here.
Monthly discussion meetup for March 2020.
For more details see the announcement on Google Groups:
What information about the virus' nature and spread would cause you to believe it's too risky to continue holding workshops?
There is one thing that really striked me after reading HPMOR, it's a certain pattern of events that repeats many times.
1) Harry gets into grave trouble due to his self-assurance and indiscretion
2) The author saves Harry using deus ex machina
And this makes me wonder - was Harry intentionally shown as an anti-example of rationality, or it just happened this way?
In a couple earlier articles I urged people to adopt strategies that reliably maintain a margin of "30% slack." I've seen lots of people burn out badly (myself included), and preserving a margin of resources such that you don't risk burning out seems quite important to me.
But I realized a) "30% slack" isn't very clear, and b) this is an important enough concept it should really have a top-level post.
So, to be a bit more obvious:
"Surprise problems" can t... (Read more)
The present discussion owes a lot to Scott Garrabrant and Evan Hubinger.
In Defining Myopia, I formalized temporal or cross-instance myopia / non-myopia, but I claimed that there should also be some kind of single-instance myopia which I hadn't properly captured. I also suggested this in Predict-O-Matic.
This post is intended to be an example of single-instance partial agency.
Evolution might be myopic in a number of ways, but one way is that it's myopic across individuals -- it typically produces results very different from what group selection would produce, because it's... (Read more)
So this is Utopia, is it? Well
I beg your pardon, I thought it was Hell.
-- Sir Max Beerholm, verse entitled
In a Copy of More's (or Shaw's or Wells's or Plato's or Anybody's) Utopia
This is a shorter summary of the Fun Theory Sequence with all the background theory left out - just the compressed advice to the would-be author or futurist who wishes to imagine a world where people might actually want to live:
This post was written for Convergence Analysis.
We introduce the concept of memetic downside risks (MDR): risks of unintended negative effects that arise from how ideas “evolve” over time (as a result of replication, mutation, and selection). We discuss how this concept relates to the existing concepts of memetics, downside risks, and information hazards.
We then outline four “directions” in which ideas may evolve: towards simplicity, salience, usefulness, and apparent usefulness. For each “direction”, we give an example to illustrate how an idea mutating in that direction could have n... (Read more)
Sometimes you really like someone, but you can't for the life of you understand why. By all means, you should have tired of them long ago, but you keep coming back for more. Welcome, my friend, to Topology.
This book is a good one, but boy was it slow (349 pages at ~30 minutes a page, on average). I just kept coming back, and I was slowly rewarded each time I did.
Note: sil ver already reviewed Topology.
Topology is about what it means for things to be "close" in a very abstract and general sense. Rather than taking on the monstrous task of intuitively explaining topology witho... (Read more)