A beautifully designed collection of books, each small enough to fit in your pocket. The book set contains over forty chapters by more than twenty authors including Eliezer Yudkowsky and Scott Alexander. This is a collection of opinionated essays exploring argument, aesthetics, game theory, artificial intelligence, introspection, markets, and more, as part of LessWrong's mission to understand the laws that govern reasoning and decision-making, and build a map that reflects the territory.
As of today, I've been in full-on, hardcore lockdown for an entire year. I have a lot of feelings – both about the personal social impacts of lockdown and about society being broken – that I won't go into in this public space. What I want to figure out in this post is what rationality-relevant lessons I can draw from what happened in my life this past year.
(Meta: This post is not well-written and is mostly bullet points, because the first few versions I wrote were unusable but I still wanted to publish it today.)
Some facts about my lockdown:
Taffix is a nasal powder spray that builds up a protective mechanical barrier against viruses and allergens in the nasal cavity. The EMA allowed them to write on their packaging insert to advertise it's clinical effects by saying:
Taffix was found highly effective in blocking several respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory studies.
The idea was conceived in March and they did a study during the Jewish New Year event which was as expect a superspreader event (orthodox Jewish people gathering in close proximity while a lot of them were infected). Among the 83 people who received the intervention only the two people who reported not consistently using the spray (you have to apply it every 5 hours) got infected while in the control group 16 out of 160...
The phrase "we should raise awareness about " creeps me out. I had trouble identifying exactly why until I read this summary of simulacra levels.
Level 1: “There’s a lion across the river.” = There’s a lion across the river.
Level 2: “There’s a lion across the river.” = I don’t want to go (or have other people go) across the river.
Level 3: “There’s a lion across the river.” = I’m with the popular kids who are too cool to go across the river.
Level 4: “There’s a lion across the river.” = A firm stance against trans-river expansionism focus grouped well with undecided voters in my constituency.
Level 1 states truth about reality. Level 2 manipulates reality. Level 3 states truth about social reality. Level 4 manipulates social reality.
Summary: Deflation (or so I heard) is considered harmful because it stifles growth. Central banks have been fighting it to keep economies healthy. Cryptocurrencies can be designed to be deflationary. If the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies becomes big, central banks may have no way to contain the deflation. This may be catastrophic in many ways – but might it also slow AGI development and buy safety research more time?
I’ve been wondering what the “crypto endgame” may look like. Crypto may just turn out to have been a bubble or may continue for decades unchanged at its current limited level of significance. But we’re probably sufficiently prepared for those scenarios already.
Instead the crypto market capitalization might take off at a superlinear pace. Bitcoin is currently on rank 14...
I love asking children (and adults in some cases) the following question:
Five birds are sitting in a tree. A hunter takes a rifle and shoots one of them. How many birds are left? (If your answer is 'four' - try again!)
This is a system I/system II trap, akin to "which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?" In my experience kids (and adults) usually get this wrong the first time, but kids get a special kick out of something that sounds like a math problem they do for homework but turns out to be a bit more. I've also used the 2, 4, 8 puzzle for impromptu demos of confirmation bias. These are fun and engaging ways to teach kids about cognitive biases...
Many people have wondered about the problem of evil. Why evil, and suffering is probably the most obvious example, exists in the world created by an Omnibenevolent God. You can find some theodicy trying to "justify" the existence of a benevolent God. Relatively recently, dr. Stephen Law popularized the conception of a perfectly evil God, an entirely malevolent being. You could read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_God_Challenge
There are also a few videos made by Alex O'Connor on his YouTube channel CosmicSkeptic, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLnsY5io964
Both Good and Evil God challenges seem to be symmetric.
Line of argumentation we can use trying to make one of the reasonings more probable can be as well used to do so with the second one.
Translation results It may follow from this that we should attribute equal...
Commercial fit-testing for masks needs quite fancy equipment like the Allegro Saccharin Fit Test Kit 2040 which combines undesireable features of being currently unavailable to order, expensive and having to take up room in my apartment after beign ordered.
It seems to me that there should be a way to get fit-testing done without as fancy equipment as it's just about exposing oneself to the smell of one of the substances that are are suitable for fit-testing (that have the right molecular size). Has anybody here found a way to do reliable fit-testing for themselves without the commerical equipment?
This post is a response to SimonM's post, Kelly isn’t (just) about logarithmic utility. It's an edited and extended version of some of my comments there.
To summarize the whole idea of this post: I'm going to argue that any argument in favor of the Kelly formula has to go through an implication that your utility is logarithmic in money, at some point. If it seems not to, it's either:
Actually, the post I'm responding to already mentioned one argument in this third category, which I'll mention later. But for the most part I think the point still stands: the best reasons to suppose Kelly is a good heuristic go through arguing logarithmic utility.
The main point of this post is...
As a hacker and cryptocurrency liker, I have been hearing for a while about "DeFi" stuff going on in Ethereum without really knowing what it was. I own a bunch of ETH, so I finally decided that enough was enough and spent a few evenings figuring out what was going on. To my pleasant surprise, a lot of it was fascinating, and I thought I would share it with LW in the hopes that other people will be interested too and share their thoughts.
Throughout this post I will assume that the reader has a basic mental model of how Ethereum works. If you don't, you might find this intro & reference useful.
For one thing, it's the coolest, most cypherpunk thing going. Remember...
This Sunday, Anna Salamon and Oliver Habryka will discuss whether people who care about x-risk should have children.
A short summary of Oliver's position is:
If we want to reduce existential risk and protect the cosmic commons, we have some really tough challenges ahead and need to really succeed at some ambitious and world-scale plans. I have a sense that once people have children, they tend to stop trying to do ambitious things. It also dramatically reduces the flexibility of what plans or experiments they can try.
And a short summary of Anna's position is:
Most human activity is fake (pretends to be about one thing while being micro-governed by a different and unaligned process, e.g. somebody tries to "work on AI risk" while almost all of the micropulls come from