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.
Science aims to come up with good theories about the world - but what makes a theory good? The standard view is that the key traits are predictive accuracy and simplicity. Deutsch focuses instead on the concepts of explanation and understanding: a good theory is an explanation which enhances our understanding of the world. This is already a substantive claim, because various schools of instrumentalism have been fairly influential in the philosophy of science. I do think that this perspective has a lot of potential, and later in this essay explore some ways to extend it. First, though, I discuss a few of Deutsch's arguments which I don't think succeed, in particular when compared to the bayesian rationalist position defended by Yudkowsky.
To start, Deutsch says that good...
This was a triumph
I'm making a note here, huge success
No, seriously, it was awful. I deleted my blog of 1,557 posts. I wanted to protect my privacy, but I ended up with articles about me in New Yorker, Reason, and The Daily Beast. I wanted to protect my anonymity, but I Streisand-Effected myself, and a bunch of trolls went around posting my real name everywhere they could find. I wanted to avoid losing my day job, but ended up quitting so they wouldn't be affected by the fallout. I lost a five-digit sum in advertising and Patreon fees. I accidentally sent about three hundred emails to each of five thousand people in the process of trying to put my blog back up.
I had, not to mince words about it, a really weird year.
Aside from worries over the new strains, I would be saying this was an exceptionally good week.
Both deaths and positive test percentages took a dramatic turn downwards, and likely will continue that trend for at least several weeks. Things are still quite short-term bad in many places, but things are starting to improve. Even hospitalizations are slightly down.
It is noticeably safer out there than it was a few weeks ago, and a few weeks from now will be noticeably safer than it is today.
Studies came out that confirmed that being previously infected conveys strong immunity for as long as we have been able to measure it. As usual, the findings were misrepresented, but the news is good. I put my analysis here in a distinct post, so...
I keep thinking about how if at any point we were all able to actually quarantine for two weeks1 at the same time, the pandemic would be over.
Like, if instead of everyone being more or less cautious over a year, we all agreed on single a two week period to hard quarantine. With plenty of warning, so that people had time to stock up on groceries and do anything important ahead of time. And with massive financial redistribution in advance, so that everyone could afford two weeks without work. And with some planning to equip the few essential-every-week-without-delay workers (e.g. nurses, people keeping the power on) with unsustainably excessive PPE.
This wouldn’t require less total risky activity. If we just managed to move all of the risky activity...
Cross-posted from Living Within Reason
In philosophy, the Principle of Charity is a technique in which you evaluate your opponent’s position as if it made the most amount of sense possible given the wording of the argument. That is, if you could interpret your opponent’s argument in multiple ways, you would go for the most reasonable version.
There is a corollary to the Principle of Charity which I’m calling Bayesian Charity. It says that, in general, you should interpret your opponent’s wording to be advocating the most popular position.
This is implied by Bayes Theorem. Your prior for whether someone believes something unpopular should be related to its popularity. Since an unpopular belief, by definition, has few believers, your prior for whether someone believes an unpopular position should be lower the...
Which variables are most important for predicting and influencing how AI goes?
Here are some examples:
We made this question to crowd-source more entries for our list, along with operationalizations and judgments of relative importance. This is the first step of a larger project.
Boxed Topics, Jenga Towers, And The Spacing Effect.
An undergraduate class on molecular biology teaches you about DNA transcription, the Golgi apparatus, cancer, and integral membrane proteins. Sometimes, these sub-topics are connected. But most often, they're presented in separate chapters, each in its own little box. So let's call these Boxed Topics.
The well-known Stewart calculus textbook teaches you about functions in chapter 1, limits and the definition of derivatives in chapter 2, rules for derivatives in chapter 3, and the relationship of derivatives with graphs in chapter 4. Woe betide you if you weren't entirely clear on the definition of a derivative when it gets used, over and over again, in next week's proofs of derivative rules.
Taking a calculus class can be like building a Jenga Tower. If...
If data keeps coming out in the next week confirming that the new COVID strain is 70% more transmissible, I think the modal outcome is that ~50% of Americans will get it by the early summer. The market may take a few days to realize and react to this (as it was in March), but also just buying June put option on the SP500 seems very naïve (since the SP500 is at all-time highs and a fourth COVID wave doesn't necessarily affect much the NPV of future earning of huge corporations). So if I think that the probability of everyone getting COVID in the next six months is much likelier than the market, at least for a few days, what trade would capture that?
Psycho-Pass takes place in a cyberpunk dystopia ruled by a totalitarian AI dictator. Cyberpunk stories are often about evading the law. What makes Psycho-Pass special is its protagonist is a police officer.
Tsunemori Akane's job is to suppress crime. This involves suppressing violent criminals, which is a good thing. The AI's surveillance state makes it possible to suppress crime before it happens, which is even better. Potential criminals often include punks, radicals, gays, artists, musicians, visionaries and detectives which is…
Wait a minute.
If Psycho-Pass was written in America then Tsunemori's character arc would be a journey of disillusion. She would be commanded to do something unethical. Tsunemori would refuse. Her valiant act of disobedience would instigate a cascade of disorder leading to a revolution and the eventual overthrew...