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Saturday, February 22nd 2020
Sat, Feb 22nd 2020

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1George20hSHOULD DISCOMFORT BE A REQUIREMENT FOR IMPORTANT EXPERIENCES ? A while ago I was discussing with a friend maligning about the fact that there doesn't exist some sort of sublingual DMT, with an absorption profile similar to smoking DMT, but without the rancid taste. (Side note, there are some ways to get sublingual DMT: [] , but you probably won't find it for sale at your local drug dealer and effects will differ a lot from smoking. In most experiences I've read about I'm not even convinced that the people are experiencing sublingual absorption rather than just slowly swallowing DMT with MAOIs and seeing the effects that way) My point where something along the way of: I wish there was a way to get high on DMT without going through the unpleasant experience of smoking it, I'm pretty sure that experience serves to "prime" your mind to some extent and leads to a worst trip. My friend's point was: We are talking about one of the most reality-shattering experiences ever possible to a human brain that doesn't involve death or permanent damage, surely having a small cost of entry for that in terms of the unpleasant taste is actually a desirable side-effect. I kind of ended up agreeing with my friend and I think most people would find that viewpoint appealing BUT You could make the same argument for something like knee surgery (or any life-changing surgery, which is most of them). You are electing to do something that will alter your life forever and will result in you experiencing severe side-effects for years to come... but the step between "decide to do it" and "support major consequences" has 0 discomfort associate to it. That's not to say knee surgery is good, much like a DMT trip, I have a lot of prior of it being good for people (well, in this case assuming that doctor recommends you to do it). But I do find it a bit strange that this is th
1FactorialCode20hDue to the corona virus, masks and disinfectants are starting to run out in many locations. Still working on the mask situation, but it might be possible to make your own hand sanitizer by mixing isopropyl alcohol or ethanol with glycerol. The individual ingredients might be available even if hand sanitizer isn't. From what I gather, you want to aim for for at least 90% alcohol. Higher is better.

Friday, February 21st 2020
Fri, Feb 21st 2020

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18romeostevensit3dA willingness to lose doubled my learning rate. I recently started quitting games faster when I wasn't having fun (or predicted low future fun from playing the game out). I felt bad about this because I might have been cutting off some interesting come backs etc. However, after playing the new way for several months (in many different games) I found I had about doubled the number of games I can play per unit time and therefore upped my learning rate by a lot. This came not only from the fact that many of the quit games were exactly those slogs that take a long time, but also that the willingness to just quit if I stopped enjoying myself made me more likely to experiment rather than play conservatively. This is similar to the 'fail fast' credo.
5George3d90% certainty that this is bs because I'm waiting for a flight and I'm sleep deprive, but: For most people there's not a very clear way or incentive to have a meta model of themselves in a certain situation. By meta model, I mean one that is modeling "high level generators of action". So, say that I know Dave: * Likes peanut-butter-jelly on thin cracker * Dislikes peanut-butter-jelly in sandwiches * Likes butter fingers candy A completely non-meta model of Dave would be: * If I give Dave a butter fingers candy box as a gift, he will enjoy it Another non-meta model of Dave would be: * If I give Dave a box of Reese's as a gift, he will enjoy it, since I thing they are kind of a combination between peantu-butter-jelly and butter fingers A meta model of Dave would be: * Based on the 3 items above, I can deduce Dave likes things which are sweet, fatty, smooth with a touch of bitter (let's assume peanut butter has some bitter to it) and crunchy but he doesn't like them being too starchy (hence why he dislikes sandwiches). * So, if I give Dave a cup of sweet milk ice cream with bits of crunchy dark chocolate on top as a gift, he will love it. Now, I'm not saying this meta-model is a good one (and Dave is imaginary, so we'll never know). But my point is, it seems highly useful for us to have very good meta-models of other people, since that's how we can predict their actions in extreme situations, surprise them, impress them, make them laugh... etc On the other hand, we don't need to construct meta-models of ourselves, because we can just query our "high level generators of action" directly, we can think "Does a cup of milk ice cream with crunchy dark chocolate on top sound tasty ?" and our high level generators of action will strive to give us an estimate which will usually seem "good enough to us". So in some way, it's easier for us to get meta models of other people, out of simple necessity and we might have better meta models of other

Thursday, February 20th 2020
Thu, Feb 20th 2020

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13landfish4dOUR MIXED-MOTIVE CONFLICT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA APPS Modern computers are trash. I'm ready for better interfaces and better AI capabilities that are more aligned with our interests. I'm going to talk about my phone as a "computer" rather than a collection of (mostly social media) apps, because the thing I want to interface is the computer, not just the apps. Because that's exactly part of the problem. I don't have enough control over how I interact with the apps. The apps attempt to exert control over my attention. In some ways this is okay -- I do want apps to be high quality and useful, and I want my attention to be drawn to high quality useful things. However, the apps try to draw my attention using short term reward cycles that I often do not endorse upon reflection. This is a kind of superstimulus that we didn't evolve to handle. I want my phone's software to help me with this. I want this to be an Operating System feature and not an app feature, because I don't trust the apps. I have a mixed-motive conflict with the apps, and I want more leverage. A mixed-motive conflict is one where many interests align but some do not. The name comes from Thomas Schelling's work, The Strategy of Conflict, and can be applied in many domains: Nuclear game theory, advertising, and of course social media apps. Now, in an ideal world I shouldn't have to turn to an OS to give me greater control over the content apps provide me with. Ideally, the incentives would be aligned between me, the customer, and the app's designers and maintainers. If this were the case, I posit Facebook would look very different. There would be far more controls that would allow me to select the things I want to see that I endorse as good, rather than just the ones that keep me maximally engaged. (I know Facebook has changed their algorithms to optimize factors other than screen time, but I'm including this in the sense of 'engaged'). There really should be a data layer which Facebook presents via an API
7George4dPhysical performance is one thing that isn't really "needed" in any sense of the word for most people. For most people, the need for physical activity seems to boil down to the fact that you just feel better, live longer and overall get less health related issues if you do it. But on the whole, I've seen very little proof that excelling in physical activity can help you with anything (other than being a professional athlete or trainer, that is). Indeed, it seems that the whole relation to mortality basically breaks down if you look at top perform. Going from things like strongman competitions and american football where life expectancy is lower, to things like running and cycling where some would argue but evidence is lacking, to football and tennis where it's a bit above average. If the subject interests you, I've personally looked into it a lot, and I think this is the definitive review: But it's basically a bloody book, I personally haven't read all of it, but I often go back to it for references. Also, there's the much more obvious problem with pushing yourself to the limits, injury. I think this is hard to quantify and there's few studies looking at it. In my experience I know a surprising amount of "active" people that got injured in life-altering ways from things like skating, skying, snowboarding and even football (not in the paraplegic sense, more in the "I have a bar of titanium going through my spine and I can't lift more than 15kg safely" sort of way). Conversely, 100% of my couch-dwelling buddies in average physical shape doesn't seem to suffer from any chronic pain. To some extent, this annoys me, though I wonder if poor studies and anecdotal evidence is enough to warrant that annoyance. For example, I frequent a climbing gym. Now, if you look at climbing, it's relatively safe, there's two things people complain about most sciatica and "climbers bac

Tuesday, February 18th 2020
Tue, Feb 18th 2020

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4Raemon6dJim introduced me to this song on Beat Saber, and noted: "This is a song about being really good at moral mazes". I asked "the sort of 'really good at moral mazes []' where you escape, or the sort where you quickly find your way the center?" He said "the bad one." And then I gave it a listen, and geez, yeah that's basically what the song is about. I like that this Beat Saber map includes something-like-a-literal-maze in the middle where the walls are closing around you. (It's a custom map, not the one that comes from the official DLC) []

Monday, February 17th 2020
Mon, Feb 17th 2020

Shortform [Beta]
8G Gordon Worley III6dtl;dr: read multiple things concurrently so you read them "slowly" over multiple days, weeks, months When I was a kid, it took a long time to read a book. How could it not: I didn't know all the words, my attention span was shorter, I was more restless, I got lost and had to reread more often, I got bored more easily, and I simply read fewer words per minute. One of the effects of this is that when I read a book I got to live with it for weeks or months as I worked through it. I think reading like that has advantages. By living with a book for longer the ideas it contained had more opportunity to bump up against other things in my life. I had more time to think about what I had read when I wasn't reading. I more deeply drunk in the book as I worked to grok it. And for books I read for fun, I got to spend more time enjoying them, living with the characters and author, by having it spread out over time. As an adult it's hard to preserve this. I read faster and read more than I did as a kid (I estimate I spend 4 hours a day reading on a typical day (books, blogs, forums, etc.), not including incidental reading in the course of doing other things). Even with my relatively slow reading rate of about 200 wpm, I can polish off ~50k words per day, the length of a short novel. The trick, I find, is to read slowly by reading multiple things concurrently and reading only a little bit of each every day. For books this is easy: I can just limit myself to a single chapter per day. As long as I have 4 or 5 books I'm working on at once, I can spread out the reading of each to cover about a month. Add in other things like blogs and I can spread things out more. I think this has additional benefits over just getting to spend more time with the ideas. It lets the ideas in each book come up against each other in ways they might otherwise not. I sometimes notice patterns that I might otherwise not have because things are made simultaneously salient that otherwise would not be. And

Sunday, February 16th 2020
Sun, Feb 16th 2020

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5Ikaxas8dGlobal coordination problems I've said before [] that I tentatively think that "foster global coordination" might be a good cause area in its own right, because it benefits so many other cause areas. I think it might be useful to have a term for the cause areas that global coordination would help. More specifically, a term for the concept "(reasonably significant) problem that requires global coordination to solve, or that global coordination would significantly help with solving." I propose "global coordination problem" (though I'm open to other suggestions). You may object "but coordination problem already has a meaning in game theory, this is likely to get confused with that." But global coordination problems are coordination problems in precisely the game theory sense (I think, feel free to correct me), so the terminological overlap is a benefit. What are some examples of global coordination problems? Certain x-risks and global catastrophic risks (such as AI, bioterrorism, pandemic risk, asteriod risk), climate change, some of the problems mentioned in The Possibility of an Ongoing Moral Catastrophe [], as well as the general problem of ferreting out and fixing moral catastrophes, and almost certainly others. In fact, it may be useful to think about a spectrum of problems, similar to Bostrom's Global Catastrophic Risk spectrum, organized by how much coordination is required to solve them. Analogous to Bostrom's spectrum, we could have: personal coordination problems (i.e. problems requiring no coordination with others, or perhaps only coordination with parts of oneself [] ), local coordination problems, national coordination problems, global coordination problems, and transgenerational coordination problems.

Saturday, February 15th 2020
Sat, Feb 15th 2020

Personal Blogposts
Shortform [Beta]
19jimrandomh9dI suspect that, thirty years from now with the benefit of hindsight, we will look at air travel the way we now look at tetraethyl lead. Not just because of nCoV, but also because of disease burdens we've failed to attribute to infections, in much the same way we failed to attribute crime to lead. Over the past century, there have been two big changes in infectious disease. The first is that we've wiped out or drastically reduced most of the diseases that cause severe, attributable death and disability. The second is that we've connected the world with high-speed transport links, so that the subtle, minor diseases can spread further. I strongly suspect that a significant portion of unattributed and subclinical illnesses are caused by infections that counterfactually would not have happened if air travel were rare or nonexistent. I think this is very likely for autoimmune conditions, which are mostly unattributed, are known to sometimes be caused by infections, and have risen greatly over time. I think this is somewhat likely for chronic fatigue and depression, including subclinical varieties that are extremely widespread. I think this is plausible for obesity, where it is approximately #3 of my hypotheses. Or, put another way: the "hygiene hypothesis" is the opposite of true.

Friday, February 14th 2020
Fri, Feb 14th 2020

Shortform [Beta]
4G Gordon Worley III10dI few months ago I found a copy of Staying OK, the sequel to I'm OK—You're OK [] (the book that probably did the most to popularize transactional analysis), on the street near my home in Berkeley. Since I had previously read Games People Play [] and had not thought about transactional analysis much since, I scooped it up. I've just gotten around to reading it. My recollection of Games People Play is that it's the better book (based on what I've read of Staying OK so far). Also, transactional analysis [] is kind of in the water in ways that are hard to notice so you are probably already kind of familiar with some of the ideas in it, but probably not explicitly in a way you could use to build new models (for example, as far as I can tell notions of strokes and life scripts were popularized by if not fully originated within transactional analysis). So if you aren't familiar with transactional analysis I recommend learning a bit about it since although it's a bit dated and we arguably have better models now, it's still pretty useful to read about to help notice patterns of ways people interact with others and themselves, sort of like the way the most interesting thing about Metaphors We Live By [] is just pointing out the metaphors and recognizing their presence in speech rather than whether the general theory is maximally good or not. One things that struck me as I'm reading Staying OK is its discussion of the trackback technique. I can't find anything detailed online about it beyond a very brief summary []. It's essentially a multi-step process for dealing with conflicts in internal dialogue, "conflict" here being a technical term referring to crossed communication in the transact
3ofer9dI'm curious how antitrust enforcement will be able to deal with progress in AI. (I know very little about antitrust laws.) Imagine a small town with five barbershops. Suppose an antitrust law makes it illegal for the five barbershop owners to have a meeting in which they all commit to increase prices by $3. Suppose that each of the five barbershops will decide to start using some off-the-shelf deep RL based solution to set their prices. Suppose that after some time in which they're all using such systems, lo and behold, they all gradually increase prices by $3. If the relevant government agency notices this, who can they potentially accuse of committing a crime? Each barbershop owner is just setting their prices to whatever their off-the-shelf system recommends (and that system is a huge neural network that no one understands at a relevant level of abstraction).

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