If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should be posted in Discussion, and not Main.

4. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

New Comment
130 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

Thanks. Banned. I'd already caught the first, but not the second.


There seems to be at least one active Eugine-instance currently downvoting my comments (10 or so in the last 8 hours). I don't know whether that helps identify the account(s) in question.

For some reason both your post and gjm got downvoted. Being able to see who cast the downvote might very well be a way to identify further downvotes.

I've contacted support about this. Thanks for the heads-up. I caught that one myself, but that doesn't mean I'll catch all of them.

I think Eugine has accounts that vote but that don't write comments that can be easily used to identify him. Voting patterns might allow to ban them.
It could become a sport. Or a videogame.
But it is a videogame.

A week or two ago I linked to a new orbital dynamics paper indicating that there is strong evidence that the inner moons and rings of Saturn are only ~100 megayears old rather than being primordial to the solar system.

Here is a talk at the SETI institute by the scientist who did the research. Fascinating stuff.


When I'm honest with myself about the three aspects of April 2016 LW that interest me most, the list that emerges is this (in no particular order):

  • Eugine Noir's Sock Puppet Army and the 'Stop Eugine' movement made up of mods and laypeople that fights against it.
  • Gleb and his international team of Meat Puppets and their friendly efforts to popularize rationality despite all the angry criticism he receives from the post-apocalyptic LW dwellers.
  • The link to Star Slate Codex and whether or not it's a post title I recognize and have therefore already read.
It's ironic that 'Eugine' comes from the greek 'good spirit'. Whoa, can we put together the two, one against the other? A post-apocalyptic fight between sock puppets and meat puppets for the destiny of rationality on Earth? Stitchpunk at it's best! EDIT: it's already happening!
With moderator drones circling above the battlefield, relaying footage and sending an occasional salvo into the midst...
I like to imagine there is a team of mods working 24/7 in some underground war room following up on leads for potential new Eugine sock puppets. IIRC, LW 2.0's development has been severely hampered by all the resources devoted to finding and eliminating new Eugines.
:-D That's a pretty classic case of "you will be replaced by a short script", traditionally shell but nowadays probably Python. And they'll stand there yelling that it's only a flesh wound...
It is possible that Gleb and Eugine are the same person.
Doubtful. Gleb has demonstrated an ability to learn from his mistakes.

Well, to be fair the Eugine Tsipursky Theory™, Gleb is using Eugine's super rude sock puppet army, which he invented and maintains using high level trolling techniques, to manufacture an enemy to LW... An enemy that he will later destroy using his own super polite meat puppet army. Then, he will use the goodwill he has earned to take over the universe. Or at least get a good amount of karma here on LW.

At any rate, Gleb and Eugine appearing to be very different is essential to the ruse. If the ETT is correct, you're falling right into his trap.

We need a comic.
Some. It only took him what, four or five debacles to learn to shut up? X-) Eugine also learns -- he recently has been using several accounts simultaneously (to post, not just to sockpuppet upvote). And you probably don't want him to start learning rapidly :-/
Just be grateful I'm not using ponies :-)
Now, now, I'm entirely down with the use of ponies to make points about rationality.
You're very good at using ponies for that purpose, and have a strong track record to prove it. <3
Fair enough :-) There's a Less Wronger who actually does so.
You took that criticism quite well. This comment was quite funny, because of the mental picture it evoked; using ponies can sometimes be a high variance strategy (which is sometimes a reason to not use ponies, sadly). ;)
Thanks! BTW, do you know that there's a Less Wronger who actually uses ponies to promote rationality? And that's no joke.
It's the Little Eugine That Could! X-D But he embraced the Dark Side and became Noir...

I'm pretty sure the new users flame (p=0.8) and torch2 (p=0.9) are both Eugine.

I've already banned them and their comments.
sight2 too, now. [EDITED to add:] And vision2 and flame2. I have just done something I have never done before, not even to Eugine: I have downvoted all the comments by sight2, vision2 and flame2. They were mostly reposts of comments posted by other Eugine alters and deleted by the moderators. They were all, curiously enough, on +1 despite being only very recently posted. Eugine is banned from LW, these accounts are a big fuck-you to the moderators and the LW community, and I warmly endorse vigorous vigilante action against them. (Note that while an account is below +10 karma it is unable to downvote.) [EDITED to add:] ... And, oh look, all those comments are now mysteriously back to +1.
Sight2, vision2, and flame2 have been banned. Banning their comments leaves the comments visible to mods, so evidence isn't destroyed. Tech support is volunteer, and they've volunteered to do support but not development. Perhaps the ability to reverse karma from trolls will be available when LW 2.0 happens.
I'm finding his downvotes of me hilarious. He has one strategy, and just doesn't know what to do when it doesn't work. See, Eugine, the issue with your strategy is this: It only works on people who care what other people think of them, who are -bothered- when their karma drops, or when their percentage isn't exactly what they want it to be. If you manage to get this account to the point where I can't post anymore? I'll start another. This account isn't important to me, it's a fake band name I invented as a teenager to rename songs by a death metal band I don't even like (Cannibal Corpse). I've gone through dozens of pseudonyms, and this isn't even my longest-running, it's just one I used for a blog I no longer write in.
I think he has two strategies. One, post obnoxious prejudiced trollery as often as possible, because that always convinces people. Two, mass-downvote people you take to be your ideological opponents, because that will definitely make them go away or get ignored, rather than getting you banned and universally scorned. (I do actually quite like karma. But I observe that posting comments is net-karma-positive for me despite Eugine's asshattery, so the effect of reducing my karma is to make me post more. But maybe all Eugine cares about is seeing "-1"s next to comments expressing opinions he doesn't like.)
And both strategies are self-destructive. (Seriously, how can somebody who writes and behaves like a fifth grader ever have felt they were sufficiently more rational than other people here, such as to believe that they were in a position to decide who did and did not belong here?) He erodes the ability of people to credibly signal disagreement with any position he knowably downvotes. I have no idea how many independent people went through and downvoted my post, and my comments in those posts - but I'm going to assume the vast majority of downvotes are from him and his sockpuppet accounts.
Agreed with OrphanWilde, and in the same boat. I have no idea how many people credibly downvoted my post either, which gives me little information about how to optimize my actions.
Reading some comments on your articles might give you a hint. Please don't try this "all downvotes I get are from Eugine". It's obviously not true.
I get a lot of Eugine downvotes, and it looks to me like he very rarely[2] downvotes any of my comments more than once. My guess is that the same is true of Gleb. [1]I think the large majority of downvotes I get are from Eugine. Of course it's hard to be sure, and obviously "all my downvotes come from the deranged mass-downvoter no one pays any attentiont to" is a self-flattering hypothesis... [2] Perhaps never? I can't tell.
I'm happy to report that few of my downvotes come from a single deranged mass-downvoter, but many different mass-downvoters.
Agreed that not all downvotes I get are from Eugine. My point is that his downvotes obscure my ability to tell how many are real downvotes and how many are not. Regarding your other question, I specifically asked for comments, not downvotes. That way, I can check if the user is a Eugine sockpuppet or not.
I predict that saying "please comment on this rather than downvoting it" will not be effective in reducing how much it is downvoted.
"Owing to Eugine-related downvoting issues, please comment if you downvote this so I can update accurately" would probably work better.
Good point, will post something like that in the future - thanks!
His third strategy is to use new accounts to repost comments that were previous banned. I'm not sure how he doesn't get that reactance bias causes people to go against his perspective anyway.
What if his fourth strategy is to get all the people on Less Wrong to talk about Eugine Noir more than anything else thereby allowing his ideas to get notoriety? I would never have paid attention to his comments sans the furor. As it is, I find myself interested in what views he has and why LW is so opposed to them.

The problem isn't just that talking about Nier might promulgate his ideas. It's that talking about him means not talking about anything more important and/or interesting.

LW isn't opposed to his views. Many people here share many of his views, and argue them considerably more effectively than he ever has. LW is opposed to his tactics; namely, using large numbers of sockpuppet accounts to mass-downvote people he doesn't feel "belong" on Less Wrong, which is really just anybody who doesn't agree with him. He's not being silenced, he was kicked out for trying to silence others, and he continues to be kicked out every time he's identified because he's never stopped.
Hm. I understood otherwise.
I think the actual situation is something like this. * Eugine believes that there are systematic (statistical) mental differences between men and women, between black people and white people, etc. * I think the LW consensus on this, in so far as there is one, is that there probably are such differences. * I suspect most LW participants would estimate smaller differences than Eugine would. * Eugine seems to love to talk about these differences and to trot them out as his preferred explanation for anything anyone might otherwise explain as racism, sexism, etc. Most LW participants do not have that preference. * Eugine believes that departures from traditional norms of sexuality and gender are Bad: boo to homosexuality, boo squared to transgenderism, etc. * I think the LW consensus on this is squarely against him. And those are pretty much all the issues that Eugine posts a lot about. He may well have strong and/or interesting opinions on many other topics, but it seems that what he mostly wants to talk about is the inferiority of black people and the contemptibility of transgender people. (This wasn't always true. Compare the first page of The_Lion's user overview with that of, say, Eugine_Nier's.)
To echo OrphanWilde, Eugine's views on empirics are typically well-supported by the facts, and you'll find people like me making similar points in similar places. He's also been around a long time, and has made a large number of good comments, and is a good source of rationality quotes. The trouble is almost entirely the vote manipulation.
It seems to me that he often makes a huge generalization (of something that in the non-generalized form is a useful insight), and often makes the comment unnecessarily rude. Simply, there is a difference between saying "when judging a population's share in e.g. Nobel prizes, you should consider that some of them may be politically motivated, especially when we don't talk hard science" and saying "black people contribute nothing; even all their Nobel prizes are political". Eugine always chooses the latter form.
Rudeness is sometimes necessary, otherwise the Overton window of what can be mentioned in a polite society shifts: (West Hunter) Greg Cochran, by the way, tends to be rude.
I submit that if Viliam hadn't understood that he wouldn't have felt the need to say "... unnecessarily rude". Do you think it is at all likely that by writing the way he does Eugine is keeping LW's Overton window in a better place than it would be if he stated equivalent opinions without going out of his way to offend?
"Unnecessarily rude" is like "excessive force" or "inadequate approach", if you accept the expression you accept that the subject is wrong by definition. I think that politeness is not an unalloyed virtue and that being rude can be useful. I am, of course, not saying that every time you have the opportunity to be rude, you should. Since I'm quoting Greg Cochran, here's more on the topic. ""Maelcum a rude boy, Case." X-)
I don't agree. There is such a thing as being unnecessarily pedantic, but there are situations where pedantry is very much called for (say, reviewing the specifications for a communications protocol to be used in nuclear reactor software). There is such a thing as being unnecessarily sexually explicit, but there are situations where being sexually explicit is very much called for (say, while having sex). I do agree that saying "unnecessarily X" carries a suggestion that X is usually not a good thing in ordinary circumstances. Personally I'm quite comfortable saying that about rudeness (while vigorously agreeing that there are situations in which rudeness is called for); do you disagree? I very much agree. I would guess that Viliam does too. (We may not agree on how often being rude is useful.) Yeah, I'd classify that as needless obnoxiousness, and it certainly doesn't make me think better of Cochran, think worse of his opponents, or think him more likely to be right. More specifically, if I compare my mental models of (1) someone who holds Cochran's opinions as the result of impartial scientific investigation and (2) someone who holds Cochran's opinions partly because he's always been inclined towards white supremacism and is glad to have some scientific-looking backup for it, #2 seems distinctly more likely to write that sort of thing than #1, so I update Pr(Cochran's opinions are not substantially influenced by prior prejudice) down just a little. I doubt Cochran cares what I think of him, and he may well have sufficient reasons of his own for being obnoxious in that fashion. (E.g., I expect it helps to stir up enthusiasm in readers who are already convinced he's right.) But in so far as Cochran cares about persuading those who are not yet fully convinced members of Team Cochran, I guess that that sort of rudeness is counterproductive.
That is probable. I like to sharpen the point till it gets to be very very sharp. Can lead to bleeding. I don't think he's running a marketing campaign or is attempting to jumpstart a grassroots movement. He's more likely to be raising a flag to see who rallies to it. Or maybe he just likes to grumble and snark :-)
there is a rudeness beyond mentioning facts
Social norms of politeness vary. By the usual 'net norms the discussion on LW (including Eugine) is very polite. Pointing out that black people don't get Nobels in hard sciences because the right tail of their IQ distribution doesn't reach that far is highly politically incorrect and might well be rude in the sense of making participants in the conversation uncomfortable, but that's precisely the valuable sense of which West Hunter speaks.
I thought we don't follow the usual net norms here.
Some of us are -very- opposed to his views, and for reasons which probably to some extent come down to politics, we tend to fight him a little harder than those who are merely opposed to his tactics.
I agree with OrphanWilde, it's not about the views, it's about the methods he's using.
He also posts a lot in Rationality Quotes to farm karma (which he needs to downvote others).
Perhaps it's just because his accounts keep getting banned, but right now I see only one thing on the first page of RQ that comes from a Eugine alias.
Then where is he getting all the karma? Is it possible there is a rogue mod mole feeding under-the-table karma to Eugine's sock puppets using some clever hack?
Probably a few sockpuppets upvoting all his comments. Presumably they're accounts he doesn't reveal by commenting or mass-downvoting with them. You only need 10 karma to vote. Evil mods seem like a poor explanation :-) but I suppose anything's possible.
I'm looking for the sexiest explanation. I wonder how many total accounts The Great Eugine Noir has at this point? 50+? I suppose he would only need to create a handful (~10-12) of "voting" puppets that could be used over and over again. Then he needs a steady supply of kamikaze comment puppets which, after vetting themselves artificially by posting legitimately useful rationality quotes, are inevitably banned once he actually starts voicing his opinion through them. I wonder if Eugine has a favorite sock puppet?
My guess is fewer than 20. Probably more than 10, though.
He makes a bunch of comments that are good enough to get positive karma, though rarely stellar. Mostly semipolitical quotes in the quotes thread.
I don't think that's the whole story. Many, many of his comments, including very poor ones, get upvoted within minutes of being posted. In particular, at one point every single The_Lion2 comment had five or more upvotes.
Yes. He uses sockpuppets for voting, so presumably he uses them for upvoting himself as well. But most comments of his that I have seen I would expect to have positive (1 or 2) karma from anyone else as well, and if his comments were sufficiently horrible people would downvote him enough to overwhelm any amount of sockpuppets.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not under the impression that the LW moderators are under any sort of obligation to do anything. I suspect that a more total obliteration of Eugine's abuses might actually mean less work for moderators overall by encouraging him to stop abusing -- but of course that's only guesswork. [EDITED to fix ridiculous autocorrect error.]
Also: sight3 (but maybe kinda-zapped already? I can see their comments in some contexts but not in others) and vision4.
Reversing isn't the only important point. Banning the sock-pupperts that upvote the new account would also be good. That requires going and seeing who upvotes them.
Out of curiosity, is he still serial downvoting? I thought of something that may convince him to stop: Instead of deleting his accounts, disable them and convert all their downvotes against known targets into upvotes (and make sure he knows that). If all his efforts end up benefiting the very people he's trying to hurt, well...
Yes, still serial-downvoting. I think all downvotes -- perhaps in fact all votes, up or down -- of all Eugine's accounts should be undone (not turned into upvotes, that would be going too far) as the accounts are zapped. (I think Eugine does what he does largely as a form of culture-war, and I think it's at least possible he's rational enough to be less inclined to do it if its effects are completely obliterated every time.) I think the moderators may have some more general and glorious plan for dealing with Eugine-like problems, and may not want to act too vigorously in case doing so somehow conflicts with what they want to do later (e.g., by erasing useful information about what Eugine's various incarnations did when). I am not convinced that they're making the tradeoff optimally -- but being an LW mod must be a thankless enough task that I feel bad making even the very mild criticism in this sentence. [EDITED to add: I should confess that I am not an impartial observer here; it looks to me as if whenever Eugine gets an account over +10 karma the first thing he does is to start downvoting my comments, and I'm getting bored of it.]
Making karma an even less useful indicator strikes me as a poor trade-off for spiting Eugine...
I don't read Error's proposal as being about spiting him, but about deterring his antisocial activities. (But I agree that Error's specific proposal goes too far. Reversed stupidity is not intelligence, etc.)
as a one-off action, or as a threat alone, it might be viable as a deterrent.
You could perhaps nullify the upvotes after a few months to preserve the system in the long run. The idea is that the short-term effect of his actions should be net-negative from his own perspective. Other ways of achieving the same effect may also work; that was just what I came up with after five minutes of thinking about it.
Yeah, this is one of the points where I agree with Lumifer. I'm one of Eugine Neir's biggest targets, as is gjm, but I think reversing karma is not the best move. Negating the karma would be optimal here.
Turning downvotes into upvotes -- no. That's adding noise to the system. Removing downvotes -- yes. That's removing something we already consider a noise.
yep. Thanks.

Just a random thought:

I realized that Twitter hashtags may be the next step in evolution of the thought-terminating clichés. You no longer have to even spell out the cliché; you merely include a reference.

Even outside of Twitter: I think the clichés used to be full sentences; now people simply use a keyword, or an abbreviation. What does this "shortening of thought-terminating clichés" mean? Are people becoming more mindkilled? Or is the world simply more tightly connected, so it is easier to synchronize globally on a meaning of a keyword?

To expl... (read more)

#mindkilled Edit: Hashtags turned my comment big and bold. Neat. I'm leaving it.
It's difficult to explain without context why the sounds that make up the word "matter" refer to the concept we commonly understand as "matter". Terms always get their meaning from the context in which they are used. I don't see how knowing a lot of different concepts means that you are mind-killed. Language isn't the enemy of rationality.

What non-english content do you consume?

I want to try out a new system I came up with: a 'trickle' system, with some kind of interesting, but short text landing in my email box(/or comparable) each day, the words the text uses automatically compared to the list of words I already know, and the disjunction automatically queried from wiktionary and made into one sided flashcards. (reason being: I realized I cared for receptive abilities, but not so much for being able to express my thoughts in a different language. If it was a free action, great, but I feel like it usually is not.) And these words learned BEFORE reading the text. (as to avoid having too many breaks in the flow)

I watch the Quebec French version of The Voice, called La Voix https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=la+voix I also listen to some french language podcasts, such as those from the CBC (SRC in French), and sometimes I'll watch documentaries in other languages, such as NHK documentaries in Japanese.

What does your working-stack look like? In what order do you do tasks, what lists, notifications, alerts etc - do you check?

I am currently unhappy with my stack's order of operations, I am quite sure I can just re-order it but I before I try I thought I would see what everyone else is doing.

Please answer before checking my stack so that I don't influence your response.

Mine looks like this (in ROT13 d3coder ):

  • Crefbany guvatf - v.r. V arrq gb crr, V nz fyrrcl, V nz uhatel.
  • FZF (hfhnyyl fubeg).
  • Cubar nafjrevat znpuvar zrffntrf.
  • Bgure bayvar zrffntrf.
  • Pnyra
... (read more)
Thanks for obscuring yours to avoid biasing the rest of us. 1. window outside 2. facebook notifications 3. facebook messages 4. calendar 5. email 6. housemates 7. missed calls 8. texts 9. reddit 10. lesswrong 11. google news 12. google drive not simply ordered

Like a number of people I browse LW by using the "recentposts" URL to avoid missing anything new. However in the sidebar it appears that "recent comments" and "recent posts" only seem to show those in Main/Promoted. With the move away from the use of Main, does this need to be fixed? Or is it not worth the effort given dwindling comment levels here and the eventual shift to a LW2.0?

Made a github issue.
If you start from the Discussion page, you'll get the recent posts and recent comments for Discussion.
Thank you! However, this appears to miss anything that is "Promoted". The only recent example is Free CFAR summer programs, and before that the LW survey. If other posts get promoted they may also get overlooked by browing from Discussion.
Main is still a separate section, even there isn't much happening there. You can get new posts in Main from http://lesswrong.com/new/ There may not be a convenient way of tracking new comments on non-promoted posts in Main.

According to this guy, there are no Kardeshev Type 3 civs out there.

He doesn't seem to address the galactic quenching question, just uses a complete collection scenario

Type III Societies (Apparently) Do Not Exist


Oh, and don't use the "more than the atoms than in the universe" analogy lightly


The first legal ruling for an AI or robot may be in the pipe, and it was filed by the DoJ. this may set a precedent for an AI to have legal standing, as the ruling is filed against an electronic device.

United States of America v. Apple MacPro Computer, et al


The 1916 case United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola did not recognize Coca-Cola as containing an incipient intelligence, nor did 2013's United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton contemplate dinosaur necromancy. Titles like this just represent the legal fiction for in rem cases, in which a case is brought against a piece of property — originally e.g. unclaimed property or contraband. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_rem_jurisdiction

What are some non-flashcard-style memorization techniques? I'm learning a menu as part of my job as a waiter and it feels more like trial and error. My main problem is that I can't remember the stuff at all.

I've come up with a "open answers" system that I don't really know if it can work. Let's say we have x number of things on the system, like item1, item2, item3...item(x). We also have y number of meals (which vary on the number of ingredients) and so you need to fill in the blanks, like this:

Meal 1: _ _ _ _ (underscores should be here but the ... (read more)

How's your visual memory? If it happens to be good, consider reframing from "learn what items are on the menu" to "learn what the (actual physical) menu looks like", which might help by giving extra structure (this dish is above that dish, these dishes are grouped together because they're similar, etc.) and by providing an extra exercise you can inflict on yourself (attempt to reproduce a copy of the menu). Is there any consistent structure you can get a grip on? E.g., maybe there are three things X each of which comes with a "Super X" that includes a large soft drink and a complimentary shoulder massage from the chef, or something. What does your memory actually need to be able to do for you? I mean, is this about retrieving specific items ("Excuse me, can you tell me what's in the Maximum Fun-Fun Ultra Super Happy Meal[1]?") or is it about fluently generating complete lists from a fixed list ("Excuse me, can you tell me all the soft drinks you offer?") or about doing nontrivial queries over the whole thing ("Excuse me, can you tell me what I can eat from your menu if I'm allergic to nuts, don't eat meat, and want to spend at least $6 and at most $25?")? These seem like quite different sorts of task and you might want your training to match what you're going to have to be able to do. Have you eaten their food yourself? If there's some particular item you have difficulty remembering, would it help to buy one yourself and pay particular attention to what it's like? Disclaimer: I have never been a waiter, never tried to memorize a menu, and have a very poor visual memory. [1] You don't want to know about the other meal they offer. [EDITED a couple of times to fix typos, once to add another, probably bad, suggestion, and once to provide a better TWC link.]
There no reason not to use flashcards for the purpose of learning a menu. Likely cards that go in both directions. You could use cloze deletion on the list of ingridients. Then there's mnemonics. Get pegs for the numbers from 1 to 100 and then use them to make pictures.

Another spammer here.

Thanks, Banned.

I watched "Eye in the Sky" this past week, and ended up having a large argument with a friend after.

Story follows the UK Army following most-wanted terrorists in Kenya using a drone in the sky. They follow them into a house where they start preparing suicide vests. Plan turns into a remote drone strike, but the pilot keeps delaying as there is a young girl outside the house.

Essentially, a story line similar to the trolley problem - do you (potentially) save 1 innocent girl's life, or potentially watch terrorists attack a crowded place (film estim... (read more)

"Wrong" means not only different things but different kinds of things to different people. * To a consequentialist it means "has bad consequences" or maybe "is reasonably expected to have bad consequences". * To a deontologist it means "breaks moral rules". * Note that those moral rules may be moral rules because a policy of not breaking them has good consequences, and (because most of us are not good at making difficult decisions in real time) it may actually have better consequences than a policy of always trying to work out the consequences case by case. * To a virtue ethicist it means "is the kind of thing a good person wouldn't do". * Note that a policy if making oneself a good person (perhaps defined in some kinda-consequentialist terms) and then acting in the ways that come naturally may again have better consequences than trying to work things out case by case (same reason as above), and perhaps also better consequences than following any manageable set of rules (because well-trained human judgement may do better at capturing what you care about than any set of rules simple enough to follow). I am guessing (from what you say, and from the fact that most people here are more or less consequentialists) that you are a consequentialist; from that perspective, indeed, blowing up the building (or whatever exactly the drone would have done) seems like a clear win. But perhaps your friend is a deontologist: s/he has a rule "you're not allowed to kill civilians" and wants it followed in all cases. That will give suboptimal results sometimes, and maybe this case is an example. But it may still be a better policy than "think it out from first principles in every case". For instance, suppose -- as seems pretty plausible, though I don't know -- that drone operators quite often face the possibility of collateral damage, and that in most cases they could avoid killing civilians (without much compromise to military objectives) by taking some extra trouble: waiti
Great response, thanks. Finding the hardest to argue against are the deontologists. Morality is a hard one to pin down and define, but my original thought process still holds up here. Unless moral objectives are black and white, we can assign a badness to each. Killing and allowing death are subtly different to most people, but not to the chime of 80 people. In both cases, you will kill civilians - and in that light, the problem becomes a minimisation one. I still would then say that inaction is less moral than action in the above situation. Civilian death is acceptably bad (to everyone) and to be minimised - if waiting doesn't jeopardise the mission, then minimise away. This was a big part of the film, but it got to a point where they could no longer wait. There is a call to be made - will waiting actually bring us anywhere, or are we delaying the inevitable at a risk to the mission. (The civilian in the film was a young girl selling bread. She had a load of loafs to sell.) This opens up a whole other can of worms. Is it worth waiting to minimise civilian deaths at the chance to fail the mission? The danger of thinking in such a clear cut way (as a person or as an organisation) is ignoring the cases where inaction is worse. Nobody likes to "kill civilians" and making up a silly rule that frees you the responsibility of doing so does not make the situation better. Your rule should not be "never kill civilians" or "kill target no matter what, ignoring civilian deaths" but "minimise civilian casualties in any possible manner". I think I'd have many arguments (ehrm - discussions) with a friends like that. From the drone drivers perspective - Not sure an organisation would hire a virtue ethicist drone pilot. Somewhat defeats the purpose. "Spying on people is always bad"? I thought something similar, actually. I think overall, films that properly convey the issue at hand are a good thing. The film talked about the conflict above, as well as some intra-country dis
Depends on your computing power. For example, choosing "minimise civilian casualties in any possible manner" may encourage your opponent to take hostages they wouldn't take if you would precommit to "kill target no matter what, ignoring civilian deaths". If taking hostages makes crime relatively safe and profitable, this may encourage more wannabe criminals to take action. Thus, minimising the casualties in short term may increase the casualties in long term. Also, it's important how much your actions are legible by your opponent, and how credible are your precommitments. For example, if you choose the strategy "kill target no matter what, ignoring civilian deaths", but your opponent believes that you would follow the strategy if there are 10 hostages, but that you would probably change your mind if there are 10 000 hostages, well, you just motivated them to take 10 000 hostages. (Then there are strategies to ruin your opponent's precommitment. Essentially, if your opponent precommits to "if X, then I do Y", your strategy is to do things that are very similar to X, but not completely X. You keep doing this, and while you technically didn't do X, only "X minus epsilon", so your opponent was not required to do Y, psychologically you weaken the credibility of their precommitment, because for most people it is difficult to believe that "X minus epsilon" doesn't bring the strong reaction Y, but X would.)

Here's a nice article about the video game Super Hexagon, and how playing it seems to affect your perception of time.

I can attest to the same experience. It took me about a week to beat the game (the last level looks like this) and somehow my brain has learned to slow down everything on the screen. I can even control it consciously, make it look fast one second and slow the next. How the hell? No idea.

(Before you ask, I'm not one of those crazy fast gamers. I'm 33 and have never played fast games before. Also I've measured my reaction time and it's slower ... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply


You could imagine much simpler universes than ours. Why don't we live in the simplest possible universe?

My answer:

Simpler universes are more likely, but complex universes vastly outnumber simple ones.


How complicated should we expect our universe to be? How many bits of information should we expect it takes to describe our universe?

My answer:

The entropy of a Solomonoff prior.

Question I have now:

How does one estimate the entropy of a Solomonoff distribution? And is the answer in line with how many bits of it takes to encode the laws of physics?

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Science of Relationship blog summary pt. 1

The following notes are designed to be useful without having to follow the links I read through somewhere like 10 pages of the Science of Relationship blog, and the first page of their facebook page and clicked on any interesting links. Then, I disregarded that which isn’t directly supported by the study, and those studies with very small sample size, or that didn’t replicate. The remainder are reported here and in subsequent posts:

For the 144 speed daters, Vacharkulksemsuk says, "expansiveness (open body lang... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Regarding the EugeneNier fiasco, what if we were to require new users to submit a link to a Facebook/LinkedIn account or have a current active user vouch that the new account is real?

what if we were to require new users to submit a link to a Facebook/LinkedIn account

You won't have many new users.

I think the plan to only allow senior members to vote is better.
As long as the definition of "senior member" includes about 90% of active members (as opposed to about 10%). Reducing the number of voting people would be harmful, because already too few people bother to vote. (The more people would vote, the smaller impact would have one spiteful downvote. Imagine that every comment would have tens of votes, the more popular ones would have hundreds. Who would notice a single downvote?) We merely need to prevent the "hit and run" downvoting strategy. At this moment, LW is ridiculously fragile. I mean, look at all that debate about problems caused by one mindkilled person. Imagine that tomorrow, a group of ten equally mindkilled people would discover LW and try the same strategy. (Ten people is different from ten sockpuppets; they have more brainpower and more total time.)
I don't like this idea, but people, please do not downvote Daniel just because you disagree. Downvote thumb is not for disagreements, it's for comments that don't add anything to the discussion.
Who says?
I assume at least some of the downvotes are from Eugene sockpuppets (he tends to downvote any suggestions that would make it harder to do his trolling).
Why is it hard to create multiple facebook/linkedin accounts?
it's not; but it would slightly increase the effort required to do it. Eventually the effort will be high enough as a deterrent. In this case I don't think it will deter Eugene more than new users.

Suprising academia

Music from my housemates!

Birdy - Words as weapons

John Legend - Tonight (Best You Ever Had) ft. Ludacris

Some Japanese/Chinese song


天空之城 木吉他演奏曲

Dirty Dike - Hold my hands - Not from my housemates, but from the loudspeaker of a teenage looking patient at a mental health outpatient unit.

Lil wayne Office theme

Dream journal

about a week ago I dreamed I had sex with my mom and last night I dreamed my m... (read more)

That seems sane to me. You do indeed have a power differential. Meh, not really. To me it's backward thinking. Being so strong that it doesn't matter if you're vulnerable to other is the real strength.
How can that not be sexual?
Possibly meaning non-arousing? I do too sometimes have dreams related to sex, even about performing sex, where no excitement happens.

A professor insists that our maps are quite unlike the territory and that evolution is to blame.

Seems to be right up LW's alley :-)

Is that yet another exercise in the "motte and bailey fallacy"? If there is any value in reading the article, please be specific about what it is. I wasted some of my time to learn that... uhm... we pay more attention to things that can be relevant for our survival... and that agents are composed from smaller parts.
The value lies in exposing your mind to possibly new ways of considering things. If these ways are old news to you, congratulate yourself and carry on.

So Eugine Neir has been downvoting my posts heavily, preventing me from getting useful feedback on the posts. So I'd like some thoughts from others on whether this post would better go on the Outreach thread, or on Discussion. The Outreach thread is for stuff that does not have potential for good discussion, but is just about successful outreach. I posted that in Discussion because it seems like it had potential for an interesting discussion. Indeed, it did have a number of non-Eugine comments, where people seemed interested in talking about the topic at h... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Comment retracted due to downvoting and thus not being able to get useful information due to potential Eugine interference - I posted the comment in another thread.