If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.
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I have a question about the Effective Altruism community that's always bothered me. Why does the movement not seem to have much overlap with the frugality/early retirement movement? Is it just that I haven't seen it? I read a number of sites (My favorite being Mr Money Mustache, who retired at age 30 on a modest engineer's salary) that focus on early retirement through (many would say extreme) frugality. I wouldn't expect that this, or something close to it, would be hard for most people in the demographic of this site. It seems to me that the two movements have a lot in common, mainly attempting to get people to be more responsible with their money. If you take as an axiom that, for members of the EA movement, marginal income/savings equals increased donations, it seems as though there is tremendous opportunity for synergies between the two.
Possibly donating money is easier when it's funging against luxuries than when it's funging against early retirement, and it's hard for people who don't plan on retiring early to read and follow frugality advice that's framed in terms of how much better financial independence is than whichever luxury?
Why, can you not live on less than $175k/year?
This is a question that's been bothering me for some months as well, ever since I encountered Early Retirement Extreme a few months ago.
We here in Vancouver have substantial overlap between the meetups for Mr. Money Mustache, effective altruism, rationality, and life extension. It's weird, because there's about a dozen people who are all friends, so we go to each other's meetups lots.
Anyway, much of what the effective altruism community is comes from what was popular in its precursor communities. Less Wrong, academia, and the non-profit world don't all focus on the early retirement movement. If frugality isn't a value in effective altruism lifestyles yet, then let's see if we can't make that happen.
I'm also unsure why there isn't more about personal finance / money management here. It seems like an excellent use-case for rationality: it's so trivially quantifiable that it comes pre-quantified, and it's something that a lot of people are bad at, so there ought to be room for improvement.
Even though LW's in-practice target audience is a demographic unusually susceptible to the meme that it's completely impossible to beat the market, investment is only one part of managing money. (And I wonder how many people with enough income to do so even invest in index funds.) Optimizing expenditures is another part; have there been any posts on how to, say, optimize diet for low cost with an at-least-superior-to-the-average-American level of nutrition? Or higher-level skills: how to cultivate the virtue of frugality and so on.
To me, it's more about financial independence than early retirement. Financial independence gives you the options to do a lot of different things; "retire" and volunteer for an effective charity, continue working and donate 100% of your income to charity, continue working and balloon your nest egg to establish a trust to be donated to an effective charity upon your death, etc. The knowledge that you are 100% financially independent gives tremendous security that (as well as it's other benefits, such as decreasing stress) allows someone to comfortably and without consideration give large amounts of money.
The Rationalist Community: Catching Up to Speed
Note: the below comment is intended for my friend(s) who is/are not on Less Wrong yet, or presently, as an explanation of how the rationality community has changed in the interceding years between when Eliezer Yudkowsky finished writing his original sequences, and 2014. This is an attempt to bridge procedural knowledge gaps. Long-time users, feel free to comment below with suggestions for changes, or additions.
Off of Less Wrong, the perspective of the rationality community has changed in light of the research, and expansion of horizon, by the Center For Applied Rationality. A good start introduction to these changes is found in the essay Three Ways CFAR Has Changed My View of Rationality written by Julia Galef, the president of the CFAR.
On Less Wrong itself, Scott Alexander has written what this community of users has learned together in an essay aptly titled Five Years and One Week of Less Wrong.
The Decline of Less Wrong was a discussion this year about why Less Wrong has declined, where the rationalist community has moved, and what should, or shouldn't be done about it. If that interests you, the initial post is great, and there is ... (read more)
A question I've been curious about: to those of you who have taken modafinil regularly/semi-regularly (as opposed to a once off) but have since stopped: why did you stop? Did it stop being effective? Was it no longer useful for your lifestyle? Any other reasons? Thanks!
In an old article by Eliezer we're asked what we would tell Archimedes through a chronophone. I've found this idea to actually be pretty instructive if I instead ask what I would tell myself through a chronophone if I could call back only a few years.
The reason the chronophone idea is useful is because it forces you to speak in terms of 'cognitive policies' since if you use anything relevant to your own time period it will be translated into something relevant to the time period you're calling. In this way if I think about what I would tell my former self I think: 1) what mistakes did I make when I was younger? 2) what sort or cognitive policies or strategies would have allowed me to avoid those mistakes, and finally 3) am I applying the analogue of those strategies in my life today?
I am now in the Bay Area untill the 6th of November when I fly back to Europe.
Searching for new cool people to meet, especially from the rationalist community. Open to couch surfing and parties.
So we have lots of guides on how to be rational... but do we have any materials that consider what makes a person decide to pursue rationality and consciously decide to adopt rationality as an approach to life?
Recently I was talking to someone and realised they didn't accept that a rational approach was always the best one, and it was harder than I expected to come up with an argument that would be compelling for someone that didn't think rationality was all that worthwhile... not neccessarily irrational, but just not a conscious follower/advocate of it. I think a lot of the arguments for it are actually quite philosophical or in some people's case mathematical. Got me thinking, what actually turns someone into a rationality fan? A rational argument? Oh wait....
I've got some ideas, but nothing I'd consider worth writing down at this stage... is there anything to prevent wheel reinvention?
People who look for ways to become more rational are probably far more rational than average already.
Does anyone have actual data over whether people working with words on computers is impaired or assisted by (a) music with lyrics or (b) instrumental music without lyrics? (I'd also be curious about the effect on people who have to work with numbers, but that's not relevant to me.)
Salame and Baddeley (1989): Music impairs short-term memory performance, vocal moreso than instrumental.
Jones and Macken (1993) [pdf] has things to say.
Introspectively I always felt that music helps me get into a focused state but I always wondered whether it has any effects. Over the course of May 2014 I collected some data on my own writing performance in different circumstances when I had a lot of written work to complete (a bit over100 hours spent on writing in that month).
Every 30min I took a break and gave a 1-10 rating of the quality of the work I had completed in that period, and brief notes about anything else that might be notable. I admit that self-rating is rather arbitrary but simply word count wouldn't suffice as I was also editing, consulting sources and other tasks related to writing at various times. And of course these results may not generalise to anyone besides myself (and indeed for my own purposes I should do a replication next time I have a huge writing crunch). Mean self-rating of "quality":
The mean ratings above conceal a lot of variability; the only reliable effect (W... (read more)
What parallels exist between AI programming and pedagogy?
Today, I had to teach my part-timer how to delete books from our inventory. This is a two-phase process: delete the book from our inventory records then delete the book from our interlibrary loan records. My PTer is an older woman not at all versed in computers, so to teach her, I first demonstrated the necessary steps, then asked her to do it while I guided her, then asked her to do it alone. She understood the central steps and began to delete books at a reasonable rate.
A few minutes in, she hit th... (read more)
After writing the Anti Mosquito thread we went into a discussion into other species to eliminate. While doing that bed bugs came into my attention. I do have rashes that look like the ones shown in the bed bug article on Wikipedia.
Today I searched there are indeed bed bugs.
Does anybody have experiences of getting rid of them?
As mentioned by btrettel, I had some a few months ago that, as far as I can tell, were totally wiped out by one thermal remediation, which seems to be the mirror of hyporational's suggestion. Basically, they heated up the apartment enough that all the bedbugs and their eggs died, and this took ~8 hours and was expensive. I found the extermination company on Yelp.
I have several bookshelves with lots of books, and the bedbugs apparently like to crawl all over the place--there was a husk at the corner between the wall and the ceiling--and so the exterminator was pretty insistent that I go with the thermal remediation (which would kill them everywhere) instead of using pesticides, which would have to be applied everywhere to be as effective.
People in Finland freeze their sheets and mattresses in the winter and it seems to do the trick. I'm not sure if this helps you now unless you have a huge freezer.
How bad is having rs1333049(C,C) if you have no other risk factors, including family history, for heart disease? It is supposedly associated with a 1.9x risk for coronary artery disease.
It seems likely that you could get much of the benefit of cryopreservation for a fraction of the cost, without actually getting your head frozen, by just recording your life in great detail.
A while back, I started tracking e.g. every time I switch between windows, or send out an HTTP request, etc. - not with this in mind, but just so I can draw pretty graphs. It doesn't seem that it would be beyond a superintelligent AI to reconstruct my mind from this data. For better fidelity, maybe include some brain scans and your DNA sequence.
And this sort of preserva... (read more)
I've heard this idea before, and it has never seemed convincing. Suppose you managed to record one useful bit per second, 24/7, for thirty years. That's approximately one billion bits. There are approximately 100 billion neurons, each with many synapses. How many polynomials of degree n can fit m points for n>m? Infinity many.
Its actually worse than this, because even if you record orders or magnitude more data than the brain contains, perhaps by recording speech and video, then maybe you could recreate the speech and movement centres of the brain with some degree of accuracy, but not recover other areas that seem more fundamental to your identity, because the information is not evenly distributed.
Its easy to get into a 'happy death spiral' around superintelligence, but even godlike entities cannot do things which are simply impossible.
I suppose it might be worth recording information about yourself on the basis of low cost and a small chance of astronomically large payoff, and regardless it could be useful for data mining or interesting for future historians. But I can't see that it has anywhere near the chance of success of cryonics.
Incidentally, a plastinisied brain could be put in a box and buried in a random location and survive for a long time, especially in Antarctica.
That's true but irrelevant and proves too much (the same point about the 'underdetermination of theories' also 'proves' that induction is impossible and we cannot learn anything about the world and that I am not writing anything meaningful here and you are not reading anything but noise).
There's no reason to expect that brains will be maximally random, much reason to expect that to be wrong, and under many restrictive scenarios, you can recover a polynomial with n>m - you might say that's the defining trait of a number of increasingly popular techniques like the lasso/ridge regression/elastic net, which bring in priors/regularization/sparsity to let one recover a solution even when n<p (as it's usually written). The question is whether personality and memories are recoverable in realistic scenarios, not unlikely polynomials.
On that, I tend to be fairly optimistic (or pessimistic, depending on how you look at it): humans seem to be small.
When I look at humans' habits, attitudes, political b... (read more)
1) What course of study / degree program would you recommend to someone interested in (eventually) doing research for effective altruism or global priorities (e.g. Givewell, FHI, etc.)?
2) Are there other similar fields? Requirements: research, focused on rational decision-making, mostly or entirely altruistic
3) What are the job opportunities like in these fields?
I posted If we knew about all the ways an Intelligence Explosion could go wrong, would we be able to avoid it? on the LW subreddit recently, in case anyone is interested. I'm not sure how many people read the subreddit. Is this something I should post on here?
I make a public vow not to watch twitch till 2015.
Is is acceptable for LWers to have more than one account? I'm considering to create a more anonymous account for asking and discussing possibly more controversal or out-of-character topics or topics I wouldn't want to see associated with my name.
What do you think about this?
If you don't tell us (sorry possibly too late), we aren't likely to find out, unless your alternate account is so obnoxious that it gets investigated. In this community, that's a damned high threshold.
Seriously, I don't think it's a problem. Nobody objected to Clippy probably being a regular member, though there were efforts to find out who it was out of curiosity.
Depending on your use case, you might also just want to use this account (for which the password is 'password').
I think it was just intended for low-friction anonymity.
Employing one's rational skills in extremely stressful or emotional situations, specifically extreme infatuation:
Today at the market, while waiting on the queue, I recognized an ex-lover of mine. One I had never gotten over. I dared not speak her name. I knew, with absolute certainty, that I would have absolutely no control over what I would said to her, if I didn't shut down entirely, standing there with my mouth open, my breath held, and a cacophony of conflicting thoughts and emotions on my mind.
I knew that, if, against all probability, she decided the... (read more)
Does anyone here know anyone (who knows anyone) in the publishing industry, who could explain exactly why a certain 220,000-and-counting-word RationalFic manuscript is unpublishable through the traditional process?
I'm fairly well-informed on this subject- I've had one published science fiction author as a housemate, another as a good friend, and I'm on a first-name basis with multiple editors at Tor.
You will find it very challenging to get direct feedback from any professionals in the industry at this stage, short of relationships like personal friendship. This is because at any given time, there are tens of thousands of unpromising authors making exactly that request.
If this is your first novel, or even your third, don't expect too much. The bar for minimum quality is extremely high, and author skill does not peak at a young age. If you're still early in the process, and you're still enjoying the practice, keep writing your second and third and eighth books while you look around for your first to be published. As a general rule of thumb, if you don't have a novel that's now vaguely embarrassing to you, then you probably aren't good enough yet. Do not put all your eggs in one basket by writing one very long series; try out a variety of settings, and experiment with your craft.
Often, it is heard that writing short stories to build up a reputation first is a good way to break in to the in... (read more)
May I suggest talking to scifi/fantasy author community (they know quite a bit about this, and often struggle to publish). Like piloting and academia, demand for these sorts of jobs far outstrips supply, so most people will struggle and make a poor living.
If you haven't yet, read http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/04/common-misconceptions-about-pu-1.html by Charles Stross.Quite a good description of how book publishing works.
^^^ There is your answer.
A publisher may reject a manuscript based on some ideological or cultural qualm, but at the end of the day, the publisher's main question is going to be "Can I sell this?" If you want to get a manuscript published, you have to do two (overly simplified things): make it worth publishing and find someone whose market would be interested in the ideas expressed there in. IlyaShpitser's suggestion of looking into scifi/fantasy is a good one.
Also a quick couple of notes. First off, I don't know if this is true of every publisher, but you probably would do better if you knocked off that "-and-counting" portion of the length. Believe me, publishers receives gobs of letters about manuscripts that are unfinished "but will be masterpieces." Have a product. Show them the product. You need to have leverage with a publisher and being able to slam a finished story down and say, "This is what I have for you. This is good. This is what you need. You can buy it now or I will look elsewhere." That is powerful. Though I would not suggest actual engaging in the hyperbole I just used. That was example only. The point is, have a product, n... (read more)
To what degree can I copy/paste from Google Docs when creating an article?
Edit: Google Docs -> article is sketchy, though not impossible if you're willing to put in time reformatting.
Followup: are articles usually written in the editor that comes up when you click "create a new article"?
Depends on what you want to do, if you want to keep your google doc formatting (including which lines are title, bulleted lists, links, etc.) then your result will probably look weird and ugly on lesswrong.
The best would be to copy-paste from google doc but to paste with Ctrl-shift-V (or equivalent), which in most browsers pastes the raw text, and then redoing the necessary formatting in the LW article editor. This will be a bit of a pain for links, bolded/italics parts, quotes, etc. since you'll have to redo them (so it's best not to do them in the first place in google docs).
LW comments are in markdown but discussion and main posts are in some form of html.
I posted a new math puzzle. I really like this one.
is there a part of the sequences that discusses celebrating failures? or acknowledging failures?
Finding out where to donate is exhausting.
There are a couple of organisations affiliated with LW or organsiations that are inspired by the memespace. A remotely exhaustive list would be CFAR, MIRI, FHI, GiveWell. Which ones did I forget? Further, there are more traditional, gigantic organisations like the various organs of the UN or the catholic church. Finally, there are organisations like Wikipedia or the Linux foundation. In this jungle how should I found out where to donate my personal marginal monetary unit?
I posit that I should not. In no possible wa... (read more)
Does anyone know of a compelling fictional narrative motivating the CHSH inequality or another quantum game?
I'm looking for something like:
Earth's waging a two-front war on opposite ends of the galaxy. The aliens will attack each front with either Star Destroyers or Nebula Cleanser, randomly and independently. The generals of the eastern and western fronts must coordinate their defense plans, or humanity will fall.
There are two battle plans: Alpha and Bravo. If the aliens at either front attack with Star Destroyers, generals must both choose the same ba... (read more)
Topical (well, kinda) and hilarious: Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers
Thought of the day: I think mathematical-Platonist "discovery" is what some form of mathematical-constructivist "computation", most likely a stochastic search problem, feels like from the inside. After all, our intellectual faculties were tuned by evolution to locate physically real objects in physically real spaces, so repurposing the same cognitive machinery for "locating" an object for an existence proof would feel like locating an object in a space, even if the "space" and "object" are just mental models and never really existed in any physical sense.
Last time I asked there was no way to spend money to get the main sequences in a neatly bound book. I suspect this is still the case. Would anyone be willing to make this happen for money? I don't know what all is required, but I suspect some formatting and getting the ok from EY. I want two for myself (one for the shelf and one to mark all to hell) and a few for gifts, so some setup where I can buy as needed is preferable (like Lulu.com but I'm not picky about brand) and printed-up stapled pages don't work. Maybe $100 for the work and $100 to EY/Miri? Flexible on price, and if that's way off no offense intended. And of course if not being on dead trees was a principled decision I respect that.
Steve Fuller decides to throw away the established meaning of the phrase "existential risk" and make up one that better suits his purposes, in Is Existential Risk an Authentic Challenge or the Higher Moral Evasion?. I couldn't finish it.
What does it mean to optimize the world, assuming the Many Worlds theory is true?
I don't think it either does or should, at least for typical utility functions that don't explicitly care about what interpretation of QM is correct.
This interesting article turned up on Wait But Why: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/religion-for-the-nonreligious.html#comment-264276
A lot of it reads a lot like stuff on here. Here's a quote: "On Step 1, I snap back at the rude cashier, who had the nerve to be a dick to me. On Step 2, the rudeness doesn’t faze me because I know it’s about him, not me, and that I have no idea what his day or life has been like. On Step 3, I see myself as a miraculous arrangement of atoms in vast space that for a split second in endless eternity has come together to form... (read more)