More concisely than the original/gwern: The algorithm used by the mugger is roughly:

Find your assessed probability of the mugger being able to deliver whatever reward, being careful to specify the size of the reward in the conditions for the probability

offer an exchange such that U(payment to mugger) < U(reward) * P(reward)

This is an issue for AI design because if you use a prior based on Kolmogorov complexity than it's relatively straightforward to find such a reward, because even very large numbers have relatively low complexity, and therefore relatively high prior probabilities.

When you have a bunch of other data, you should be not interested in the Kolmogorov complexity of the number, you are interested in Kolmogorov complexity of other data concatenated with that number.

E.g. you should not assign higher probability that Bill Gates has made precisely 100 000 000 000 $ than some random-looking value, as given the other sensory input you got (from which you derived your world model) there are random-looking values that have even lower Kolmogorov complexity of total sensory input, but you wouldn't be able to find those because Kol... (read more)

Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 3

by OpenThreadGuy 1 min read7th Jul 2012209 comments


From the last thread:

From Costanza's original thread (entire text):

"This is for anyone in the LessWrong community who has made at least some effort to read the sequences and follow along, but is still confused on some point, and is perhaps feeling a bit embarrassed. Here, newbies and not-so-newbies are free to ask very basic but still relevant questions with the understanding that the answers are probably somewhere in the sequences. Similarly, LessWrong tends to presume a rather high threshold for understanding science and technology. Relevant questions in those areas are welcome as well.  Anyone who chooses to respond should respectfully guide the questioner to a helpful resource, and questioners should be appropriately grateful. Good faith should be presumed on both sides, unless and until it is shown to be absent.  If a questioner is not sure whether a question is relevant, ask it, and also ask if it's relevant."


  • How often should these be made? I think one every three months is the correct frequency.
  • Costanza made the original thread, but I am OpenThreadGuy. I am therefore not only entitled but required to post this in his stead. But I got his permission anyway.



  • I still haven't figured out a satisfactory answer to the previous meta question, how often these should be made. It was requested that I make a new one, so I did.
  • I promise I won't quote the entire previous threads from now on. Blockquoting in articles only goes one level deep, anyway.