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70 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:04 AM

Does anybody know what happened to Julia Galef?

8the gears to ascension13d
The only thing I can conclude looking around for her is that she's out of the public eye. Hope she's ok, but I'd guess she's doing fine and just didn't feel like being a public figure anymore. Interested if anyone can confirm that, but if it's true I want to make sure to not pry.

Hello! I'm building an open source communication tool with a one-of-a-kind UI for LessWrong kind of deep, rational discussions. The tool is called CQ2 (https://cq2.co). It has a sliding panes design with quote-level threads. There's a concept of "posts" for more serious discussions with many people and there's "chat" for less serious ones, and both of them have a UI crafted for deep discussions.

I simulated some LessWrong discussions there – they turned out to be a lot more organised and easy to follow. You can check them out in the chat channel and direct message part of the demo on the site. However, it is a bit inconvenient – there's horizontal scrolling and one needs to click to open new threads. Since forums need to prioritize convenience, I think CQ2's design isn't good for LessWrong. But I think the inconvenience is worth it for such discussions at writing-first teams, since it helps them with hyper-focusing on one thing at a time and avoid losing context in order to come to a conclusion and make decisions.

If you have such discussions at work, I would love to learn about your team, your frustrations with existing communication tools, and better understand how CQ2 can help! I ... (read more)

4Anand Baburajan24d
Update: now you can create discussions on CQ2! And, here's a demo with an actual LessWrong discussion between Vanessa and Rob: https://cq2.co/demo.
This is cool! Two pieces of feedback:  1. I think it's quite important that I can at least see the number of responses to a comment before I have to click on the comment icon. Currently it only shows me a generic comment icon if there are any replies. 2. I think one of the core use-cases of a comment UI is reading back and forth between two users. This UI currently makes that a quite disjointed operation. I think it's fine to prioritize a different UI experience, but it does feel like a big loss to me.
5Anand Baburajan1mo
Thanks for the feedback! Can you share why you think it's quite important (for a work communication tool)? For a forum, I think it would make sense -- many people prefer reading the most active threads. For a work communication tool, I can't think of any reason why it would matter how many comments a thread has. I thought about this for quite a while and have started to realise that the "posts" UI could be too complicated. I'm going to try out the "chat" and "DMs" UI for posts and see how it goes. Thanks! Although "Chat" and "DMs"' UI allows easily followable back and forth between people, I would like to point out that CQ2 advocates for topic-wise discussions, not person-wise. Here's an example comment from LessWrong. In that comment, it's almost impossible to figure out where the quotes are from -- i.e., what's the context. And what happened next is another person replied to that comment with more quotes. This example was a bit extreme with many quotes but I think my point applies to every comment with quotes. One needs to scroll person-wise through so many topics, instead of topic-wise. I (and CQ2) prefer exploring what are people's thoughts topic-by-topic, not what are the thoughts on all topics simultaneously, person-by-person. Again, not saying my design is good for LessWrong; I understand forums have their own place. But I think for a tool for work, people would prefer topic-wise over person-wise.
My sense, regarding the read the most active thread desire, is that the most active thread might well be amongst either the team working on some project under discussion or across teams that are envolved in or impacted by some project. In such a case I would think knowing where the real discussion is taking place regarding some "corporate discussions" might be helpful and wanted. I suppose the big question there is what about all the other high volume exchanges, are they more personality driven rather than subject/substance driven. Does the comment count just be a really noisy signal to try keying off?
2Anand Baburajan1mo
P.S. I'm open to ideas on building this in collaboration with LessWrong!
Ooh, nice. I've been wanting this kind of discussion software for awhile. I do have a suggestion: maybe, when hovering over a highlighted passage, you could get some kind of indicator of how many child comments are under that section, and/or change the highlight contrast for threads that have more children, so we can tell which branches of the discussion got the most attention
2Anand Baburajan15d
Thanks @Celarix! I've got the same feedback from three people now, so seems like a good idea. However, I haven't understood why it's necessary. For a forum, I think it would make sense -- many people prefer reading the most active threads. For a discussion tool, I can't think of any reason why it would matter how many comments a thread has. Maybe the point is to let a user know if there's any progress in a thread over time, which makes sense.
My thinking is that the more discussed threads would have more value to the user. Small threads with 1 or 2 replies are more likely to be people pointing out typos or just saying +1 to a particular passage. Of course, there is a spectrum - deeply discussed threads are more likely to be angry back-and-forths that aren't very valuable.
1Anand Baburajan12d
This feels self and learning focused, as opposed to problem and helping focused, and I'm building CQ2 for the latter. There could also be important and/or interesting points in a thread with only 1 or 2 replies, and implementing this idea would prevent many people from finding that point, right? Will add upvote/downvote.

Hi! I have been lurking here for over a year but I've been too shy to participate until now. I'm 14, and I've been homeschooled all my life. I like math and physics and psychology, and I've learned lots of interesting things here. I really enjoyed reading the sequences last year. I've also been to some meetups in my city and the people there (despite – or maybe because of – being twice my age) are very cool. Thank you all for existing!

Hello and welcome to the site! I'm glad you're saying hello despite having been too shy :-) Do let us know in this thread or in the intercom in the bottom right if you run into any problems.

Hi LessWrong Community!

I'm new here, though I've been an LW reader for a while. I'm representing complicated.world website, where we strive to use similar rationality approach as here and we also explore philosophical problems. The difference is that, instead of being a community-driven portal like you, we are a small team which is working internally to achieve consensus and only then we publish our articles. This means that we are not nearly as pluralistic, diverse or democratic as you are, but on the other hand we try to present a single coherent view on all discussed problems, each rooted in basic axioms. I really value the LW community (our entire team does) and would like to start contributing here. I would also like to present from time to time a linkpost from our website - I hope this is ok. We are also a not-for-profit website.

Hey!  It seems like an interesting philosophy. Feel free to crosspost. You've definitely chosen some ambitious topics to try to cover, which I am generally a fan of.
Thanks! The key to topic selection is where we find that we are most disagreeing with the popular opinions. For example, the number of times I can cope with hearing someone saying "I don't care about privacy, I have nothing to hide" is limited. We're trying to have this article out before that limit is reached. But in order to reason about privacy's utility and to ground it in root axioms, we first have to dive into why we need freedom. That, in turn requires thinking about mechanisms of a happy society. And that depends on our understanding of happiness, hence that's where we're starting.

Obscure request:

Short story by Yudkowsky, on a reddit short fiction subreddit, about a time traveler coming back to the 19th century from the 21st. The time traveler is incredibly distraught about the red tape in the future, screaming about molasses and how it's illegal to sell food on the street.

Nevermind, found it.

Feature request: I'd like to be able to play the LW playlist (and future playlists!) from LW. I found it a better UI than Spotify and Youtube, partly because it didn't stop me from browsing around LW and partly because it had the lyrics on the bottom of the screen. So... maybe there could be a toggle in the settings to re-enable it?

I was unsure whether people would prefer that, and decided yesterday to instead cut it, but IDK, I do like it. I might clean up the code and find some way to re-activate it on the site.
I liked it, but probably don't want it there all the time.  I wonder if it's feasible (WRT your priority list) to repeat some of the site feature options from account settings on a "quick feature menu", to make it easy to turn on and off.
In terms of my usage of the site, I think you made the right call. I liked the feature when listening but I wanted to get rid of it afterwards and found it frustrating that it was stuck there. Perhaps something hidden on a settings page would be appropriate, but I don't think it's needed as a default part of the site right now.

Hello! I'm dipping my toes into this forum, coming primarily from the Scott Alexander side of rationalism. Wanted to introduce myself, and share that i'm working on a post about ethics/ethical frameworks i hope to share here eventually!

Hey metalcrow! Great to have you here! Hope you have a good time and looking forward to seeing your post!

Hello everyone! My name is Roman Maksimovich, I am an immigrant from Russia, currently finishing high school in Serbia. My primary specialization is mathematics, and back in middle school I have had enough education in abstract mathematics (from calculus to category theory and topology) to call myself a mathematician.

My other strong interests include computer science and programming (specifically functional programming, theoretical CS, AI, and systems programming s.a. Linux) as well as languages (specifically Asian languages like Japanese).

I ended up here ... (read more)


How efficient are equity markets? No, not in the EMH sense. 

My take is that market efficiency viewed from economics/finance is about total surplus maximization -- the area between the supply and demand curves. Clearly when S and D are order schedules and P and Q correspond to the S&D intersection one maximizes the area of the triangle defined in the graph.

But existing equity markets don't work off an ordered schedule but largely match trades in a somewhat random order -- people place orders (bids and offers) throughout the day and as they come in ... (read more)

2Thomas Kwa1mo
In practice it is not as bad as uniform volume throughout the day would be for two reasons: * Market-makers narrow spreads to prevent any low-value-exchange pairings that would be predictable price fluctuations. They do extract some profits in the process. * Volume is much higher near the open and close. I would guess that any improvements of this scheme would manifest as tighter effective spreads, and a reduction in profits of HFT firms (which seem to provide less value to society than other financial firms).
I had prehaps a bit unjustly tossed the market maker role into that "not real bid/off" bucket. I also agree they do serve to limit the worst case matches. But such a role would simply be unnecessary so I still wonder about the cost in terms of the profits captured by the market makers. Is that a necessary cost in today's world? Not sure. And I do say that as someone who is fairly active in the markets and have taken advantage of thin markets in the off market hours sessions where speads can widen up a lot.

PSA: Tooth decay might be reversible! The recent discussion around the Lumina anti-cavity prophylaxis reminded me of a certain dentist's YouTube channel I'd stumbled upon recently, claiming that tooth decay can be arrested and reversed using widely available over-the-counter dental care products. I remember my dentist from years back telling me that if regular brushing and flossing doesn't work, and the decay is progressing, then the only treatment option is a filling. I wish I'd known about alternatives back then, because I definitely would have tried tha... (read more)

I apologize for my lack of time to find the sources for this belief, so I could well be wrong, but my recollection of looking up a similar idea is that I found it to be reversible only in the very earliest stages, when the tooth has weakened but not yet developed a cavity proper.
I didn't say "cavity"; I said, "tooth decay". No-one is saying remineralization can repair a chipped, cracked, or caved-in tooth. But this dentist does claim that the decay (caries) can be reversed even after it has penetrated the enamel and reached the dentin, although it takes longer (a year instead of months), by treating the underlying bacterial infection and promoting mineralization. It's not clear to me if the claim is that a small hole can fill in on its own, but a larger one probably won't although the necessary dental treatment (filling) in that case will be less invasive if the surrounding decay has been arrested. I am not claiming to have tested this myself. This is hearsay. But the protocol is cheap to try and the mechanism of action seems scientifically plausible given my background knowledge.

Hi! I have lurked for quite a while and wonder if I can/should participate more. I'm interested in science in general, speculative fiction and simulation/sandbox games among other stuff. I like reading speculations about the impact of AI and other technologies, but find many of the alignment-related discussions too focused on what the author wants/values rather than what future technologies can really cause. Also, any game recommendations with a hard science/AI/transhumanist theme that are truly simulation-like and not narratively railroading?

I’m in the market for a new productivity coach / accountability buddy, to chat with periodically (I’ve been doing one ≈20-minute meeting every 2 weeks) about work habits, and set goals, and so on. I’m open to either paying fair market rate, or to a reciprocal arrangement where we trade advice and promises etc. I slightly prefer someone not directly involved in AGI safety/alignment—since that’s my field and I don’t want us to get nerd-sniped into object-level discussions—but whatever, that’s not a hard requirement. You can reply here, or DM or email me. :) update: I’m all set now

Post upvotes are at the bottom but user comment upvotes are at the top of each comment. Sometimes I'll read a very long comment and then have to scroll aaaaall the way back up to upvote it. Is there some reason for this that I'm missing or is it just an oversight?

Post upvotes are both at the bottom and top, but repeating them for comments at the bottom looks a lot too cluttered. Having them at the top is IMO more important since you want to be able to tell how good something is before you read it.

Is it really desirable to have the new "review bot" in all the 100+ karma comment sections? To me it feels like unnecessary clutter, similar to injecting ads.

Where else would it go? We need a minimum level of saliency to get accurate markets, and I care about the signal from the markets a good amount.
I haven't noticed it (literally at all - I don't think I've seen it, though I'm perhaps wrong).  Based on this comment, I just looked at https://www.lesswrong.com/users/review-bot?from=search_autocomplete and it seems a good idea (and it points me to posts I may have missed - I tend to not look at the homepage, just focusing on recent posts and new comments on posts on https://www.lesswrong.com/allPosts). I think putting a comment there is a good mechanism to track, and probably easier and less intrusive than a built-in site feature.  I have no clue if you're actually getting enough participation in the markets to be useful - it doesn't look like it at first glance, but perhaps I'm wrong.  It does seem a little weird (and cool, but mostly in the "experiment that may fail, or may work so well we use it elsewhere" way) to have yet another voting mechanism for posts.  I kind of like the explicitness of "make a prediction about the future value of this post" compared to "loosely-defined up or down".  

I have the mild impression that Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel trilogy is somewhat popular in the community?[1] Is it true and if so, why?

  1. ^

    E.g. Scott Alexander references Elua in Mediations on Moloch and I know of at least one prominent LWer who was a big enough fan of it to reference Elua in their discord handle.

My model is that it's mostly popular because Scott Alexander referenced it in Meditations on Moloch, and the rest is just kind of background popularity, but not sure.

Unsure if there is normally a thread for putting only semi-interesting news articles, but here is a recently posted news article by Wired that seems.... rather inflammatory toward Effective Altruism. I have not read the article myself yet, but a quick skim confirms the title is not only to get clickbait anger clicks, the rest of the article also seems extremely critical of EA, transhumanism, and Rationality. 

I am going to post it here, though I am not entirely sure if getting this article more clicks is a good thing, so if you have no interest in read... (read more)

I did a non-in-depth reading of the article during my lunch break, and found it to be of lower quality than I would have predicted.  I am open to an alternative interpretation of the article, but most of it seems very critical of the Effective Altruism movement on the basis of "calculating expected values for the impact on peoples lives is a bad method to gauge the effectiveness of aid, or how you are impacting peoples lives."  The article begins by establishing that many medicines have side effects. Since some of these side effects are undesirable, the author suggests, though they do not state explicitly, that the medicine may also be undesirable if the side effect is bad enough. They go on to suggest that Givewell, and other EA efforts at aid are not very aware of the side effects of their efforts, and that the efforts may therefore do more harm than good. The author does not stoop so low as to actually provide evidence of this, or even make any explicit claims that could be checked or contradicted, but merely suggests that givewell does not do a good job of this. This is the less charitable part of my interpretation (no pun intended), but I feel the author spends a lot of the article constantly suggesting that trying to be altruistic, especially in an organized or systematic way, is ineffective, maybe harmful and generally not worth the effort. Mostly the author does this by suggesting anecdotal stories of their investigations into charity, and how they feel much wiser now. The author then moves on to their association of SBF with Effective Altruism, going so far as to say: "Sam Bankman-Fried is the perfect prophet of EA, the epitome of its moral bankruptcy." In general, the author goes on to give a case for how SBF is the classic utilitarian villain, justifying his immoral acts through oh-so esoteric calculations of improving good around the world on net.  The author goes on to lay out a general criticism of Effective Altruism as relying on arbitrary utilit

I don't think this crosses the line regarding poltics on the board but note that as a warning header.

I was just struck by a though related to the upcoming elections in the USA. Age of both party's candidate have been noted and create both some concern and even risks for the country.

No age limits exist and I suspect trying to get get legislative action on that would be slow to impossible as it undoubtedly would be a new ammendment to the Constitution.

BUT, I don't think there is any law or other restriction on any political party imposing their own age limit... (read more)

From what I understand, because the US Electoral College is structured such that state laws determine who the electors will vote for as president, you wouldn't need any constitutional amendment or federal legislative action to impose an age limit for the US presidential election in particular. In contrast, I think the lower age limit of 35 for US presidents is a constitutional requirement, and as such would not be nearly as easy to change. On a somewhat related note, there's an interesting attempt by US states to assign electoral votes based on the national popular vote. Based on this Wikipedia quote, I imagine states could impose arbitrary requirements for who can or cannot receive the electoral votes, including imposing an age limit. Basically, add a clause to the state laws that "Electors must abstain if the winner of the plurality does not fulfill the following requirements...". EDIT: Note, however, that if no candidate gets a majority of the electoral vote (270+ votes), then the US House of Representatives elects the US President instead. So while such a state law would disincentivize particular candidates, if such a candidate ran for president anyway and won the plurality of the state vote, then the abstention of the electors might well result in the Electoral College disempowering itself. And furthermore the House of Representatives could still elect an arbitrary candidate. EDIT2: Okay, I think I've come up with a better state law design: If the winner of the plurality of state votes exceeds the age limit, then assign the electoral votes to either the second place instead (regardless of their age), or alternatively to whoever of the top two candidates is younger. Either version ensures that the electoral college will not abstain, which makes the House of Representatives route less likely. And either version disincentivizes a scenario where the presidential candidates of both parties exceed the age limit, since in this case, both parties are incentivized t
1James Camacho17d
Age limits do exist: you have to be at least 35 to run for President, at least 30 for Senator, and 25 for Representative. This automatically adds a decade or two to your candidates.

How much power is required to run the most efficient superhuman chess engines? There's this discussion saying Stockfish running on a phone is superhuman, but is that one watt or 10 watts? Could we beat grandmasters with 0.1 watts if we tried?

It's kinda ill-formed question, because you can get the same performance if you compute moves longer with lower power. I guess you are searching for something like"energy per move".
3Thomas Kwa8d
The question makes sense if you fix a time control.

Any thoughts on Symbolica? (or "categorical deep learning" more broadly?)

All current state of the art large language models such as ChatGPT, Claude, and Gemini, are based on the same core architecture. As a result, they all suffer from the same limitations.

Extant models are expensive to train, complex to deploy, difficult to validate, and infamously prone to hallucination. Symbolica is redesigning how machines learn from the ground up. 

We use the powerfully expressive language of category theory to develop models capable of learning algebraic structur

... (read more)
3Garrett Baker3d
A new update
I'd bet against anything particularly commercially successful. Manifold could give better and more precise predictions if you operationalize "commercially viable".
2Garrett Baker7d
Is this coming from deep knowledge about Symbolica's method, or just on outside view considerations like "usually people trying to think too big-brained end up failing when it comes to AI".
Outside view (bitter lesson). Or at least that's approximately true. I'll have a post on why I expect the bitter lesson to hold eventually, but is likely to be a while. If you read this blog post you can probably predict my reasoning for why I expect "learn only clean composable abstraction where the boundaries cut reality at the joints" to break down as an approach.
2Garrett Baker6d
I don’t think the bitter lesson strictly applies here. Since they’re doing learning, and the bitter lesson says “learning and search is all that is good”, I think they’re in the clear, as long as what they do is compute scalable. (this is different from saying there aren’t other reasons an ignorant person (a word I like more than outside view in this context since it doesn’t hide the lack of knowledge) may use to conclude they won’t succeed)
There are commercially valuable uses for tools for code synthesis and theorem proving. But structured approaches of that flavor don't have a great track record of e.g. doing classification tasks where the boundary conditions are messy and chaotic, and similarly for a bunch of other tasks where gradient-descent-lol-stack-more-layer-ML shines.

Does anyone have high quality analysis of how effective machines are for strength training and building muscles. Not free weights specifically machines. Im not the pickiest on how one operationalizes 'work'. More interested in the quality of the analysis. But some questions:

-- Do users get hurt frequently? Are the injuries chronic? (This is the most important question)

-- Do people who use them consistently gain muscle

-- Can you gain a 'lot' of muscle and strength liek you can with free weights. Or people cap out quickly if they are fit

-- Does strength from... (read more)

I've came across a poll about exchanging probability estimates with another rationalist: https://manifold.markets/1941159478/you-think-something-is-30-likely-bu?r=QW5U.

You think something is 30% likely but a friend thinks 70%. To what does that change your opinion?

I feel like there can be specially-constructed problems when the result probability is 0, but haven't been able to construct an example. Are there any?

7Thomas Kwa1mo
There is a box which contains money iff the front and back are painted the same color. Each side is independently 30% to be blue, and 70% to be red. You observe that the front is blue, and your friend observes that the back is red.
"No one assigns 70% to this statement." (Yes, your friend is an idiot, but that can be remedied, if needed, with a slight modification in the statement)

Does anyone recommend a good book on finance? I'd like to understand most of the terms used in this post, and then some, but the old repository doesn't have any suggestions.

You might find this link helpful for your questions.  This is a link to the glossory from the above site. This is from the FRB of St. Louis. Last, I would suggest you can also just ask any of the available LLM's out there now to explain the term you are interested in and get a pretty good initial explanation. As for books, I have three. How good they are is subjective as one textbook is from years ago but they should cover most of the investment markets side of things: Options as a Strategic Investment (Lawrence McMIllan) Technical Analysis (Kirkpatrick & Dahlquist) Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management (Frank Reilly) -- the old textbook I kept around. If your interest in more in the economic terms and theory area you might look for The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics or a similar dictionary of economic terms.
Thanks! I know about Investopedia & often use GPT-4 for this kind of thing, but I prefer books because I can also read them offline.
I don't see many particularly exotic finance terms, but I would think a recent edition of Brigham and Ehrhardt's "Financial Management: Theory and Practice" is probably the most authoritative (but not being available for 'preview' on Google Books I haven't been able to do a quick ctrl+f to see if it uses a sample of terms in that post). However I suspect that even one of those Tony Robbins books on investing will provide you the terminology or even Investopedia.

Feature Suggestion: add a number to the hidden author names.

I enjoy keeping the author names hidden when reading the site, but find it difficult to follow comment threads when there isn't a persistent id for each poster. I think a number would suffice while keeping the hiddenness.

Hi any it may concern,

You could say I have a technical moat in a certain area and came across an idea/cluster of ideas that seemed unusually connected and potentially alignment-significant but whose publication seems potentially capabilities-enhancing. (I consulted with one other person and they also found it difficult to ascertain or summarize)

I was considering writing to EY on here as an obvious person who would both be someone more likely to be able to determine plausibility/risk across a less familiar domain and have an idea of what further to do. Is t... (read more)

Bug report: I got notified about Joe Carlsmith's most recent post twice, the second time after ~4 hours

3Joe Carlsmith1mo
That post ran into some cross-posting problems so had to re-do

Has anybody tried to estimate how prevalent sexual abuse is in EA circles/orgs compared to general population?

It's really hard to get any kind of baseline here, and my guess is it differs hugely between different populations, but my guess (based on doing informal fermis here a bunch of times over the years) would be a lot lower than the average for the population, at least because of demographic factors, and then probably some extra.
6Nathan Young1mo
Yeah and a couple of relevant things: 1. The time EA sexual abuse article includes 1 person who isn't an EA and a sort of vibe that iirc includes most tech houses in the bay in the heading of "EA". This is inaccurate. 2. EA takes a pretty strong stance on sexual harassment. Look at what people are banned from the forum for and scale it up. I've heard about people being banned from events for periods of time for causing serial discomfort. Compare this to Church communities I've been a part of and political communities and this is much stricter.