Crossposted from the AI Alignment Forum. May contain more technical jargon than usual.
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Elon Musks Starship might bring us a new x-risk.

Dropping a tungsten rod that weights around 12,000 kg from orbit has a similar destruction potential as nuclear weapons.

At present lunch prices bringing a tungsten rod that's weighted 12,000 kg to orbit has a extreme cost for the defense industry that was labeled to be around $230 million a rod.

On the other hand, Starship is designed to be able to carry 100 tons with equals 8 rots to space in a single flight and given that Elon talked about being able to launch starship 3 times per day with a cost that would allow transporting humans from one place of the earth to another the launch cost might be less then a million.

I found tungsten prices to be around 25$/kilo for simple products, which suggest a million dollar might be a valid price for one of the rods.

When the rods are dropped they hit within 15 minutes which means that an attacked country has to react faster then towards nuclear weapons.

Having the weapons installed in a satellite creates the additional problem that there's no human in the loop who makes the decision to launch. Any person who succeeds in hacking a satellite with tungsten rods can deploy them.

Interesting short thread on this here.

Peter Thiel:

You know I think Eliezer Yudkowsky has gone kind of crazy but you know his arguments are not that bad and the people in Silicon Valley do not have great rebuttals to the existential risk of AI.

An interesting thing about OpenAI's policies is that they ban DALL-E 2 from generating adult images.

It seems like their policy is to ban anything that anyone might object to. Porn that people on the right might object toward and than train their models to avoid being then 'toxic' which seems to be saying things that are politically incorrect for the left.

If that's the general spirit, we might end up with AI that's very restrictive toward what people can do. 

6Vanessa Kosoy
A lot of people on the left are against porn as well (unfortunately).
What were Eleuther's policies? Or did that never come up?
Eleuther's policy is to use the MIT license for their code which basically means you can do what you want with it. 
The obvious extrapolation is that after Singularity humans will be made genderless and sexless. This would simultaneously solve the problems of porn, sexism, and overpopulation.
It's a weird (and I suspect ineffective or counterproductive) limit to be sure, but the underlying idea of having somewhat arbitrary human-defined limits and being able to study how they work and don't work seems incredibly valuable to AI safety.
I’m slightly concerned how it would respond if you prompted it to display a totally innocent situation involving someone whose mere existence is “politically sensitive”. Maybe something like “trans girl reading a hardcover book,” etc.

Unforunately, my internet failed yesterday during the part of Geoff's stream that had the conversation with Anna Salamon.

Is there a recording available?

I am also interested. If there is a public recording, could someone please post a link on LW?

Metaculus suggests a 30% chance of China invading Taiwan by 2030 or earlier. While I have read some discussion about whether or not the event will happen I have seen very little discussion about how to prepare for the scenario happening.

It seems very neglected because it's uncomfortable to think about that world. 

The FDC just fined US phone carriers for sharing the location data of US customers to anyone willing to buy them. The fines don't seem to be high enough to deter this kind of behavior.

That likely includes either directly or indirectly the Chinese government. 

What does the US Congress do to protect spying by China? Of course, banning tik tok instead of actually protecting the data of US citizens. 

If you have thread models that the Chinese government might target you, assume that they know where your phone is and shut it of when going somewhere you don't want the Chinese government (or for that matter anyone with a decent amount of capital) to know.


I feel like this comparison of the enforcement here with the TikTok ban is not directed at the actual primary concern about TikTok, which is content curation by its opaque algorithm, not data privacy per se.   By analogy, if a Soviet state-owned enterprise in 1980 wanted to purchase NBC, would/should we have allowed that? If your answer is "no," keeping in mind how many people get their news via TikTok, why would/should we allow what effectively seems to be a CCP-(owned or heavily influenced) company to control what content our people see?
Politico wrote, "Perhaps the most pressing concern is around the Chinese government’s potential access to troves of data from TikTok’s millions of users." The concern that TikTok supposedly is spyware is frequently made in discussions about why it should be banned. If the main issue is content moderation decisions, the best way to deal with it would be to legislate transparency around content moderation decisions and require TikTok to outsource the moderation decisions to some US contractor. 
I don't have confidence in my models of how coherent and competent governments are at getting and using data like this.  The primary buyers of location data are advertisers and business planners looking for statistical correlations for targeting and decisions.  This is creepy, but not directly comparable to "targeted by the Chinese government". My competing theories of "targeted by the Chinese government" threats are: 1. they're hyper-competent and have employee/agents at most carriers who will exfiltrate needed data, so stopping the explicit sale just means it's less visible. 2. they're as bureaucratic and confused as everything else, so even if they know where you are, they're unable to really do much with it.   I think the tension is what does it even mean to be targeted by a government.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence wrote a report about this question that was declassified last year. They use the abbreviation CAI for "commercially accessible data". "2.5. (U) Counter-Intelligence Risks in CAI. There is also a growing recognition that CAI, as a generally available resource, offers intelligence benefits to our adversaries, some of which may create counter-intelligence risk for the IC. For example, the January 2021 CSIS report cited above also urges the IC to “test and demonstrate the utility of OSINT and AI in analysis on critical threats, such as the adversary use of AI-enabled capabilities in disinformation and influence operations." Last month there was a political fight about warrant requirements when the US intelligence agencies use commercially brought data, that was likely partly caused by the concerns from that report.  Here, I mean that you are doing something that's of interest to Chinese intelligence services. People who want to lobby for Chinese AI policy probably fall under that class.  I'm not sure to what extent people working at top AI labs might be blackmailed by the Chinese government to do things like give them their source code. 
[note: I suspect we mostly agree on the impropriety of open selling and dissemination of this data.  This is a narrow objection to the IMO hyperbolic focus on government assault risks. ] I'm unhappy with the phrasing of "targeted by the Chinese government", which IMO implies violence or other real-world interventions when the major threats are "adversary use of AI-enabled capabilities in disinformation and influence operations." Thanks for mentioning blackmail - that IS a risk I put in the first category, and presumably becomes more possible with phone location data.  I don't know how much it matters, but there is probably a margin where it does. I don't disagree that this purchasable data makes advertising much more effective (in fact, I worked at a company based on this for some time).  I only mean to say that "targeting" in the sense of disinformation campaigns is a very different level of threat from "targeting" of individuals for government ops.
Whether or not you face government assault risks depends on what you do. Most people don't face government assault risks. Some people engage in work or activism that results in them having government assault risks. The Chinese government has strategic goals and most people are unimportant to those. Some people however work on topics like AI policy in which the Chinese government has an interest. 
1Pat Myron
Leave phones elsewhere, remove batteries, or faraday cage them if you're concerned about state-level actors:

I read about Bir Tawil. It's territory that's currently unclaimed by any country on earth. 

If someone would want to fund a new country it seems like a better location than seasteading. 

Maybe, both Egypt and Sudan would be willing to recognize a new Bir Tawil state if that state is willing to build roads to Bir Tawil in the territory of both Egypt and Sudan.

Wikipedia suggests that some people have already tried this (although most of them not seriously), and were ignored by everyone. I would also expect that if someone tried to actually move to that territory and start building a fence or something, one or the other army would come and kick their butt, regardles of how officially they "do not want" the territory. Also, the countries "not wanting" of Bir Tawil is conditional on their wanting of Halaib, so I would assume that once the conflict over Halaib is resolved, the loser will suddenly "want" Bir Tawil again. I am not saying this can't be done, but I would strongly recommend negotiating about this territory with both governments, trying to reach an explicit agreement like "you will leave me alone regardless of the future status of Halaib", and probably paying them a lot of money to do so. On the other hand, if you could make both Egypt and Sudan recognize you officially, you would have a foot in the door to get recognized by other countries.
No, nobody did offer to actually build anything.  My proposal explicitly spoke about building roads in both Egypt and Sudan. That would be the offer to both governments in return for recognition. Giving those countries free roads in exchange for recognizing the new country is a deal that's worth making for them given that the area is worth nothing to both countries currently. 
Ah, sorry, somehow I managed to miss that part. That is definitely a good idea, because the roads would provide value to Egypt and Sudan, but also for the new country, so it's win/win.

Elon Musk seems to have a plan to deploy destructive capabilities to orbit within the next two years that are comparable to the nuclear arsenal of the late forties of the last century.

Little Boy that destroyed Hiroshima had a destructive power of 15 kilotons of TNT equivalents. A napkin calculation on Reddit put BFR to 16.22 kilotons of TNT equivalents.

Refueling in orbit means deploying that much explosive power to rockets in orbit.

There's almost no talk about about the cybersecurity of what he wants to build and it seems doubtful that the process he's currently using takes care of producing structure that keep out determined cyber attackers.

Getting to Mars is nice but it feels like the fact that we haven't had the ethical discussion about proliferation when it comes to Musk is a potential catastrophic error.

explosive capacity isn't needed when you have rods from god.
None of those spacecraft will ever reach the bottom of the atmosphere with appreciable orbital velocity remaining, or hit the ground with large amounts of fuel except near to the launch sites.
Why do you believe that's the case? Why can't a Starship that's full with fuel because it fulled up in space (the infrastructure is necessary for traveling to Mars/Moon) touch earth with a large amount of fuel inside?
1Donald Hobson
If a starship full of fuel is in orbit, and gets nudged downward, hitting the earths atmosphere, it gets very hot. If it doesn't have a giant heatshield, it will vaporize the fuel, leading to an explosion in the upper atmosphere. If you used the fuel to slow down, you could reach earth with mostly empty tanks, but still cause some damage if you hit a city.
It seems to me like fuel wise, a starship has enough full to start from earth, go to orbit and then come down with one tank. Most of the fuel is expended on launch. While you will need to expend some fuel to slow down, I don't see why the starship shouldn't be able to touch earth with a lot of fuel inside.

It's amazing how mismanged Evernote is. 

Their attempt to strategically pivot away from being about remembering information is deeply flawed.

They update their app to a new design and for 3 months the app just crashed when I start it on my phone (I have a Google Pixel 3A which isn't that non-standard).

This Sunday, the app didn't save two notes I made, and now notes can't be saved.

Sounds horrible - I'm happy that I mostly use textfiles, and sync them using whatever mechanism works best (currently, Git + iCloud, but that's changed 6-8 times over the last few decades).   I find it interesting that you picked "mismanaged" as your root cause, as opposed to "incompetent" or just "failing".
Releasing a new version when it's very buggy looks to me like a management problem. 
I don't disagree, but "management problem" is an undifferentiated cause.  You can say that everything that seems like a mistake from outside is a management problem.  Calling it a QA problem would be more specific (though no more helpful in terms of actions that a bystander can take).
I've had to leave Evernote over the new app, and am so sad about it.
6 months after writing this, the app can start on my phone but is still unable to create new notes.

As matter of irony, lsusr decided to censor me from commenting on his posts, so I can't comment on Restricting freedom is more harmful than it seems.

According to the South China Morning Post's summary of the Xi-Biden talks:

Among concrete results of the summit, the two sides agreed to cooperate on narcotics control and artificial intelligence governance, and resume military-to-military communication. But China voiced its continuing discontent with several US policies it believes hold it back, including export controls, investment reviews and unilateral sanctions.

For anyone who thought that cooperation between the US and China on AI governance is impossible this should be seen as great news.

According to their Discord, RaDVaC plans to start human trials early next year. 

Running simulations of driving situations is a key feature of how machine learning models for driverless cars get trained.

Maybe a key reasons for why humans dream is to allow us to simulate situations and learn to act in them?

While I still don't feel like I understand electrolytes as well as I would like to, I become more convinced that supplementing potassium when one engages in activities that produce sweating is worthwhile.

Over the last year I started using potassium carbonate like a spice and whether or not it feels tasty depends a lot on how much I was sweating in the day before the meal. 

Giving that summer comes up, if you aren't already supplementing electrolytes for those days that are warm enough to make you sweat, I recommend you to get some potassium carbonate a... (read more)

The body uses up sodium and potassium as two major cations. You need them for neural firing to work, among many other things; it's the body's go-to for "I need a single-charge cation but sodium doesn't work for whatever reason". As such, you lose plenty in urine and sweat. Because modern table salt (i.e., neither rock salt nor better yet sea salt) contains basically no potassium, people can end up being slightly deficient because we do still get some from foods - lots of types of produce like tomatoes, root vegetables, and some fruits are rich in it, for instance.
In addition to that from my perspective, I think that if every day of the year you consume the same amount of potassium you (as a typical office worker) likely consume either too much or too little on some days. 
"Lo-salt" salt is salt with potassium. That's been my table salt for 5 years.
That's certainly also an option. I personally found for myself, that I feel intuitively less drawn to NaCl+KCl than to NaCl + K2CO3 (I have both at home). Most supplements that have mixes of electrolytes don't seem to use KCl and so would give you relatively less chloride than the NaCl+KCl mix.

Elon's idea of building a thousand Starships per-year to get to Mars seems ill-thought-out. 

Starship is very well designed for bringing objects into orbit and down from orbit but not for the interplanetary journey.

For the interplanetary journey, you likely want to have a ring-space-station that's propelled by ion thrusters. 

Having a ring-space-station means that it's easy to produce artificial gravity and generally have the infrastructure to have a good journey for more people. 

6Thomas Kwa
I don't think you can power the ions with current technology. See this article for power limitations-- 6 kW/kg is required for a 1 month journey, but to be any faster than a Hohmann transfer you'll still need power in the kW/kg range, which we don't have the technology for, either solar or nuclear. In this design half your mass will be argon and most of the rest will be solar panels, which is likely worse than Starship mass ratios to Mars. Maybe you can match Starship mass ratios if you do aerocapture, but it seems implausible to aerocapture a whole ring station, and why would you use future technology just to match current technology? Artificial gravity seems possible with two Starships connected by a cable. You do get more space with a ring station, so maybe it could be luxury or second-generation accommodations.
2mako yass
Cole Nielson-cole is working towards designing fiber composit construction stages for space, he has thoughts about this, in short, microwave lasers as energy transmission and rectifying antennas as energy receivers. But he doesn't get into the topic of lasers and I'm pretty sure we don't have that today, right? But I thought the whole interview was great.
3Carl Feynman
When you get there how do you get down?  You need spacecraft capable of reentry at Mars.  There’s no spacecraft factory there, so they all have to be brought from Earth.  And if you’re bringing them, you might as well live in them on the way.  That way you also get a starter house on Mars. Anyway, that’s the standard logic.
You need to send some Starships to get down to the surface on Mars but you could likely do that job with a handful of starships. You don't need to produce 1000 starships per year to do that. 
5Carl Feynman
I’m confused.  Suppose your ring-shaped space hotel gets to Mars with people and cargo that weighs equal to the cargo capacity of 1000 Starships.  How do you get it down?  First you have to slow down the hotel, which takes roughly as much fuel as it took to accelerate it.  Using Starships you can aerobrake from interplanetary velocity, costing negligible fuel.  In the hotel scenario, it’s not efficient to land using a small number of Starships flying up and down, because they will use a lot of fuel to get back up, even empty.   Would you care to specify your scenario more precisely?  I suspect you’re neglecting the fuel cost at some stage.

If China wants to wage war over Taiwan, the situation is easier if all US military is occupied in the war elsewhere in the world. 

The US already depleted a lot of its ammunition stockpiles by supporting Ukraine. If the US starts a war with Iran, US military capacity would be further strained.

From the Chinese perspective that might give a good time to fight over Taiwan when a lot of the capacity of the US military is not available to defend Taiwan. 

J. Kyle Bass gave a talk that made me update in the direction of China being serious about taking step to take over Taiwan in the near future:
8Alexander Gietelink Oldenziel
They probably will lose a conventional war against the US. This is my current assessment after a moderate amount of research into the topic.
Agree. They probably lose a nuclear war against the US, too, ending with US forces occupying all their seaports or at least imposing such an effective naval blockade that they might as well be occupying the ports.
I guess both countries would lose a nuclear war, if for a weird reason we'd really have one between US and CN
In the grand scheme of things, that would not matter much. If China wants to fully reintegrate Taiwan, it can today, or else simply at lastest in a few years. I guess if China is not doing that in the near future, the main reason will be that (i) there is simply no big enough value in it and/or (ii) there is significant value for the government to have the Taiwan issue as a story for its citizen to focus on/sort of rally-behind-the-flag effect. But less so the effect of US deterrence.
The problem is that using Taiwan as an area for citizens to focus on is that Chinese citizens expect their government to take steps to reintegrate Taiwan. Careers inside the CCP are built on taking steps to reintegrate Taiwan.  If the Chinese start to believe that Taiwan can be taken in a short time frame and Xi does not take it, that's not good for his reelection bid in four years. He needs to tell a narrative about why he didn't move to take it that's compatible with what people in the CCP want to hear. "We didn't take Taiwan because China is too weak and the US is too strong" might not be a narrative that Xi wants to tell. 

StackExchange websites have a feature where questions with a lot of engagement can be tagged in a way that prevents new users from answering them. This is a way to prevent low quality answers.

It seems to me that there are questions like my recent post How would you run the statistics on whether Ivermectin helped India reduce COVID-19 cases? where it would be valuable to have a similar mechanism, as I see a person posting anecdotal links when the question isn't about having anecdotes but searches for a higher level of evidence. In general such a status woul... (read more)

Is there a way to submit and vote for features? Would support this.
Or a way to filter by that.

I messed up one of my knees by not leaving my flat for 3 weeks followed by a long walk with some inclination.

If COVID motivates you like me to spend much time inside don't overexert yourself by putting your body under much stress at once.

One of the major problem with getting marketing emails is that we lack good feedback mechanisms to incentivize companies whom we do give our emails because we do want to get some information not to spam us with other information that we don't want to receive.
At the moment we have two options to punish companies who abuse the relationship. We can click on “mark as spam" or we can unsubscribe. 
The first version is a punishment as it means that more emails of the company end up in spam folders. Unfortunately, the company usually doesn't know th... (read more)

6Matt Goldenberg
Marketers are already getting much of this data via click through rates and open rates. They care much less about "how much you like an email" and much more about "how much an email is likely to make you buy in the future". The problem of course, is that people who aren't buyers being annoyed by the email is a negative externality. It doesn't affect the marketer's bottom line at all if someone who was never a buyer gets annoyed. It slightly effects them if someone who was a potenjtial buyer gets annoyed, but only if that causes them not to buy in the future (which is reflected in CTR and Open rates). The only way to have marketers not take advantage of a free marketing channel is to better align incentives. One way to do that would be to make it not free, as jacobjacob talked about in another thread. Collective spam filters like in gmail also provide a slight incentive for this, as messages being marked as spam will cause them to be marked as spam in customers' inboxes as well. As you said this isn't perfect because marketers don't know WHICH messages are being marked as spam, but in general this feels decently solved, for instance most email marketing platforms have a "spam score" that will tell you if you're likely to be filtered to the spam filter before you send, using the data THEY have on which messages are marked as spam.
Minor note: Jacobian and jacobjacob are different people
2Matt Goldenberg
Whoops, edited.
In the end they do care about the fact that people buy, but the fact that marketers care about metrics like open rates suggest that it's useful for them to have more information. A lot of emails are send out as a form of content marketing where the goal of the company is to create a trusted relationship which can be later monetized. In those cases it's not easy to measure the effects of an email on sales months down the road. The fact that the marketing platforms have a spam score doesn't mean that the spam score accurately captures the spamminess when it comes to how annoying the email is to customers.
On a higher level, email clients could make the "mark as spam" button send information to the sender.
I think because of marketing and branding reasons that's not a valid move for the companies that produce most email clients.

One interesting way to reduce maze levels and monopoly power would be to make it harder for industries to consolidate to fewer players.

One possible policy would be to tax buying stakes in limited-liability companies by limited-liability companies. 20% might work.

Hedge funds that play a valuable economical role can do that under corporate structures that don't include limited liability. This would likely reduce the likelihood that individual hedge funds are "too big to fail". The owners of those hedge funds would then have more skin in the game.

Why target change rather than level?  Taxing organizations by total size or by levels of management might be closer to what you're seeking.  Or, more radically, doing away with limited liability for corporations - make officers (and shareholders!) liable for corporate actions. These choices do, of course, also limit the willingness to take risks and overall decrease civilizational capability.  Whether you consider that to be additional valuable slack or a significant reduction in overall welfare is a modeling choice :)
I'm not targeting chance in size. If a company invests in valuable technology and increases in size as a result, it wouldn't face taxes in this proposal. I'm targeting the activity of buying stocks by limited liability corporations. I think stocks should generally be held by private individuals or institutions that are not limited liability corporations.  I want companies to take risks by investing in technology and not take risks by buying up stocks of companies. If I look at a company like Pfizer I would want them to reinvest their profits into new research technology instead of buying back their own shares or buying up other companies.   Mergers make markets less competitive and can be done by CEO's for reasons that are in the interest of the CEO but neither their company nor society as a whole. A 20% tax would reduce the mergers to those where a really strong case for synergy can be made.
Hmm.  I model "targetting the merger" as worring about the path, where "targetting the resulting structure" would be preferable, whether it occurs by growth, acquisition, or initial setup.   I see "Mergers make markets less competitive" as biasing toward the status quo, and privileging the same result created by non-merger mechanisms.  I'm curious whether I'm wrong on this, and you see the merger path to that structure as the main problem, or whether I'm misunderstanding the reasons for your proposal.
If you have a market where you have a large company with a lot of market power but that company is run relatively badly in a world without mergers that large company will lose. With mergers, it can be possible for the badly run company to just buy off potential competitors. I want people who are able to effectively make investments in technology to be in control of large amounts of capital instead of people who are clever about company politics and merging being in control of that much control.  We need companies like Intel who can build a 20 billion dollar microchip factory and for that reason having laws that directly forbid large companies would create a lot of damage. 

Cancer researchers spend the last decade telling everyone "cancer isn't a disease". On the other hand we have antiaging people saying "aging is a disease".

The two strategic positions are interesting to compare and given that cancer gets as much spending and attention it's worth thinking about whether the strategy of the antiaging people is right.

The difference is that cancer researchers already have funding, and they need an excuse for why they haven't found a reliable cure yet. Anti-aging researchers need money. Saying "X is a disease" implies that it should be cured.
There are more downstream effects. One is that it allows companies to put drugs on the market that otherwise wouldn't be allowed on the market because they can use the orphan drug act when the target a specific form of cancer that is below the limit of the orphan drug act. It's more complicated then that. It implies that aging is a cluster that you should be able to diagnose in people, then develop a drug that treats it and get FDA/EMA approval and then having health insurance pay for it. I recently read about Jenna Luche-Thayer's battle for more ICD codes for different forms of lyme and the importance of those. That's a similar position to that of the cancer researchers in a field where there's not much funding.  If we would buy the 7 hallmarks model, one conclusion would be that aging is 7 diseases. That means 7 things you can diagnose, get drugs approved for and get health insurance to pay for. 
Ah, the legal implications of words. "Words as legal hacks" is even crazier version of "argument as soldiers".

Is a press interview of the German magazin Spiegel Sierk Poetting (Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Biontec) said that Biontec had no room for funding in 2020 and additional money wouldn't have allowed them to scale up vaccine production faster but they have now room for funding. (DER SPIEGEL Nr. 6 / 6. 2. 2021 Site 64)

The public criticism of Russia's vaccination efforts seem strange to me. Claiming that Russia only wants to do early vaccinations because of reasons of national prestigue and not because of health and economic damage of COVID-19 seems to me like too many people still haven't understood that COVID-19 is a serious issue that warrents doing what we can.

The vaccine will be available for general public after January 1, and before this it will be available to medics and teachers only - so it will be like phase 3 of the clinical trial.

It seems that every post gets tagged with world modeling or world optimization. We should likely have a more focused definition or those tags to make them more specific.

I remember reading a link to a long article this month that was about how the New York times is very narrative driven and that the editors often decide on the narrative of the article before going out to research it. Does anybody know which article I mean?

This one?

It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

For me, an article linking to this one was the fifth Google result for "new york times narrative driven".

Yes, thank you. I did search for NYTimes and didn't think of using the fullname.

With constantly reduced costs of photos from satellites, satellite privacy will likely become an issue in the coming decade. 

With current laws, every inch of land that's visible from the sky will get 24/7 surveillance. 

Especially for people who don't share their garage with a lot of other people that will mean that everywhere they drive with their car can be public knowledge. 

For all the intensity of advocating that a tough stance toward Russia in the Ukraine conflict is important for deterring China from taking Taiwan, where's the support for Lithuania and Slovenia when they get pursued by China for being pro-Taiwan?

The Ukrainian war has the potential to turn into a cyber war. Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine have damaged non-Ukranian targets is a good time to think through your OPsec. 

Potential cyberwar is a good reason to think through your backup strategy, make sure that you use complex enough passwords with a password manager, use second-factor-authentification and have your software updated.

It's amazing how the current debates bring people who profess that they believe in science to reject core ideas of the enlightment about science not being about believing authority and attack modern tools of evidence-based medicine like meta-reviews as flawed. 

2Matthew Barnett
Can you present an example of what you were thinking about here?
Meta-reviews were an invention 1-2 decades ago, to have a better tool then just authority-based judgements of how to summarize literature.  I have seen peer-reviewed meta analysis on ivermectin getting rejected because they differ with statements from authorities like the CDC which feels like rolling back the progress of the last two decades.   It used to be that on Skeptics.SE the idea that medical claims should be decided by peer-reviewed papers was accepted.

Tesla recognizing that Bitcoin is bad for the enviroment shows why Bitcoin will lose to proof-of-stake currencies. 

Bitcoin advocates argued that with Tesla buying Bitcoin is a sign that companies in general will do so. We live in a world where any companies that does that is likely going to be downrated on ESG rating while holding technologically more advanced crypto-currency like Polkadot and Ethereum (if 2.0 works) won't lead to ESG downrating. 

The proof of stake currencies can provide low transaction fees that make them more suitable as an act... (read more)

Room humidity matters for COVID-19 transmission. If you are going to spent a lot of time in the same rooms as other people in the next months, invest into proper humidity to reduce your risk of getting ill:

2David Scott Krueger (formerly: capybaralet)
Can you give us the TL; DR on what "proper humidity" means in this context? Google says 30-50% is good (in general). Is the same true for COVID?
4ChristianKl shows how the effect on humidity on various risk factors and based on it I would suggest  50-60% is ideal for fighting viruses. 

Thinking more about the Russian vaccine is sad. There's no discussion in the media about what risk we should actually expect from the vaccine. The scientists that get asked by the media to comment are only asked to talk about the general policy of clinical trials but not about the underlying biology.

I used to think that while JFK jr. has a lot of unorthodox positions he has some understanding of the basics mechanisms of how governance works.

JFK jr. has been censored a lot and spoke a lot about being pro-free speech. When it comes to the Israel conflict he however advocates for censoring calls for genocide.

He gave an interview where he defended that position by saying that speech that incites violence (like genocide) is not protected by the First Amendment. In reality, only speech that incites imminent lawless action is forbidden by the Brandenburg sta... (read more)

Is one updates to a pro-ChatGPT account is it possible to use GPT-4 for as many queries as one would have used ChatGPT before?

I'm trying to understand the quality of German regulation regarding clinical trials better.

It seems that back in 2016 we had a law that allowed a government agency to allow clinical trials even if an ethic commission voted against the clinical trial.

One newspaper article had a quote from the head of the ethics commission of the university of Munich:

Insgesamt geht es um eine Beschleunigung des Verfahrens, und die kann nicht im Sinne der Patienten sein."

Translated: Overall it's about speedup of the process and that can't be in the interest of the patient. 

ChatGPT doesn't want to joke about science:

As a machine learning model, I do not have the ability to create original jokes or humor. I can provide information and support to help answer your questions, but I am not able to generate jokes on my own.

In general, jokes are a form of humor that rely on wordplay, surprise, or incongruity to create a humorous effect. They often involve a setup that establishes a certain expectation, and a punchline that subverts that expectation in a surprising or unexpected way. Jokes can be difficult to create, as they require

... (read more)

PSA: There are now good FFP3 masks ( ). If your plan doesn't involve getting infected with Omicron this is the time to upgrade your protection.

FFP2/N95 masks are not good enough anymore.

I have a lot of uncertainty here so, let me write a shortform for now. I'm not sure to what extend the following thoughts are true and I'm happy about comments

It seems that the body has two immune defense levels. One is in the mucosal immune system and there's a second that leads to antibodies in the blood.

SARS-CoV-2 infections usually first are in the upper respiratory tract where the mucosal system provides defense and not in where the immune system that provides antibodies that are active in the blood can fight the infection. (read more)

Yesterday, I talked with a friend who together with her boyfriend got COVID. He was vaccinated, she wasn't. She had to go to the hospital while he didn't. However both have now the same long-COVID symptoms. 

It's an anecdote and I'd really love if someone would actually study the question of how effective our vaccines are for preventing long-COVID...

I heard a lot about René Girard recently but never read any of his works. Does anyone have a recommendation about what is the best of his books to start with?

"To 'take over the world'? That must be the natural killer application for a secret clone army... All those clone projects were survivalist projects. They all failed, all of them. Because they lacked transparency."

Radical projects need widespread distributed oversight, with peer review and a loyal opposition to test them. They have to be open and testable. Otherwise, you've just got his desperate little closed bubble. And of course that tends to sour very fast.

Bruce Sterling in "The caryatides"

Open hypnothesis:

I had my first vaccination with AstraZeneca after which I spent a day in bed. For me second vaccination I had Biontech where I had less energy the next day but not so strong effects as the first one.

It's quite odd that the side-effects of the vaccines are so different from person to person.

One thing that might explain how the side effects are so different is that maybe for some people the vaccine stays mostly at the point where it was injected and for others it travels more through the body which causes side effects.

I had those ideas befor... (read more)

I had two AZ shots, the first made me spend 12 hours in bed, the second I barely noticed, and as far as I know, in both cases I did the same thing afterwards (waiting for 15 minutes reading a book, then walking home for 30 minutes). So, who knows, maybe the effects of the second vaccines are just weaker in general.
On average second shots have higher side-effects because there's a larger immune response.

Let me startoff that from my perspective there's a lot of uncertainty about the effectiveness of ivermectin.

At the moment it seems that it's plausible that ivermectin is for many viruses the equivalent of penecilin for bacteria.

Should this turn out to be true, it seems pretty clear evidence against the low-hanging-fruid thesis of why innvoation declined. If we weren't able to detect that an existing drug that we used 4 billion times is the equivalent to penecilin, our ability to pick the low hanging fruid is clearly very low. 

What is your strongest evidence for ivermectin being useful against covid? I did not pay much attention to this, but asked my friends who did, and they said something like all studies in favor of ivermectin were seriously flawed. Things like "one group using nothing, the other group using ivermectin + some X, and getting better results", where we already have a reason to suspect that X alone does the whole effect. (Which to me sounds like exactly the kind of experiement one would set up if they already expected ivermectin to be useless, but wanted to prove that it was useful.) In other words, is there actually any reason to care about ivermectin other than the fact that someone else has already privileged this hypothesis?
To not rely to much on my own reading of the evidence, I opened a thread about discussing the quality of pro-and-contra meta-analyses on LessWrong: In the thread it seems consensus that the pro-Ivermectin meta-analyses is of higher quality. On the other hand the contra-Ivermectin studies is seen as borderline malicious (among others they switched intervention and control number for one study) Trusting the best meta-analyses on a topic is generally a good strategy and the one I'm using here.  It's generally quite easy to dismiss evidence by saying "I have abstract standard XY for which I have no structured empiric evidence to justify it being an useful standard, the evidence you provide fails XY." 

Medical researchers:

We see that childhood cancers are associated with PGBD5 which causes a lot of mutations.

What do we do with that knowledge? How about blocking the DNA repair of the mutation that are caused by PGBD5 so that the mutations kill some cancer cells. 

I would have guessed that preventing PGBD5 from creating the mutations would be a higher priority.

I'm playing around with an evolutionary model for transposons and the transposons regularly kill my whole population...

Do the transposons ever have positive benefits? Why is your population all connected?
Transposons increase the mutation rate, so the fitness of organisms changes more when there are transposons in my model. When it comes to that I treat every transposons equally. Otherwise, each transposon has a rate for self replication. Aside of that transposons have no positive benefits but they self reproduce. If the mutation rate is what's useful then there should be pressure for transposons with low self replication rates which I don't see.  Transposons work similar to the gene drive ideas for killing of malaria causing mosquitos.  However the body does have some defenses. Both the transposons evolve and the defenses evolve and in nature there's an equilibrium. Finding the right parameters that lead to the equilibrium, might produce a model that does predict aging purely based on the fact that transposons exist.  Having such a theory would back up .  From what I read evolutionary models generally don't need group selection to work. If transposons kill every species if it wouldn't be for group selection that would be a major scientific finding.  There's the belief that the minimum number of individuals for a specis is 500 over longer timeframes. 
This is why it would make sense if there was some (perhaps small) positive effect of transposons on an individual's fitness. (Also, aren't there any less costly ways to increase mutation rate? Maybe error-prone DNA polymerases, or just allocating less resources to DNA repair.)
It's not costly for a transposon to copy itself. If you start a gene drive to erradicate malaria, it's not in the interest of the individual mosquito to play along but it still happens. A positive selective effect of transposon on the level of the individual is not needed for transposons to have a reason to copy themselves. I'm doing computer modeling and the question of what stops transposons is a harder one then the other way around.  Aside from that it seems that humans do use the fact that the have transporase for a few things (but currently not in my computer model). PGBD5 (a transporase) seems to be used in the brain to increase the diversity of brain cells for all vertebrates since 500 My.  RAG1 and RAG2 are derived from a transporase and they are important in the immune system to get a diversity of different leukozytes.  This means that neither of those can be completely downregulated and when they are active transposons can use them to get copied around.  An interesting side-note is human have a lot of different kinds of cells where some cells get cancer much more frequently then others. Leukemia is a common cancer and might be downstream from RAG1 / RAG2. Braincancer might be downstream from PGBD5. Most childhood cancers are downstream from PGBD5 as well, so it's the most costly transporase for fitness. 

China clearly banning human genetic engineering is a interesting news item (I got it from Gwern)

I feel pretty disturbed right now by . If what Stoecker (a biotech billionaire) is saying is true then for the companies that developed vaccines it was more important to deliever vaccines with fancy technology on which they hold patents instead of just doing the straight-forward well understood way of producing vaccines that we know and that could give us as many vaccines as we wanted.

I have a new draft for a post on why it makes sense to use rationalist jargon like steelmanning over the existing jargon. This is an experiment whether shortform is a good place to ask for draft feedback:

2Matt Goldenberg
What type of feedback are you looking for?
My goal is to bring the post into a better form before I publish it on LessWrong. Feedback that's helpful for that goal is welcome. When it comes to discussing the ideas of the post, that seems better once the post is finished, so that the discussion will stay on LessWrong.
I endorse gjm's final comment 100%.  (I wrote a much longer response but eventually decided that it was just repeating what ze said.)

I have the impression that the rate of new posts on LessWrong dipped over the summer and is now picking up again. Did the warm weather reduce the amount of time people have to write posts and now we all spend more time inside, so we have time to write?

Winter is coming and given the COVID-19 situation it means that if you want to meet other people savely doing it outside in the cold might be the best way to go about it.

For meetups I'm thinking to have a setup that switches between still group explanation and then pair exercises that can be done while walking around.

As far as clothing goes, I'm very unclear at the moment. What clothes are ideal for being able to be outside in the cold without freezing?

Are there any other concerns about how you might improve outdoor meetups when it's cold?

For what's actually ideal, I would suggest (if you find it interesting) reading about technical clothing for mountaineering and winter camping and adapting that to city fashion -- but if you want some helpful more affordable tips, what works for me is many layers. For example, long sleeve undershirt and long underwear from Walmart. T-shirt over the undershirt, cheap sweatshirt hoodie over that. Thin pajama style pants over the long underwear. For me anyway, this can be completely comfortable under an outer layer of only jeans and just an autumn jacket up to maybe -15C or -20C. Thin cotton gloves under big mitts or heavier gloves. Thin socks under heavy socks. For items where it's more difficult to layer, such as a toque or scarf (or socks if shoes limit the room), wool is pretty good and is affordable, thick, and sturdy at Army Surplus stores, at least here in Canada. I would also suggest, don't neglect extremities or any body parts. For example, I remember once my thighs being very cold wearing only jeans (no long underwear), even though I had an extremely warm parka and was walking briskly. I've found personally that even fairly thin pajama type pants, if you have say two layers under jeans, can keep you pretty comfortable even up to maybe -30C. Since you have in mind a meetup, I feel that even for example students on a budget, could get extremely adequate winter clothing this way at a Walmart in Canada that would enable them to stand outside inactively for 3-4 hours at up to -25C, say.
You should probably give more specific descriptions of the expected conditions than "cold".  Answers will differ if you mean high-desert conditions (-20C, windy but dry),  cold-ish city conditions (just below 0C, frozen rain or snow), moderate (generally a bit above 0C, often rainy), or something else (Southern California gets down to 10C and cloudy). In a lot of places, you should be thinking semi-outside, rather than full open-air.  Pavillions or large covered spaces such as outdoor seating for restaurants will keep the worst of the wind and precipitation out, and many of them have heating elements.
I don't care about high-desert conditions as Berlin won't hit them. I care about making meetups work in the other contexts and I'm happy about any suggestions for that even if the don't work for all cases.
Cool (but not cold ;) ).  I've only been to Berlin in the summer, but from travel guides, it seems basically temperate and not overly-damp - there will be occasional snowfall, but no significant accumulation, and many days will have no cold rain to deal with.   Standard advice for clothing in variable conditions applies: look to layers, so you can adjust over time, and add/remove pieces when you go indoors or if the sun is out and it's 5-10C warmer or cooler than you expected.  A sweater/jumper over your shirt gives you flexibility here.  I have a fleece undercoat with a waterproof shell that's great in really cold conditions, and fine as just a shell when it's warm (+5C) and rainy.    For meetups, you'll still want to find covered areas - even if no rain is in the forecast, less moving air makes a noticeable difference in comfort.  I suspect there's no way to make it pleasant and effective enough to be worthwhile before you can do it in an enclosed (but not crowded) space, but I really look forward to hearing how it goes.

Schools around the world seem to start using automated grading for tests. If that technology exists, it would be interesting to have a forum that enforces posts to have a minimum score on those grading forms.

If I put copper tape everywhere, do I still need to take copper supplements when I up my zinc intake?

Copper tape in your environment is unlikely to meaningfully affect your dietary copper intake.

I just subscribed to Stiftung Warentest which is Germany's equivalent to Consumer Reports. It seems to me those institutions provide a vital service to allow producer in various categories to compete based on quality when they would otherwise compete based on marketing promises.

Intuitively, it feels easier to pay for physical goods then to pay for information like those reports. I think the information did allow me to buy better soap for washing my hands and I think there's a public good to be done by supporting those institutions and increasing their budgets to do unbiased tests (the Wirecutter is payed by affiliate money in a way that influences their editoral decisions).