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Hi I'm helping organising the Stockholm LW meetup but I need more karma to be able to post, upboats plz.

Update on LW 2.0: user interviews scheduled for this week, work on the design underway, as well as some extra features. The broad plan is something like the following: user interviews / alpha testing to find the breaking UX bugs and get the design squared away, a closed beta to find more bugs and make sure the experience with multiple people doing stuff on the site is good / how we expect it to be, and then an open beta to give the broader community a chance to see it and find things for us to fix before it goes live at lesswrong.com. A core part of this process is making sure that there's consensus that it's actually worth switching.

\Will it be possible to import all existing LW content?

Yep! We have a working import system tested on a partial DB dump Trike gave us. The main wrinkles are around editing old posts--we're moving to a different format from the raw html with an editor (so that comments and posts will have the same editor), and so the first time you edit an old post you might have to do a bunch of conversion work / it might not be possible to get the exact same look.

(For example, I don't think we're going to have font options anymore, and so that'll prevent accidental weird fonts from copy/pasting from another source, but will mean any post that wanted to rely on different fonts will be out of luck.)

Can you check it with a machine running NoScript ?

A lot more folks will be using it soon...

A lot more folks will be using it soon...

?

And if the answer happens to be "maybe later", will it be possible to freeze the old LW meanwhile (i.e. people will not be able to post articles, comment, and vote)?

will it be possible to freeze the old LW meanwhile (i.e. people will not be able to post articles, comment, and vote)?

Yes.

Some random barely-edited thoughts on my experience with weight loss:

In the midst of a diet where I will lose 15 lbs (15.9lb, from 185.8 lb to 169.9, to be exact) in 40 days.

I have 95% certainty I will reach this goal in the appointed time. Even if I don't reach exactly 169.9lb, I'll be close, so whether or not I hit the exact number is arbitrary for my purposes. (I'm losing some weight to see if it helps a lingering back injury.)

I'm just eating a disciplined diet and working out according to a consistent schedule.

My diet is simple and not starvation-y at all. Most people wouldn't do it because it's repetitive (I literally eat the same thing nearly everyday so I can know my calorie intake without any counting.)

My workout isn't hard but most people wouldn't do it because...I don't know why, it's just my experience that people won't. It's 4-5 days per week of 30-60 minutes cardio and 30-60 minutes of weight training. I have a back injury that's limiting me, so it's nothing terribly rigorous.

...

In my years at health clubs, talking to health-club-going people, I've seen all the evidence I'll ever need to believe, basically, the Calories In / Calories Out model of weight loss is correct.

My opinion of the rationality community's view of weight loss is that it's bad. In fact, it is what I would consider anti-advice—the sort of thing you would introduce someone to if you wanted them to fail at weight loss. (Like in Mean Girls when Lindsey Lohan gives Rachel McAdams Swedish weight-gaining bars and tells her they are for weight loss.)

...

Some of my rough and random thoughts on managing weight:

  • Lean muscle mass is responsible for ~65% of individual differences in BMR.
  • People have significant differences in metabolism that are probably genetic predispositions. These differences can mean people who behave identically (same diet and exercise routine) will end up with very different weights.
  • No one should be shamed for their weight anymore than someone should be shamed for their height. (This is obvious, but needs to be said 'cuz "fat shaming" is an applause light used by the crowd who thinks anything resembling a simple CICO model for weight loss is bad and cruel.)
  • You shouldn't necessarily care about weight loss and our culture is fucked up for making people feel bad about their weight.
  • Losing weight can be really hard.
  • Diet is a central component to our lives, and changes in diet make people emotional, tired, etc.
  • Weight is a very personal issue and body image's importance in our culture, for better or worse, can not be overstated.
  • Exercising is a hard habit to adopt.
  • People lie. Self-reporting of diet and exercise is full of inaccuracies.
  • Changing your diet and exercise routine is akin to changing other habits and is subject to the same sorts of difficulties and failure modes.
  • The first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes are fucking hard, but it gets easier like any habit change.
  • Atkins, and other low carb diets, work because 'Murican diets are high calorie AND carb-centric. Cutting all carbs for a while means also cutting your total calories significantly. The published woo reasons why they work are mostly bullshit. It's just calorie cutting while giving you a shot at forming different long-term diet habits.
  • There may be some foods that speed metabolism, some foods that are good to eat at certain times during the day, some food that satiate more than others for any given person, etc...
  • But the Eat Less/Exercise More model is tried and true.

the Calories In / Calories Out model of weight loss is correct

My opinion is that it is a "motte-and-bailey" type of a model. Technically correct, but skips some of the important parts.

Things you can control directly:

  • amount and type of food you put in your mouth
  • type and amount of exercise you choose to do
  • whether you really start doing the exercise each day, and keep doing it as long as possible

Things you cannot control directly:

  • what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth

Things this model doesn't even mention:

  • there are other important things about the food, not just calories

As a consequense, these things happen in real life that the model does not predict:

If you are lucky, you can actually put a lot of calories in your mouth without getting fat as a result, even if you are not exercising hard. Not sure what exactly happens, my uneducated guess is that the metabolism only takes as much calories as needed, as the rest goes to shit. (So yes, technically it is "calories out", but it is not what people proposing this model typically mean, and you have no direct control over this, i.e. you can't simply decide to lose weight by going to the bathroom more often.)

If you are unlucky, the "calories in" get converted into something that is somehow not easily accessible as an energy source. (Either because your metabolism is fucked up generally, or because your body is low on some important component, such as iron.) You know you should burn some calories, but at the same time you are weak as a fly, so you really can't. (Not because "math doesn't work", but because the linear model ignores some parts of the reality.) But you mentioned this in the "random thoughts" part.

...however, assuming that the metabolism is working more or less correctly, the model is useful.

My recommendation would be:
Step 1 -- get checked by a doctor, whether you are low on something; start taking supplements;
Step 2 -- start exercising regularly, without worrying about the "calories in" yet, just to build the momentum;
Step 3 -- get more strategic about the food you eat.

The reason I put "step 2" before "step 3" is because studing calories can take unlimited amounts of time, and can be used as a convenient excuse to procrastinate on exercising. I would also say that "add a lot of unprocessed vegetables in your food" is a good first approximation for healthy diet.

Other random thoughts:

  • don't focus too much on "weight" -- it correlates with the right thing, but is not exactly the right thing; converting 5 kg of fat into 5 kg of muscles increases your health and attractivity even if the resulting weight is the same, on the other hand dehydrating yourself decreases your weight but hurts your health;
  • shaming people for their metabolism (or just not having time to exercise because they e.g. have to work 2 jobs to survive) is bad; but enforcing a norm of tabooing information about healthy lifestyle is in my eyes even worse... essentially, because people doing the former are at least usually recognized as assholes, while people doing the latter can pretend noble intentions while in fact they contribute to avoidable premature deaths;
  • I believe that "eating a lot of unprocessed vegetables" is the essence of healthy diet, and the rest is mostly role-playing (i.e. you can eat "Mediterranean diet" and imagine being an exotic Italian, or eat a "paleo diet" and imagine being a prehistorical warrior, but the outcome is the same for the same reasons, regardless of your aesthetical preferences)

Things you cannot control directly - what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth

Agreed. Some people have significantly higher metabolisms.

Things this model doesn't even mention - there are other important things about the food, not just calories

Agreed. I'm not talking about nutrition, just weight loss.

I mentioned the nutrition because that used to be my problem in the past.

I had low level of iron, so the answer "just exercise and burn some calories" was quite useless to me -- I was barely able to wake up in the morning. Repeatedly I tried to exercise regularly for a few weeks, but the outcome was always pathetic: after a few moves I was exhausted, and there was no visible long-term progress. Of course, after doing a difficult thing with zero benefits, after a few weeks my motivation was gone.

Meta problem was that "checking my levels of iron" wasn't even on the list of things I was thinking about, when I was thinking about how to get rid of some fat. (People around me assumed the opposite causal model: I have a problem with energy, because I am not doing any sport or exercise, duh!) It happened quite randomly; a friend of mine was reading somewhere on internet a list of symptoms of iron deficiency and mentioned it to me, and I was like "huh, sometimes I have similar symptoms, too". Yet it took a few years until once I asked a doctor to measure my iron level. Turned out, it was at the lowest end of the "healthy" interval... so, according to the doctor, not worth mentioning unless I ask explicitly, because I am still technically healthy. I guess being technically healthy is important from the official medicine point of view, but I would rather get closer towards the optimal health, so... I bought some iron supplements, and...

With the level of iron fixed, it was a completely different game. I suddenly felt full of energy, which was something I only remembered happening decades ago. Suddenly, exercising hard became possible. (At the risk of making a pseudoscientific explanation, I suppose that iron plays an important role in the process of converting "calories in" into energy available for exercising.)

Then, after a few months of exercising hard I lost some fat, gained some muscles; people who haven't seen me for a longer time say I have visibly changed. (I don't even check my calories, but I started eating more fresh vegetables, so maybe it happened as a side effect.)

So my experience is that exercising more, and eating less calories (not by eating less in general, but by eating different food) worked for me, but I had to "unlock" this option by doing something else first. In other words, when "calories in, calories out" finally started working for me, the problem was already halfway solved.

You can steelman no-CICO by saying that CICO is a good physics model, but a bad control model. CICO has a simple direct link, while in the body there exists all kind of feedback loops: from fat cell to food intake, from food intake to NEAT, from exercise to NEAT, etc., all mediated by poorly-to-moderatedly understood hormones and neurological triggers.

It's possible to have that argument and we had it multiple times in the past in discussion in which Brillyant participated. He is here saying that the position that "CICO is a bad control model" is anti-advice. He seems to consider that it's a good enough control model to allow him to lose the weight he wants to lose.

"CICO is a bad control model" is anti-advice

I'm not sure on what it specifically means the word "anti-advice", but if it's along the line of excluding possibly useless models, then sure, it's anti-advice but it's still useful.

He seems to consider that it's a good enough control model to allow him to lose the weight he wants to lose.

Yeah, but if it only works for him and a few others, and not for everyone else, can you still say that it's a good control model?
The argument from Brillyant to me seems like: any sufficiently analyzed control model is indistinguishable from a physics model. Which is true, but useless. What I want to know, and the added value of a control vs physics point of view, is which and where are the hidden knobs and levers that controls intake and consumptions.
Brillyant named some, I named others.
I think we can simply dissolve the question by saying:

CI = willpower + feedback from exercise + feedback from previous meals + feedback from fat cells + genetic predispositions + environmental factor + unknown unknows

CO = willpower + feedback from previous exercise + feedback from NEAT + feedback from food + genetic factors absorption defects + unknown unknows

CI - CO = weight gains.

Is this better?

I'm not sure on what it specifically means the word "anti-advice", but if it's along the line of excluding possibly useless models, then sure, it's anti-advice but it's still useful.

The paragraph you wrote has the potential to make a reader believe they have less agency about weight loss and thus be less motivated to do the straightforward actions that the CICO model recommends.

While you claim to steelman you don't provide any arguments for which you believe that isn't the case and why believing no-CICO would be better for someone who wants to lose weight.

The paragraph you wrote has the potential to make a reader believe they have less agency about weight loss

Well, if that's true, then we as rationalist should embrace that.

While you claim to steelman you don't provide any arguments

Because the argument is complex and because I'm not sufficiently invested. I was suggesting a possibility in the landscape of possible counter-arguments.

why believing no-CICO would be better for someone who wants to lose weight

This is straightforward: because some people with low agency might obtain better results acting on other inputs, as per Viliam iron deficiency.

I take, "bad control model" to mean, "it explains weight in terms of cico but the phrase cico does not tell you about the hard step of making your brain go along with it (the control model)".

I agree with that, but I would also suggest that even a bad control model is useful compared to terribly wrong models claiming to be right, for we know this model is wrong.

A while ago a good friend asked me what he could do to increase his typing skill. I didn't give him the straightforward advice of using a type training program but I talked to him about the promises of Dvorak. He didn't take any action, didn't increase his typing skills or switched to Dvorak.

Adding information reduced his impulse to take action. On the same token, it's not simply about comparing CICO against other wrong models but simply about having a person who wants to lose weight being committed to a model and doing what the model prescribes.

CICO is a good physics model, but a bad control model

CICO is a fine control model in the sense that using it will achieve the goal: controlling the CI part will get your weight down (e.g. consider fasting, that is, CI = 0). On the other hand, it's not the most efficient control model and starving yourself thin is... difficult for people X-D

it's not the most efficient control model and starving yourself thin is... difficult for people

I wonder if a control model which does what you want only, say,1% of the time can be defined "bad" or not. Surely it's not totally false, since we have at least some people who claim to use it to reach the purpose. But if will is something that is employable by some to lose weight and not by others, then I think that there must be a better model which take these things into account and explains at least the effectiveness of will power for some people and not for others.

I wonder if a control model which does what you want only, say,1% of the time can be defined "bad" or not.

I see its greatest benefit as showing what is possible.

In the weight-loss arena beliefs along the lines "It is impossible for me to lose weight -- I just can't! I've tried a dozen of different diets and none worked!" are very common. CICO as a control model is guaranteed to work (by physics) and realizing this shifts the focus from "I can't do anything, the universe won't let me" to "How can I change myself to make this work".

there must be a better model

Sure. The issue is that, I think, which model is "better" depends on the person. There is no universal answer (sorry, diet book writers), what works for one won't work for another.

Step 1. Optimal rationality
Step 2. Easy weight loss with the cico model

The first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes are fucking hard, but it gets easier like any habit change.

As far as I understand the literature suggest that many people succeed with the first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes only to have the yoyo-effect later in the process.

I suspect many people are doing things that are unsustainable or difficult to sustain in long run, such as:

  • dehydrating themselves (the easiest, but also completely stupid way to lose your first kilogram);
  • eating tasteless food (unsustainable unless you are willing to give up eating tasty food forever);
  • spending too much time on e.g. slow exercise or complicated calorie counting (when real life comes back, you will not afford doing 3 hours of yoga each day).

Which is why for myself I tried to (1) minimize the time spent exercising, which ultimately led to exercising with my own body weight at home, and (2) optimize also for the taste of the healthy food, even if it means letting an extra calorie in, as long as the outcome remains better than my previous food habits.

As a consequence, I was able to keep doing this for almost a year, even if real life keeps happening, because I like the taste of the new food (so I am not tempted to replace it with the old one), and if sometimes I only have 30 minutes of free time during the day, I can still do some meaningful exercise (as opposed to shrugging "well, no time for gym today").

Eating tasteless food might be useful in weight loss and health. Vegetables usually have phytonutrients, which evolved to be for example insect repellents. However many of these phytonutrients have, for example, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory mechanisms in our body, Sapiens. Like Curcumin and Sulforaphane. Since IQ goes down by age, though crystallized not so much, it might be worthwhile to try and include these foods. Curcumin can pass the blood brain barrier in certain instances.

You've read this? It's long, but if you CTRL+F for "taste" you'll see some obvious writings. http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/04/25/book-review-the-hungry-brain/

Not Relevant, Not written by Yvain (srs): "He pointed to Absolute Infinity and told Him, including himself. why Blind-Every-thing-No-thing God, don't you allow us to enjoy, Qualia:tetively, useful food, rather than processed food? Unless we can't eat enough calories to satisfy our leptin-VNM-feedback system with unprocessed food, it should not be done"

Maybe AGI and CRISPR can edit the genes to enjoy "useful" food, it's after all only food for our real purposes.

To the extent people yo-yo, I think the novelty wears off and old habits come back. You're often dealing with months or years of new diet versus decades of old habitual diet.

I mean you notice the differences more in the first phase of a diet. You may have some New Diet Energy! that gives you a boost and helps counter the differences.

After a while, you can get accustomed to less food.

Why does patternism [the position that you are only a pattern in physics and any continuations of it are you/you'd sign up for cryonics/you'd step into Parfit's teleporter/you've read the QM sequence]

not imply

subjective immortality? [you will see people dying, other people will see you die, but you will never experience it yourself]

(contingent on the universe being big enough for lots of continuations of you to exist physically)

I asked this on the official IRC, but only feep was kind enough to oblige (and had a unique argument that I don't think everyone is using)

If you have a completely thought out explanation for why it does imply that, you ought never to be worried about what you're doing leading to your death (maybe painful existence, but never death), because there would be a version of you that would miraculously escape it.

If you bite that bullet as well, then I would like you to formulate your argument cleanly, then answer this (rot13):

jul jrer lbh noyr gb haqretb narfgurfvn? (hayrff lbh pbagraq lbh jrer fgvyy pbafpvbhf rira gura)

ETA: This is slightly different from a Quantum Immortality question (although resolutions might be similar) - there is no need to involve QM or its interpretations here, even in a classical universe (as long as it's large enough), if you're a patternist, you can expect to "teleport" to another exact clone somewhere that manages to live.

You can fall asleep, so it seems like continuity does get broken sometimes.

I think it does imply subjective immortality. I'll bite that bullet. Therefore, you should sign up for cryonics.

Consciousness isn't continuous. There can be interruptions, like falling asleep or undergoing anesthesia. A successor mind/pattern is a conscious pattern that remembers being you. In the multiverse, any given mind has many many successors. It doesn't have to follow immediately, or even have to follow at all, temporally. At the separations implied even for a Tegmark Level I multiverse, past and future are meaningless distinctions, since there can be no interactions.

You are your mind/pattern, not your body. A mind/pattern is independent of substrate. Your unconscious, sleeping self is not your successor mind/pattern. It's an unconscious object that has a high probability of creating your successor (i.e. it can wake up). Same with your cryonicically-preserved corpsicle, though the probability is lower.

Any near-death event will cause grievous suffering to any barely-surviving successors, and grief and loss to friends and relatives in branches where you (objectively) don't survive. I don't want to suffer grievous injury, because that would hurt. I also don't want my friends and relatives to suffer my loss. Thus, I'm reluctant to risk anything that may cause objective death.

But, the universe being a dangerous place, I can't make that risk zero. By signing up for cryonics, I can increase the measure of successors that have a good life, even after barely surviving.

In the Multiverse, death isn't all-or-none, black or white. A successor is a mind that remembers being you. It does not have to remember everything. If you take a drug that causes you to not form long-term memory of any event today, have you died by the next day? Objectively, no. Your friends and relatives can still talk to "you" the next day. Subjectively, partially. Your successors lack certain memories. But people forget things all the time.

Being mortal in the multiverse, you can expect that your measure of successors will continue to diminish as your branches die, but the measure never reaches absolute zero. Eventually all that remains are Bolzman Brains and the like. The most probable Boltzman brain successors only live long enough to have a "single" conscious qualia of remembering being you. The briefest of conscious thoughts. Their successors remember that thought and may have another random thought. You can eventually expect an eternity of totally random qualia and no control at all over your experience.

This isn't Hell, but Limbo. Suffering is probably only a small corner of possible qualia-space, but so is eudaimonia. After an eternity you might stumble onto a small Botzlman World where you have some measure of control over your utility for some brief time, but that world will die, and your successors will again be only Boltzman brains.

I can't help that some of my successors from any given moment are Boltzman brains. But I don't want my only successors to be Boltzman Brains, because they don't increase my utility. Therefore, cryonics.

See the Measure Problem of cosmology. I'm not certain of my answer, and I'd prefer not to bet my life on it, but it seems more likely than not. I do not believe that Boltzman Brains can be eliminated from cosmology, only that they have lesser measure than evolved beings like us. This is because of the Trivial Theorem of Arithmetic: almost all natural numbers are really damn huge. The universe doesn't have to be infinite to get a Tegmark Level I multiverse. It just has to be sufficiently large.

Are people close to you aware that this is a reason that you advocate cryonics?

I'm not sure what you're implying. Most people close to me are not even aware that I advocate cryonics. I expect this will change once I get my finances sorted out enough to actually sign up for cryonics myself, but for most people, cryonics alone already flunks the Absurdity heuristic. Likewise with many of the perfectly rational ideas here on LW, including the logical implications of quantum mechanics and cosmology, like Subjective Immortality. Linking more "absurditiess" seems unlikely to help my case in most instances. One step at a time.

Actually, I'm just interested. I've been wondering if big world immortality is a subject that would make people a) think that the speaker is nuts, b) freak out and possibly go nuts or c) go nuts because they think the speaker is crazy; and whether or not it's a bad idea to bring it up.

I'm not willing to decipher your second question because this theme bothers me enough as it is, but I'll just say that I'm amazed figuring this stuff out is not considered a higher priority by rationalists. If at some point someone can definitely tell me what to think about this, I'd be glad about it.

you ought never to be worried about what you're doing leading to your death (maybe painful existence, but never death), because there would be a version of you that would miraculously escape it.

I am worried about the version that feels the pain but doesn't die.

It implies Big world immortality, but it may be not nice, until we use it correctly. I wrote about it here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/n7u/the_map_of_quantum_big_world_immortality/

You should strive to maximize utility of your pattern, averaged over both subjective probability (uncertainty) and squared amplitude of wave-function.

If you include the latter, then it all adds up to normalcy.

If you select a state of the MWI-world according to born rule (i.e. using squared amplitude of the wave-function), then this world-state will, with overwhelming probability, be compatible with causality, entropy increase over time, and a mostly classic history, involving natural selection yielding patterns that are good at maximizing their squared-amplitude-weighted spread, i.e. DNA and brains that care about squared-amplitude (even if they don't know it).

Of course this is a non-answer to your question. Also, we have not yet finished the necessary math to prove that this non-answer is internally consistent (we=mankind), but I think this is (a) plausible, (b) the gist of what EY wrote on the topic, and (c) definitely not an original insight by EY / the sequences.

See my reply to Oscar_Cunningham below; I'm not sure if Egan's law is followed exactly (it never is, otherwise you've only managed to make the same predictions as before, with a complexity penalty!)

I have a problem with the definition: patternism doesn't fall automatically out of reductionism / naturalism, so it's not automatically accepted by those who accept cryonics.

Can you help me with this?

It seems to me:

'reductionism/naturalism' + 'continuity of consciousness in time' + 'no tiny little tags on particles that make up a conscious mind' = 'patternism'

Are you saying that there's something wrong with the latter two summands? Or it doesn't quite add up?

I agree that patternism contingently implies subjective immortality, but I agree with Oscar Cunningham that subjective immortality does not imply not-caring about death. I think patternism is stronger than beliefs that cause people to sign up for cryonics or step into the teleporter or read (even agree with) the QM sequence.

(I'm not convinced that the universe is large enough for patternism to actually imply subjective immortality.)

jul jrer lbh noyr gb haqretb narfgurfvn? (hayrff lbh pbagraq lbh jrer fgvyy pbafpvbhf rira gura)

(Fgvchyngvat ynetr-havirefr cnggreavfz.) Gurer'f na vafgnagvngvba bs zl cnggrea gung unf gur fhowrpgvir rkcrevrapr bs orvat tvira narfgurfvn naq erznvavat pbafpvbhf. Gurer'f znal bs gubfr. Ohg vg'f abg gur vafgnagvngvba gung rkvfgf ba rnegu, juvpu unf gur fhowrpgvir rkcrevrapr bs orvat tvira narfgurfvn naq gura jnxvat hc. Nyfb, nyzbfg nyy bs gubfr bgure cnggreaf qrpburer vagb fbzrguvat ragveryl hayvxr gur cnggrea ba rnegu.

(I'm not convinced that the universe is large enough for patternism to actually imply subjective immortality.)

Why wouldn't it be? That conclusion follows logically from many physical theories that are currently taken quite seriously.

Such as? Subjective immortality isn't implied by MWI without further cosmological assumptions.

What cosmological assumptions? Assumptions related to identity, perhaps, as discussed here. But it seems to me that MWI essentially guarantees that for every observer-moment, there will always exist a "subsequent" one, and the same seems to apply to all levels of a Tegmark multiverse.

I don't think MWI is sufficiently well defined or understood for it to be known whether or not that is implied. For example it would not be the case in Robin Hanson's mangled worlds proposal, and no one knows whether that proposal is correct or not.

Fair enough. I have no argument and low confidence, it just seems vaguely implausible.

"subjective immortality does not imply not-caring about death."

Sure. You can care about whatever you want to care about, no matter what is the case. But even my version mostly prevents me from caring about death except in fairly short term ways; e.g. I don't bother to do things that would extend my lifespan, even when I know about them. And I definitely would not bother with cryonics.

If some one offered me a bet giving $0 or $100 based on a quantum coin flip I'd be willing to pay $50 for it. So it's clear that I'm acting for the sake of my average future self, not just the best or worst outcome. Therefore I also act to avoid outcomes where I die, even if there are still some possibilities where I live. The fact that I won't experience the "dead" outcomes is irrelevant - I can still act for the sake of things which I won't experience.

What about the question of whether I anticipate immortality? Well if I was planning what to do after an event where I might die, I would think to myself "I only need to think about the possibility where I live, since I won't be able to carry out any actions in the other case" which is perhaps not the same as "anticipating immortality" but it has the same effect.

I don't think that follows exactly. Specifically, that "you're acting for the sake of things which you won't experience".

You are correct in your pricing of quantum flips according to payoffs adjusted by the Born rule.

But the payoffs from your dead versions don't count, assuming you can only find yourself in non-dead continuations. I don't know if this is a position (Bostrom or Carroll have almost surely written about it) or just outright stupidity, but it seems to me that this assumption (of only finding yourself alive) shrinks your ensemble of future states, leaving your decision theoretic judgements to only deal with the alive ones

If I'm offered a bet of being given $0 or $100 over two flips of a fair quantum coin, with payoffs:

|00> -> $0

|11> -> $100

|01> -> certain immediate death

|10> -> certain immediate death

I'd still price it at $50, rather than $25.

You could say, a little vaguely, that the others are physical possibilities, but they're not anthropic possibilities.

As for "I can still act for the sake of things which I won't experience" in general, where you care about dead versions, apart from you being able to experience such, you might find Living in Many Worlds helpful, specifically this bit:

Are there horrible worlds out there, which are utterly beyond your ability to affect? Sure. And horrible things happened during the 12th century, which are also beyond your ability to affect. But the 12th century is not your responsibility, because it has, as the quaint phrase goes, "already happened". I would suggest that you consider every world which is not in your future, to be part of the "generalized past".

If you care about other people finding you dead and mourning you though, then the case would be different, and you'd have to adjust your payoffs accordingly.

Note again though, this should have nothing necessarily to do with QM (all of this would hold in a large enough classical universe).

As for me, personally, I don't think I buy immortality, but then I'd have to modus tollens out a lot of stuff (like stepping into a teleporter, or even perhaps the notion of continuity).

As I've pointed out before, we don't need to say whether patternism is true, or whether the universe is big or not, to notice that we are subjectively non-mortal -- no matter what is the case, we will never experience dying (in the sense of going out of existence.)

I guess we've had this discussion before, but: the difference between patternism and your version of subjective mortality is that in your version we nevertheless should not expect to exist indefinitely.

Sure. Nonetheless, you should not expect anything noticeably different from that to happen either. The same kinds of things will happen: you will find yourself wondering why you were the lucky one who survived the car crash, not wondering why you were the unlucky one who did not.

This is a good question and I'd be interested to hear answers to it as well.

Briefly, I'll say that there seem to be plenty of reductio-ad-absurdum arguments for a "self" existing at all, such as the implication of philosophical zombies and the like. Rob Bensinger's post here goes into this matter a bit.

If these arguments have validity, then it seems to me that neither "annihilation" nor "immortality" can actually be true. In short, it might be that "patternism" probably implies that there is no "you" at all, besides the conceptual construct your brain has created for itself. But these questions are really important to me to get right, because it calls into question whether it is rational, or moral, to try and preserve myself through the use of technologies such as cryonics, if that effort and money can be used somewhere else for a different moral good.

If, by a reduction of "I" to a pattern, you stop being a moral subject, then surely to all other people you can apply the same reduction and they stop being moral subjects too.

True, but there are also the questions of, should I try to ensure that exactly one of myself exists at any given moment? Instead of just trying to preserve my body, should I be content with just creating a million copies of my mind in some simulation, apathetic to whether or not my "original" still exists anywhere? Or should I be content with creating agents that aren't like me and don't have my exact history of experiences, but have the same goals as I do? It seems that these issues depend on sort of dualist questions of mind and whether or not there is moral value assigned to preserving this "self".

There's a free market idea that the market rewards those who provide value to society. I think I've found a simple counterexample.

Imagine a loaf of bread is worth 1 dollar to consumers. If you make 100 loaves and sell them for 99 cents each, you've provided 1 dollar of value to society, but made 99 dollars for yourself. If you make 100 loaves and give them away to those who can't afford it, you've provided 100 dollars of value to society, but made zero for yourself. Since the relationship is inverted, we see that the market doesn't reward those who provide value. Instead it rewards those who provide value to those who provide value! It's recursive, like PageRank!

That's the main reason why we have so much inequality. Recursive systems will have attractors that concentrate stuff. That's also why you can't blame people for having no jobs. They are willing to provide value, but they can't survive by providing to non-providers, and only the best can provide to providers.

It seems like you have just reinvented the criticism "if you can extract almost all the value from each transaction (aka 'exploitation'), you will shortly be rich". Well, yes, but the point is that a market with competition generally prevents you from doing that. As someone pointed out, if you make 100 loaves then you have created 100 dollars of value; the question is how those 100 dollars are distributed. You construct an example where the baker is able to capture 99% of the value he created; good for him, but it relies on your construction of the price. Seeing the baker get rich, won't a bunch of other people decide that bread-making can't be that hard, make some loaves, and sell them for 98 cents? And so on until the price of bread is equal to the cost of production plus the smallest profit anyone is willing to live with, which in your example seems to be a penny.

This kind of "stuff gets cheaper, everyone benefits" advocacy is why I wrote that comment to begin with. The free market can't be always pushing down the price of all goods (measured in other goods), that's a logical impossibility. There's no magic force acting on one conveniently chosen side of each transaction. Why isn't the same force pushing down the price of labor then, making labor cheap in terms of bread, instead of making bread cheap in terms of labor? Oh wait, maybe it is. Maybe all these forces are acting at once and going into weird feedback loops and there's no reason why the end result would be moral in any way. That's my point.

The free market can't be always pushing down the price of all goods

You are looking at the wrong thing. Specifically, you're looking at exchange ratios ("prices") when you should be looking at how much value gets produced and how much human input/labour does that value need (aka "the productivity of labour").

Maybe all these forces are acting at once and going into weird feedback loops

Let me try again, in all caps. REALITY CHECK.

there's no reason why the end result would be moral in any way

That entirely depends on your morality.

Why isn't the same force pushing down the price of labor then, making labor cheap in terms of bread

Because labor is in relatively fixed supply given that it takes decades to grow and child into an adult and educate it.

On the other hand, it's relatively easy to grow more wheat and make more bread.

That might work sometimes, but sadly market advantage isn't always connected to moral worth. For example, land supply is even more fixed than labor. If market advantage goes to the side with fixed supply, then most salary increases will be eaten by landlords raising rents. (Which pretty much happens in some places.) Also I'm not sure making labor is harder than e.g. starting a tech company. If market advantage goes to the side that's harder to make, then tech companies will use non-tech labor for cheap. (Which also happens, see Uber.) Like I said, immoral forces acting all at once.

Land supply is fixed but land supply isn't the problem with rising rent. The problem is the number of flats. Toyko's rents didn't rise in the last decades but rents in a place like San Fransico rise because the government enforcing zoning regulations that prevent the building of new housing.

That could be because Japan's population and economy aren't growing much. In any case, even if rent isn't a good example, there might be other bottlenecks in the economy besides labor, so labor won't always win.

Tokyo's population and economy are growing even when that's not true for Japan on the whole. The political decision to get rid of zoning regulations is quite clearly responsible.

Of course, there are resources that are scarce and then the market puts a high price on it but there's no way around scarcity. If the resource is really scarce you can't give it to everybody.

Tokyo's population has grown and is growing, but that seems to account for most of Tokyo's economic growth, not zoning regulations, since Tokyo's GDP per capita shows fairly anaemic growth from 2001 to 2012 (can't immediately find a longer time series).

I didn't want to argue that the lack of zoning regulations produced economic growth but that rent is stable despite grows.

Ah, OK, I read your "political decision [...] is quite clearly responsible" as referring to your previous sentence, not your previous comment.

"there's no reason why the end result would be moral in any way. "

This is wrong. The reason is that everyone is doing what they want, which is, on average, more likely to benefit people than having to do what they do not want, since people typically want to do things that benefit them and avoid things that do not.

The above is, in fact, the basic but extremely simplified reason why no one yet has been able to come up with a better system.

The free market can't be always pushing down the price of all goods (measured in other goods), that's a logical impossibility.

And yet that seems to be precisely what has happened.

However, supposing we hold tech progress and capital investment constant, then yes, we'll reach a steady state in which prices as a whole cannot fall further. But that still does not demonstrate that it is possible to maintain the sort of high-value-extraction transactions you outline for any great length of time. If the profit of bread is high then it will fall as people enter the market; this will, yes, slightly raise the profit of all other occupations, holding technology and capital steady. But the eventual equilibrium has all the profit rates being the same. Otherwise investment flows from the low-profit ones to the high-profit ones.

Instead it rewards those who provide value to those who provide value! It's recursive, like PageRank!

Contra Lumifer, this looks right to me. Notice the second-order effects, where a value-provider not only gets tokens to spend, but also them having more tokens means that everyone else is more sensitive to their desires.

That's the main reason why we have so much inequality. Recursive systems will have attractors that concentrate stuff.

This isn't as clear to me. If transactions happen entirely at random, but debts aren't allowed, then you'll end up with a Boltzmann-Gibbs distribution for income, which will be highly unequal. If you allow debts, then probably the resulting distribution is normal or something, which is still highly unequal. That is, this likely explains the particular shape of inequality, but not the existence of inequality at all. (Note, for example, a world where everyone has the same utility function but has variable capacity to produce goods and services will have significant inequality, driven by the variable capacity rather than the spiralling effects.)

That's also why you can't blame people for having no jobs. They are willing to provide value, but they can't survive by providing to non-providers, and only the best can provide to providers.

Trying to reach a conclusion about blame seems like trying to cross the is-ought chasm, and note that not being able to satisfy producers doesn't imply being able to satisfy non-producers.

a value-provider not only gets tokens to spend, but also them having more tokens means that everyone else is more sensitive to their desires

This is a good thing, since you do want to incentivize people to provide value.

I also don't know about "everyone". If you are a baker selling loaves of bread for $1, there is no reason to care more about billionaire Alice than about working-stiff Bob if both happen to be your customers. Alice still can eat only one loaf a day so her billions are irrelevant to you.

distribution for income

Wealth distributions in societies tend to be power-law distributions and income is basically the first derivative of wealth.

I also don't know about "everyone".

This is a component of the information conveyed by prices, which everyone is sensitive to.

Wealth distributions in societies tend to be power-law distributions and income is basically the first derivative of wealth.

Only for the rentier class. A fit of real-world income distributions to a combination of the Boltzmann-Gibbs for the bulk and then a power law for the top seems to perform better, because it separates the two classes.

This is a component of the information conveyed by prices, which everyone is sensitive to.

A price is a scalar, there isn't much information it can convey -- in simplified economics like what we are discussing, it just tells you where the intersection of the demand and the supply curves is. Even if you are a producer and can manipulate the prices to observe the shifts in demand, all you can find out is the approximate shape of the demand curve. There is no information about the total wealth of your customers in the price for common goods.

A fit of real-world income distributions to a combination of the Boltzmann-Gibbs for the bulk and then a power law for the top

An interesting paper, though it seems to suffer from a serious confusion between the map and the territory. I also wish it would show the fit of the distributions to the data and the errors. As it is, we have to peer at not-too-detailed graphs and I don't know if they are as convincing as the paper makes them out to be. In particular, to my eye the switching point between the two distributions in Fig. 2 isn't necessarily where the paper says it is.

I think "everyone" is pretty much true. Your counterexample seems like it only works as long as Alice and Bob's preferences aren't in conflict. And I guess they often won't be. But I don't think that being in that situation means people care about their preferences equally; it just means they don't have to choose right now.

To be more explicit about when your counterexample fails: suppose Alice wants a particularly fancy load of bread. It takes you all day to bake so you can't make bread for Bob (or any of your other customers) any more, but she's willing to pay $1000 for it.

She doesn't actually care very much about having this $1000 loaf over a $1 loaf, which is why she's only willing to pay $1000, which isn't very much to her. Bob's $1 has more value to him than $1000 does to Alice. The cost to Bob of not getting the $1 loaf is more than the value to Alice of getting the $1000 loaf instead of the $1 loaf.

But you make the $1000 loaf anyway. This is great for you. But it's pretty bad for Bob, and only slightly good for Alice.

Alice would probably not want to pay $1,000 for a loaf that she prefers only slightly to the $1 loaf. She'd likely be willing to pay $1.05 or $1.10 for it. And Bob would be willing to pay $2 or $3 or maybe even $4 since he wants it so badly.

Alice would probably not want to pay $1,000 for a loaf that she prefers only slightly to the $1 loaf. She'd likely be willing to pay $1.05 or $1.10 for it.

I did not intend that to be taken literally. I picked an extreme example to make the effect intuitively obvious, not because it was realistic.

If you think the effect doesn't exist, or is too small to be worth mentioning, at realistic levels, then that seems worth saying. But it doesn't seem very interesting to say that my example was unrealistic.

Bob would be willing to pay $2 or $3 or maybe even $4 since he wants it so badly.

There exists an amount that Bob can value a loaf of bread, where he's willing to pay $1 but not $2. Nothing I said is inconsistent with Bob valuing the bread at that level.

Some billionaire's like Warren Buffet do care about the price difference between a $1,000 and a $1 loaf but many don't.

It might be more clear when you replace "loaf of bread" with wine.

All [long-term] wealthy people care about price differences. They'd go broke if they didn't (see lottery winners). Even billionaires don't just throw their money around, because their money is still scarce and they want to spend it so as to maximize their expected utility.

Replacing bread with wine doesn't change anything; if a billionaire slightly prefers one type of wine to another, he doesn't arbitrarily pay a ton more for it. He pays the market price.

There's a reason the saying "If you have to ask for the price, it's too expensive for you" exists.

A huge reason why lottery winners go broke is that they don't earn more money, there are other rich people who do earn money and who spent it lavishly.

There's a reason the saying "If you have to ask for the price, it's too expensive for you" exists.

That saying has more to do with poor people not having the purchasing power of rich people and less to do with rich people and their lack of stinginess.

A huge reason why lottery winners go broke is that they don't earn more money

False. Most jackpot winners (and almost all of the ones that go broke), come from the lower and less educated classes. If they were to invest their entire prize in passive investments and live off the annual returns, they'd be earning far more money than any salary they could've ever hoped to achieve with their labor. These people don't go broke because they don't earn more money--they go broke because they squander multiple lifetimes worth of upper class earnings astonishingly quickly.

there are other rich people who do earn money and who spent it lavishly.

Not in the way that was described in the original example. Note that in philh's comment, Alice "doesn't actually care very much about having this $1000 loaf over a $1 loaf," but decides to go ahead and drop $1,000 on it anyways. The overwhelming majority of ultra rich people don't spend this way. And when they sort of do, they don't stay ultra rich over the long run.

I think "everyone" is pretty much true

In real life? I don't think so.

I don't expect that anyone at my supermarket, or at a corner gas station, or in the local Starbucks is "more sensitive" to the desires of the rich.

There are a couple of things going on here. First, someone rich has the resources to, let's say, exert an economic force. She can use that force to make things happen. Phrasing such events as "more sensitive to" is bad framing: we don't say that a weight is "more sensitive" to a greater force.

Second, as has been pointed out, in free markets a producer cares only about the demand supported by purchasing power. Some producers make expensive things and they are certainly more sensitive to the desires of the rich because the rich are their only customers. However a lot of other producers make common, inexpensive things -- bread, gasoline, jeans, etc. -- and they don't care much about the rich because the rich are a very small fraction of their customers and so a source of only a small fraction of their profit.

First, someone rich has the resources to, let's say, exert an economic force. She can use that force to make things happen. Phrasing such events as "more sensitive to" is bad framing: we don't say that a weight is "more sensitive" to a greater force.

The desires aren't the force, the money is. Being rich means the same amount of desire gets translated into a larger amount of money. Framing this as people being more sensitive to the desires seems natural to me. A physical analogy might be levers: a weight is more sensitive to force being applied at one end of a lever than the other end.

But I don't think we disagree about anything real.

People with money (or in other systems, people with birth rank or status or strength) definitely have more power than people without. So, what's the alternative to the individual freedom to choose to serve the powerful over the powerless?

I guess we can make all humans into serfs for the great AI. Not terribly appealing to me.

To clarify, I think capitalism is pretty great (applause light). I'm pointing at something that I think is a not-great feature of capitalism, but I don't have any better ideas.

I get that. From my standpoint, this isn't a not-great feature of capitalism, it's a not-great feature of human choices, or maybe of a universe that contains limited resources and independent-goal actors. Capitalism is neither great nor problematic, in fact it's not a thing at all. It's a side-effect of individual agency and individual decisions about resources.

(edited to add) you can argue that it's also a side-effect of our particular consensual popular conception of "property". Ok, stipulated. But there's not much hope in having ANY system of persistent ownership that doesn't include lots of elements of capitalism. And without the idea of property ownership, everything goes to hell (well, to the strongest/cruelest/luckiest risk-taker).

Yeah. My previous version of this idea was "the free market maximizes money-weighted utility instead of utility", but the one with recursion is nicer because it evokes a dynamic picture.

The word "blame" is a bit is-ought to begin with :-) Still, it seems like less disposable income leads to fewer jobs which leads to less disposable income etc, so at least part of unemployment should be blamed on the recursive effect and not on individuals.

Incidentally, Gary Drescher makes the same (citation free) statement in a footnote in Chapter 7 - Deriving Ought from Is:

Utilitarian bases for capitalism—arguments that market forces promote the greatest good—are another matter, best suited for other books. For here, suffice it to note that even in theory, an unconstrained market does not promote the greatest good overall, but rather the greatest good weighted by the participants’ relative wealth.

I remember asking for a reference about a year ago on LWIRC, but that didn't help much.

Brad DeLong wrote in 2003 that "the market system's social welfare function gives each individual a weight inversely proportional to his or her marginal utility of wealth", which he found "a completely trivial result"! Here is his algebra. Last year he pointed to Takashi Negishi as someone who published the result in 1960.

Edit: though to get the result that the weights are proportional to relative wealth you have to add the assumption that utility goes as log wealth.

Nice find. Yeah, Gary and I are often in agreement :-)

The free market doesn't maximize any utility.

Perhaps you want to point out that the only demand the market cares about is the demand supported by purchasing power (aka money)? That is true. If you want bread but have no money, the market will not help you.

less disposable income leads to fewer jobs

That's straight-up Keynesianism which isn't quite the generally accepted consensus.

Nope.

Imagine a loaf of bread is worth 1 dollar to consumers. If you make 100 loaves

...then you have created value, $100 worth of it.

And don't forget that "you" is also part of the society. In both cases society got richer by $100, it's just the distribution is different: in the first case you : others is 99 : 1 and in the second case you : others is 0 : 100.

the market doesn't reward those who provide value

Reality check: fail.

You're right that rich people can create value for themselves, I'm not arguing against that. But I often see claims that rich people must've given a lot to others, and poor people must've not given enough. That's what I'm arguing against. It's possible that many rich people are rich because they're giving mostly to themselves, and many poor people are poor because they give more than they receive. That strikes against the idea that the market is fair.

Well, let's take a look at how the markets work.

Step one is value production. There are entities (people and organizations) which produce tradeable value. That ability is not limited to "rich people" -- anyone can do it.

Step two is you offer the value you created to the market. The transactions are voluntary, so each purchaser of your goods gains from that exchange (that's called a "consumer surplus" in economics). This way the value of the good = price + consumer surplus.

Price, in turn, is production cost + profit, so

value = production cost + producer's profit + consumer surplus

Rich people are rich (in this stylized context) because they collected a lot of profit. That could be because the profit was high or because the volume of sales was high -- or both, of course. But note that the consumer surplus is always positive. Each and every transaction results in gains for the consumer.

Now, the easiest way to be poor is not to produce anything of value. No profit, no consumer surplus, no nothing. In this case, sure, the non-producing poor are poor because they do not produce. Tyler Cowen has a term, "ZMP workers", that is, Zero Marginal Productivity workers. They exist.

But, of course, that's not the only way to be poor. You can be highly productive and someone might take all the surplus away from you. Such people also exist (and their plight has been well explored by e.g. Karl Marx).

That could be because the profit was high or because the volume of sales was high

Or because the cost of production was comparably very small, for example externalizing some factors (cfr. the classic example of a factory that saves by not installing filters but pollutes the air).

That's an example of high profit since profit = price - cost of production.

Right, I wasn't thinking in terms of fixed price.

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