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Emotiv EPOC give-away:
So back in March 2013 or so, another LWer gave me a "Special Limited Edition Emotiv EPOC Neuroheadset"/"Research Edition SDK". Idea was that I could maybe use it for QS purposes like meditation or quantifying mental effects of nootropics. EEG headsets turn out to be a complicated area with a lot of unfamiliar statistics & terminology in it, and so I never quite got around to making any use of it; so it's been sitting on my desk gathering dust ever since.
I'm not doing as much QS stuff these days and it's been over two years without a single use, so it's time I admit that it's unlikely I'm going to use it any time soon as well.
I might as well ship to another American LWer who might get some use out of it. If you're interested, email me.
EDIT: it's taken
Here's the slides from my talk on logical counterfactuals at the Cambridge/MIRI workshop in May 2015. I'm planning to give a similar talk tomorrow at the Google Tel Aviv office (meetup link). None of the material is really new, but I hope it shows that basic LWish decision theory can be presented in a mathematically rigorous way.
Speed matters: Why working quickly is more important than it seems
An interesting blog post which points out additional benefits of doing things quickly. A sampler:
The problem of “me” studies by Joseph Heath
Although described in political terms, biases caused by "me" studies also affect other fields such as philosophy
Yes, this is a frequent mistake of rationality, sometimes so difficult to explain to people outside of LW.
Essentially, the world is a system of gears. To understand some activity that happens in world, look at the gears, what they do, and how they interact. Don't search for a mysterious spirit responsible for the activity, if the activity can be fully explained by the gears.
This is a simple application of naturalism into economics (and therefore to politics, because often politics = economics + value judgements). Yeah, but many people fail hard at naturalism, even those who call themselves atheists.
Unfortunately, seeing the world as a system of gears is often considered a "right-wing" position; and the "left-wing" position is calling out the various evil spirits. (I am not saying that this is inherently a left-wing approach; possibly just a recent fashion.) As if people fail to coordinate to solve hard problems merely because evil corporate wizards make them do so using magical brainwashing powers, instead of simply everyone optimizing locally for themselves.... (read more)
Heh. Index Funds May Work a Little Too Well.
One of the most, if not the most effective ways for me to focus on a particular task is to open Paint (on Windows) write in one word what I'm doing right now, e.g. "complexity" for an online course on complexity I'm taking and leave it like this on the side of my screen (or on the second screen), to always be in my field of view, but not interfere with anything.
This creates a really weird effect that whenever I want to get distracted by something automatically and almost completely effortlessly tells my mind to focus on the task instead, and doesn't let me get distracted.
Can anybody check how well it generalises for them?
Wikipedia on Chalmers, consciousness, and zombies:
That kind of reasoning allows me to prove so many exciting things! I can imagine a world where gravity is Newtonian but orbits aren't elliptical (my math skills are poor but my imagination is top notch), therefore Newtonian gravity cannot explain elliptical orbits. And so on.
Am I being ... (read more)
This is an important paper regarding the foundation of probability, in particular section 2.5 which lists all the papers that dealt previously with fixing the holes in Cox's theorem.
I have heard (from the book Global Catastrophic Risks) that life extension could increase existential risk by giving oppressive regimes increased stability by decreasing how frequently they would need to select successors. However, I think it may also decrease existential risk by giving people a greater incentive to care about the far future (because they could be in it). What are your thoughts on the net effect of life extension?
Seeking plausible-but-surprising fictional ethics
How badly could a reasonably intelligent follower of the selfish creed, "Maximize my QALYs", be manhandled into some unpleasant parallel to a Pascal's Mugging?
How many rules-of-thumb are there, which provide answers to ethical problems such as Trolley Problems, give answers that allow the user to avoid being lynched by an angry mob, and don't require more than moderate mathematical skill to apply?
Could Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs be used to form the basis of a multi-tiered variant of utilitarianism... (read more)
Does anybody else get the sense that in terms of karma, anecdotes seem to be more popular than statistical analysis when rating comments? It seems like a clear and common source of bias to me. Thoughts?
Are you basing this observation on anecdotes or on statistical analysis? :-P
Did some 5-min research for curiosity.
Are major categories in abnormal psychology actually good labels, statistically?
Big 5 personality traits were discovered through factor analysis.
Terms like depression, anxiety and personality disorders are or are entering common vernacular, but of unknown origin.
Google searched for (one of 'construct validity and factor analysis) + (one of: depression, anxiety and personality disorder) and selected relevant results on the visible half of the first page (didn't scroll don't more than flick)
Of those pages, closed tabs ... (read more)
I'd like a quick peer review of some low-hanging fruit in the area of effective altruism.
I see that donating blood is rarely talked about in effective altruism articles; in fact, I've only found one reference to it on Less Wrong.
I am also told by those organizations that want me to donate blood that each donation (one pint) will save "up to three lives". For all I know all sites are parroting information provided by the Red Cross, and of course the Red Cross is highly motivated to exaggerate the benefit of donating blood; "up to three"... (read more)
I stumbled across this document. I believe it may have influenced a young Eliezer Yudkowsky. He's certainly shown reverence for the author before.
This essay includes everything. A rant against frequentism and the superiority of bayes. A rant against modern academic institutions. A rant against mainstream quantum physics. A section about how mainstream AI is too ad hoc and not grounded in perfect bayesian math. A closing section about sticking to your non-mainstream beliefs and ignoring critics.
I'm not really qualified to speak about most of it. The part ab... (read more)
The book Global Catastrophic Risks states that it does not appear plausible that molecular manufacturing will not come into existence before 2040 or 2050. I am not at all an expert on molecular manufacturing, but this seems hard to believe, given how little work seems to be going into it. I couldn't find any sources discussing when molecular manufacturing will come into existence. Thoughts?
I realize there are sites dedicated to career discussions, but I like the advice I've seen lurking here. I'm currently interviewing for a remote-work technical position at a well-known Silicon Valley company. I'd be leaving a stable, somewhat boring, high-paying position that I've had for 10 years, for something much more exciting and intellectually challenging. I'm also old (late 40s). This particular company has a reputation for treating its employees well, but with SV's reputation for rampant ageism and other cultural oddities, what questions should I be asking and what advice would you give for evaluating the move, if an offer comes up?
Will denial of evolution prove an evolutionary advantage?
Debate: Is Inequality The Product Of Cognitive Biases?
Using Prediction Book (or other prediction software) for motivation
Does anyone have experience with the effects of documenting things you need to do in PredictionBook (or something similar) and the effects it has on motivation/actually doing those things? Basically, is it possible to boost your productivity by making more optimistic predictions? I've been dabbling with PredictionBook and tried it with two (related) things I had to do, which did not work at all.
Are there any good established systems for keeping track of a large number of hypotheses?
I've been using PredictionBook for this. Unfortunately it's hard to compare competing hypotheses. It would be nice to have all related hypotheses on one page, but there really isn't any mechanism to support that (tagging would be a start). The search is quite limited, as well. And due to the short comments, it's rare and clumsy to detail the evidence for each hypothesis. I guess I could figure out how to add tagging and make a pull request at GitHub, but I don't have t... (read more)
Recently I've been thinking of dealing with social problems in the physical world, vs the psychological world, and the victim's world vs the perpetrators world.
Is it more effective to deal with public anxiety over a certain danger, than to deal with the anxiety-provoking stimuli itself? For instance, if gun ownership spreads fear and anxiety among a populace, would it be more effective to address those concerns by education about the threat of increased gun ownership (irrespective of change in actual level of physical danger) or to remove the stimuli (e.g.... (read more)
Why don't people (outside small groups like LW) advocate the creation of superintelligence much? If it is Friendly, it would have tremendous benefits. If superintelligence's creation isn't being advocated out of fears of it being unFriendly, then why don't more people advocate FAI research? Is it just too long-term for people to really care about? Do people not think managing the risks is tractable?
IQ is said to correlate with life success. If rationality is about 'winning at life' wouldn't it be sensible to define a measure of 'life success'? Like the average increase of some life success metric like income over time.
Cardinal numbers for utilons?
I have a hunch.
Trying to add up utilons or hedons can quickly lead to all sorts of problems, which are probably already familiar to you. However, there are all sorts of wacky and wonderful branches of non-intuitive mathematics, which may prove of more use than elementary addition. I half-remember that regular math can be treated as part of set theory, and there are various branches of set theory which can have some, but not all, of the properties of regular math - for example, being able to say that X < Y, but not necessaril... (read more)
A voice of reason.
Against Musk, Hawking and all other "pacifists".
Rhetorical solution: Multi armed bandit problem
disclaimer: I'm not a computer scientist. I read up on the problem to see what the takeaways might be for decision theory. Since I'm not trained in any formal logic, I don't know how to represent this solution in symbols. I think of the problem in terms of things like - am I spending too much time becoming smarter, than doing things that are smart?
Exploitation dominates exploration cause unless exploration is a subset of exploitation by definition, it would not be optimising expected utility for a given opti