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I'm posting here on behalf of Brent Dill, known here and elsewhere as ialdabaoth-- you may have enjoyed some of his posts. If you read the comments at SSC, you'll recognize him as a contributor of rare honesty and insight. If you'd had the chance to talk with him as much as I have, you'd know he's an awesome guy: clever, resourceful, incisive and deeply moral. Many of you see him as admirable, most as relatable, some as a friend, and more, I hope, as a member of our community.
He could use some help.
Until last Thursday he was gainfully employed as a web developer for a community college in Idaho. Recently, he voluntarily mentioned to his boss that he was concerned that seasonal affective disorder was harming his job performance, who mentioned it to his boss, who suggested in all good faith that Brent should talk to HR to see if they might help through their Employee Assistance Program. In Brent's words: "Instead, HR asked me a lot of pointed questions about when my performance could turn around and whether I wanted to work there, demanded that I come up with all the solutions (after I admitted that I was already out of brainpower and feeling intimidated), and then directed me t... (read more)
Official update: HR "explored every possible option" but "ultimately we have to move forward with your termination process" after "making certain there was unanimous consensus".
Apparently several people in my now ex-office are upset about this.
Is Austin on the list? I work at a not-evil tech startup called SchoolAdmin that does school admissions software for a mix of public/private/charter schools. We're not hiring devs right now, but that might possibly change since we have a product manager coming in October. The company is REALLY not evil; we've had three different people come down with mental or physical health issues, and the president's mantra has been 'your job is to get better' in every case.
I could possibly also offer a place to crash, I've got a futon, a study it could be moved to, and already have cats.
That narrative is unambiguously a case of illegal discrimination. Idaho law Defines:
I am also very confused as to how actual HR drones in an actual HR department wouldn't be familiar with the law and able to create a suitable enough pretext for termination.
I already mentioned the A.D.A. to Ialdabaoth, but fighting a discrimination case probably takes more money than he's looking to raise to move, as well as being psychologically exhausting.
The problem is... this is a complex and delicate situation, as all real-life situations are.
There are co-workers who have gone the extra mile to help me and protect me. They didn't do everything they could, because they have families, and they know that if they rock the boat too hard it will be them, not HR, that get thrown overboard.
They aren't rationalists themselves (although I was slowly working on one of them), but they are caring and intelligent people who are themselves struggling to find meaning and stability in a harsh world.
If I could find a way to laser-lance out the demons of stupidity from my workplace, I would do so in an instant. If I could do so in a way that could add net funds to my own cause, I would already be doing so.
But as it is, I know exactly who would suffer for it.
(That doesn't mean that I have committed to a decision yet; I am still weighing necessary evils.)
I hope this is not patronizing advice but rather useful info. To be clear, I am not pressuring you to do anything, I know there are many reasons not to pursue discrimination claims, but I wanted to make sure you are aware of all your options.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a possibly less costly and less adversarial way of pursuing a discrimination claim. They will investigate independently and try to arrange a settlement if they find discrimination. If settlement is impossible, they may even sue on your behalf. They have won a lot of ADA-related claims. I'm pretty sure they will consult with you for free, so the only initial costs are time and emotional energy.
I don't have any sensible way of learning about current affairs. I don't consume broadcast or print news. Most news stories reach me through social media, blogs, word of mouth or personal research, and I will independently follow up on the ones I think are worthy of interest. This is nowhere near optimal. It means I will probably find out about innovations in robotic bees before I find out about natural disasters or significant events in world politics.
Regular news outlets seem to be messy, noisy attention traps, rather than the austere factual repositories I wish them to be. Quite importantly, there seems to be a lot of stuff in the news that isn't actually news. I'm pretty sure smart people with different values will converge on what a lot of this stuff is.
Has this problem been solved already? I'm willing to put in time/effort/money for minimalist, noise-free, sensibly-prioritised news digest that I care about.
ETA: Although I haven't replied to all these responses individually, they seem very useful and I will be following them up. Thanks!
What sort of current events do you want to find out about how quickly, and why?
You should consider, if you haven't already, the possibility that the value of learning about such things quickly is almost always almost exactly zero. Suppose e.g. there's an enormous earthquake half-way around the world from you, and many thousands of people die. That's a big deal, it's very important -- but what immediate difference should it make to your life?
One possibility: you might send a lot of money to a charity working in the affected place. But it seems unlikely to me that there's much real difference in practice between doing so on the day of the disaster and doing it a week later.
Another possibility (albeit a kinda callous one): it may come up in conversation and you may not want to sound bad. But I bet that in practice "social media, blogs, word of mouth or personal research" do just fine at keeping you sufficiently up to date that you don't sound stupid or ignorant. In any case, what you need to know about in order to sound up to date is probably roughly what you get from existing news sources, rather than from a hypothetical new source of genuinely important, sensibly prioritized news.
Hilariously, a good option for you may be an actual newspaper. Made out of paper.
It comes once a day, it summarizes a few dozen major events in a reasonably succinct way, and many of them try to minimize reporting bias. You could consider specific papers based on size and editorial style (most offer free or cheap trials), and then sign up for a short subscription to see how you like it.
And the greatest advantage is that it has no hyperlinks to click. Thus, you only spend limited time reading it.
I can't find it, but I once read an article from a guy a trust about how he just stopped following news, assuming that if anything sufficiently important happened, he'd find out about it anyway. His quality of life immediately rose. Having followed this approach for a few years now, I would suggest consuming zero news (is minimalist, completely devoid of noise, and exceptionally well-organized).
"Remember, if it’s in the news don’t worry about it. The very definition of news is “something that almost never happens.” When something is so common that it’s no longer news — car crashes, domestic violence — that’s when you should worry about it." - Bruce Schneier
Wikipedia's current events portal is relatively minimalist and low-noise. It's not prioritized very impressively.
Looks like, but isn't. The goal isn't that you take one viewpoint and take another viewpoint and find "something in the middle"; the point is that having multiple independent viewpoints makes it easier to spot mistakes in each.
It feels natural for us to think critically when our preconceptions are contradicted and to accept information uncritically when our preconceptions are supported. If you want to improve the odds that you're reading critical thought about any given topic, you need sources with a wide range of different preconceptions.
I agree and wouldn't have objected if Prismattic advised to read multiple sources from a variety of viewpoints. As it is, he just said "you need to read progressives as well" and that's a different claim.
No, that's not it. It doesn't mean you can't have new things happen that are bad. It does refer to a time derivative, but it's more of a goal than a statement of fact: government and society are not as good as they could be, and we can engineer the government to improve both. That's 'progress'. (Note: this summary is not an endorsement)
Progressive tax structures are not named so due to this time derivative. They are named so due to the derivative in income. Regressive tax structures exist, but they aren't named so due to being more like the past.
According to the efficient market hypothesis index funds should be the best way for the average person to gain a return from investment. Now there is a plethora of indices to invest in. How should one find the 'best' one?
Further, only a relatively small part of return generating assets are captured in publically tradeable assets. What about private equity and real estate, huge parts of the economy?
Funds take a fraction of the earnings out, as management fees, and you want the fund that charges the lowest such fees. The early retirement blogs I read seem to agree on Vanguard being the best choice, at least in the US.
That's not true. It's easy to get exposure to real estate through REITs. For example, through my wealthfront.com portfolio, I'm invested in Vanguard's US REIT ETF, VNQ.
I stand corrected.
It Ain't Necessarily So: Why Much of the Medical Literature Is Wrong
Some of the material will be familiar, but there are examples I hadn't seen before of how really hard it is to be sure you've asked the right question and squeezed out the sources of error in the answer.
What follows is what I consider to be a good parts summary-- if you want more theory, you should read the article.
....... (read more)
An interesting paper. The abstract says:
I have a notion that an FAI will be able to create better friends and lovers for you than actual humans could be. Family would be a more complex case if you value the history as well as the current experience.
I'm not talking about catgirls-- if some difficulties in relationships are part of making relationships better in the long haul, then the FAI will supply difficulties.
If people eventually have relationships with FAI-created humans rather than humans generated by other means, is this a problem?
It's not self-evident to me that they are separable.
If you liked Scott Alexander's essay, Meditations on Moloch, you might like this typographic poster-meme I made. It was a minor success on Facebook.
(If you haven't read Scott Alexander's essay, Meditations on Moloch, then you might want to check it out. As Stuart Armstrong said, it's a beautiful, disturbing, poetical look at the future.)
There is the line "thinking of the system as an agent throws into relief the degree to which the system isn’t an agent" so I see what you mean. But I think that just means that there's no sane agent to deal with, no law of the universe that says we can appease Moloch in exchange for something.
But anthropomorphizing Moloch, perhaps poetically, is different, and there's plenty of anthropomorphizing Moloch in the essay:
"But if we have bound Moloch as our servant, the bonds are not very strong, and we sometimes find that the tasks he has done for us move to his advantage rather than ours."
"We will break our back lifting Moloch to Heaven, but unless something changes it will be his victory and not ours."
"In the very near future, we are going to lift something to Heaven. It might be Moloch. But it might be something on our side. If it is on our side, it can kill Moloch dead."
"Moloch is exactly what the history books say he is. He is the god of Carthage. He is the god of child sacrifice, the fiery furnace into which you can toss your babies in exchange for victory in war. He always and everywhere offers the same deal: throw what you love most ... (read more)
In the interest of trying out stuff outside the usual sphere-of-things-that-I'm-doing, I now have a fashion/lifestyle blog.
It's in Finnish, but it has a bunch of pictures of me, which ought to be language-neutral. Also my stuffed animals. (And yes, I know that I need a better camera.)
Hi. I'm Portuguese and live near Lisbon. Are there any LWers out there that live nearby?
The latest survey (2013) shows zero people living in Portugal, and so I feel a bit lonely out here, especially when I read the locations for the LW meetups. They seem so close, only not really...
I guess I could make an effort to start my own meetup in Lisbon or something, maybe, I don't know. I am a little shy and I don't think I am capable of starting something like that on my own.
I work in academia, in the field of computer science, and thus am surrounded by people th... (read more)
I remember seeing this organization on LW but cannot find it again or remember the name: it was a for-profit school-like entity that does a short training program (might have been 6 six week, maybe 3 months, that range), which is free upfront and takes their payment entirely as a percentage of the salary from the job they place you in afterward. If I remember correctly, it is run in the Bay Area and took a small pool each session, with a school-like application process.
Can anyone point me to this?
I have yet to find any thoughts on Effective Altruism that do not assume vast amounts of disposable income on the part of the reader. What I am currently trying to determine are things like 'at what point does it make sense to give away some of your income versus the utility of having decent quality of life yourself and insuring against the risk that you end up consuming charitable resources because something happened and you didn't have an emergency fund'. Does anyone know of any posts or similar that tackle the effective utilitarian use of resources when you don't have a lot of resources to begin with?
There are two questions here. The first is how you trade off the value you place on your own welfare vs the value you place on the welfare of distant others. And the second is how having extra cash will benefit your mental health, energy levels, free time, etc. and whether by improving those attributes of yours you'll increase the odds of doing more good for the world in the future.
I consider myself a pretty hardcore EA; I gave $20K to charity last year. But this year I'm saving all my money so my earning-to-give startup will have a bigger cash buffer. And I spend about $100/month on random stuff from Amazon that I think will make my life better (a weighted jump rope for exercising with, an acupressure mat for relaxing more effectively, nootropics, Larry Gonick's cartoon guides to the history of the universe so I can relax & educate myself away from my computer, etc.)
So I guess the point I'm trying to make is you don't even have to deal with the first values question if you decide that investing in yourself is a good investment from a long-run EA perspective. Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish... your mental energy is limited and if you find wet feet at all stressful, i... (read more)
I like the notion of the Superintelligence reading group: http://lesswrong.com/lw/kw4/superintelligence_reading_group/. But the topic of AI doesn't really interest me much.
A reading group on some other topic that is more along CFAR's lines than MIRI's would. For example, reading recent studies of cognitive bias would be interesting to me. Discussion on how practically to combat them might evolve from discussing the studies.
I seem to have high karma, but don't know why. Looking through my contribution history, I seem to only have a total of 47 net upvotes on anything I've ever posted, but have 74 karma points, including 10 in the last 30 days. Looking at the LW wiki FAQ, it says that you can get 10 karma per upvote if you post in main, but I haven't done that. Does anyone know why this might be happening?
Since 23andme has been prohibited from giving health-related genetic reports, is there anyone else (outside the FDA's jurisdiction) who provides similar services?
Edit: I have found Promethease, which works with 23andme's raw data. I'm still interested in additional options.
Edit2: This page lists various 23andme competitors, although it was last updated in early 2013. More recent information is appreciated.
I just did a tried to do a Fermi calculation on the value of getting a fire-proof, theft resistant document safe, but can't find a good number for the cost of identity theft. Does anyone have one on hand?
I've never been entirely sure about the whole "it should all add up to normality" thing in regards to MWI. Like, in particular, I worry about the notion of intrusive thoughts. A good 30% of the time I ride the subway I have some sort of weak intrusive thought about jumping in front of the train (I hope it goes without saying that I am very much not suicidal). And since accepting MWI as being reasonably likely to be true, I've worried that just having these intrusive thoughts might increase the measure of those worlds where the intrusive thoughts ... (read more)
Whatever argument you have in mind about "the measure of those worlds" will go through just the same if you replace it with "the probability of the world being that way". You should be exactly equally concerned with or without MWI.
The question that actually matters to you should be something like: Are people with such intrusive thoughts who aren't generally suicidal more likely to jump in front of trains? I think I remember reading that the answer is no; if it turns out to be yes (or if you find those thoughts disturbing) then you might want to look into CBT or something; but MWI doesn't have anything to do with it except that maybe something about it bothers you psychologically.
Donation sent. !@#% those !@#&!.
EDIT: Oops, wrong place, this was supposed to go under ITakeBets' post.
A medical issue is a problem if the patient recognises it as one. If a patient suffers from something that is not recognised as medical problem we call it hypochondria. Is there the concept of something we see as medical problem but the patient does not realise as one e.g. because they don't know that their condition is not normal?
Here are two bookmarklets that have really helped my article-reading workflow. I named the bookmark for #1 "Clean" and #2 "Squirt":... (read more)
When speaking about battling ISIS, the alternatives for the West seems to be either air strikes or boots on the ground. Boots on the ground means actual personal. Why isn't there a version of boots on the ground that's completely robot based? Why are human bodies still needed for waging intercity warfare?
Considering that this is the state-of-the-art in animal-like robot movement, I can see why we still use meat-soldiers.
probably a lot more
Prolonged functioning at high energy levels far from usable energy sources.
Not very likely. In 10-20 years we might get a self-driving car which is a MUCH easier problem than a battlefield robot.
Kinda sorta maybe not really.
A little help communicating some ideas?
Anyone up for beta reading a 2,000 word section of my attempt at an aspiring-rationalist story, S.I.?
I've just finished putting together an initial draft of Bunny pontificating about the ideas discussed in https://www.reddit.com/r/rational/comments/2g09xh/bstqrsthsf_factchecking_some_quantum_math/ . I could really use some feedback to make sure I'm having her explain them in a way that's actually comprehensible to the reader. Anyone who'd like to help me with this, I've pasted the initial draft to a GoogleDoc at https... (read more)
I've had several unexplained jumps in karma over the last few days, amounting to around 80-100 points. Someone else mentioned the same, and I believe it's happened to quite a few people. If that's a side effect of reverting the votes of systematic downvoters, fine, but if we now have a systematic upvoter, I really don't want to see this. It doesn't have the same emotional overtones as downvotes, but it obscures the signal in the same way.
How do I build the habit of writing down a fleeting thought that seems interesting? Way too often I notice that I just wanted to do something or write something down. Or should I just accept the thought as gone?
Okay, I know next to nothing about Haskell, and next to nothing about provability logic, so maybe what I'm about to ask doesn't make any sense, but here's something that's making me very curious right now. How do I implement a function like this:
using some typeclass like this:
The idea is that the implementation of loeb should follow the steps of this proof, and the methods of Prov should correspond to the... (read more)
What supplements do people take?
I currently take Vitamin D, fish oil, creatine, lithium, iron, multivitamin and melatonin (at bedtime).
From an article I'm reading:
It may be hard to tell without the context, but they are suggesting that these revised risk assessments would not be useful. My initial thought is: "If having an estimate is helpful, having a more accurate estimate would be better, and there seems to be a big difference between 1/500 and 1/1000.
Any thought... (read more)
A friend and I hope to host a MIRIxVancouver workshop in Vancouver, Canada sometime in October. We haven't filed an application with MIRI yet, and we haven't set a date, so there's no schedule yet. So, this is just a shout-out to anyone who might want to get involved in it over a weekend, including if you want to visit from Seattle, or Oregon, or anywhere nearby. Comment below, or send me a PM, if you're interested in attending.
I was thinking about anthropics after seeing some posts here about it. I read the series of posts on ADT including http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/8aw/anthropic_decision_theory_iv_solving_selfish_and/, and EY's posts http://lesswrong.com/lw/17c/outlawing_anthropics_an_updateless_dilemma/, http://lesswrong.com/lw/19d/the_anthropic_trilemma/, and http://lesswrong.com/lw/17d/forcing_anthropics_boltzmann_brains/. I had a few questions about those posts.
First, how is average utilitarian defined in a non-circular way? I'm trying to wrap my head around why I... (read more)
We managed to reduce performance on any number of tests to essentially a single number, g, together with a couple more for domain-specific skill. We managed to reduce the huge variation in personalities to five numbers, the OCEAN dimensions. I even recall reading that there is quite some correlation between those five numbers and that they might be reduced to a single one but I can't find the source any more.
Can we construct a whole host of other, similar numbers, like "math skills" and thus measure the impact of education and aging?
Another numbe... (read more)
It seems like there are a lot of fan-fiction fans here. Fan-fiction fans, I am curious as to what draws you to the fan-fiction of which you are fans. Is part of it that you're fans of other fan-fiction fans? I guess that depending on the cosplay you could even be a fan of fan-fiction fans' fans.
This is a different question, but I've occasionally wondered why some franchises (like Star Trek, Buffy, or Harry Potter) generate a lot of fanfic and others generate much less. Part of this is raw popularity, of course, but quite a bit isn't; the film Avatar (the one with blue aliens, not the one with kung fu) was far more popular than, say, Pirates of the Caribbean, but the latter spawned a thriving fic community and the former has a smattering of stories mostly intended to illustrate critical points.
I don't think there's any single answer, but a franchise's chances seem to be improved if: it's suitable for episodic storytelling (Pirates is a self-contained story, but it's framed like an entry in a serial); it's got strong and ideally archetypal characters (Kirk, McCoy, Spock: action/emotion/reason, easy to write but easy to give depth to); and it's got an open setting with a lot of depth and unexplored bits (few settings outside spec-fic generate a lot of fanfic, and most of those that do are period pieces or procedurals). We're looking at works as toolkits for storytelling, in other words; tight plotting might actually be detrimental.