Open & Welcome Thread - March 2020

by habryka1 min read8th Mar 202033 comments


Open Threads
Personal Blog

If it’s worth saying, but not worth its own post, here's a place to put it. (You can also make a shortform post)

And, if you are new to LessWrong, here's the place to introduce yourself. Personal stories, anecdotes, or just general comments on how you found us and what you hope to get from the site and community are welcome.

If you want to explore the community more, I recommend reading the Library, checking recent Curated posts, seeing if there are any meetups in your area, and checking out the Getting Started section of the LessWrong FAQ.

The Open Thread sequence is here.

33 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:00 AM
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Proofreading-or-Editing Matchmaking Thread

Do you have a post, question or comment that you're planning to write to LessWrong? Would you like to have a fresh set of eyes look over it before you do, for some brief feedback or maybe more detailed editing suggestions? Alternatively, would you like to help people feel more comfortable posting, and are willing to spend a few minutes reading something and giving feedback? Or maybe you have experience giving editing advice, or want to try it out? This is a thread for both sides of that graph to meet up.

How to do this:

  • If you have a comment / post / question that you'd like to run by someone, leave a brief comment here, giving the topic, title, wordcount, and a concrete date that you'd plan to publish by (e.g. "I'd like to publish this in the next 24 hours" or "I plan to publish this next Saturday"), and whether you'd appreciate proofreading or editing (both is fine, but often people are looking for one more than the other, so mention that). 
  • If you'd like to proofread the post/question/comment, then reply with "I am willing to proofread this by <date>." or "I am willing to edit this by <date>."
  • At this point, the author should send a PM to the user with a link to a google doc with their post/question/comment in it.
  • Proofreaders+Editors are also welcome to write comments announcing that they're interested in reading people's stuff, and that you can just reach out to them directly by PM.

Happy matchmaking!

Note: Remember, you don't need anyone's permission to publish your ideas on LessWrong, and you're not expected to get something proofread, this is just for those who want it.

I'm happy to read stuff and critique. (I go harsh but hopefully fair).

General editing/formatting/readability appraisals.

I'll be of most of use on bio-medical topics (although the discussions here about vaccine development are way above my knowledge base so I'd avoid that!)

I am interested in helping with content and structure.

I'm interested in proof-reading posts and comments.

That's a great idea! Are some people interested in a more structured version of this, something like a writing group where everyone proposes its writing and the other comment on it?

Either way, I'm interested on having feedback for something I'm currently writing, whose draft I will probably finish at the end of this week. I'm interested in feedback on content, and on readability.

I'm also up to comment on structure, arguments and readability for others.

I'm interested in a more structured version like a writing group.

I’m willing to proofread :)

Due to the principle of comparative advantage, a country can be rich while being bad at a lot of things (i.e., having an absolute disadvantage in them). This is why richer countries can be worse (even much worse) at handling the coronavirus than some poorer countries. I suspect not realizing or understanding this may have contributed to complacency / insufficient alarm in a lot of people at the beginning of the current pandemic.

It looks like even Larry Summers doesn't understand comparative advantage. (Alternatively he's prioritizing virtue signaling over intelligence signaling.)

Thoughts at the end of a long week:

Why can’t the greatest economy in the history of the world produce swabs, face masks and ventilators in adequate supply?

And then there's Robert Reich, in a now deleted tweet (archived here):

Average hedge fund down 9% this year so far.

S&P 500 down 24% so far.

No way hedges could do this without inside information.

When this emergency is over, hedge funds must be investigated.

(For those who don't recognize the names, Larry Summers is "Charles W. Eliot Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard. Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and the Director of the NEC for President Obama" and Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at Berkeley and was Secretary of Labor for Clinton.)

Hi all!

I've been reading SSC for years, and took the plunge to read the sequences last year. It shifted a lot of my previous beliefs, and though I have a strong aversion to group identity, I suppose I'm an "aspiring rationalist" now!

About me: I work in Kelowna, BC. I've written for Quillette and Areo in the past, but my current writing output is confined to Letter (including this conversation on metarationality). I will probably do effortposts here eventually, but for now I'm mostly scanning for coronavirus information.

Any rationalists or effective altruists in BC, message me!

At least a decade ago, excessive aversion to group identity was recognized as a potentially undesirable aspect of the rationality community as it existed then, so you're in (past? present?) good company on that front…

Hello Less Wrong. Greetings from Kelowna, in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. I came here from Australia just a few weeks ago in order to meet, and hopefully to help, a young transhumanist I knew online. There is a blog of the journey here.

I could only ever afford a brief visit, and the coronavirus shutdown will probably send me back to Australia even sooner than I had planned. Despite having given myself to the struggle in every way that I could, I have been unable so far, to forge a lasting connection between her, and any element of the local academic or startup communities. People meet her and say, clearly she's very bright, but the lasting connection has not yet been made.

I first talked to her seven years ago, and back then she was fine, but while in school she was handed over to psychiatrists, followed by years of mental distress and physical ill health. I strongly suspect that this handover was a major cause of what later went wrong, along with a neglectful home environment. And that world is where she still dwells.

We just went for an evening walk, and she talked of ideas for achieving physical immortality and a benign universe, and I was reminded again of my wish that someone from the futurist or tech world, someone with middle-class means or greater, would 'adopt' her or sponsor her or otherwise take her in. That would give her a real chance to heal and reach her potential.

I fear that I have not done her, or her situation, or its urgency, sufficient justice, out of a desire not to get subtle details wrong. She's only twenty, and she's extraordinary. I have the melancholy privilege of being the first to visit her world, but I hope there will be others soon, and that together we can uplift her to a better existence.

Thanks for doing this, Mitchell. I'm rooting for you and Tiana.

It seems that our current COVID-19 discourse is very much focused on the developed world. It seems that high temperatures are not as protective as hoped for and temperatures are going to go down in South America and South Africa (the South of the continent) in the next months. Those countries have a lot less slack to deal with crisis.

When people in those countries start buying up all food in preparation for quaranteen it already increases food prices a lot. Many people will starve. Others will riot to get food to live. We could end up with a handful of failed states by the end of the year.

Do you have a good sense of which ones? Is there something we can do about it? Perhaps a particularly impactful charity identified by the EA people?

Can we profit from this knowledge? Wei_Dai bought an index put at the right moment. Perhaps shorting foreign stocks or currency? Maybe we could make back what we donate. gives data. But I don't have much further insight.

Mali for example went yesterday from 4 cases to 11.

It seems to me like a lot of it is already priced in for example the Euro to Brazilian Real exchange went in six weeks from 4.63 to 5.63 and the Brazilian stock-market. There might still be possibilities but I don't know enough about the market.

A while ago ago I asked LW about their take on Aubrey's prediction (forecasting a massive and sudden shift in public awareness on the feasibility of anti-aging technology) and about how, if it is accurate, one could make money out of knowing that.

I got several answers on the first question (summary: people aren't buying it) but none on the second. Is there any way to bet on this? I know very little about pubic trading, but it feels like such a big event ought to affect the stock market somehow. Am I wrong, or is it too difficult to estimate how?

The market participants that benefit from it will be anti-aging startups who will have more access to late-stage rounds of funding and the venture funds (Laura Demings fund and Kizoo Ventures) that invest into them. All of them aren't publically traded.

Won't there be more indirect consequences? If we suddenly expect people to live longer, even if it the technology will take a while to be around, wouldn't that benefit some companies relative to others?

Public awareness of the feasibility of anti-aging technology is not the same thing as actual life-expectancy as far as serious people estimate it.

If you belief that serious estimates of actual life-expectancy change, I guess there might be some financial products that securitize pension obligations that are tradable.

Is there a reason why it wouldn't be strongly correlated?

Your "serious" modifier sounds to me like you're envisioning the consensus among masses to change while smart people are more sober. I was largely assuming that, in the worlds where Aubrey's prediction is true, actual life expectancy does, in fact, increase along with the awareness shift. Note that it's expectancy rather than actual life span.

Pensions might be a good pointer.

Serious here means the data-driven models that are currently used for pricing. If you look on long-term prices of properties that are effected by climate change I don't think there's are strongly affected by changes in public opinion.

[-][anonymous]1y 1

Hi everyone, I'm from Italy. I've discovered this site searching for zettelkasten guides, but I've got curious and started reading sequences when I saw it was mentioned by Anders Sandberg.

I'm studying law, but I am also fond of philosophy and literature.

A question about romantic relationships: Let's say currently I think that a girl needs to have a certain level of smartness in order for me to date her long-term/marry her. Suppose I then start dating a girl and decide that actually, being smart isn't as important as I thought because the girl makes up for it in other ways (e.g. being very pretty/pleasant/submissive). I think this kind of change of mind is legitimate in some cases (e.g. because I got better at figuring out what I value in a woman) and illegitimate in other cases (e.g. because the girl I'm dating managed to seduce me and mess up my introspection). My question is, is this distinction real, and if so, is there any way for me to tell which situation I am in (legitimate vs illegitimate change of mind) once I've already begun dating the girl?

This problem arises because I think dating is important for introspecting about what I want, i.e. there is a point after which I can no longer obtain new information about my preferences via thinking alone. The problem is that dating is also potentially a values-corrupting process, i.e. dating someone who doesn't meet certain criteria I think I might have means that I can get trapped in a relationship.

I'm also curious to hear if people think this isn't a big problem (and if so, why).

The best way to do that kind of introspection is to not do it alone but with trusted friends. It does take a good friendship to have these kinds of conversations but having a trusted outside perspective is key.

Lewak et al (1985) studied 81 couples and found no correlation between IQ and marital satisfation.

And, well, everything in life is potentially value-corrupting, or value-improving, depending on whether you judge from your past self's or present self's point of view. I think the more experience you have in dating, the better judgement you can make about what makes you happy. And if a girl seduced you with great sex, that's a predictor of a good relationship, don't see anything illegitimate about that. There are known failure modes in relationships: you don't want to end up with an abuser, an alcoholic or a drug addict. If you're not in one of these, it's probably fine. From personal experience, I married a man with a lower IQ, and I'm happy.

Do you have prior positions on relationships that you don't want to get corrupted through the dating process, or something else? Intelligence beyond your cone of tolerance is usually a trait that people pursue because they think it's "ethical", not because they're genuinely attracted to it.

Do you have prior positions on relationships that you don’t want to get corrupted through the dating process, or something else?

I think that's one way of putting it. I'm fine with my prior positions on relationships changing because of better introspection (aided by dating), but not fine with my prior positions changing because they are getting corrupted.

Intelligence beyond your cone of tolerance is usually a trait that people pursue because they think it’s “ethical”

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Could you try re-stating this in different words?

I saw there is a Coronavirus tag now. Is there some way to use this tag to not see any post related to the topic? Because I only managed to go to the page with only these posts, and I think pretty much all the value of such a tag is in filtering. I mean, if I want to see many posts with coronavirus news or advice, I can just look at the front page, I don't need a tag.

Yeah, that's the feature we are currently working on. I hope we can ship it next week.

I like the divider dots that have appeared in the edit options

I think they've been there for more than 1.5 years. They do however only appear in the post-editor, and not the comment editor.