This thread is for asking any questions that might seem obvious, tangential, silly or what-have-you. Don't be shy, everyone has holes in their knowledge, though the fewer and the smaller we can make them, the better.
Please be respectful of other people's admitting ignorance and don't mock them for it, as they're doing a noble thing.
To any future monthly posters of SQ threads, please remember to add the "stupid_questions" tag.
How long before driverless cars will be for sale in the U.S. outside of big cities? I'm thinking of getting a new car but wondering if I should wait or lease because of the possibility of getting a driverless car in a few years.
Both sources are from 2015, the first one from january, second from last week. I think it unlikely (<10%) that they are going to overperfom by more than a single year, and very likely (70%) to take at least a year longer.
Remember, its not only a technological problem, but the inertia in a vast system. Insurance+lawmakers etc need to finish their side as well.
Elon Musk, someone who can reasonably called domain expert on innovative car systems, gives the same range:
Note that I only looked up Musks opinion after I wrote the first part.
Is there any good nonfiction books on cryonics? All I could find is this one http://www.amazon.com/Freezing-People-Not-Easy-Adventures/dp/0762792957/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441303378&sr=8-1&keywords=cryonics . I started to read it but it is more historical and autobiographical. Also, do you think there would be demand for a well researched book on cryonics for general audiences?
What is the best way to handle police interaction in countries you don't live in? In the US it is generally considered pretty wise to exercise your right to be silent extensively. Now obviously in some really corrupt places your just going to have to go along with whatever they want. But what about the different countries in Europe? My instinct would be to respectfully tell the officer I would like to call my embassy (and have that number with me!).
Can we use the stock market itself as a useful prediction market in any way? For example can we get useful information about how long Moore's law type growth in microprocessors will likely continue based on how much the market values certain companies? Or are there too many auxiliary factors, so that reverse engineering anything interesting from price information is hopeless?
Has anyone in the world published their 23andme data openly?
My mum says eating raw oats is unhealthy. I like to sprinkle half a cup of raw oats on yoghurt. I looked it up and apparently raw oats can cause malabsorption of nutrients due to some chemicals that grains tend to have. I'm skeptical considering lots of nutritional research is sketchy. Should I avoid raw oats?
Is it useful to think about the difference between 'physically possible' i.e. obeying the laws of physics and possible to engineer? In computer science there is something like this. You have things which can't be done on a turing machine (e.g. halting problem). But then you have things which we may never be able to arrange the atoms in the universe to do, such as large cases of NP-hard problems.
So what about in physics? I have seen the argument that if we set loose a paperclip maximizer on earth, then we might doom the rest of the observable universe. ... (read more)
Are index funds still a good idea if you don't live in the US? In Australia for example, due to differences in things like capital gains tax rates, the existence of franking credits, tax exempt options like your main residence, and whatever else I'm not aware of, I'm not sure.
What's a minimalist, free, personal finance software to keep track of what I own, possess, am in invested in, spending my time and budgeting?
Is the "Spark of Intelligence" in somebody's eyes a meaningless phrase, or a description of an actual phenomenon?
(Personally I'm inclined to say it's an actual phenomenon; I have face blindness and have observed it, which before I made the connection to the literary phrase, described to others as a "light behind the eyes", with a thus-far 100% correlation with high intelligence.)
Should I put my elephants in RAID 5, or should I just go with RAID 0, since they never forget?
Could we ever get evidence of a "read-only" soul? I'm imagining something that translates biochemical reactions associated with emotions into "actual" emotions. Don't get me wrong, I still consider myself an atheist, but it seems to me that how strongly one believes in a soul that is only affected by physical reality is based purely on their prior probability.
What are the 'best buys' in warm fuzzies?
I want to satisfice my urges for the least cost. Perhaps there's a kind of GiveWell for warm fuzzies out there.
I feel like 'purchasing status' is part of my warm fuzzies calculation, which complicates things.
Perhaps buying coffees for people in line around me?
How does a rationalist determine the value of helping other people they don't know, i.e. why is QALY something worth maximizing? Is it an efficient and sustainable way of improving one's own quality of life because (a) humans have empathy built-in and (b) philanthropy is a socially rewarded meme?
Is a major advantage of capitalism that it gives people who are naturally born sociopaths (but highly functioning such that they'll gain considerable influence over people) something do in a game that has at least some rules.
Yes, it's Adam Smith's invisible hand at work creating incentives for highly self-interested people to take actions which better society.
In a society where government controls everything important, all ambitious sociopaths will aim for government functions.
I'm ashamed to ask but...is there a way I can do machine learning competitions on Kaggle...by just copy pasting code?
What would you expect to get out of copy-pasting code to do a ML competition?
Which probability do you assign to the big bang having actually occurred? After all, we are extrapolating from a single point in time and only in the visible part of the universe in which we see things flying apart. Perhaps the movement is much more complex than that (e.g. a pulsing motion).
In the U.S., what happens to people who cannot survive without assistance (like people without the dexterity to feed themselves, or even people without the ability to keep a job or fill out paperwork) who do not have a family or the means to trade for help? What, physically, keeps them from starving to death?
What is best in life?