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LW2.0 Update: Closed beta is underway, with several major bugs found and fixed. We're gradually expanding the invite list over the course of the beta, since in the early days we expect people to mostly be running into the same problems.
What's the expected utility of various activities/lessons for children (e.g., piano lessons, ballet class, sports, etc.)? My parents didn't have the time or money to deliberately cultivate these kinds of interests in me when I was a child, and I think at least partly as a result, I learned to program when I was around 10 years old (I had nothing to do but watch my dad program), and later had plenty of time to do things like learn about economics and cryptography, think about the nature of money, and solve puzzles about probabilities and decision theory. Looking for advice now, I can only find articles about whether to let your child quit a lesson/activity, but nothing about what kinds of lessons/activities are worth encouraging or starting in the first place. I'm curious what conclusions other LessWrong parents have come to, if anyone else has thought about this problem.
You're probably a special case. These days I interact with kids a lot. When they have nothing to do, the default activity is watching YouTube. If you take away all devices, the default activity is playing with toys. If you take away toys as well, the default activity is running around, being loud, breaking stuff, and being annoying. Some kids are naturally interested in something and will do it when left alone, but they are the minority.
That said, piano lessons are indeed horrible and useless for most kids who aren't naturally into it. I've known many people who envy me for being able to make music as an adult, even though they studied music as kids and I didn't! They say they were forced by parents, it turned them off music and they wish they could come back. A good friend of mine is a proficient drummer who took piano lessons as a kid, and to this day he avoids the piano like fire.
I think the best activities to choose are those that help you in many ways. For example, judo can make you fit and unafraid of people. Some kind of math or programming goes a long way to make you employable, though we haven't figured out the best way to teach it. Verbally focused activities also seem surprisingly useful, though they feel like games. And of course if the kid is really into something, they should be able to study it even if it's impractical, otherwise you'll forever be the horrible parent who took away their dream.
Father of four, teach a programming class to some kids in my area, attend many social gatherings full of kids.
YMMV, but I haven't seen much progress happening as a result of boredom. As a child I was in this situation and spent most of my time pointlessly reading fiction. Got serious about math and programming only due to having amazing teachers in high school (actual math and CS researchers).
On the other hand, if you're asking about your kids, maybe they'll turn out like you and get interested in stuff naturally :-)
At preschool level it's games like broken telephone or I Spy. At school level I'm not sure, but I feel that my verbal abilities are low because I never did anything like debating in my teens.
Well, no need to speculate about a future Malthusian dystopia, since it appears to be already here, psychologically!
Allow me to refer you to this comment of mine, and the ensuing discussion, on Sarah Constantin's blog. Artistic pursuits may be "upper-class", but they are not unproductive. They serve to keep the upper classes practiced in physical cognition, counteracting a tendency to shift entirely into social modes of cognition (gossip and status-signaling games) as one ascends the social ladder. This is very important for the quality of decisions they make as leaders of society. (See here for more on the distinction between physical and social cognition -- which, incidentally, I myself would identify with the famous "near" and "far" modes respectively, though not everybody goes along with that.)
The fact that there has been such a decline in interest and participation in high culture among the upper classes is very worrying, and something I would not particularly hesitate to link to the intellectual decadence t... (read more)
I'm in the process of reading Bruce Bueno de Mesquita book Predictioneer's Game. It's about himself using big computer models based on game theory to predict political events.
How many people besides Bruce Bueno de Mesquita use models like this? Is there open source software to run such models?
Wireheading bomb – a putative mechanism to stop dangerous AI.
If a reward function of an AI is presented openly in its source code, any attempt to self-improve by AI will result in its own immediate wireheading, as when it reaches its own source code, it will become able to modify it in order to get maximum reward. So we could create an AI architecture in the way that as soon as it gets access to its own source code, it stops, and use it as a way of reaching passive safety and self-limited self-improving capacity.
We also could do exactly opposite, and put... (read more)
The first time I read this poll...
Happy thought of the day: If the simulation argument is correct, and you find that you are not a p-zombie, it means some super civilization thinks you're doing something important/interesting enough to expend the resources simulating you.
"I think therefore I am a player character."
There have been a couple of community building projects put forward that got me thinking about this, and then over in the post about ways to make the community better it was suggested that some people might want to get to know other lesswrongers through D&D*. I love that idea. Tabletop RPGs are the fastest way I know of to build a connection with someone that doesn't leave scars. While the concept of an 'expert' in those games is sort of goofy, I figure I've got plenty of experience and interest in them to run something or organize a LessWrong RPG grou... (read more)
How many teams are working on AGI in the world now? Do we have a list? (I asked already on facebook, but maybe I could get more input here.) https://www.facebook.com/groups/aisafety/permalink/849566641874118/
I've thought a bit about writing a summary/review of Christopher Achen & Larry Bartels's recent book Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government for LW, since I expect it'd interest quite a few people here. But I'm fairly sure I won't bother now; a week ago a decent summary appeared on the blog of a couple of FRI researchers.
How will internet satellites affect China? Currently SpaceX and other want to launch satellites to make satellite internet access radically cheaper.
If the Chinese buy their internet access from SpaceX instead of Chinese internet providers, the might have more trouble with blocking websites.
Are there mechanisms that will allow China to keep the ability to censor with their firewall in that scenario?
Does the PLOS study https://mjambon.github.io/vim-vs-emacs/ argue convincingly that emacs is better than Vim?
How do we reason rationally about whether on of the editors is better?
I've been thinking about the unexpected hanging paradox again.
Until today, I always thought the right solution was given by Fitch in "A Goedelized Formulation of the Prediction Paradox". Let's define a sentence in Peano arithmetic called Surprise, which will refer to five other sentences Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri. Surprise will be defined recursively using the diagonal lemma, as a conjunction of these sentences:
1) Exactly one of Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri is true.
2) If Mon is true then "Surprise implies Mon" isn't provable.
3) If Tue is true... (read more)
How do you move from a superficial relationship (I see you at work) to a more meaningful relationship? (friends)?