Open Thread October 2018

by Michaël Trazzi1 min read2nd Oct 201821 comments


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(Accidentally deleted comment; the main idea was that friendships come from growing up together, or doing some growth activity together, and that's why it's harder to get friends as an adult unless you're taking some kind of class.)

I was overcomplicating things. The answer is much simpler: friendships are the result of a shared stressor, and they last as long as the stressor lasts. Yesterday I was standing in line to the US embassy, it was moving kinda slow with lots of delays. So I just started talking to the people next to me, and soon the whole queue was chatting with each other. Then we all in turn got our visa interviews and left the embassy without saying a word to each other. A microcosm of school friendships. That's probably also why many couples break up when children leave the home.

So the problem here is that obviously there will be huge numbers of counter-exceptions to your proposed rule. Essentially while your rule probably has some predictive power - if you could passively observe thousands of humans interacting your rule might predict friendships better than chance - most likely there's a better rule. You might need invasive brain data-loggers to find it but such a rule probably exists.

There are most likely sequences of inputs that cause most human brains to become receptive to new friendships.

Or maybe it's a matter of logistics - you obviously can't really form friendships with people you only are in proximity with briefly.

Childhood, a certain fraction of your elementary school class will be the same individuals all the way to senior year of high school. Hence, more years in proximity = stronger friendships. College is much shorter duration. In many workplaces, the economics encourage frequent job switches (about every 1.5 - 4 years is what the rules of the game call for), making such lasting interactions less likely.

And then there's the fact that with limited cognitive resources, you can only maintain so many friendships and probably won't invest in a new one if your older ones are still active. Thus the probability of a friendship would be higher in childhood because you don't already have as many friends.


  1. What accomplishments are you celebrating from the last month?
  2. What are you reading?
  3. What reflections do you have for yourself or others from the last month?
  4. What have you tried out this month?

My answers:

  1. Some huge meditation progress including finding 5th jhana, and digging myself out of a crash. Writing more now and someone on the discord challenged me to write 20k words in a week so I will probably do that.
  2. Reading several books about meditation, breathing, morality, compassion and more.
  3. I made some useful discoveries by going over old notes. I would suggest others keep a book and regularly review their notes.
  4. Various types of meditation with different objects.

[Admin note]: Fixed some broken formatting, presumably caused by our editor.

I'm interested in collecting information on alternative platforms to facebook (that seem to offer some benefit).




If you know of others, especially though not necessarily with strong reasons for using them preferentially, I'd appreciate knowing!

I've heard of an app called Vent that may help your research

I'm not sure it's the kind of platform you're looking for, but there's also Discord.

Hey admins: The "ë" in "Michaël Trazzi" is weird, probably a bug in your handling of Unicode.

It looks just fine on both Less Wrong and GreaterWrong. (In both places, it correctly appears as U+00EB “Latin Small Letter E with Diaresis”.)

Perhaps it is a bug on your end? What platform / browser / version are you running?

Same issue here with the <a class="users-name" href="/users/mtrazzi">Michaël Trazzi</a> tag. The e in "ë" is larger than the "a" (here is a picture).

The bug seems to come from font-family: warnock-pro,Palatino,"Palatino Linotype","Palatino LT STD","Book Antiqua",Georgia,serif;" in .PostsPage-author (in <style data-jss="" data-meta="PostsPage">).

If I delete this font-family line, the font changes but the "ë" (and any other letter with accent) appears to have the correct size.

Ok, I think see the issue.

Less Wrong team: what seems to be going on is that you’re using TypeKit’s subsetting feature to specify a quite restrictive subset for the Warnock Pro font, which is excluding characters such as ‘ë’. Thus the copy of the font file that’s being served to visitors of Less Wrong doesn’t include that character.

As a result, ‘ë’ (and other characters with diacritical marks) is being rendered in one of the fallback fonts. Naturally, in the case of some of those fonts, the x-height and other metrics of the fallback font will differ from those of Warnock Pro, resulting in the visual glitch linked above.

This is easily fixed by specifying a less aggressive subsetting config in TypeKit for Warnock Pro.

So I have a question. I'm really stoked about the potential of AI. For a number of reasons, I think that robotics - using machine learning systems to run physical robots, and using the data from physically interacting with our world plus the revenue they earn - is the fastest and most certain way to make genuine forward progress in AI. The reasons have to do with the fact that modeling the immediate term physical world is something that you can get by far the greatest accuracy with, that a robotic system produces far cleaner data than any type of passive observer, and I think that higher level thought requires subsystems trained on lower level phenomena.

But if you look at job listings - I am a few months from finishing the OMSCS Master's in machine learning and have years of embedded systems experience - I rarely see postings for anyone working on these kinds of systems. Where can I get a job in the field?

Recent resurrection of an old post.

Your link seems to be broken.

I think that's a greaterwrong comment link. You can fix it by replacing the /comments/<id> with #<id>

Yes, this (incorrect translation of GW individual-comment-thread permalinks into LW links) is a bug that we should have fixed soon.

Thanks! :)

This should be fixed now, but Elo will need to edit and save his post for it to take effect. Here's the correct link:

blog link: Aenigma Mundi Rect

these posts are generated in part by mentally pushing towards what seems most true-and-important (usually with indirect links to reducing existential risk), then touching a thread of felt sense, and then trying to express that felt sense/model with as much adherence to the spirit as possible. in particular, clarity, organization, and literalness are sacrificed (even beyond a regrettably clumsy writing faculty); nonetheless interpretation and feedback is desired about what happens in you if you read or skim some stuff there.