Shortform Content [Beta]

lsusr's Shortform

There are the rules I use when I'm writing.

  • Write in the positive. Never draw attention to someone else for being wrong. If someone else is wrong then ignore them and state what is true. If someone else is unclear then ignore them entirely. Do not insult others. Do write with contempt. Look for why things are true.
  • Write the minimum necessary to prove a point. Do not preempt counterarguments.
  • Contaminate your ideas with concepts from distant domains.
  • Do not write about topics because they are prestigious. Prestige measures what other people care about. Wr
... (read more)
John_Maxwell's Shortform

Related to the discussion of weighted voting allegedly facilitating groupthink earlier

An interesting litmus test for groupthink might be: What has LW changed its collective mind about? By that I mean: the topic was discussed on LW, there was a particular position on the issue that was held by the majority of users, new evidence/arguments came in, and now there's a different position which is held by the majority of users. I'm a bit concerned that nothing comes to mind which mee... (read more)

Showing 3 of 5 replies (Click to show all)
  • Replication Crisis definitely hit hard. Lots of stuff there. 
  • People's timelines have changed quite a bit. People used to plan for 50-60 years, now it's much more like 20-30 years. 
  • Bayesianism is much less the basis for stuff. I think this one is still propagating, but I think Embedded Agency had a big effect here, at least on me and a bunch of other people I know.
  • There were a lot of shifts on the spectrum "just do explicit reasoning for everything" to "figuring out how to interface with your System 1 sure seems really important". I think Eliezer
... (read more)
10steve21528hI feel like there was a mass community movement (not unanimous but substantial) from AGI-scenarios-that-Eliezer-has-in-mind to AGI-scenarios-that-Paul-has-in-mind, e.g. more belief in slow takeoff + multipolar + "What Failure Looks Like" and less belief in fast takeoff + decisive strategic advantage + recursive self-improvement + powerful agents coherently pursuing misaligned goals. This was mostly before my time, I could be misreading things, that's just my impression. :-)
6Raemon8hSeems true. Notably, if I have my cynical hat on (and I think I probably do?) it depended on having Paul say a bunch of things about it, and Paul had previously also established himself as a local "thinker celebrity". If I have my somewhat less cynical hat on, I do honestly think our status gradients do a decent job of tracking "person who is actually good at figuring things out", such that "local thinker celebrity endorses a thing" is not just crazy, it's a somewhat reasonable filtering mechanism. But I do think the effect is real.
TurnTrout's shortform feed

Amazing how much I can get done if I chant to myself "I'm just writing two pages of garbage abstract/introduction/related work, it's garbage, it's just garbage, don't fix it rn, keep typing"

John_Maxwell's Shortform

Lately I've been examining the activities I do to relax and how they might be improved. If you haven't given much thought to this topic, Meaningful Rest is excellent background reading.

An interesting source of info for me has been lsusr's posts on cutting out junk media: 1, 2, 3. Although I find lsusr's posts inspiring, I'm not sure I want to pursue the same approach myself. lsusr says: "The harder a medium is to consume (or create, as applicable) the smarter it makes me." They responded to this by cutting all the easy-to-consume media out of their lif... (read more)

MikkW's Shortform

Prediction: 80% chance that Starship SN10 lands in one piece tomorrow / whenever its first flight is

This happened, so this prediction comes in at 80% correct, although about 10 minutes after landing, the rocket blew up.

Viliam's Shortform

I was thinking about which possible parts of economy are effectively destroyed in our society by having an income tax (as an analogy to Paul Graham's article saying that wealth tax would effectively destroy startups; previous shortform). And I think I have an answer; but I would like an economist to verify it.

Where I live, the marginal income tax is about 50%. Well, only a part of it is literally called "tax", the other parts are called health insurance and social insurance... which in my opinion is misleading, because it's not like the... (read more)

I think this is insightful, but my guess is that a society without income tax would not in fact be nearly as much better at providing opportunities for people who are kinda-OK-ish at things as you conjecture, and I further guess that more people than you think are at least 2x better at something than someone they can trade with, and furthermore (though it doesn't make much difference to the argument here) I think something's fundamentally iffy about this whole model of when people are able to find work.

Second point first. For there to be opportunities for ... (read more)

So8res' Shortform Feed

Crossposted from Twitter, might not engage much with comments on LW and I may or may not moderate replies.

PSA: In my book, everyone has an unlimited number of "I don't understand", "plz say that again in different words", "plz expand upon that", and "plz pause while I absorb that" tokens.

Possession of an unlimited number of such tokens (& their ilk) is one of your sacred rights as a fellow curious mind seeking to understand the world around you. Specifically, no amount of well-intentioned requests for clarification or thinking time will cause me to thi... (read more)

Samuel-Buteau's Shortform

#Security, perhaps a bad crypto analogy, and mesa-optimizers (or generally using basic mechanistic archetypes to analyze arbitrary neural nets)

So why do we think that a blockchain is secure against attacks? because it is challenging/expensive to bypass the protocol.

So why do we think a behaviorally successful agent can't just be a random number generator? because it is challenging/expensive to solve reality.

what part of the system actually "does the work"? what pays the debt? what bears the load? I don't know what the right concept is. I feel security prot... (read more)

Samuel-Buteau's Shortform

The mechanistic definition of mesa-optimizers is hard to "statistically analyse" and the generalization properties of a model seem to be how one would actually look for mesa-optimizers

the paper defines mesa-optimizers mechanistically as some process that searches over possibilities and has an internal objective.

[aside, imagine that the model "the source code" is written in a formal language (including the weights of the neural network if needed), and imagine that some other process runs over this source code and does "static analysis" (e.g. type checking, ... (read more)

Toon Alfrink's sketchpad

I may have finally figured out the use of crypto.

It's not currency per se, but the essential use case of crypto seems to be to automate the third party.

This "third party" can be many things. It can be a securities dealer or broker. It can be a notary. It can be a judge that is practicing contract law.

Whenever there is a third party that somehow allows coordination to take place, and the particular case doesn't require anything but mechanical work, then crypto can do it better.

A securities dealer or broker doesn't beat a protocol that matches buyers and sel... (read more)

MikkW's Shortform

Myers-Briggs is often criticized, but my understanding is that each of the four categories tracked are variables that actually do vary from person to person- just the traits are distributed on a unimodal bell curve, instead of being binarily distributed (it is continuous, instead of being a thing that is either-or). But just like how height is a real thing, that matters and is continuous, the Myers-Briggs categories are real things that matter; just as there are short people and tall people, there are extroverts and introverts, and there are thinkers and f... (read more)

3G Gordon Worley III2dThis is fair, but I think the more common objection to MB is that its dimensions are too correlated and thus measuring the same thing. The Big-5/OCEAN model is explicitly designed to not have this problem.

I don't think "the same thing" is exactly right, since they are not perfectly correlated, but that is an objection

ejacob's Shortform

I got a text from a neighbor asking to borrow a bathroom scale. When I gave it to him, he immediately weighed himself and was relieved that he was overweight enough to qualify for a covid-19 vaccine he had just booked. As a result of our prioritization scheme, we've created a negative-sum contest where we encourage an already overweight population to maintain or increase their weight for a chance at an earlier vaccination.

This country is frustrating sometimes.

Jimrandomh's Shortform

There is a rumor of RSA being broken. By which I mean something that looks like a strange hoax made it to the front on Hacker News. Someone uploaded a publicly available WIP paper on integer factorization algorithms by Claus Peter Schnorr to the Cryptology ePrint Archive, with the abstract modified to insert the text "This destroyes the RSA cryptosystem." (Misspelled.)

Today is not the Recurring Internet Security Meltdown Day. That happens once every month or two, but not today in particular.

But this is a good opportunity to point out a non-obvious best pra... (read more)

just_browsing's Shortform

Problem: I compulsively pick at scabs. Often I do it even though I don't want to pick at it because I know I'll be worse off. (Scab will bleed, it'll just reform anyway, and I'll have to deal with the unhealed skin for longer.) Telling myself "don't pick" doesn't work, I get very distracted by the presence of the scab and HAVE TO pick. 

Solution: put a band-aid over the scab. Blocking the scab makes picking more difficult. More crucially, the adhesive of the bandaid gives me a mildly ticklish sensation which masks the sensation that a pickable scab is ... (read more)

Search "pimple patches" at your retailer of choice. They are skin-safe stickers, often clear or beige, sometimes with some generic "good for the skin" additives. They serve the bandage's function of sticking over a small area of skin that you want to block your hands from, while using a milder adhesive and looking almost invisible on the face. 

Douglas_Knight's Shortform

Recently I've run across several people offhandedly offering disclaimers that they've never personally checked that the earth is round. I've never thought to check either, but a moment's reflection reveals that I've traveled far enough, both north-south and east-west that the curvature is obvious

Time zones are a measure of the curvature of the earth. When I travel from New York to California, I know that noon has changed, trusting only my wristwatch. In fact, it was pretty clear to my circadian rhythm. Or just make a phone call to someone you trust ... (read more)

johnswentworth's Shortform

I had a shortform post pointing out the recent big jump in new businesses in the US, and Gwern replied:

How sure are you that the composition is interesting? How many of these are just quick mask-makers or sanitizer-makers, or just replacing restaurants that have now gone out of business? (ie very low-value-added companies, of the 'making fast food in a stall in a Third World country' sort of 'startup', which make essentially no or negative long-term contributions).

This was a good question in context, but I disagree with Gwern's model of where-progress-come... (read more)

The pandemic also has the effect of showing the kind of business ideas people try. It pushes a lot of innovation in food delivery. Some of the pandemic driver innovation will become worthless once the pandemic is over but a few good ideas likely survive and the old ideas of the businesses that went out of business are still around.

TurnTrout's shortform feed

I'd like to see research exploring the relevance of intragenomic conflict to AI alignment research. Intragenomic conflict constitutes an in-the-wild example of misalignment, where conflict arises "within an agent" even though the agent's genes have strong instrumental incentives to work together (they share the same body). 

Borasko's Shortform

At the start of this year I stopped playing video games except when in social situations. My hope for doing this was I would be able to study more without the distraction, and sometimes playing videogames encourages behavior that lead me to be more reclusive than I think is healthy for me.

This worked fine for the first two months, however the last two days have been really rough on my mental state. I found myself breaking down and playing video games last weekend. I was bummed. I planned to go a full year without doing that. But considering I am still aliv... (read more)

abergal's Shortform

I think it would be kind of cool if LessWrong had built-in support for newsletters. I would love to see more newsletters about various tech developments, etc. from LessWrongers.

First step can be an option to subscribe to sequences

Eli's shortform feed

Is there a standard article on what "the critical risk period" is?

I thought I remembered an arbital post, but I can't seem to find it.

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