I often have the experience of being in the middle of a discussion and wanting to reference some simple but important idea / point, but there doesn't exist any such thing. Often my reaction is "if only there was time to write an LW post that I can then link to in the future". So far I've just been letting these ideas be forgotten, because it would be Yet Another Thing To Keep Track Of. I'm now going to experiment with making subcomments here simply collecting the ideas; perhaps other people will write posts about them at some point, if they're even understandable.
Let's say you're trying to develop some novel true knowledge about some domain. For example, maybe you want to figure out what the effect of a maximum wage law would be, or whether AI takeoff will be continuous or discontinuous. How likely is it that your answer to the question is actually true?
(I'm assuming here that you can't defer to other people on this claim; nobody else in the world has tried to seriously tackle the question, though they may have tackled somewhat related things, or developed more basic knowledge in the domain that you can leverage.)
F... (read more)
At any given time, is there anything especially wrong about using citation count (weighted by the weightings of other paper's citation count) as a rough proxy for "what are the most important papers, and/or best authors, weighted?"
My sense is the thing that's bad about this is that it creates an easy goodhart metric. I can imagine worlds where it's already so thoroughly goodharted that it doesn't signal anything anymore. If that's the case, can you get around that by grounding it out in some number of trusted authors, and purging obviously fraudulent autho... (read more)
Nod. "positive vs disagreement citation" is an important angle I wasn't thinking about.
On October 26, 2020, I submitted a security vulnerability report to the Facebook bug bounty program. The submission was rejected as a duplicate. As of today (April 14), it is still not fixed. I just resubmitted, since it seems to have fallen through the cracks or something. However, I consider all my responsible disclosure responsibilities to be discharged.
Once an Oculus Quest or Oculus Quest 2 is logged in to a Facebook account, its login can't be revoked. There is login-token revocation UI in Facebook's Settings>Security and Login menu, but changing t... (read more)
I'm posting here (cross-posted with my FB wall and Twitter) mostly to vent about it, and to warn people that sharing VR headsets has infosec implications they may not have been aware of. I don't think this comment will have much effect on Facebook's actions.
Life is quined matter.
It's sorta non-obvious. I kinda poked at this for hours, at some point? It took a while for me to settle on a model I liked for this.
Here's the full notes for what I came up with.
Physics: Feels close. Hm... biological life as a self-compiler on a physics substrate?
DNA or gametes seem really close to a "quine" for this: plug it into the right part of an active compiler, and it outputs many instances of its own code + a customized compiler. Although it crashes/gets rejected if the compiler is too different (ex: plant & animal have different regulatory m... (read more)
An unusual mathematical-leaning definition of a living thing.
(Or, to be more precise... a potential living immortal? A replicon? Whatever.)
A self-replicating physical entity with...
The coronavirus response has been so bad I no longer doubt many Sci-Fi premises. Before I often said to myself "you have tech that can do X and you still have problem Y. Ridiculous!". But apparently, we can make a coronavirus vaccine in two days. But we still had over a year of lockdowns and millions of deaths. One in six hundred people in the USA have died of the virus but we blocked a vaccine because one in a million people who take it MIGHT develop treatable blood clots.
My standards for 'realistic' dysfunction have gotten a lot lower.
On the flipside: WTF Star Trek?
I once read a comment somewhere that Paul Graham is not a rationalist, though he does share some traits, like writing a lot of self-improvement advice. From what I can tell Paul himself considers himself a builder; a builder of code and companies. But there is some overlap with rationalists, Paul Graham mostly builds information systems. (He is somewhat disdainful of hardware, which I consider the real engineering, but I am a physicist.) Rationalists are focussed on improving their own intelligence and other forms of intelligence. So both spend a great dea... (read more)
This is a really good comment. If you care to know more about his thinking, he has a book called, "hackers and painters" which I think sums up very well his views. But yes, it's a redistribution of wealth and power from strong people and bureaucrats to what he calls "nerds" as in people who know technology deeply and actually build things.
The idea of instrumental rationality touches at the edges of builders, and you need to if you ever so desire to act in the world.
Years after I first thought of it, I continue to think that this chain reaction is the core of what it means for something to be an agent, AND why agency is such a big deal, the sort of thing we should expect to arise and outcompete non-agents. Here's a diagram:
Roughly, plans are necessary for generalizing to new situations, for being competitive in contests for which there hasn't been time for natural selection to do lots of optimization of policies. But plans are only as good as the knowledge they are based on. And knowledge doesn't come a priori; it nee... (read more)
Yep! I prefer my terminology but it's basically the same concept I think.
An aircraft carrier costs $13 billion. An anti-ship cruise missile costs $2 million. Few surface warships survived the first day of the Singularity War.
A cruise missile is a complex machine, guided by sensitive electronics. Semiconductor fabricators are even more complex machines. Few semiconductor factories survived the nuclear retaliation.
A B-52 Stratofortress is a simpler machine.
Robert (Bob) Manchester's bomber flew west from Boeing Field. The crew disassembled their landing gear and dropped it in the Pacific Ocean. The staticy voice of Mark Campbell, ... (read more)
In response to my earlier post about Myers-Briggs (where I suggested a more detailed notation for more nuanced communication about personality types), it was pointed out that there is some correlation between the four traits being measured, and this makes the system communicate less information on average than it otherwise would (The traditional notation would communicate 4 bits, my version would communicate ~9.2 if there was no correlation).
I do object to the characterization that it all measures "the same thing", since none of the traits perfectly predic... (read more)
I have a potential category of questions that could fit on Metaculus and work as an "AGI fire alarm." The questions are of the format "After an AI system achieves task x, how many years will it take for world output to double?"
I don't mind jumping through a few extra hoops in order to access a website idiosyncratically. But sometimes the process feels overly sectarian.
I was trying out the Tencent cloud without using Tor when I got a CAPTCHA. Sure, whatever. They verified my email. That's normal. Then they wanted to verify my phone number. Okay. (Using phone numbers to verify accounts is standard practice for Chinese companies.) Then they required me to verify my credit card with a nominal $1 charge. I can understand their wanting to take extra care when it comes to processing in... (read more)
I do mind, after having spent several minutes annotating images of self-driving cards
I think it's worst when you have edge cases like the Google Captcha that shows 16 tiles and you have to choose which tiles contain the item they are looking for and some of the tails contain it only a little bit on the edge.
I think you can steelman Ben Goertzel-style worries about near-term amoral applications of AI being bad "formative influences" on AGI, but mostly under a continuous takeoff model of the world. If AGI is a continuous development of earlier systems, then maybe it shares some datasets and learned models with earlier AI projects, and definitely it shares the broader ecosystems of tools, dataset-gathering methodologies, model-evaluating paradigms, and institutional knowledge on the part of the developers. If the ecosystem in which this thing "grows up" is one t... (read more)
Random thought: if you have a big enough compost pile, would it spontaneously break into flames due to the heat generated by the bioprocesses that occur therein? If so, at what size would it burst into flames? Surely it could happen before it reached the size of the sun, even ignoring gravitational effects.
(Just pondering out loud, not really asking unless someone really wants to answer)
For a value of "break into flames" that matches damp and poorly-oxygenated fuel, yep! This case in Australia is illustrative; you tend to get a lot of nasty smoke rather than a nice campfire vibe.
You'd have to mismanage a household-scale compost pile very badly before it spontaneously combusts, but it's a known and common failure mode for commercial-scale operations above a few tons. Specific details about when depend a great deal on the composition of the pile; with nitrate filmstock it was possible with as little as a few grams.
The child-in-a-pond thought experiment is weird, because people use it in ways it clearly doesn't work for (especially in arguing for effective altruism).
For example, it observes you would be altruistic in a near situation with the drowning child, and then assumes that you ought to care about people far away as much as people near you. People usually don't really argue against this second step, but very much could. But the thought experiment makes no justification for that extension of the circle of moral concern, it just assumes it.
Similarly, it says noth... (read more)
Right, my gripe with the argument is that these first two assumptions are almost always unstated, and most of the time when people use the argument, they "trick" people into agreeing with assumption one.
(for the record, I think the first premise is true)
Last month, I wrote a post here titled "Even Inflationary Currencies Should Have Fixed Total Supply", which wasn't well-received. One problem was that the point I argued for wasn't exactly the same as what the title stated: I supported both currencies with fixed total supply, and currencies that instead choose to scale supply proportional to the amount of value in the currency's ecosystem, and many people got confused and put off by the disparity between the title and my actual thesis; indeed, one of the most common critiques in the comments was a reiterat... (read more)
Productivity app idea:
You set a schedule of times you want to be productive, and a frequency, and then it rings you at random (but with that frequency) to bug you with questions like:
--Are you "in the zone" right now? [Y] [N]
--(if no) What are you doing? [text box] [common answer] [ common answer] [...]
The point is to cheaply collect data about when you are most productive and what your main time-wasters are, while also giving you gentle nudges to stop procrastinating/browsing/daydream/doomscrolling/working-sluggishly, take a deep breath, reconsider your priorities for the day, and start afresh.
Probably wouldn't work for most people but it feels like it might for me.
I'm betting that a little buzz on my phone which I can dismiss with a tap won't kill my focus. We'll see.
More surprised than perhaps I should be that people take up tags right away after creating them. I created the IFS tag just a few days ago after noticing it didn't exist but wanted to link it and I added the first ~5 posts that came up if I searched for "internal family systems". It now has quite a few more posts tagged with it that I didn't add. Super cool to see the system working in real time!
I learned to type in Dvorak nearly a decade ago, and any time I have typed on a device that supports it, I have used it since then. I don't know if it actually is any better than QWERTY, but I do notice that I enjoy the way it feels to type in Dvorak; the rhythm and shape of the dance my fingers make is noticeably different from when I type on QWERTY.
Even if Dvorak itself turns out not to be better in some way (fx. speed, avoiding injury, facilitation of mental processes) than QWERTY, it is incredibly unlikely that there does not exist some configuration of keys that is provably superior to QWERTY.
Also, hot take: Colemak is the coward's Dvorak.