Shortform Content

You mean, in that you can simply prompt for a reasonable non-infinite performance and get said outcome?

If you or a partner have ever been pregnant and done research on what is helpful and harmful, feel free to link it here and I will add it to the LessWrong pregnancy wiki page.

Exploring an idea that I'm tentatively calling "adversarial philosophical attacks"—there seem to be a subset of philosophical problems that come up (only?) under conditions where you are dealing with an adversary who knows your internal system of ethics. An example might be Pascal's mugger—the mugging can only work (assuming it works at all) if the mugger is able to give probabilities which break your discounting function. This requires either getting lucky with a large enough stated number, or having some idea of the victim's internal model. I feel like t... (read more)

I've been having a mysterious chronic health problem for the past several years and have learned a bunch of things that I wish I knew back when all of this started. I am thinking about how to write down what I've learned so others can benefit, but what's tricky here is that while the knowledge I've gained seems wide-ranging, it's also extremely specific to whatever my problems are, so I don't know how well it generalizes to other people. I welcome suggestions on how to make my efforts more useful to others. I also welcome pointers to books/articles/posts t... (read more)

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wackier stuff

mind elaborating? 

Agreed on epistemically questionable info. I've seen a range of canned advice including defeatist ones. Lynette's post was interesting because I think I also have something like POTS, but her post is very unlike something I would write myself, and I wouldn't have found the post useful when I was starting out (I actually probably even read the post when it first came out and probably didn't find it useful). I am puzzled at what this means for how generalizable people's experiences are. And thanks, I'd be interested in introductions to potential collaborators!
Agreed on the epistemic standards of random health groups, and yeah, I'd be interested in a Discord server. I am aware of this Facebook group [], if you use Facebook, though it's not very active.

This is my first comment on my own, i.e., Leon Lang's, shortform. It doesn't have any content, I just want to test the functionality.

Unfortunately not, as far as my interface goes, if you wanted to comment here [] .

Yes, it seems like both creating a "New Shortform" when hovering over my user name and commenting on "Leon Lang's Shortform" will do the exact same thing. But I can also reply to the comments.

This is my first short form. It doesn't have any content, I just want to test the functionality.

Question: anyone know of some work on the connection between anthropic paradoxes and illusionism? (I couldn't figure out how to make a "Question" type post.)

When are intuitions reliable? Compression, population ethics, etc.

Intuitions are the results of the brain doing compression. Generally the source data which was compressed is no longer associated with the intuition. Hence from an introspective perspective, intuitions all appear equally valid.

Taking a third-person perspective, we can ask what data was likely compressed to form a given intuition. A pro sports players intuition for that sport has a clearly reliable basis. Our moral intuitions on population ethics are formed via our experiences in every day si... (read more)

Shortforms will resume on Monday 3 October.

Multi-Step Fidelity causes Rapid Capability Gain

tl; dr Many examples of Rapid Capability Gain can be explained by a sudden jump in fidelity of a multi-step error-prone process. As the single step error rate is gradually lowered there is a sudden transition from a low fidelity to a high fidelity regime for the corresponding multistep process. Examples abound in cultural transmission, development economics, planning & consciousness in agent,  origin of life and more. 

Here are some values

Single step error rate10 step error rate100 step error rat
... (read more)

Math research as Game Design

Math in high school is primarily about memorizing and applying set recipes for problems. Math at (a serious) college level has a large proof-theoretic component: prove theorems not solve problems. Math research still involves solving problems, and proving theorems but it has a novel dimension: stating conjectures & theorem, and most importantly the search for the 'right' definitions.

If math in high school is like playing a game according to a set of rules, math in college is like devising optimal strategies within the confin... (read more)

Todays hot takes (or something)

  • There is nothing special about human level intelligence, unless you have imitation learning, in which case human level capabilities are very special.
  • General intelligence is not very efficient. Therefore there will not be any selection pressure for general intelligence as long as other options are available.
  • The no free lunch theorem only says that you can’t learn to predict noise.


I like that description of NFL!

If people read at 250 words/minute, and a page of text has 500 words, and we could get 10M people to read AI outputs full-time, we could have human-evaluation of about 100B pages of text per year, which actually feels surprisingly high

From 2000-2015, we can see that life expectancy has been growing faster the higher your income bracket (source is Vox citing JAMA).

There's an angle to be considered in which this is disturbingly inequitable. That problem is even worse when considering the international inequities in life expectancy. So let's fund malaria bednets and vaccine research to help bring down malaria deaths from 600,000/year to zero  - or maybe support a gene drive to eliminate it once and for all.

At the same time, this seems like hopeful news for longevity research. If we we... (read more)

I'm surprised by the difference. I'm curious whether the United States is special in that regard or whether the patterns also exist in European countries to the same extent.

I have a dragon in my garage. I mentioned it to my friend Jim, and of course he was sceptical. "Let's see this dragon!" he said. So I had him come round, and knocked on the garage door. The door opened and the dragon stepped out right there in front of us.

"That can't really be a dragon!" he says. It's a well-trained dragon, so I had it walk about and spread its wings, showing off its iridescent scaly hide.

"Yes, it looks like a dragon," he goes on, "but it can't really be a dragon. Dragons belch fire!"

The dragon raised an eyebrow, and discreetly belched som... (read more)

(This was inspired by Gabriel's post on Super Hard problems)

Trapdoor Functions and Prime Insights

One intuition is that solving hard problems is like finding the secret key to a trapdoor function. Funnily enough, the existence of trapdoor functions relies on conjectures implying  so the existence of barriers in the PvsNP conjecture is possibly no coincidence. I suspect that we will need to understand computational complexity perhaps intelligence & learning theory significantly better to be able to give convincingly quantify why some proble... (read more)


Q: Why do we call some things Natural - other things Artificial? Why do we associate 'Natural' with good, 'Artificial' with bad? Why do we react so vehemently to artificial objects/phenomena that are close to 'natural' objects/phenomena?

A: A mundane answer could be: natural is a word describing a thing, situation, person, phenomenon etc that was experienced in the ancestral environment - whatever way you understand with this - I don't necessarily mean people in caves.  Instead of ancestral environment think 'training set for the oldb... (read more)

I proposed a method for detecting cheating in chess; cross-posting it here in the hopes of maybe getting better feedback than on reddit:  

why aren't futures for long term nuclear power very valuable to coal ppl, who could encourage it and also buy futures for it

Shortform #139 Note to self: don't reschedule weekly meetup

Tonight's Virginia Rationalists: Norfolk meetup was great! We had a new individual join us who is familiar with ACX.

In retrospect, I think it was inconsiderate to suddenly reschedule the group's weekly meetup just because I couldn't attend. My co-organizer and others likely could have attended yesterday, and there were a few people who just couldn't make the rescheduled meetup but had included Wednesday nights in their routine as "meetup night". So, I intend to not reschedule the weekly social meet... (read more)

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