9eB1's Comments

In defense of deviousness

There are several sources of spaghetti code that are possible:

  1. A complex domain, as you mention, where a complex entangled mess is the most elegant possible solution.
  2. Resource constraints and temporal tradeoffs. Re-architecting the system after adding each additional functionality is too time expensive, even when a new architecture could simplify the overly complex design. Social forces like "the market" or "grant money" mean it makes more sense to build the feature in the poorly architected way.
  3. Performance optimizations. If you code needs to fit inside a 64kb ROM, you may be very limited in your ability to structure your code cleanly.
  4. Lack of requisite skill. A person may not be able to provide a simple design even though one exists, even given infinite time.

If I had to guess, number 2 is the largest source of spaghetti code that Less Wrong readers are likely to encounter. Number 4 may be account for the largest volume of spaghetti code worldwide, because of the incredible amounts of line-of-business code churned out by major outsourcing companies. But even that is a reflection of economic realities. Therefore, one could say that spaghetti code is primarily an economic problem.

Might humans not be the most intelligent animals?

Sorry, I could have been clearer. The empirical evidence I was referring to was the existence of human civilization, which should inform priors about the likelihood of other animals being as intelligent.

I think you are referring to a particular type of "scientific evidence" which is a subset of empirical evidence. It's reasonable to ask for that kind of proof, but sometimes it isn't available. I am reminded of Eliezer's classic post You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That Particular) Proof.

To be honest, I think the answer is that there is just no truth to this matter. David Chapman might say that "most intelligent" is nebulous, so while there can be some structure, there is no definite answer as to what constitutes "most intelligent." Even when you try to break down the concept further, to "raw innovative capacity" I think you face the same inherent nebulosity.

What will quantum computers be used for?

The database search thing is, according to my understanding, widely misinterpreted. As Wikipedia says:

Although the purpose of Grover's algorithm is usually described as "searching a database", it may be more accurate to describe it as "inverting a function". In fact since the oracle for an unstructured database requires at least linear complexity, the algorithm cannot be used for actual databases.

To actually build Quantum Postgres, you need something that can store an enormous number of qubits, like a hard drive.

Might humans not be the most intelligent animals?

Your take is contrarian as I suspect you will admit. There is quite a bit of empirical evidence, and if it turned out that humans were not the most intelligent it would be very surprising. There is probably just enough uncertainty that it's still within the realm of possibility, but only by a small margin.

Against Premature Abstraction of Political Issues

This sort of existence argument is reasonable for hypothetical supehuman AIs, but real-world human cognition is extremely sensitive to the structure we can find or make up in the world. Sure, just saying "politics" does not provide a clear reference class, so it would be helpful to understand what you want to avoid about politics and engineer around it. My hunch is that avoiding your highly-technical definition of bad discourse that you are using to replace "politics" just leads to a lot of time spent on your politics analysis, with approximately the same topics avoided as a very simple rule of thumb.

I stopped associating or mentioning LW in real life largely because of the political (maybe some parts cultural as well) baggage of several years ago. Not even because I had any particular problem with the debate on the site or the opinions of everyone in aggregate, but because there was just too much stuff to cherry-pick from in our world of guilt by association. Too many mixed signals for people to judge me by.

CO2 Stripper Postmortem Thoughts

I was very confused about your proposed setup after reading the wikipedia article on heat exchangers, since I couldn't figure out what thermal masses you proposed exchanging heat between. But I found this article which resolved my confusion.

Do we know if spaced repetition can be used with randomized content?

It is still useful to memorize the flashcards. The terminology provides hooks that will remind you of the conceptual framework later. If you want to practice actually recognizing the design patterns, you could read some of http://aosabook.org/en/index.html and actively try to recognize design patterns. When you want to learn to do something, it's important to practice a task that is as close as possible to what you are trying to learn.

In real life when a software design pattern comes up, it's usually not as something that you determine from the code. More often it's by talking with the author, reading the documentation, or inferring from variable names.

The strategy described in http://augmentingcognition.com/ltm.html, assuming you have read that, seems to suggest that just using Anki to cover enough of the topic space probably gives you a lot of benefits, even if you aren't doing the mental calculation.

Where should I ask this particular kind of question?

Perhaps the community to ask on mostly doesn't depend on the expertise of the denizens, but your ability to get a response. If so, it matters more whether your question is something that will "hook" the people there, which depends more on the specific topic of the question than on the knowledge required to answer it. For example, if it were about the physics of AI, you'd be likely to get an answer on LessWrong. If it's about academic physics, reddit might be better. If you are using it to write fanfiction, just ask on a fanfiction forum.

It matters quite a bit how hypothetical the scenario is. For example, is it a situation that is actually physically impossible? Does it likely have a specific concrete answer even if you (or anyone) knows it, or will it end up being a matter of interpretation? Would a satisfying answer to the question advance the field of physics or any other field?

Anyway, another option is Twitter. Personally, I'd ask on LessWrong, PhysicsOverflow, or Reddit.

On Internal Family Systems and multi-agent minds: a reply to PJ Eby

Yes, that seems like a reasonable perspective. I can see why that would be annoying.

On Internal Family Systems and multi-agent minds: a reply to PJ Eby

I really appreciate that this post was on the front page, because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise and it was interesting. From an external viewer perspective on the "status games" aspect of it, I think the front page post didn't seem like a dominance attempt, but read as an attempt at truth seeking. I also don't think that it put your arguments in a negative light. Your comments here, on the other hand, definitely feel to an outside observer to be more status-oriented. My visceral reaction upon reading your comment above this one, for example, was that you were trying to demote IFS because it sounds like you make a living promoting this other non-IFS approach.

That said, I remember reading many of your posts on the old LessWrong and I have occasionally wondered what you had gotten up to, since you had stopped posting.

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