Aaro Salosensaari


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Sabien on "work-life" balance

>And as Duncan is getting at, employment has changed a lot since the term was coined and there's now a lot more opportunity for jobs and work to be aligned with a person's personal goals.

I can agree, I am skeptical that this ...integratedness(?) is actually a good thing for everyone. From point of view of the old "work vs life" people who valued the life part, it probably looks like them losing if what they get is "your work is supposed to integral part of what you choose to do with your life" but the options of where and what kind of work to do are not that different than they were some decades ago. And even the new^1 options present trade-offs.

Maybe there are some people whose true calling is to found a startup or develop mastery in some particular technology stack or manage projects that create profit for stockholders. However, if the job market environment is shaped by it so that every job expects an applicant whose life goals are integrally aligned to performing the job, it plausibly affects what kind of goals people think are thinkable when they think of their life and careers, because it certainly affects how they present themselves to the hiring committee or people with equivalent power.


Another point, concerning integration of work in ones life. I found myself thinking of the movie Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari, 1953), which I saw maybe two years ago. While the story is not exactly about jobs, it explores how the modernity (the contemporary, post-WW2, kind  of modernity in particular) intersects with the Japanese society through the lenses of single Japanese family. The many characters in the film work various jobs: there is a son who is a physician (the kind of one who does visits and has a private practice), a daughter who is running a beauty saloon (a family business like setup; if the husband did something not affiliated with business, I forget what), and a daughter-in-law who is a menial clerk at a corporate business.

The part where this musing connects to anything, while writing the first part of the comment, I started to think about, what are the personal goals of the physician and the beauty business owner? If I recall, both of them are the kind of person who wants to strive and get forward and upward in their life in Tokyo (this leads to the one of conflicts in the film) and view their jobs integral to that goal. Their jobs are quite integrated to their life in concrete terms, both practice at their homes. Both kind of professions predate the work-life balance, probably. One could replace the beauty saloon with something a bit more traditional, like a restaurant or inn without much difference to their relevance to story, at the very least. The character with clearest difference between time off and time in work is the office clerk. Which actually connects to another plot point. I recommend the movie.

Maybe the big difference comes implied in the "good for the world in ways I care about" angle There is no crusader or activist, someone who seeks to make change in the world instead of making it well within it. Today the doctor would be likely to emphasize how he wants to help  people by being a good doctor, the family business would have a thing (natural beauty products that help the environment, powered by solar!), and the big corp would have mission, too. The owner of the corp, several echelons above, might be even serious about it. Nobody goes to found a start-up.

So, I guess my point is that there always have been people who don't view their work and non-work lives a fundamentally different kind of thing.

1: The newness might be debatable, though. I don't think starting a technology business because you have skills and ideas is something truly new in the US, I think both Edison and Tesla tried their hands at it and I have read Tesla's interviews which indicate he thought it was for the betterment of mankind? It would have been with the spirit of the times.

Chinese History

>The Church of England still has bishops that vote in the house of lords. 

That is argument for particular church-state relationship. The original claim spoke of entanglement (in the present tense!). For reference, the archbishop of Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Finland has always been appointed by whomever is the head of state since Gustav I Vasa embraced the Protestantism and the church was until recently an official state apparatus and to some extent still is. The Holy See has had negligible effect here since centuries, and some historians maintain that most of the time the influence tended to flow from the state to the Ev. Lut. church than other way around despite the overall symbiosis between the two.

The aspects of political power in such conflicts were not alien to Catholic cardinal Richeliu of France who financed Gustav II Adolf's war against the Catholic League in Germany while repressing the Huegenots at home.

It is very enlightening to read to the other responses below concerning the history of Confucianism, and I can be convinced China & Confucianism have very different history about the matters we (or I) often pattern-match to religion. And it makes sense that peculiarities of the Taiping rebellion or the CCP's current positions concerning Catholicism are motivated by them being in contact with European concepts of religion only relatively recently on historical timescales. Yet however:

In my understanding, the conflict between CCP and the Catholic church indicates that the party views Catholicism in terms of national identity and temporal power in ways both different and not so different how Catholicism was viewed in Protestant countries of 17th/18th century. The CCP apparently do not want Catholicism or specifically the Church of Rome's interpretation to have significant presence in the local thoughtspace, presumably in favor of something else which plausibly serves an analogous role (otherwise there would be no competition about that thoughtspace).

In this case, I find it likely that the parable about fish and water also applies to birds and air: there are both commonalities despite the differences, while water is no air, and the birds have more reason to differentiate the air from the ground. Maybe the Chinese are like more like to rockets in the vacuum of space, but that would take more explaining.

Writing out the argument how there is no entanglement and why the clarity arises (and why linking to Sun Tzu is supposed to back that argument) could possibly help here.

Consequently, the original remark and some of the subsequent discussion reads me to as "booing" all things that get called "religions" and cheering for the Chinese tradition as better for being not a religion.

What weird beliefs do you have?

I sort of believe in something like this, except without the magical bits. It motivates me to vote in elections and follow the laws also when there is no effective enforcement. Maybe it is a consequence of reading Pratchett's Discworld novels when I was in impressionable age. 

My mundane explanation (or rationalization) is a bit difficult to write, but I believe it is because of:

>It gets in people's minds.

When people believe something, it affects their behavior. Thus memetic phenomena can have real effects.

As an example I feel is related to this, I half-believe that believing in magical rationalizations[1] can also enable good societal outcomes, as long as enough people believe that also other people believe them, and it facilitates trust.

Have you read Joseph Conrad's Nostromo? It deals with how valuable things and what they do affect people's behavior, both on the societal scale (how corruption in imaginary South American state of Costaguano seeds more corruption) and personal scale.

[1] "if I vote in the national elections, it somehow makes difference, maybe because then more people like me are encourage to vote in elections" and "if I obey the law of not serving alcohol to underage people when there is no probably harm to them from it, or stop at the traffic signs at deserted street in midnight, the world somehow becomes a better place because world would be better place if more people followed the laws". 

What weird beliefs do you have?

I agree with Phil that this sounds very ... counterintuitive. Usually nothing is free, and even with free things there is consequences or some sort of externality.

However, I recently read an argument by a Finnish finance podcaster, who argued while the intuition might be true and government debt system probably is not sustainable and is going to have some kind of messup in long term, not participating may put your country at disadvantage compared to countries who take the "free" money and invest it, and thus have more assets when it all falls down.

Chinese History

I realize this is a 3mo old comment.

>Nor does China entangle religion with politics to the same extent you find in the Christian and Islamic worlds. This makes it easier to think about conflicts. I feel it produces a better understanding of political theory and strategy.

Does not entangle? I thought China is the only country of note around that enforces their version of Catholic church with Chinese characteristics (the translation used by Wikipedia is "Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church", apparently excommunicated by the pope in Rome). One can discuss how it compares to Church of England's historical past or more recently, the protestant skepticism about JFK's Catholicism, but it is kind of remarkable on its own right.

(edit. Thinking about the little bit I do know about Chinese history ... Taiping Rebellion?)

Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation

Sure, but statements like

>ANNs are built out of neurons. BNNs are built out of neurons too.

are imprecise and possibly imprecise enough to be also incorrect if it turns out that biological neurons do something different than perceptrons that is important. Without making the exact arguments and presenting evidence in what respects the perceptron model is useful, it is quite easy to bake in conclusions along the lines of "this algorithm for ANNs is a good model of biology" in the assumptions "both are built out of neurons".

Technological stagnation: Why I came around

Home delivery is way cheaper than it used to be.


I am going to push back a little on this one, and ask for context and numbers? 

As some of my older relatives commented when Wolt became popular here, before people started going to supermarkets, it was common for shops to have a delivery / errand boy (this would have been 1950s, and more prevalent before the WW2). It is one thing that strikes out reading biographies; teenage Harpo Marx dropped out from school and did odd jobs as an errand boy; they are ubiquitous part of the background in Anne Frank's diaries; and so on.

Maybe it was proportionally more expensive (relative to cost of purchase), but on the other hand, from the descriptions it looks like the deliveries were done by teenage/young men who were paid peanuts.

Birds, Brains, Planes, and AI: Against Appeals to the Complexity/Mysteriousness/Efficiency of the Brain

Thanks for writing this, the power to weight statistics are quite interesting. I have an another, longer reply with my own take (edit. comments about the graph, that is) in the works, but while writing it, I started to wonder about a tangential question:

I am saying that many common anti-short-timelines arguments are bogus. They need to do much more than just appeal to the complexity/mysteriousness/efficiency of the brain; they need to argue that some property X is both necessary for TAI and not about to be figured out for AI anytime soon, not even after the HBHL milestone is passed by several orders of magnitude.

I am not super familiar with the state of discussion and literature nowadays, but I was wondering what are these anti-short-timelines arguments that appeal to the  general complexity/mysteriousness and how common they are? Are they common in popular discourse, or common among people considered worth taking seriously?

Data efficiency, for example, is already a much more specific feature than handwave-y "human brain is so complex", and thus as you demonstrate, it becomes much easier to write a more convincing argument from data efficiency than mysterious complexity.

Aaro Salosensaari's Shortform

Eventually, yes, it is related to arguments concerning people. But I was curious about what aesthetics remain after I try to abstract away the messy details. 

Aaro Salosensaari's Shortform

>Is this a closed environment, that supports 100000 cell-generations?

Good question! No. I was envisioning it as a system where a constant population of 100 000 would be viable. (RA pipettes in a constant amount of nutritional fluid every day or something).  Now that you asked the question, it might make more sense to investigate this assumption more.

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