Re-reading Rationality From AI To Zombies
Reflections on Premium Poker Tools


Bayes' theorem, plausible deniability, and smiley faces

Huh, that's interesting. I wouldn't have thought of that but now that you mention it, I also feel like that sort of perception can happen. However, I also get the sense that when you're in such a situation, you'd be able to tell, and thus avoid having your smiley face misinterpreted.

Bayes' theorem, plausible deniability, and smiley faces

Thanks! That's what it was intended as. I'm not sure how receptive the LW crowd is to posts like these, so it's good to get your data point here.

Bayes' theorem, plausible deniability, and smiley faces

Yeah, but then there's the same problem, just with exclamations points instead of emojis. (Of course, calling it a "problem" in the first place is a little silly.)

Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection

Vaccinations were not prioritized perfectly, but they were prioritized well, and they protect even better against death than infection.

I'd be very interested in hearing (from Zvi or anyone else) more about where you stand on the extent to which vaccinations protect against death. Death is the main thing I'm trying to avoid. If we were confident enough that it protected against death enough, I would up my risk tolerance.


Yeah, agent vs object is the main thought I have as well after reading this post.

Coming from the perspective of affordances as belonging to the object, I have been thinking about the following recently. In programming, one of the big reasons to "choose the right tool for the job" is because of affordances. For example, suppose you have a bunch of functions that you want to wrap in a namespace. You can have a class and then make all of the functions static methods of the class. This is something I see Ruby programmers do. However, a class affords a few important things that aren't being used here. Mainly object instantiation and inheritance (if you don't need inheritance you can use a factor instead of a class). So then, due to the misleading affordances, I see a class with static methods as the wrong tool for the job.

Rationalism before the Sequences

Great point. A few (related) examples come to mind:

  • Paul Graham's essay The Top Idea in Your Mind. "I realized recently that what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is more important than I'd thought. I knew it was a good time to have ideas. Now I'd go further: now I'd say it's hard to do a really good job on anything you don't think about in the shower."
  • Trying to figure out dinner is the worst when I'm already hungry. I still haven't reached a level of success where I'm satisfied, but I've had some success with 1) planning out meals for the next ~2 weeks, that way instead of deciding what to make for dinner, I just pick something off the list, 2) meal prepping, 3) having Meal Squares as a backup.
  • Grooming meetings vs. (I guess you can call it) asynchronous grooming. In scrum, you have meetings where ~15 people get in a room (*"room"), look at the tasks that need to be done, go through each of them, and try to plan each task out + address any questions about the task. With so many people + a fast pace, things can get a little chaotic, and I find it difficult to add much value contributing. However, we're trying something new where tickets are assigned to people before the grooming meeting, and developers have a little "homework assignment" to groom their ticket before the grooming meeting. And then during the grooming meeting you present your ticket and give others a chance to comment or ask questions. We're starting it this week so I'm not sure if it will be more effective, but I have a strong sense that it will be.
  • Arguments. It's hard to be productive when things get heated. Probably better to take a breather and come back to it.
Rationalism before the Sequences

Thanks for making that connection to Zen Buddhism. I never thought of it as a central theme of The Sequences before this.

I'm still not sure if I'm convinced that it actually is a central theme. In the preface to Rationality From AI to Zombies, Eliezer writes:

It ties in to the first-largest mistake in my writing, which was that I didn’t realize that the big problem in learning this valuable way of thinking was figuring out how to practice it, not knowing the theory. I didn’t realize that part was the priority; and regarding this I can only say “Oops” and “Duh.”

The Zen Buddhism stuff you're referring to seems like it fits into practice instead of theory, and like Eliezer says, practice isn't emphasized too much. More specifically, The Ritual seems like a good example of a post that paints a picture of how you could apply Zen Buddhism ideas to enhance your ability to practice rationality, and at least in my recollection, posts like those weren't very frequent.

It's not only Eliezer's writing. I don't see these ideas talked about much on LessWrong by other users either. Both historically and recently. It seems like a very promising concept though, so I'd like to see more posts about it. I agree that learning how to actually practice the ideas is crucial.

Think like an educator about code quality

It seems to me that your post is missing something: what specifically do you want people to learn?

Hm, I'm not sure I'm following. It sounds like you're asking this from the perspective of "I'm a developer. What specifically do I want to teach the other developers about how this code works?" The answer to that totally depends on what the code is for. I do think it would have been better if I had a running, concrete example to reference throughout the post though.

For code-quality I think you're asking "how do I help colleagues with different expertise work with this code"

Or is this specific enough to count as an answer? If so, yes, that's what I'm going for.

to me that calls for thinking about communication rather than education

That's an interesting perspective. I don't have a good enough grasp of what each term really means, but to me education is a type of communication that has a connotation of being about something that is harder to grasp. Ie. if I'm teaching you calculus, that's education, but if I'm figuring out a time for us to meet for coffee, that's communication. With that, education seems like a better term for what I'm going for than communication, but it's very possible I'm using the terms improperly.

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