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The dangers of zero and one

I want to emphasize the importance of not assigning things probability zero or one.

Unless you are dealing with an officer of the law. Answers like, "Yes, I'm 99% certain X" do not go over well with them.

Also, I'm sure Godel would have enjoyed your post. Or at least 99% sure.

Generalizing From One Example

Does anyone know if those incapable of forming mental images are also unable to have dreams while sleeping? Do they not hallucinate under sensory deprivation? It seems like anyone capable of vision, should have no problem stimulating those same neurons in reverse (thinking about the neocortex as presented by Hawkins). I recognize I'm exhibiting the very bias presented here, but find it hard to believe this isn't a learnable skill that can be developed through practice.

I feel similarly about noise tolerance. I spent many afternoons reading in a busy coffee shop where highschool "punk" bands would often hold "concerts". I did this intentionally to build up my tolerance to noise and ability to focus in the face of extraordinary distraction. Of course, now it just makes me annoyed at people who lack similar tolerances. How ironic.

Information cascades

We already have sections for both popular (up - down > threshold) and controversial (up + down > threshold). Is it that posts are automatically elevated to these states, or does that still need to be done by moderators? Is the throttling of post elevation that EY recently mentioned handled automatically or manually?

If elevation is handled manually by moderators, it seems it makes most sense to keep the tallies private, and let the moderators use bayesian math to adjust for priors. (I personally think that's overkill - might make a fun automation task however.)

The only reason to leave them public is so people can decide which posts to read. There's not enough time in the day for me to keep up with all the posts here -- hell, I can barely keep up with Eliezer's posts on OB.

Instead, it seems they should be kept private to avoid the biases pointed out.

Those like myself will likely only ever read popular posts - at which point it's too late to vote (elevation has already happened), and only occasionally dip into the new or controversial sections when particularly bored. I expect I'm in the majority. (Are we keeping stats of views vs votes? Probably a bit early to tell at this point.)

The Most Important Thing You Learned

The idea that the purpose of the law is to provide structure for optimization.

I'm not sure this is the most important thing I've learned yet, but it's the only really 'aha' moment I've had in the admittedly small sample I've been able to catch up on thus far.

I find I think about this most often as I contemplate the effect traffic laws and implements have in shaping my 20 minute optimization exercise in getting to work each morning.