All of Alexandros's Comments + Replies

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

LW has a BDFL already. He's just not very interested and (many) people don't believe he's able to restore the website. We didn't "come to believe" anything.

2Lumifer5yLessee... He isn't so much benevolent as he is absent. I don't see him exercising any dictatorial powers and as to "for life", we are clearly proposing that this ain't so. So it seems you're just wrong. An "absentee owner/founder" is a better tag.
4ChristianKl5yNo, EY effectively doesn't act as a BDFL. He doesn't have the effective power to ban contributors. The last time I asked him to delete a post he said that he can't for site political reasons. The site is also owned by MIRI and not EY directly.
On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

An additional additional point is that the dictator can indeed quit and is not forced to kill themselves to get out of it. So it's actually not FL. And in fact, it's arguably not even a dictatorship, as it depends on the consent of the governed. Yes, BDFL is intentionally outrageous to make a point. What's yours?

0Lumifer5yFunny how I didn't notice anyone become outraged. And, of course, BDFL's powers do NOT depend on the consent of the governed -- it's just that the governed have the ability to exit. As to the point, it's merely reminding of the standard trade-off with dictator-like rulers. They are like a little girl: When she was good She was very, very good And when she was bad she was horrid.
1ChristianKl5yThe person who owns the website doesn't need consent of the people who visit the website to make changes to the website.
On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

I've done my fair bit of product management, mostly on and related projects ( and and can offer some help in re-imagining the vision behind lw.

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

that's awesome. I'm starting to hope something may come of this effort.

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

Who is empowered to set Vaniver or anyone else as the BDFL of the site? It would be great to get into a discusion of "who" but I wonder how much weight there will be behind this person. Where would the BDFL's authority eminate from? Would he be granted, for instance, ownership of the domain? That would be a sufficient gesture.

I'm empowered to hunt down the relevant people and start conversations about it that are themselves empowered to make the shift. (E.g. to talk to Nate/Eliezer/MIRI, and Matt Fallshaw who runs Trike Apps.).

I like the idea of granting domain ownership if we in fact go down the BDFL route.

3Lumifer5yAn additional point is that you you can only grant the DFL part. The B part cannot be granted but can only be hoped for.
On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

Hi Anna,

Please consider a few gremlins that are weighing down LW currently:

  1. Eliezer's ghost -- He set the culture of the place, his posts are central material, has punctuated its existence with his explosions (and refusal to apologise), and then, upped and left the community, without actually acknowledging that his experiment (well kept gardens etc) has failed. As far as I know he is still the "owner" of this website, retains ultimate veto on a bunch of stuff, etc. If that has changed, there is no clarity on who the owner is (I see three logos o

... (read more)
4sleepingthinker5yAs a newbie, I have to say that I am finding it really hard to navigate around the place. I am really interested in rational thinking and the ways people can improve it, as well as persuation techniques to try to get people to think rationally about issues, since most of them fall to cognitive biases and bad illogical thinking. I have found that writing about these concepts for myself really help in clarifying things, but sometimes miss a discussion on these topics, so that's why I came here. For me, some things that could help improve this site: 1) better organization and making it clearer to navigate 2) a set of easy to read newbie texts 3) ability to share interesting posts from other places and discussing them
7eagain5yHi. I used to have an LW account and post sometimes, and when the site kinda died down I deleted the account. I'm posting back now. Please do not start discussing politics without enforcing a real-names policy and taking strong measures against groupthink, bullying, and most especially brigading from outside. The basic problem with discussing politics on the internet is that the normal link between a single human being and a single political voice is broken. You end up with a homogeneous "consensus" in the "community" that reflects whoever is willing to spend more effort on spam and disinformation. You wanted something like a particularly high-minded Parliament, you got 4chan. I have strong opinions about politics and also desire to discuss the topic, which is indeed boiling to a crisis point, in a more rationalist way. However, I also moderate several subreddits, and whenever politics intersects with one of our subs, we have to start banning people every few hours to keep from being brigaded to death. I advise allowing just enough politics to discuss the political issues tangent to other, more basic rationalist wheelhouses: allow talking about global warming in the context of civilization-scale risks, allow talking about science funding and state appropriation of scientific output in the context of AI risk and AI progress, allow talking about fiscal multipliers to state spending in the context of effective altruism. Don't go beyond that. There are people who love to put an intellectual veneer over deeply bad ideas, and they raid basically any forum on the internet nowadays that talks politics, doesn't moderate a tight ship, and allows open registration. And in general, the watchword for a rationality community ought to be that most of the time, contrarians are wrong, and in fact boring as well. Rationality should be distinguished from intellectual contrarianism -- this is a mistake we made last time, and suffered for.
2plethora5yI didn't delete my account a year ago because the site runs on a fork of Reddit rather than HN (and I recall that people posted links to outside articles all the time; what benefit would a HN-style aggregator add over either what we have now or our Reddit fork plus Reddit's ability to post links to external sites?); I deleted it because the things people posted here weren't good. I think if you want to unify the community, what needs to be done is the creation of more good content and less bad content. We're sitting around and talking about the best way to nominate people for a committee to design a strategy to create an algorithm to tell us where we should go for lunch today when there's a Five Guys across the street. These discussions were going on the last time I checked in on LW, IIRC, and there doesn't seem to have been much progress made. I haven't seen anyone link to a LW post written after I deleted since I deleted. I suspect this has less to do with aggregators or BDFL nomination committees and more to do with the fact that a long time ago people used to post good things here and then they stopped. Then again, better CSS wouldn't hurt. This place looks like Reddit. Nobody wants to link to a place that looks like Reddit.
5roland5yWhat explosions from EY are you referring to? Could you please clarify? Just curious.
5Lumifer5yIf I were NRx, I would feel very amused at the idea of LW people coming to believe that they need to invite an all-powerful dictator to save them from decay and ruin... :-D
0NatashaRostova5yThat's true. LW isn't bringing back yvain/Scott or other similar figures. However, it is a cool training ground/incubator for aspiring writers. As of now I'm a 'no one.' I'd like to try to see if I can become 'some one.' SSC comments don't foster this. LW is a cool place to try, it's not like anyone is currently reading my own site/blog.


For the benefit of anyone else who'd need to Google: Benevolent Dictator For Life

8John_Maxwell5yRe: #2, it seems like most of the politics discussion places online quickly become dominated by one view or another. If you wanted to solve this problem, one idea is 1. Start an apolitical discussion board. 2. Gather lots of members. Try to make your members a representative cross-section of smart people. 3. Start discussing politics, but with strong norms in place to guard against the failure mode where people whose view is in the minority leave the board. I explained here [] why I think reducing political polarization through this sort of project could be high-impact. Re: #3, I explain why I think this is wrong in this post [] . "Strong writers enjoy their independence" - I'm not sure what you're pointing at with this. I see lots of people who seem like strong writers writing for or doing newspaper columns or even contributing to Less Wrong (back in the day). (I largely agree otherwise.)

Re: 1, I vote for Vaniver as LW's BDFL, with authority to decree community norms (re: politics or anything else), decide on changes for the site; conduct fundraisers on behalf of the site; etc. (He already has the technical admin powers, and has been playing some of this role in a low key way; but I suspect he's been deferring a lot to other parties who spend little time on LW, and that an authorized sole dictatorship might be better.)

Anyone want to join me in this, or else make a counterproposal?

I am working on a project with this purpose, and I think you will find it interesting:

It is intended to be a community for intelligent discussion about rationality and related subjects. It is still a beta version, and has not launched yet, but after seeing this topic, I have decided to share it with you now.

It is based on the open source platform that I'm building:

This platform will address most of the issues discussed in this thread. It can be used both like a publishing/discussion platform, and as a ... (read more)

7FourFire5y1. I agree completely. 2. Politics has most certainly damaged the potential of SSC. Notably, far fewer useful insights have resulted from the site and readership than was the case with LessWrong at it's peak, but that is how Yvain wanted it I suppose. The comment section has, according to my understanding become a haven for NRx and other types considered unsavoury by much of the rationalist community, and the quality of the discussion is substantially lower in general than it could have been. 3. Sure. 4. Codebase, just start over, but carry over the useful ideas implemented, such as disincentivizing flamewars by making responses to downvoted comments cost karma, zero initial karma awarded for posting, and any other rational discussion fostering mechanics which have become apparent since then. 5. I agree, make this site read only, use it and the wiki as a knowledge base, and start over somewhere else.

I think you're right that wherever we go next needs to be a clear schelling point. But I disagree on some details.

  1. I do think it's important to have someone clearly "running the place". A BDFL, if you like.

  2. Please no. The comments on SSC are for me a case study in exactly why we don't want to discuss politics.

  3. Something like reddit/hn involving humans posting links seems ok. Such a thing would still be subject to moderation. "Auto-aggregation" would be bad however.

  4. Sure. But if you want to replace the karma system, be sure to replac

... (read more)
6Paul Crowley5yThis is the platform Alexandros is talking about: []

On the idea of a vision for a future, if I were starting a site from scratch, I would love to see it focus on something like "discussions on any topic, but with extremely high intellectual standards". Some ideas:

  • In addition to allowing self-posts, a major type of post would be a link to a piece of content with an initial seed for discussion
  • Refine upvotes/downvotes to make it easier to provide commentary on a post, e.g. "agree with the conclusion but disagree with the argument", or "accurate points, but ad-hominem tone".
  • A
... (read more)

On (4), does anyone have a sense of how much it would cost to improve the code base? Eg would it be approximately $1k, $10k, or $100k (or more)? Wondering if it makes sense to try and raise funds and/or recruit volunteers to do this.

Strong writers enjoy their independence.

This is, I think, the largest social obstacle to reconstitution. Crossposting blog posts from the diaspora is a decent workaround, though -- if more than a few can be convinced to do it.

The correct response to uncertainty is *not* half-speed

Reminds me of the motto "Strong Opinions, Weakly Held". There's no point having a blurry opinion, or not expressing what you believe to be the most likely candidate for a good way forward, even if it's more likely by only a small margin. By expressing (and/or acting on) a clearly expressed, falsifiable opinion, you expose it to criticism, refutation, improvement, etc. And if you hold it weakly, then you will be open to reconsidering. Refusing to make up your mind, and kindof oscilating between a few options, perhaps waiting to see where the wind ... (read more)

Mind uploading from the outside in

You appear to be arguing about definitions. I'm not interested in going down that rabbit hole.

Mind uploading from the outside in

Which in turn depends on what you mean by "artificial".

0passive_fist6yThe route to AI that you're suggesting is a plausible one; people like Nick Bostrom have talked about scenarios like this at length. Scenarios where we gradually shift our 'computational substrate' to non-biological hardware over several generations. But that's not necessarily what uploading is! As I mentioned, uploading is the transferring of a consciousness from some specific piece of hardware to another piece of hardware. The title and wording of your post implies that you are talking about uploading, but our discussion indicates you are actually talking about building an AI, which is an entirely different concept, and everyone who is confused about this distinction would do well to clearly understand it before talking about it.
Mind uploading from the outside in

I don't use the word consciousness as it's a complex concept not really necessary in this context. I approach a mind as an information processing system, and information processing systems can most certainly be distributed. What that means for consciousness depends on what you mean by consciousness I suppose, but I would not like to start that conversation.

0passive_fist6yThe whole idea of uploading concerns human consciousness. Specifically, transferring a human consciousness to a non-biological context. If you're not talking about human consciousness, then you're just talking about building an AI.
Mind uploading from the outside in

There are still many intermediate steps. What does it mean "to be conscious of a sensory input"? Are we talking system 1 or system 2? If the brain is composed of modules, which it likely is, what if some of them are digital and able to move to where the information is and others are not? What if the biological part's responses can be modelled well enough to be predicted digitally 99.9% of the time, such that a remote near-copy can be almost autonomous by means of optimistic concurrency, correcting course only when the verdict comes back different... (read more)

0passive_fist6yThe system 1/system 2 distinction is only tangentially related here. It's irrelevant whether the brain is 'composed of modules' or not. If what you mean is whether it is possible for consciousness to be distributed, well that's a good question. If it's possible for consciousness to be distributed then you could imagine being 'spread out' over a very large computer network (possibly many light-years in length). But the situation becomes tricky because if, say, your 'leg' was in one star system and your 'eye' was in another star system, stimulus from your eye could not cause a reaction from your leg in time shorter than several years, otherwise you violate the speed of light limit and causality. So either you cannot be 'spread out', or your perception of time slows down so extremely that several years seems instantaneous (just like the fraction of a second required for you to move your human leg seems instantaneous now).
Mind uploading from the outside in

Surely the point at which your entire sensory input comes from the digital world you are somewhat uploaded, even if part of the processing happens in biological components. what does it mean to "travel" when you can receive sensory inputs from any point in the network? There are several rubicons to be crossed, and transitioning from "has tiny biological part" to "has no biological part" is another, but it's definitely smaller than "one day an ape, the next day software". What's more, what I'm arguing is not that ther... (read more)

0passive_fist6yTo be able to shorten the time which it takes to be conscious of a sensory input. If the sensor is at point A and you are at distance x from that sensor, you require at least x/c time to be aware of an input from that sensor. The whole point of travel is to have low-latency, high-bandwidth access to information that exists at some point in the universe. It still seems to me that the step from 'being tied to a specific piece of hardware' - whether that hardware is an entirely biological brain or an enhanced biological brain - to being pure information capable of moving from hardware to hardware is a pretty big step, regardless of how it is performed. It's the very essence of digitizing something. A physical book is information tied to hardware; uploading consists of scanning the book.
SSC discussion: growth mindset

This whole conversation sounds to me like people arguing whether width or height is a more important factor to the area of a rectangle. Or perhaps what percentage of the total each is responsible for.

It seems we humans are desperate to associate everything with a single cause, or if it has multiple causes, allocate causality to x% of multiple factors. However, success quite often has multiple contributing factors and exhibits "the chain is as strong as its weakest link" type behaviour. When phrased in terms of the contribution width and height make to the area of a rectangle, a lot of the conversation sounds like a category error. A lot of the metaphors we try and apply quite simply do not make sense.

0ChristianKl6yWhether or not the [Somewhat Controversial Position] and the [Very Controversial Position] matters for education.
'Dumb' AI observes and manipulates controllers

The truly insidious effects are when the content of the stories changes the reward but not by going through the standard quality-evaluation function.

For instance, maybe the AI figures out that the order of the stories affects the rewards. Or perhaps it finds how stories that create a climate of joy/fear on campus lead to overall higher/lower evaluations for that period. Then the AI may be motivated to "take a hit" to push through some fear mongering so as to raise its evaluations for the following period. Perhaps it finds that causing strife in t... (read more)

3benwr7yThe problem with these particular extensions is that they don't sound plausible for this type of AI. In my opinion it would be easier when talking with designers to switch from this example to a slightly more sci-fi example. The leap is between the obvious "it's 'manipulating' its editors by recognizing simple patterns in their behavior" to "it's manipulating its editors by correctly interpreting the causes underlying their behavior." Much easier to extend in the other direction first: "Now imagine that it's not an article-writer, but a science officer aboard the commercial spacecraft Nostromo..."
Ways to improve LessWrong
  1. I don't know, I haven't done the effort estimation. It just looks like more than I'd be willing to put in.
  2. One hypothesis is that is a low priority item to them, but they like having it around, so they are averse to putting in the required amount of thought to evaluate a change, and inclined to leave things as they are.
  3. I think it is unlikely it will have as much benefit as you expect, and that the pain will be bigger than you expect. However, if you add the fact that your drive may help you learn to program, then the ROI tips the other way
... (read more)
0ChristianKl7yI think a core reason is intransparency of how to contribute changes. You don't know who you have to convince to chance something so most people don't even try.
0adamzerner7yOk, thanks for your input! I'll have to do more research and brainstorming into how much benefit it really would have.
Ways to improve LessWrong

The issue is that the content does get written. It just doesn't find its way here.

Ways to improve LessWrong

I admire your optimism and determination. It's not my intention to convince you not to try. Even if you don't succeed, and it's not impossible that you could succeed, you will certainly get a lot out of it. So take my negativity as a challenge, and prove me wrong :).

0adamzerner7yThanks for the encouragement! Would you mind offering your opinion on a few things though? 1. How many people would a complete overhaul take, and how long would it take (roughly)? 2. Why are the site owners reluctant to change? 3. What do you think of my rough cost-benefit argument? The things I said are my intuition, but I could easily be overlooking certain things, and I don't understand it well enough to be too confident in the intuition. So what do you think? (you seem to share the belief in the value of the benefits, but don't seem to think they outweigh the costs) Also, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up about my contributions. I'm still learning to code and I don't know how good I'll be in 13 weeks when I finish my bootcamp and I can't tell how long it'll be before I'm capable enough to contribute to something like this.
Ways to improve LessWrong

Consider the fact that many, many programmers frequent LW. It's quite likely the majority of members know how to program a computer, and most of them have a very high level of skill. Despite this, contributions to LW's codebase have been minimal over the life of this website. I take this as extremely strong evidence that the friction to getting any change through is very, very high.

0adamzerner7yI don't want to propose any solutions because I don't understand what the source of the friction truly is. If you understand the real sources of friction, could you explain it in some more depth? I sense that the lack of contribution to the codebase is because it's inconvenient, not necessarily difficult. It seems that it's inconvenient for the reasons you said: 1) the reddit fork is hard to modify and 2) the site owners are reluctant to change. But I also sense that the proposed features aren't too difficult to implement (because they're relatively common) and that a handful of skilled volunteers could get it done in a few weeks (very rough estimate; I'm way too inexperienced to really say, but I do sense that it's very doable). Perhaps it wouldn't be compatible with the reddit codebase and it'd take a major overhaul. But I really think the benefits would outweigh the costs. The costs would be a few weeks of a handful of programmers' time (or something like that, I don't really know). The benefits would be huge! Imagine LW users collaborating on new projects, brainstorming new ideas, contributing to and benefiting from the list of life hacks, studying together, having hack-a-thons, rooming together, having more productive discussions, summarizing the content to make it more accessible to common people etc. etc. Isn't that worth a few weeks of time from a handful of people? Even if only one or two projects emerged from the site overhaul, I think the benefits would outweigh the costs. Sorry if my argument for why the benefits outweigh the costs isn't concrete enough. I tried.
Ways to improve LessWrong

the problem is that these suggestions have orders of magnitude higher cost of implementation. This is further compounded by the fact that 1. LW uses a fork of the reddit codebase, which was not built with modification in mind, and 2. the fact that the owners of LW are (a) hard to engage in a conversation about changes and (b) even harder to get them to actually apply it.

The suggestion I made above suffers from none of these, and is technically implementable in a weekend (tops) by a single developer -- me. Whether it will be successful or not is a differen... (read more)

0therufs7yDo they have to be nagged to merge pull requests or what?
0adamzerner7yAhh, I see. Regarding cost of implementation, 1) I'll probably be willing to work on it and 2) I sense that the benefits far outweigh the costs, and that we'll be able to get people to work on it. Especially if it's well thought out and some nice mockups are made that are convincing. Regarding the owners of LW being reluctant to change, I don't know much about this issue so it's tough to say, but I sense that 1) if we get enough community support, they'll be pretty likely to go along with it and 2) I would think that they're smart enough to see the benefits would be large and if volunteers like me (and you?) would be willing to work on it, the costs could be pretty small.
Ways to improve LessWrong

I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about this. Fundamentally in order to discuss improvements, it's necessary to identify the sources of pain. The largest problem (and/or existential threat) I can see with LW is its stagnation/decline, both in content, and in new insights generated here.

Charitably, I suspect LW was built with the assumption that it would always have great content coming in, so the target and focus of most design decisions, policies, implied norms, and ad hoc decisions (let's call all these 'constraints') was to restrict bad conten... (read more)

0ChristianKl7yI think there are a bunch of issues with the reddit codebase. It was never meant to be used independently of reddit and the code was just thrown out there for anybody to use. As a result it's impossible to update to the lasted version of the reddit code base. That probably means that it has unpatched security holes. Issues such as finding a mass downvoter seemed not available in the standard moderator interface. Things like checking users IP addresses for banned poster detection seem to not have an interface but require sysadmin work. I don't think that a domain name that contains the phrase "conspiracy" is a good idea. I find it set that PredictionBook is a separate website from LW. Does the telesc software allow plugins where predictionbook style entries could be found at the same site where also other communication happens? It might also additional allow adamzerner systemized arguments as a specific kind of post. A open plugin interface might provide for anyone who wants to start a new way of arguing an opening. I'm not sure how much interest there is in programmers contributing that way, but I think even hacker news style + prediction book style would provide enough momentum to get the website started.
2Viliam_Bur7yI am not sure if the ratio of insights is smaller these days, but I more feel like the spirit of "let's change the world" or even "let's do something" is gradually replaced by having merely a web debate club. The best debate club in the world, possibly, but still... Maybe that's an inherent problem of internet debates. People who do something in the real world, stop spending so much time debating online. Also, the real world is rather slow... we all know that MIRI exists or that CFAR exists, but we can't keep talking about them all the time, we want something new and new and new. And at some moment, "new" becomes a lost purpose [], just another form of entertainment, because as we keep reading the new insights, we keep forgetting the old ones. I would like to see more "project"-type content. About people who are doing something. It could even be a purely online project, such as organizing parts of LW wiki. Collaborative projects in real world would be more awesome, but there are the geographical distances. You know, less debate, more action. Or at least an action-oriented debate. 強くなりたい
1adamzerner7ySo what features would this have? HN and other blogs basically just have link posts, text posts and comment threads for each post. I haven't been around long enough to agree or disagree with this, but I could believe it. You say you've spent a fair amount of time thinking about this. What do you think of things other than just aggregating content from similar sites? I sense that there are opportunities for some larger more fundamental changes. Some ideas: * Increasing offline interaction (making it easy for LW users to room with each other, get rationality clubs set up in colleges, have hack-a-thons...) * Rethinking the simple threaded comments system. Here's my raw thoughts - []. * Encouraging more brainstorming. Right now I think people are hesitant to start a conversation unless they have pretty refined and insightful thoughts. * Better categorize things. To use an example, I think there would be more talk about life hacks if there was a life hacks section and there was a list of useful life hacks maintained by the community. * etc. etc.
"Follow your dreams" as a case study in incorrect thinking

I wonder to what degree 'follow your dreams' is a counterbalance to Dunning-Kruger. I.e. the people that should follow their dreams are likely to underestimate themselves, so a general 'go for it against the odds' climate might be just enough to push them to actually follow through. This would still leave the less skilled to suffer in following dreams they can't succeed at, but there should be some thought as to whether the end result is positive for humanity-in-general or not.

There is also something to be said that some times the people that should follo... (read more)

The advice to "follow your dreams" seems to have two different interpretations, "use your gut feeling to choose your career" and "strive for excellence in your chosen career". I'm mostly objecting to the first interpretation.

As to what motivates people, I've come to believe that our interests and motivations are changeable, though I believed otherwise for many years. You can consciously choose to abandon a hopeless dream, and get a different dream that will motivate you just as much.

Quantified Risks of Gay Male Sex

and of course this is another case of 'just because you hired the top 1% of the CVs you got, doesn't mean that those you hired are in the top 1% of programmers'. Less good programmers are more often looking for a job.

Is there a name for this pattern?

Adverse selection.

0[anonymous]7yI think it's called "selection bias", though most people don't realize just how pervasive it is. Maybe we need subcategories. Another example is that the the neighboring lane in a traffic jam often moves faster than the lane you're in, because higher speed => larger gaps between cars => fewer cars => higher chance of finding yourself in the slow lane. (I have no idea if that reasoning is correct, but it sounds fun!)
Identification of Force Multipliers for Success

funnily enough this list translates pretty well in the context of a whole business or organisation. great work!

Bragging Thread, June 2014

The bay is where it's at for the kind of thing I want to do. The amount and seniority of people I spoke to face-to-face in 2 months in SF I didn't speak to in 3 years in London. San Francisco is a city so dense with developers and startup folk that New Relic feels comfortable paying for poster ads on the street. Being where the density of talent is, is a no-brainer. Besides that, the money is there, the partners are there, and the developer thought leaders are mostly there. It's kind of hard to make a case for being anywhere else, really. Plus, it's a pretty awesome area to live in, on the balance.

0David_Gerard7yI visited in December [] and it felt disconcertingly like London. How does the actual living compare?
Bragging Thread, June 2014

I spent the last two months in the valley away from my team and close ones. Pitched my startup to several investors big and small. I had to learn the game and the local culture on the fly. I went through insane ups and downs while keeping it together (mostly).

In the end I returned with signed a term sheet with one of the biggest funds in the valley for about 2.5x the amount I was looking for. This quadruples the value of our shares from our last round in September. Assuming term sheet converts to money in the bank, me and my team will be moving to the bay in the next 6 months with enough backing to take a proper shot at building a huge company. And now, to actually get some work done :)

2cousin_it7yWell, congratulations. That sounds pretty great! Why move to the bay, was it a condition for investment or do you actually want to do that?
[Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts!

Complaint isn't actually a high enough barrier. If I had a waiter serve me breakfast every morning in bed, and suddenly I had to go to the kitchen for it, you bet I'd complain. The question is, would people not visit links based on the title alone?

In any case, I've explained this enough times that I think I've done as much as I could have. I'll just leave it at this.

[Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts!

All I'm saying is that we have a supply problem, and you're raising a demand issue. Also, the issue you're raising is based on an anecdote that seems sufficiently niche as to not be worth the tradeoff (i.e. not solving the supply issue). If you have evidence of generality of the demand for summaries, I'd like to see it.

2RichardKennaway7yIt's a frequent complaint (and not just by me) when people post links without summaries. Personally, if someone wants me to read something, they'd better tell me what it is first, or I just ignore it.
[Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts!

But what does it matter if 1% of all links that should end up here, actually do? Hacker news is a proven model, people not clicking without summaries isn't an issue.

4RichardKennaway7yA proven model of what, though? I don't read Hacker News (or reddit, or 4chan), because every time I've looked around those places, I've seen nothing worth staying for, just shiny distraction []. If Less Wrong has declined, what has it declined from and what do people want it raised to?
0Nornagest7yIf you mean growth in the status associated with taking the survey, which is what actually matters for gaining responses, then I'm not sure about that. I haven't run the regression I'd need to generalize, but my own ritual "I took the survey" responses have gained me less karma each year. There are other population dynamics that could explain this, but they all look a little far-fetched to me.
[Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts!

I was, for a period, a major submitter of links to Hacker News. The process for doing that with the bookmarklet they provide is literally two clicks and 10 seconds. How many of each is it for LW today?

[Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts!

That's the problem. Posting a summary is a trivial (or not so trivial) inconvenience.

2RichardKennaway7yNot seeing a summary is a sufficient inconvenience that I ignore the link.
3NancyLebovitz7yThat's interesting-- you've got 3 karma points. When I post a link, I usually add an excerpt or summary on utilitarian grounds, since I think it's less total work for me to give some indication of why other people should be interested than for a number of people to click the link than for me (who's already read the link and know something about it) to check it out. I gather the media thread isn't a good enough place for posting links.
All discussion post titles, points, and dates as an excel sheet

posts per month, upvotes per month. (i understand score is positive minus negative, but it cancels out). potentially comments per month too, but I didn't fetch that data. substitute month for your preferred granularity of course.

Open thread, 3-8 June 2014

but if we're talking startups, I'd probably look at where the money is and go there. Can this be applied to groups of traders? c-level executives? medical teams? maybe some other target group are both flush with cash and early adopters of new tech?

Open thread, 3-8 June 2014

whatever team state matters. maybe online/offline, maybe emotional states, maybe doing biofeedback (hormones? alpha waves?) but cross-team. maybe just 'how many production bugs we've had this week'.

0Alexandros7ybut if we're talking startups, I'd probably look at where the money is and go there. Can this be applied to groups of traders? c-level executives? medical teams? maybe some other target group are both flush with cash and early adopters of new tech?
Open thread, 3-8 June 2014

I've thought about taking this idea further.

Think of applying the anklet idea to groups of people. What if soccer teams could know where their teammates are at any time, even if they can't see them? Now apply this to firemen. or infantry. This is the startup i'd be doing if I wasn't doing what I'm doing. plugging data feeds right into the brain, and in particular doing this for groups of people, sounds like the next big frontier.

0cousin_it7yWhat other applications for groups of people can you imagine, apart from having a sense of each other's position?
All discussion post titles, points, and dates as an excel sheet

True. I guess I was being a bit cheeky. LW is no longer being kept at all AFAICT (or just on maintenance), just wanted to see if it's on an upward or downward trajectory. I obviously think there is a problem, and I have a solution to suggest, but I wanted to double check my intuition with the numbers.

All discussion post titles, points, and dates as an excel sheet

post updated with code, go crazy! number of comments is another one I'd add if I ran it again.

All discussion post titles, points, and dates as an excel sheet

Well, it's not being 'kept' anymore for one, but I didn't need analysis for that. I guess the question is if it is flourishing or dying out.

Open Thread February 25 - March 3

I am not convinced it is the optimal route to startup success. If it was, I would be doing it in preference over my current startup. It is highly uncertain and requires what looks like basic research, hence the altruism angle. If it succeeds, yes, it shouldake a lot of money and nobody should deprive it's creators of the fruits of their labour.

Open Thread February 25 - March 3

Obviously you'd take a different angle with the marketing.

Off the cuff, I'd pitch it as a hands-off dating site. You just install a persistent app on your phone that pushes a notification when it finds a good match. No website to navigate, no profile to fill, no message queue to manage.

Perhaps market it to busy professionals. Finance professionals may be a good target to start marketing to. (busy, high-status, analytical)

There would need to be some way to deal with the privacy issues though.

Open Thread February 25 - March 3

Well, at this point we're weighing anecdotes, but..

  1. Yes! They do tend to push their rationality to the limit. Hypothesis: knowing more about rationality can help push up the limit of how rational one can be.

  2. Yes! It's not about rationality alone. Persistent determination is quite possibly more important than rationality and intelligence put together. But I posit that rationality is a multiplier, and also tends to filter out the most destructive outcomes.

In general, I'd love to see some data on this, but I'm not holding my breath.

0niceguyanon7yAgreed. Interestingly, the latest post [] in main points to evidence supporting rationality having a significant relation to success in the work place – not the same as entrepreneurship, nonetheless I update slightly more in favor of your position.
Open Thread February 25 - March 3

I question the stats that says 1% success rate for startups. I will need to see the reference, but one I had access to basically said "1% matches or exceeds projections shown to investors" or some such. Funnily enough, by that metric Facebook is a failure (they missed the goal they set in the convertible note signed with Peter Thiel). If run decently, I would expect double digit success rates, for a more reasonable measure of success. If a driven, creative rationalist is running a company, I would expect a very high degree of success.

Another thin... (read more)

1Douglas_Knight7yIt is hard to survey startups. What is usually done is to measure success rates of companies that raised a Series A round of funding. Many companies fail before achieving that, though they necessarily fail faster, producing less opportunity cost. Here [] is a chart of returns to a VC, taken from this paper [] by a different author. 60% of dollars invested are in companies that lost the VCs money (lost them 85%). This is a top VC that managed to triple its money, so this is an overestimate of success of a regular VC-backed company. This is a common bias in these surveys. Based on the fictitious figure 2, 63% of dollars is actually 69% of companies, because successful companies get more funding. So 31% of companies with a Series A round at a top firm succeed by the metric of a positive return to the VCs. Double digit success would require that at least 1/3 of startups get a Series A funding and that companies funded by typical VCs are as successful as companies funded by a top VC. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The appropriate definition of success is comparing to opportunity cost. In particular, the above analysis fails to take into account duration. Here [] is a paper that makes a reasonable comparison and concludes that running a company with a Series A round was a good decision for people with $700k in assets. Again, skipping to the Series A round is not a real action, thus overestimating the value of the real action of a startup. There is an additional difficulty that startups may have non-monetary costs and benefits, such as stress and learning. Edit: found the paper. According to Figure 2, that 75% of VC-backed firms exit at 0, not much worse than at the top VC considered above.
Open Thread February 25 - March 3

Well, it's more than a hypothesis, it's a goal. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't, but if it does, it's pretty high impact. (though not existential-risk avoidance high, in and of itself).

Finding a good match has made a big subjective difference for me, and there's a case it's made a big objective difference (but then again, I'd say that) and I had to move countries to find that person.

Yeah, maybe the original phrasing is too strong (blame the entrepreneur in pitch mode) but the 6th paragraph does say that it's an off-chance it can be made to work, though both a high improvement potential and a high difficulty in materialising it are not mutually exclusive.

Open Thread February 25 - March 3

This isn't "I'm smart and rules don't apply". Smartness alone doesn't help.

But, to put it this way, if rationality training doesn't help improve your startup's odds of success, then there's something wrong with the rationality training.

To be more precise, in my experience, a lot of startup failure is due to downright stupidity, or just ignoring the obvious.

Also, anecdotally, running a startup has been the absolute best on-the-job rationality training I've ever had.

Shockingly, successful entrepreneurs I've worked with score high on my rational... (read more)

0niceguyanon7yWhat you say sounds intuitive to me at first, but as of now I would say that rationality training may boost start up success rates up just a little. Here is some reasons why rationality might not matter that much: 1. People tend to be a bit more rational when it counts, like making money. So having correct beliefs about many things doesn't really give you an edge because the other guy is also pretty rational for business stuff. 2. self-delusion [], psychopathy [] , irrationality, corruption, arrogance, and raw driven determination [], have good if not better anecdotal evidence of boosting success than rationality training I think.
0Viliam_Bur7yI agree that a more rational person has a greater chance, ceteris paribus. Question is, how much greater. A part of the outcome is luck; I don't know how big part. Also, the rationality training may improve your skills, but just to some degree. (Data point: myself. I believe I am acting more rationally after CFAR minicamp than before, and it seems to be reflected by better outcomes in life, but there is still a lot of stupid things I do. So maybe my probability of running a successful startup has increased from 1% to 3%.)
Open Thread February 25 - March 3

My instinct on this is driven by having been in bad and good relationships, and reflecting on myself in those situations. It ain't much, but it's what I've got to work with. Yes, some people are unmatchable, or shouldn't be matched. But somewhere between "is in high demand and has good judgement, can easily find great matches" and "is unmatchable and should be kept away from others", there's a lot of people that can be matched better. Or that's the hypothesis.

2Emily7ySeems reasonable, although I'd still wonder just how much difference improving the match would make even for the majority of middle-ground people. It sounded in the grandparent post (first and fourth paragraphs particularly) that you were treating the notion that it would be "a lot" as a premise rather than a hypothesis.
Open Thread February 25 - March 3

I meant malice/incompetence on the part of the dating sites.

Open Thread February 25 - March 3

I wouldn't jump to malice so fast when incompetence suffices as an explanation. Nobody has actually done the proper research. The current sites have found a local maxima and are happy to extract value there. Google got huge by getting people off the site fast when everyone else was building portals.

You will of course get lots of delusionals, and lots of people damaged enough that they are unmatchable anyway. You can't help everybody. But also the point is to improve the result they would otherwise have had. Delusional people do end up finding a match in ge... (read more)

2Randy_M7yI don't think he was jumping to malice, rather delusion or bias.
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