All of allenwang's Comments + Replies

Less Wrong: Open Thread, September 2010

(sorry of this comment is too long, continued from above) Creating Incentives

Of course, a sense of public pride exists in many people, and this has led large numbers of people to learn about the issues without external inducements. But the population of educated voters could be vastly increased if there were these personal benefits, especially for groups where environmentalism has not become a positive norm.

While we have thought about other approaches to creating these wide-ranging personal incentives, specifically, material prizes and the intangible benef... (read more)

1CronoDAS11yThis seems to have the same problem as teaching evolution in high school biology classes: you can pass a test on something and not believe a word of it. Cracking an information cocoon can be damn hard; just consider how unusual religious conversions are, or how rarely people change their minds on such subjects as UFOs, conspiracy theories, cryonics, or any other subject that attracts cranks. Also, why should employers care about a person's climate change test score? Finally, why privilege knowledge about climate change, or all things, by using it for gatekeeping, instead of any of the many non-controversial subjects normally taught in high schools, for which SAT II subject tests already exist?
Less Wrong: Open Thread, September 2010

I have been following this site for almost a year now and it is fabulous, but I haven't felt an urgent need to post to the site until now. I've been working on a climate change project with a couple of others and am in desperate need of some feedback.

I know that climate change isn't a particularly popular topic on this website (but I'm not sure why, maybe I missed something, since much of the website seems to deal with existential risk. Am I really off track here?), but I thought this would be a great place to air these ideas. Our approach tries to tackl... (read more)

-1allenwang11y(sorry of this comment is too long, continued from above) Creating Incentives Of course, a sense of public pride exists in many people, and this has led large numbers of people to learn about the issues without external inducements. But the population of educated voters could be vastly increased if there were these personal benefits, especially for groups where environmentalism has not become a positive norm. While we have thought about other approaches to creating these wide-ranging personal incentives, specifically, material prizes and the intangible benefits of social networking and personal pride (such as are behind Wikipedia or Facebook’s success), it appears that these are difficult to apply to the issue of climate change. Material prizes would be costly to fund, especially to make them worth the several hours necessary to learn about the issues. The issues are difficult enough, and the topic possibly scary enough, that it is not necessarily fun to learn about them and discuss with your friends. For another, it takes time and a little bit of dedicated thinking to achieve an adequate understanding of the problem, but part of the incentive to do so on Wikipedia—to show off your genuine expertise on the topic, even if anonymous—is exactly not what is supposed to happen when there is an educated populace on the topic: you will not be a unique expert, just another person who understands the issue like everyone else. The sense of urgency and personal importance needed to spur people to learn just is not there with these modes of incentivization. But there is one already extremely effective way that companies, schools, and other organizations incentivize behavior that has little to do with immediate personal benefits. These institutions use their ability to advance or deter people’s future careers to motivate performance in certain areas. The gatekeepers to these future prospects can use their position to bring about all kinds of behavior that would otherwise seem
Less Wrong: Open Thread, September 2010

It seems to me that the main reason most hypertext sources seem to produce shallower reading is not the fact that it contains hypertext itself, but that the barriers of publication are so low that the quality of most written work online is usually much lower than printed material. For example, this post is something that I might have spent 3 minutes thinking about before posting, whereas a printed publication would have much more time to mature and also many more filters such as publishers to take out the noise.

It is more likely that book reading seems mor... (read more)

It seems to me like "books are slower to produce than online material, so they're higher quality" would belong to the class of statements that are true on average but close to meaningless in practice. There's enormous variance in the quality of both digital and printed texts, and whether you absorb more good or bad material depends more on which digital/print sources you seek out than on whether you prefer digital or print sources overall.

Transparency and Accountability

I really want to put up a post that is highly relevant to this topic. I've been working with a couple of friends on an idea to altar personal incentives to solve the kinds of public good provision problems that charities and other organizations face, and I want to get some feedback from this community. Is someone with enough points to post willing to read over it and post for me? Or can I get some upvotes? (I know that this might be a bit rude, but I really want to get this out there ASAP).

Thanks a bunch, Allen Wang

0katydee11yI can also take a look if you want, but yeah, no promises.
0whpearson11yI'll have a look, no promises.
Consciousness of simulations & uploads: a reductio

I think that something like this must be the case. Especially considering the hypothesis that the brain is a dynamical system that requires rapid feedback among a wide variety counterfactual channels, even the type of calculation in Simplicio's simulation model wouldn't work. Note that this is not just because you don't have enough time to simulate all the moves of the computer algorithm that produces the behavior. You have to be ready to mimic all the possible behaviors that could arise from a different set of inputs, in the same temporal order. I'm sure ... (read more)

0JanetK11yAllenwang voted up - I don't understand why there was a negative reaction to this.