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Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance

18 months later its worth about 3x this price. You could sell 1/3 and have no risk, and let the rest ride.

Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

WOW AlphaGo beat lee Sedol!

lee was ahead most of the game but the computer beat him in the endgame I think.

Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance

8 months later, price still in the same range of around $200-300 all year.

Transaction rate has continued to rise steadily throughout the year, though a spike occurred this summer due to stress testing of the network, but has not experienced the rapid growth needed to sustain the late-2013 enthusiasm.

Bitcoin is suffering a bit recently with the Core vs XT debate. If it can make it through this and get to a state with a better block size, without forking and splintering the community, then it will be in better shape.

As time goes on and blockchain technologies continue to be worked on, the likelihood that Bitcoin eventually becomes surpassed/replaced by a useful 2.0 altcoin rises, imo. By 'useful' I mean something that could be a useful real world application of the blockchain, and be profitable to holders of the crypto token, rather than just have a value fueled by speculation.

So not something like Dogecoin or Litecoin, but projects that are actually trying to do something cool with the blockchain, such as smart contracts, prediction markets, financial stock/bond/forex exchange, decentralized web, etc. The era when you can just copy bitcoin, and change parameters like block time or switch to scrypt or whatever are past. For a blockchain project to be interesting/promising now, it has to be useful.

However, there is not yet any clear successor. There are a number of promising projects, but most of them are really still in alpha stages of development right now (Ethereum, Bitshares, Maidsafe, etc). They are really at the stage where only super users can do anything with them yet. Ripple is the most advanced and highest market cap, and is being used by a some financial institutions, but it is still extremely centralized, and the value proposition of its coin (XRP) is questionable in my mind, given that multiple companies have cloned the technology, stripping out the XRP token from the network because it really isnt necessary. Still, I own a bit.

Given that I now have the majority of my crypto funds into about 8 or so different 2.0 projects, most of which are in the top 20 market cap of crypto projects.

I think there are a lot of people out there who were told by someone 'buy bitcoins', and they did, and they either got in early enough that they made good money, or they bought in Nov 2013 or later and have a loss, and they either bailed since then or they are sitting there, and they dont really know much about the technology. That might have worked in 2011 when barely anyone knew of bitcoin, but at this point it got enough media attention that plenty of people have heard of it, and its going to be hard to make more order of magnitude gains unless it becomes highly useful and adopted.

The real money left to be made in the sector is in picking what 2.0 blockchain projects (either existing or yet to be made) have a future, and buying into them before they become well known. Diversifying among all the most promising ones is probably the best idea, because you only need one to make it big and give you a 100x or more return, and it can cover you even if every other one goes to zero. However, most people find out about cryptos when they are in a hype/pump phase, so if you just buy them at the time you find out about them, you will be looking at a huge loss, every single time. You have to either research every project and determine which ones are both promising and currently low prices relative to their price over the last year or two, or you have to wait until whatever coin you just found out about has a large correction. For example, Ethereum just came out and got a lot of hype this month, but its priced at around 5-10x the IPO price right now, (the price investors bought it for in early 2014). If you buy now there is a good chance youre buying the hype bubble, better to wait until it has corrected and stabilized in a price range first.

One very neat thing about cryptocurrencies to me is that its like an entirely new venture capital market ,that is open to everyone on earth, not just to wealthy 'accredited investors' with a $1M+ net worth. Anyone can help to fund IPO crypto startup projects, and has the chance to be their own venture capitalist and try to pick something that will succeed. Its so much better than funding a kickstarter for something you like, and then having no equity at all in the project you helped make possible.

I still think there is probably a place for Bitcoin as the store of value coin, at least if it can be forked with community approval and become more useful (larger block size). Most other proof of work coins are pointless in my mind, though coins that try to improve on the anonymity features could have a place (dash/bytecoin/monero are the main contenders there).

Most of the useful blockchain 2.0 projects that are trying to do something other than being a store of value have discarded proof of work, or are in the process of doing so (Ethereum), because its too expensive to secure a network that way when your goal is to, for example, provide smart contracts or prediction markets. Also, other security algorithms don't waste lots of electricity to run a bunch of ASIC miners, which would be a huge problem for the earth if bitcoin actually became the primary currency.

Disclaimer: I own at least some of every crypto I mentioned in this post. Except Litecoin, because its pointless. Doge is pointless too, but I still own a little because its fun, even though I think it will probably eventually die.

Cryonics: peace of mind vs. immortality

I don't want Cryonics companies to focus on selling fantasies, I want them to focus on making the technology work.

The value of giving people 'peace of mind' is low, and there are already tons of religions out there that do that. The value of actually letting people live again after death would be immense.

Focus on reality.

Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015

Please no spoilers from people who have read past this point in the books.

The event that occurred in the show hasn't even happened yet in the books. So there are no additional spoilers for a reader to give.

"Immortal But Damned to Hell on Earth"

Indeed, Surface Detail was an excellent book, one of the best Culture novels, imo.

Yes, technology which made immortality possible could also making torturing/punishing people forever possible, but this does not mean that death is good, rather it means that its important for people to have empathy, and that we need to evolve away from retributive justice.

I usually find articles like this from the deathists annoying, and this wasn't an exception.

Happiness and Goodness as Universal Terminal Virtues

They need it, therefore if it randomly happens, they will keep the outcome.

Yes this. Of course it is not a given that something that would be a useful adaptation will develop randomly.

Great analogies with the hand of cards.

Happiness and Goodness as Universal Terminal Virtues

Welcome to LessWrong, and thanks for posting!

Regarding the evolution of emotions, consider this:

Imagine a group of life forms of the same species who compete for resources. Lets say that either they are fairly even in power level, and thus it is superior for them to cooperate with each other and divide resources fairly to avoid wasting energy fighting. Alternately, some (alphas) are superior in power level, but the game theoretically optimal outcome is for the more dominant to take a larger share of resources, but still allow the others to have some. (This is superior for them to fighting to the death to try to get everything).

If life forms cannot communicate with each other, then they suffer from a prisoner's dilemma problem. They would like to cooperate in the prisoners dilemma, but without the ability to signal to each other, they cannot be sure the other will not defect. Thus they end up defecting against each other.

We can thus see that if the life forms evolved methods of signalling to each other, it would improve their chances of survival. Thus, complex life forms develop ways of signalling to each other. We can see many, many examples of this throughout a broad range of life.

The life forms also need to be able to mentally model each other now to predict each other's actions. Thus they develop empathy (the ability to model each other), and emotions, which are related to signalling. If each of the members of the species have similar emotions, that is , they react in similar ways to a given situation, and they have developed ways of expressing these emotions to each other, then it greatly improves the abilities of the life forms to model each other correctly. For example, if one life form then tries to gain an unfair distribution of resources (defecting in the prisoners dilemma problem), the other will display the emotional response of anger. They are signalling 'you cannot defect against me in such an unfair way. Because you are attempting to do so, I will fight you'.

Because the emotional responses occur automatically, they act similar to a precommitment. Essentially, the life form having the emotional response has been preprogrammed to have this response to the situation. This is a precommitment to a course of action, which can help the life form to achieve a better game-theoretic result.

(For example, if we are playing 'chicken', driving our cars toward each other on a road, the best strategy for me to win the game is to visibly precommit to not swerving no matter what. Thus, the optimal strategy would be to remove my steering wheel and throw it out of the car in a way that you can see. Since you now know that I CANNOT turn, you must turn to avoid crashing, and I win the game. This shows how a strong precommitment can be an advantage).

If we think of emotions as precommitments in this way, we can see that they can give us an advantage in our prisoner's dilemma problem. The opponent then knows that they cannot defect against us too much, or else we will become angry and will fight, even though this gives a worse outcome for us as well, it is an emotional response and thus we will do it automatically.

We can see that emotions are thus an aid to fitness, and life forms that evolve them will have a genetic advantage.

Now imagine that the problems that the life forms need to signal about become much more complex. Rather than just signalling about food or mates, for example, they need to signal about group dynamics, concepts like loyalty to a tribe, their commitment to care for young, etc.

Under these circumstances, we can see the need to develop a much greater range of emotions to deal with various situations. We need to display more than just anger over an unequal distribution, or fear, or so on. We also need to have emotional responses of love, loyalty, and so on, and be able to demonstrate/signal these to each other.

This is my understanding of how emotions should evolve among complex life forms that are at least remotely close to humans. Perhaps for extremely different life forms, emotions would not evolve. Or perhaps in pretty much all complex forms of life which are communicating with each other, some form of emotions would evolve, I don't know. I don't see the need for a magical sky-father to have desired emotions to exist, who then guided reality to this point.

Also, I am not sure how the universe-creator would accomplish this. If the degrees of freedom they have are to create the underlying fundamental laws of physics, and the initial conditions of the universe, how would they be able to compute out what sets of laws/initial conditions would lead to the physics which would lead to the chemistry which would lead to the biology which would lead to the life forms which would have these emotions? And why would that be the goal of the universe-creator? In the absence of evidence which would distinguish this hypothesis from others, I don't see why we should privilege this hypothesis to such an extent, when it is pretty clear that the real reason for "believing" in it is actually "I want it to be true". (And also "A strong meme which many people believe in is threatening that I will be harmed if I do not "believe" that this is true, and promising to reward me if I do "believe" it is true).

If anyone can correct my thoughts regarding evolution and emotions, or can point to some studies or scientific theories which either support or refute this post, I would love to read them!

Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015

SPOILER ALERT:

Here is the solution I just came up with.

1) Albert says "I don't know when Cheryl's birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know too."
If the birthday had been May 19 or June 18, then Bernard would have known it immediately after being told the day, because those days only appear once. In order for Albert to know this about Bernard's knowledge, he must know that the month is not May or June. (Becuase if the month was either may or June, Bernard might know the birthday right away). Therefore the birthday is not in May or June.

2) Bernard says: "At first I didn’t know when Cheryl's birthday is, but I know now."
After Albert gives Bernard the information that it is either July or August, Bernard learns the exact date. This indicates that the day is not the 14th, because the 14th is present in both July and August. In order for Bernard's information to not remain ambiguous, it must be one of July 16, August 15, or August 17, because those three have a unique day value out of the remaining possibilities.

3) Albert says: "Then I also know when Cheryl's birthday is." This indicates that for our three remaining possibilities, the month is not ambiguous, and therefore it must be July. (Because August had two possibilities left, while July had one). Therefore the birthday is on July 16.

I found it fairly easy, but I am experienced with logic puzzles, including those where characters in the puzzle use their knowledge about the knowledge of others in the puzzle in order to solve it. If someone wasn't experienced with these kinds of logic puzzles it would probably seem very hard. (The first time I encountered one of these I think I agonized over it for many hours).

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