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People Will Listen

You mention the EA investing group. Where is that? A cursory search didn’t seem to bring anything up. Also, more generally speaking, what would be your top few recommendations of places to keep up with the latest rationalist investment advice?

Violating the EMH - Prediction Markets

On this note, I would definitely be willing to pay premium to be part of a fund run by a rationalist who’s more intimately involved with the crypto and prediction markets than I am, and would thereby be able to get significantly more edge than I currently can.

Eric Raymond's Shortform

It would definitely be neat to read a history of that sort. Having myself not read many of the books that Eliezer references as forerunners, that area of history is one that I at least would like to learn more about.

A dashboard for progress

Yes, I’d just say that there’s a lot resting on that “up to a point”. Lots of goods, cars included,, fairly rapidly saturate in the benefit that they bring, and hence in how much of them get consumed. At least in the US, we’re at the point where there’s almost as many cars as people, and there’s fairly little use to more than one car per person. This puts a pretty hard upper limit on how much increased car production quality/efficiency will show up (and to a lesser extent, has shown up) in material use.

My informal perception is that in the “developed world” at least, a significant proportion of goods are already far enough along in this process that there’s a substantial decay in the quality of their inputs as proxy measures.

A dashboard for progress

As you briefly mentioned, the focus on input measures (like quantity of materials consumed) can be different from the progress we’re really looking for. In making a progress dashboard, I’d be pretty wary of including such measures in roughly the same way I’d be wary of judging how good a university is by how many employees/student it has — at best the measure is correlated with good things, but even then it’s a cost being paid to get those things, not a benefit in its own right.

Similarly, much of the gain of technology is in making better use of resources, and especially given that many human wants can’t really be satisfied just by scaling up the quantity, I’m not sure how good of a proxy the input measures are. For example, certainly cars have gotten a lot better over the last half century, but this doesn’t much show up as any increase in the amounts of rubber and metal used in their construction.

Lest my response give the wrong impression, I do like the idea of a progress dashboard; I just am not sure that input measures are all that good a candidate for inclusion in it.

What are fun little puzzles / games / exercises to learn interesting concepts?

Velocity Raptor

A fun interactive demonstration of special relativity. It’s good for getting an intuitive sense for some of the “weird” things that happen in relativistic conditions.

Against neutrality about creating happy lives

In a world where the fixed costs of creating a being with 0 utility are 0 (very unlike our world), and the marginal costs of utility are increasing (like our world), the best population state would be an ~infinite number of people each with a positive infinitesimal amount of utility relative to nonexistence.

However, the characteristics of personhood and existence would need to be so drastically different in order for the 0 cost to create assumption to be true (or even close to true, even virtual minds take up storage space) that I don’t really think that the conclusion in that particular case teaches us anything much meaningful about universes like our own.

Against neutrality about creating happy lives

At least to me, intuition is clearly in favor of creating said new people, as long as the positive utility (relative to the zero point of nonexistence) of their lives is greater than the loss in utility to those who already existed.

I do not view this as problematic from a consequentialist perspective, as I see that outcome as a better one than the prior state of fewer, somewhat happier people.

Just to be clear, due to the substantial (somewhat fixed) costs of creating and maintaining a person, the equilibrium point of ambivalence between creating or not creating new positive lives is at a level where each person’s utility is a substantial amount above 0 (rather than just barely preferring existence to nonexistence, as occasionally seems to be imagined).

Remarks on morality, shuddering, judging, friendship and the law

One other essay on roughly this topic is, sorting these considerations into three levels, axiology (what world-states are good), morality (what actions are good), and law (what behavior to enforce).

What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria?

Another few reasons that I've heard for what's opposing later high school start times are 1) due to limited numbers of buses, doing high school later would require the lower schools to be earlier, and parents don't want their elementary schoolers out before sunrise, and 2) after-school activities like sports would be disrupted, both in an absolute sense (they already sometimes run pretty close to sunset) and a relative sense (a school that moved to a later schedule would either not be able to do sports games with other schools, or would have to have the athletes miss much more school than they already do in order to match the schedules of the other schools). To be clear, I do still think that the cost-benefit is clearly in favor of later starting.

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