All of artifex's Comments + Replies

Trillions of dollars in lost economic growth just seems like hyperbole. There’s some lost growth from stickiness and unemployment but of course the costs aren’t trillions of dollars.

They did in fact not go far enough. Japanese GNI per capita growth from 2013 to 2021 was 1.02%. The prescription would be something like 4%.

7Matthew Barnett4mo
I'll just note that the NGDP []growth from 2013 to 2017 (when Inadequate Equilibria was published) was about 2% per year whereas RGDP []went up by about 1% per year. This definitely makes me sympathetic to "they didn't go far enough" but I'm still not sympathetic to "they never tested my theory" since you'd still expect some noticeable large effects from the new policy if the old monetary policy was responsible for a multi-trillion real-dollar problem.

I disagree total working hours have decreased. The number of average weekly hours per person from 1950 to 2000 has been “roughly constant”. Work weeks are shorter but there are more people working.

To be clear, I'm talking about total working hours per person. Most of the reduction happened before 1950, but as you can see from the Our World in Data chart, there was still some reduction after that.

As an example to explain why, I predict (with 80% probability) that there will be a five-year shortening in the median on the general AI question at some point in the next three years. And I also predict (with 85% probability) that there will be a five-year lengthening at some point in the next three years.

Both of these things have happened. The community prediction was June 28, 2036 at one time in July 2022, July 30, 2043 in September 2022 and is March 13, 2038 now. So there has been a five-year shortening and a five-year lengthening.

Even voting online takes more than five minutes in total.

Anyway, I’d rather sell my votes for money. I believe you can find thousands of people, current non-voters, who would vote for whatever you want them to, if you paid them only a little more than the value of their time.

If the value of voting is really in the expected benefits (according to your own values) of good political outcomes brought forth through voting, and these expected benefits really are greater than the time costs and other costs of voting, shouldn’t paying people with lower value of th... (read more)

I think there are 100 people around me who do not value 10 minutes of their time higher than $1, so I would be happy to buy 100 votes for $100. Problem is, it wouldn't work this way for two reasons. 1. Transaction costs. 2. On a free market, the price of a vote would not stay at "a little more than the value of their time", but would grow much higher, because there is a limited supply of votes. The problem is, if your interest in politics is something other than "steal as much money as possible", you face a coordination problem compared to people whose goal is to steal as much money as possible. Let's assume that a politician with no conscience is able to steal 1 million of money without exposing himself to a significant legal risk. That means, it would be rational for such person to spend 1/2 million buying votes, if it resulted in probability of being elected greater than 50%. So the people who want to prevent this kind of person from being elected would need to spend the same amount of money on buying votes; preferably more, to get a safety margin. In which case, congratulation, you prevented the 1 million from being stolen, at the cost of paying almost 1 million out of your pocket. Does not seem like a great victory.

Voting takes much more than five minutes and if you think otherwise you haven’t added up all the lost time. And determining how you should vote if you want to vote for things that lead to good outcomes requires extremely more than five minutes.

Many people who do not vote still have strong political opinions, so they already spent that time anyway. Speaking for myself, if I am not sure how to vote, I have some people whose opinion I trust, so I just ask them in a private message, and for some reason they are happy to tell me. If someone has no idea about politics, and is unwilling to effectively donate their vote to their peer group, then I agree it would take significantly more than five minutes for them.

I don’t know what purpose it serves in the post. There are more significant reasons why copies of deceased persons would never be exact anyway, without needing to go into anything beyond classical physics.

It’s the mainstream view, but not the only one and not necessarily quite correct. The Standard Model is a quantum field theory incorporating special relativity and the particles are thought of as being quanta of fields. Regardless of whether the particles are entirely reducible to fields, fields are clearly more important overall than particles.

1Alex Beyman8mo
Thank you. Can you devise an organic way to work this information into the article while keeping it approachable to an audience of mostly laypersons, who will understand what particles are but not the importance of fields? 

This unfortunately means that copies could never be absolutely exact as a consequence of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

The uncertainty principle doesn’t mean what you think: to replicate a person exactly, you just need to replicate exactly the values of each classical field at each point of space occupied by the person (the world is made of fields, not particles). You probably can’t do that, but it’s not the uncertainty principle that says you can’t do that.

What the uncertainty principle says is more like this: there are no wave functions in the pha... (read more)

1Alex Beyman8mo
>"the world is made of fields, not particles" Is this the mainstream view? It's the first time I'm hearing this. Thank you for the insights btw

The only real connection seems to be wanting to do math on on how good things are?

Yes, to me utilitarian ethical theories do seem usually more interested in formalizing things. That is probably part of their appeal. Moral philosophy is confusing, so people seek to formalize it in the hope of understanding things better (that’s the good reason to do it, at least; often the motivation is instead academic, or signaling, or obfuscation). Consider Tyler Cowen’s review of Derek Parfit’s arguments in On What Matters:

Parfit at great length discusses optimific

... (read more)

I don’t see “utility” or “utilitarianism” as meaningless or nearly meaningless words. “Utility” often refers to von Neumann–Morgenstern utilities and always refers to some kind of value assigned to something by some agent from some perspective that they have some reason to find sufficiently interesting to think about. And most ethical theories don’t seem utilitarian, even if perhaps it would be possible to frame them in utilitarian terms.

I can't say I'm surprised a utilitarian doesn't realize how vague it sounds? It is a jargon taken from a word that simply means ability to be used widely? Utility is an extreme abstraction, literally unassignable, and entirely based on guessing. You've straightforwardly admitted that it doesn't have an agreed upon basis. Is it happiness? Avoidance of suffering? Fulfillment of the values of agents? Etc.  Utilitarians constantly talk about monetary situations, because that is one place they can actually use it and get results? But there, it's hardly different than ordinary statistics. Utility there is often treated as a simple function of money but with diminishing returns. Looking up the term for the kind of utility you mentioned, it seems to once again only use monetary situations as examples, and sources claimed it was meant for lotteries and gambling. Utility as a term makes sense there, but is the only place where your list has general agreement on what utility means? That doesn't mean it is a useless term, but it is a very vague one. Since you claim there isn't agreement on the other aspects of the theories, that makes them more of an artificial category where the adherents don't really agree on anything. The only real connection seems to be wanting to do math on on how good things are?

Would you say you are one?

Yes, I consider it very likely correct to care about paths. I don’t care what percentage of utilitarians have which kinds of utilitarian views because the most common views have huge problems and are not likely to be right. There isn’t that much that utilitarians have in common other than the general concept of maximizing aggregate utility (that is, maximizing some aggregate of some kind of utility). There are disagreements over what the utility is of (it doesn’t have to be world states), what the maximization is over (doesn’t ... (read more)

You probably don't agree with this, but if I understand what you're saying, utilitarians don't really agree on anything or really have shared categories? Since utility is a nearly meaningless word outside of context due to broadness and vagueness, and they don't agree on anything about it, Utilitarianism shouldn't really be considered a thing itself? Just a collection of people who don't really fit into the other paradigms but don't rely on pure intuitions. Or in other words, pre-paradigmatic?

Utilitarianism is pretty broad! There are utilitarians who care about the paths taken to reach an outcome.

That's what I was talking about when I said that it meant utilitarians should 'technically change that view' and that it was not doing so that made Utilitarianism incoherent. Do I actually know what percentage of utilitarians explicitly include the path in the calculation? No.  I could be wrong that they generally don't do that. Whether it is true or not, it is an intuition that both the OP and I share about Utilitarianism. I don't think I've ever seen a utilitarian argument that did care about the paths. My impression is that explicitly including paths is deontological or virtue-ethical in practice. It is the one premise of my argument that could be entirely false. Would you say that a significant portion of utilitarians actually care about the path rather than the results? Would you say you are one? Assuming you are familiar enough with it and have the time, I would be interested in how you formulate the basics of Utilitarianism in a path dependent manner, and would you say that is different in actual meaning to how it is usually formulated (assuming you agree that path-dependent isn't the usual form)?

To put it mildly, this is not really a desiderata at all, it's actually an extremely baffling property.

How can we decide an axiom used to pin down a bargaining solution is intuitive or baffling without first having a goal in mind? Which axioms are sound for the bargaining solution used to pick deals depends on the purpose that led us to want to apply bargaining theory to a problem. If you’re designing a file sharing protocol, you don’t care about bargaining chips. You just want the files to be distributed quickly. Or if you’re designing a standard for n... (read more)

Other than water, potatoes are mostly starch, which becomes easily digestible after cooking. This makes your blood sugar level go up and down fast and makes you feel hunger quickly after eating them. I don’t know the implications of eating potatoes on a long-run effect on how hungry you feel generally.

This is a fantastic post. Thank you for writing it!

In the case where there are zero observed successes (so 𝑆 = 0) in the last 𝑛 years, Gott’s formula

for the probability that the next success happens in the next 𝑚 = 𝑍 − 𝑛 years gives

which ends up being exactly the same as the time-invariant Laplace’s rule. The same happens if there was a success (𝑆 = 1) but we chose not to update on it because we chose to start the time period with it. So the time-invariant Laplace’s rule is a sort of generalization of Gott’s formula, which is neat.

2Ege Erdil10mo
Yes, this is true. We note in a footnote that performing an anthropic update is similar to assuming an extra (virtual) success in the observation period, so you can indeed justify our advice of introducing such a success on anthropic grounds.

“Eat nothing but 𝑋 for 𝑛 weeks” diets (where 𝑋 is a single food item that isn’t a meal replacement) are pretty bad diets that we wouldn’t want to follow even in the cases where they are effective at losing weight, which when they are they probably are for all sorts of bad reasons. You have more important concerns than losing weight. I wouldn’t follow such a diet for one week and would pay a good amount not to have to follow it for four weeks or longer periods of time; I don’t think people should be willing to participate in such studies for free.

That it... (read more)

What do you make of all the claims that people didn't feel hungry on the diet then? Placebo effect?

There is no reason why you would want to convert stock to cash in a way related to how (or how much) dividends get paid, so it's purely an inconvenience. And the FIRE safe withdrawal rate is similarly in general unrelated to the dividend rate. Dividends are not relevant to anything.

No, because stock prices are more dependent than dividends on state variables that you don’t care about as a diversified long-term investor. See how smooth dividends are compared to stock prices: the dividends are approximately a straight line on log scale while the price is ... (read more)

I agree that steelmanning is bad and don’t know what to think of the “charity” cluster of principles (I at least think you should strive to understand what people said and respond as exactly as possible to what they said, not to what seems to you to be the strongest and most rational interpretation; that should only be a consideration for interpreting correctly what they said, if an interpretation being stronger makes it more likely that it was their interpretation; doing otherwise would just not be worth it even if only because it caused misunderstandings... (read more)

The air conditioner was intended as an example in which a product is shitty in ways the large majority of consumers don’t notice, and therefore market pressures don’t fix it.

But they do: among air-air heat pumps, dual hose air conditioners exist (but one hose versus two hoses is a huge gain in convenience), as do window air conditioners which are better (for efficiency; they cannot be installed in all windows), as do heat pumps with split indoor and outdoor units, which are much better (but more expensive). And ground-source heat pumps, which are better... (read more)

4Gerald Monroe1y
The most common product used by worldwide consumers, the ductless mini split, is highly efficient.  In most circumstances it is likely cheaper to operate than geothermal because of lower installation and equipment costs.  I think you're onto something here.  That consumers who need a temporary system sporadically or they need the cheapest possible system benefit from 1-hose.  And if they need efficiency, air-air and geothermal are much more efficient.   2 hose is less convenient and more expensive, and marginally more efficient.  It's niche is apparently just not very deep.  Window units are superior to 2 hose in every stat except the type of windows they work with and they are more visible from the outside of a building.

Are there any examples of how much to tax a few properties in a real (or real-ish) example?

Land values are lower than they would be without income taxes, so attempts to estimate how much can be raised with this methodology will underestimate the real number. Market prices for vacant plots ignore most of the value of land because of privileges and regulations suppressing most of that value. Real estate appraisals ignore even more value because assessors often use as basis income generated by land use without accounting for capital value and because they use historical values that lag behind.

Great post. Many of these arguments are fairly convincing.

My first 'dunk' on April 18, about a 5-year shortening of Metaculus timelines in response to evidence that didn't move me at all, asking about a Metaculus forecast of the Metaculus forecast 3 years later, implicitly predicts that Metaculus will update again within 3 years.

I do however claim it as a successful advance prediction, if something of a meta one

Wait, unless I misunderstand you there’s a reasoning mistake here. You request epistemic credit for predicting implicitly that the Metaculus median was going to drop by five years at some point in th... (read more)

Both of these things have happened []. The community prediction was June 28, 2036 at one time in July 2022, July 30, 2043 in September 2022 and is March 13, 2038 now. So there has been a five-year shortening and a five-year lengthening.
You're right that volatility is an additional category of reasons that him not giving his actual distribution makes it less informative. It's interesting to me that in his comment, he states: He sees it as significant evidence that his position wasn't extreme enough.  But he didn't even clearly given his position, and "the reality" is a thing that is determined by the specific question resolution when that day comes.  Instead of that actual reality, and because of how abruptly the community ended up shifting, Eliezer seems to be interpreting that to mean that his position about that reality is not extreme enough.  Those 2 things are somewhat related but pretty weakly, so it seems like rationalizing for him to frame it as showing his forecast isn't extreme enough. I don't expect him to spend time engaging with me, but for what it's worth, to me the comment he wrote here doesn't address anything I brought up, it's essentially just him restating that he interprets this as a nice addition to his "forecasting track record".  He certainly could have made it part of a meaningful track record! It was a tantalizing candidate for such a thing, but he doesn't want to, but expects people to just interpret it the same, which doesn't make sense.

If morality is subjective, why do I form moral opinions and try to act on them? I think I do that for the same reason I think I do anything else. To be happy.

What makes you happy is objective, so if that’s how you ground your theory of morality, it is objective in that sense. It’s subjective only in that it depends on what makes you happy rather than what makes other possible beings happy.

If morality is a thing we have some reason to be interested in and care about, it’s going to have to be grounded in our preferences. Our preferences, not any possible ... (read more)

To some extent. Minimally it can be grounded in our preference not to be punished. Less minimally, but not maximally, it can be grounded in negative preferences , like " I don't want to be killed" without being grounded in positive preferences like * "I prefer Tutti Frutti". In either case, you dont need a detailed.picture of human preference to solve morality, if you haven't first shown that all preferences are relevant.

Why is inequality morally relevant?

I don’t, but… I’d like to see some indication that the real knowledge is generated by discussion or investigation of meditation or Buddhism here. For example: global workspace theory, predictive processing, cognitive psychology, EEG, neuroscience, these weren’t motivated by meditation and Buddhism, I don’t think? Yes, there are neuroscientists who will write books about meditation and talk about interesting things in these books and also about less interesting things like their profound spiritual insights and I’m afraid the latter part of these books is th... (read more)

Kaj Sotala who wrote those posts meditates a lot. What Kaj believes about predictive processing is a combination of reading things and investigating his own mind in meditation to see how what he reads fits with what actually goes on in his head.
The particular sequence that Christian linked was motivated by me starting to notice that neuroscience, therapy and meditation seemed to all be describing similar phenomena. If I hadn't done meditation, it's very likely that I wouldn't have e.g. read and reviewed the book on global workspace theory and written all the subsequent posts. Since it was my experience with meditation and IFS that made GWT seem like a useful explanatory framework for both.

Meditation and Buddhism are of low interest to most rationalists who have not interacted with any of the in-person rationalist communities. My preference for how to approach these topics in the rationalist community would be: don’t, or do it in a place other than LessWrong frontpage, or do it much less than this. These hypotheses are being unreasonably privileged and overdiscussed on LessWrong relative to the ~nil amount of real knowledge that has been generated by the discussion and investigation so far.

How do you calculate that writing like [] contains "~nil amount of real knowledge"?

Thank you for doing this analysis!

A post-scarcity society can be defined as a society in which all the basic needs of the population are met and provided for free.

I think I like this post, but not the approaches.

A correct solution to moral uncertainty must not be dependent on cardinal utility and requires some rationality. So Borda rule doesn’t qualify. Parliamentary model approaches are more interesting because they rely on intelligent agents to do the work.

An example of a good approach is the market mechanism. You do not assume any cardinal utility. You actually do not do anything directly with the preferences you have a probability distribution over at all. You have an agent for each and extrapolate what that age

... (read more)

Fragility of value is used correctly only to make very different points from what you are stating here, that must result from how different the preference orderings you obtain are from the original preference orderings if you make changes to the complex computation that the values are. Consumer preferences in general equilibrium theory are a real-valued function whose domain is the consumption set, a subset of a full commodity space. This function can be used to define an order relation that represents the consumer’s preferences, each represented by... (read more)

because apparently the strongest evidence for "being the kind of person who buys X" is having bought X recently

In general, that you’ve bought something is evidence that you’re the kind of person who buys that thing. Furthermore, if you’ve bought certain items recently, you are far more likely to buy a similar product (for example, you regret the purchase and want to replace it) than someone who hasn’t.

The statement says “if transaction costs are zero, the market produces the efficient outcome”, but what is most interesting is the equivalent contrapositive “if the market didn’t produce the efficient outcome, it was because of transaction costs”.

I would add that the problem is not only transaction costs but also irrationality. You will not get the efficient outcome if the transaction costs are sufficiently low but the agents are not rational enough to think of the transaction or to consent to it. Also, some transaction c... (read more)

Category gerrymandering doesn’t seem like a different algorithm from selective reporting. In both cases, the reporter is providing only part of the evidence.