All of arunto's Comments + Replies

Spreading cash over multiple banks within the deposit insurance limits is an interesting business concept. In Germany (with a deposit insurance limit of 100,000 Euros per customer and bank) a large robo advisor, LIQID, had such a service (I think since 2020 or so), called LIQID Cash. 

However, currently they don't provide this service anymore (but they are saying there service will be back "soon"), so there seem to be some nontrivial problems with doing something like that, even for an established player with more than a billion Euros under management.

In the U.S, male adolescents die by suicide at a rate five times greater than that of female adolescents, although suicide attempts by females are three times as frequent as those by males. A possible reason for this is the method of attempted suicide for males is typically that of firearm use, with a 78–90% chance of fatality.

The quoted possible reason of more attempted firearm use by male adolescents committing suicide can only be a partial explanation.

Looking at the German figures (where firearms are not widely available) from 2021, absolute numbers of ... (read more)

The firearm use is a weird thing to point out. The usual explanation I see here is that social programming directed towards women drives them to value appearance more highly and use methods that are not as disfiguring, which means no firearms, but also no trains, bridges, high buildings, and so on.
The elevated male:female suicide ratio is now universal across countries, getting consistently more male-skewed, and some of the countries with the biggest increases, like Iceland and Cuba and Poland, are countries where firearm access is very low. In Poland, 90% of completed suicides are by hanging. So yes, the idea that firearm access is driving this is a parochial US notion. We have to be careful about all these stats, though. Women tend to choose “softer” suicide methods that may get counted as non-suicides more often than unambiguous male methods of suicide. On the flip side, men may experience depression as anger, not sadness or hopelessness, and may be less open about it overall. So both male depression and female completed suicides may be systematically undercounted across countries. I’m personally more uncertain about the m:f depression ratio than the m:f suicide ratio. I think it is possible that men are both more depressed than women (40% confidence), on the basis of the suicide ratio and evidence of undercounting, and self-harm more severely than women (60% confidence), but mainly I wish we had better data.
Answer by aruntoMar 01, 202351

One could use a shared bank account to which both partners contribute the same percentage of their income.

Another thing that could be interesting with spies is what they can do before a US/NATO-Russian war. If the Russian had one or more top level spies in the US security establishment or in NATO (as they, or their East German satellite, had during the cold war), then it could increase or decrease the risk of  Russia using nuclear weapons. 

If Russia got signals from inside US/NATO that the West was really willing to retaliate militarily in the case of a Russian nuclear strike on Ukraine, then this information could decrease Russia's willingness to es... (read more)

These are interesting thoughts. I know this is CNN, but the source (Robert Baer) seems solid. He says putin used information from Russian spy in the CIA to blackmail Yeltsin. If we discovered any of them currently active, I wonder if we could deliberately feed them bits of misinformation to steer Putin one way or another? Or maybe if the undiscovered spies could become something like ironic double agents on their own if the spies are against escalation? On their own imitative they steer things towards de-escalation? Or maybe defect at the last moment to try and stop escalation?

From the current numbers (-3 and -4) your post does not seem to be heavily downvoted. I believe there may be some users here who see any arguments for a smaller threat as dangerous. As long as there are not many upvotes, even a very small number of users with this attitude could lead to those numbers. We have seen a similar dynamic with the public health authorities during the Covid crisis (prioritizing message control over epistemic rationality).

Thanks. Was feeling crazy for a moment.

And as a good rationalist he explicitly asked:

I'd love to hear your thoughts both on this risk modeling framework and on the factor probabilities (30%, 80%, 70%) listed in the figure!

 My estimate is quite high (80%) that NATO's response will be forceful enough to include a non-nuclear military strike against Russia, because key NATO leaders have already made strongly worded statements to this effect.

Here, my estimate is much lower (about 25%). Talk is cheap, so strongly worded statements in itself are only weak evidence for future intentions if carrying out those threats poses threats on this level (and I do think it to be likely that the relevant players in NATO are aware of the level of risk). 

I would put it differently: there is a good reason for western leaders to threaten a strong response, whether or not they intend to carry it out. The reason is to deter Putin from launching nukes in the first place. However I haven't heard any threats against Russian territory and I'd like a link/citation for this. Russia's nuclear doctrine says it can use nukes if the existence of the Russian state is under threat, so if NATO attacks Russia, they would need to use a very carefully measured response, and they would have to somehow clearly communicate that the incoming missiles are non-nuclear... I'm guessing such strikes would be limited to targets that are near the Ukrainian border and which threaten Ukraine (e.g. fuel depos, missile launchers, staging areas). I don't see any basis for a probability as high as 70% for Putin starting a nuclear WW3 just because NATO hits a few military targets in Russia.

...or it might escalate with a Russian nuclear strike against Ukraine followed by NATO counterattacks against Russia...

That is possible. But I think it is important not to treat this as one scenario in your list of possible escalations but as two:

  1. Russian nuclear strike against Ukraine
  2. Russian nuclear strike against Ukraine followed by NATO counterattacks against Russia

I believe that P(scenario 1) >> P(scenario 2). NATO knows about the nuclear capabilities of Russia. Therefore attacks of NATO on Russia seem to me extremely unlikely, given the history o... (read more)

I treated it as one scenario mainly because I had seen on my twitter timeline that NATO had informed Russia that if they used nukes then NATO would strike back with conventional military.

Given that 335 users with 300+ karma were active on the site on Petrov Day, and the site didn't go down until we got beneath that, you could argue this is most successful Petrov Day yet on LessWrong (in past years, at most 250 people were given codes, and it's not clear they all visited LessWrong even). Plus, as above, this year the 300+ users didn't press the button despite the offer of anonymity.

I think that reasoning apllies only for the subset of users in the Americas. For users in Europe the time point when 300+ was enough to launch was deep in the ni... (read more)

Answer by aruntoSep 01, 202221

1. Make sure to have a good sleeping bag that is suitable for colder temperatures.

2. Prepare for power outages. I believe in most countries there are official agencies providing advice for such a situation (e.g., in the case of Germany: Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe)

3. Maybe get a dehumidifier (for situations with reduced heating but still with electricity) in order to prevent mould with reduced temperature.

News corporations provably have an imperative to reduce panic during a recession, although I don't know the specifics of where the momentum for this comes from.

Do they, provably? Or, to put it differently: Is having an imperative to reduce panic the only plausible explanation for headlines like this? 

My primary model of news organizations' goals is that they are trying to maximize attention, ideally (but not always) without being factually wrong. I think the WSJ headline is compatible with those goals.

For me the reporting about daily fluctuations in the financial press is mostly a source for amusement, not to be taking seriously (on 99% of the days, of course).

The most helpful thing my physiotherapist did when he treated me for chronic back trouble: making the observation that there was a considerable amount of avoidance behavior on my part. Stopping that and becoming more active has greatly reduced my back problems.

CFAR's focus on AI research (as opposed to raising the rationality water line in general) leads me to two questions:

  1. Given the long feedback loops involved with AI alignment: Wouldn't it be better to concentrate at first on other target populations (not AI research) to validate rationality techniques (even if, in the end, the aim is to deploy those techniques/attitudes in the context of alignement)?
  2. Even if it were possible to increase the rationality in parts of the AI research area, in democracies wouldn't it still be very important to target other parts o
... (read more)

When it comes to men who have sex with men (MSM) and Monkeypox in Europe and North America I think a crucial bit of information would be this:
Is the proportion of infected MSM with AIDS (compared to all infected MSM) about the same as in the MSM population or is it much higher?

If the proportion were about the same then the high number of MSM with Monkeypox would make this more or less an STD (not completely an STD, as AIDS isn't completely an STD as well). The health impact of that should be limited. And that would lead me to strongly believe that there is... (read more)

Our base expectation for asymptomatic spread should be quite low, because previous variants of monkeypox and smallpox (mostly) didn't spread like that. So I disagree with your "MSM with AIDS" scenario. It wouldn't be that surprising for the spread to be contained to the particularly vulnerable AIDS population.

I try to budget some time/energy for new ideas, new projects, etc. So that I can satisfy my unsatiable hunger for "new" without feeling guilty about it, but at the same time can make progress on some longer term project with the majority of my time/energy. 

What's scares me a little is this: If (or maybe better "When") this containment policy has to be abandoned, how will the Chinese government deflect blame? How will it try to distract the public? That could prove to be quite dangerous.

Regarding "Reminder that we should be very grateful here in America that we have the right of free speech, for Europeans enjoy no such right." and Germany:

The basis for the claim made by the German embassy is the following section of the German criminal code (§ 140 StGB - translation by me):

"If one of the unlawful acts specified in section 138 (1) numbers 2 to 4 and 5 last alternative or in section 126 (1) or an unlawful act pursuant to section 176 (1) or to sections 176c and 176d

  1. is rewarded after it has been committed or attempted in a punishable manner,
... (read more)

If Putin used nukes, I would think he would do it with two objectives:
1. Force Ukraine to surrender (or give in to peace conditions in favour of Russia).
2. Stop or reduce foreign weapons supply for Ukraine.

For that, the most likely targets for Russian (tactical) nukes would be traffic hubs near the Polish-Ukrainian border (but of course far enough on the Ukrainian side of the border so that it can't be seen as an attack on a NATO country).

I don't think it it likely that this would escelate into a US-Russia nuclear exchange (but of course the probability is a bit higher than zero).

About the 70:1 odds at the start of the calculation: Shouldn't we include our knowledge from other potential conflicts as well to get to our prior? I.e. India - Pakistan, US - China, Russia/SU - China?

Maybe, but they seem relatively closely linked, and the two biggest players seem like they're in their own reference class. That said, I basically buy that this should shade the prior down a bit, but just not hugely.

Sadly I don't know how to do that computation myself, so please tell us if you can explain it step by step.

Here is an IMF working paper explaining the process (there is not one single formula for that, so we don't know exactly how Bloomberg has calculated it). Market-Based Estimation of Default Probabilities and its Application to Financial Market Surveillance

Basically, you need at least two pieces of information:
- The price spread of the CDS
- The expected recovery rate (RR) - how much money will the creditors get back (which in most cases is more than zer... (read more)

That is a very important point. We don't know how stable or instable the (first) Cold War would have been with social media. How would have been the West's reaction to Budapest 1956 or Prague 1968 with Twitter and Facebook?

Second, this is the start of a new cold war. 

The current cold war didn't start with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Maybe with the invasion of Georgia or of the Crimean peninsula or with the constant threats against the Baltic states. 

But now the West has clearly realized it, and my point is that this has some potential to reduce the threat.

He threatened us when he invaded Ukraine, and threatened us again when there was the proposal of establishing a no-fly zone in Ukraine ("the consequences would be catastrophic for the entire world").

During the C... (read more)

"But now the West has clearly realized it" Exactly. And it's also a question of magnitude. So we can effectively say that the "real" start is now, despite some precedents. On no fly-zones, true, it would be out of question for NATO. Only Ukraine proposed it, desperate as they are. However, what matters is not the proposal, but Putin's nuclear threat, and the ease with which he keeps making them. I confess I didn't know about Nixon's madman theory and Operation Giant Lance, but firstly we can still say that we hadn't had this type of behavior for half a century, second and more importantly, Nixon's game with that specific operation was way less dangerous, since according to Wikipedia: "The operation was kept top secret from both the general public and higher authorities within the Strategic Air Command, intended to only be noticed by Russian intelligence.[4][5] The operation lasted one month before being called off.[4][5]" So, it was kept top secret and only lasted a month. Whereas with Putin he's openly threatening the whole world and his endeavors have lasted way longer - and more importantly, we don't know HOW LONG they're gonna last, i.e. if he'll actually end up invading a NATO country. Totally different orders of magnitude. So, yes, I agree he's definitely playing madman theory. The problem is (obsviously) - it's a dangerous game. It necessarily implies risking nuclear war to achieve your objectives, even if you're indeed bluffing. The opponent can call your bluff, and then nuclear war starts. I.e., Putin invades a NATO country like one of the Baltics, thinking "ah, those Westerners are too pussy to care about these poor economies here, they won't wanna go to war to defend it, so I can just take it". But then NATO maybe goes like "well, we don't care much about the Baltics indeed, but if we don't stop him now he's never gonna stop" so WW3 starts. That's why in my opinion your argument doesn't really contradict mine. On your last point on nuclear risk, m

What is, based on your understanding, the Russian perspective on what "Nazi" stands for?

"Anti-Slavic" is a bit reductionist and slightly skew of the truth, but basically, anti-Slavic, in the same way that an overly reductionist version of the Western perspective on what "Nazi" stands for would be "Anti-Semitic".

I think that is an important distinction you are making. Russia's (and Putin's) motivations for aggression seem to be primarily defensive, made from a position of weakness, of vulnerability (which can make them extremely dangerous). That wasn't the case with the SU.

Yes, two NATO members were involved on different sides in a civil war in a third (independent & non-NATO) country. I think that lies outside the scope of NATO's Article 5.

If Russia were part of NATO, then something like that could have happened, too, e.g.:
Romanian and Russian troops fighting each other in a civil war in the Republic of Moldova.

I believe their last war ended 1922. But there were times when a next war between them seemed quiet likely and NATO spend a lot of energy discouraging both sides from open hostilities, if I remember correctly.

1Константин Токмаков2y
I was talking about the war in Cyprus.

Yes, according to the NATO treaty there is only support for a victim of an attack. Here is the relevant Article 5 of the NATO treaty:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually... (read more)

1Константин Токмаков2y
As far as I remember, Turkey and Greece, NATO members, were at war with each other.

I am not so sure whether it makes sense to put Russia and the SU in the same category when it comes to being missionary. The ideology of the SU was basically universal - an ideal end state would have been the conversion of every country in the world to communism. For Russia I don't see that. Getting the former parts of the Russian empire back, yes, maybe being the leading slavonic country (especially an important motivation until 1917). But would Russia care how, e.g., Spain was governed? I don't think so (SU or USA would care).

Ok, this makes sense. After the fall of Soviet Union, Russia got defensive rather than missionary. Still "the best defense is a good offense", but the ambitions to conquer other countries are now proportional to their geographical distance.

I was thinking about short term consequences. What do you think could be longer term consequences against which one should prepare now?

1Mary Chernyshenko2y
I am thinking mostly about the situation in Ukraine (the harvest, the next school year, the next winter). I guess in Europe, the consequences and the timescales to consider will be different - maybe more of the "which college should I choose to study in for the next several years" kind? As I lack information on Europe it seems more prudent to be more vague. (Huh, that's a thought - "what kind of information does one need here".) What areas of life can be affected? Maybe you will end up learning to cook exotic foods just to take your mind off things (in the best possible way) or developing a personal ranking of the news sources. It all depends on what you want.

As long as it does not get really cold, according to the article. 

It may be that I have overestimated the risk of a very cold late winter (implicitly I used 40% to get from 25% gas embargo risk to 10% risk for shortages).

Yes, there is that risk. In 2021 about 10% electricity with natural gas, and in addition hard coal (where the main source is Russia, too) 9%. This year probably more, because two additional nuclear power plants have been closed at the end of 2021.

But these numbers underestimate the problem: Natural gas is used to even out fluctuations in the production of electricity with wind or solar (33% of electricity in 2021, 23% wind, 10% solar). Therefore a lack of gas could seriously destabilise electricity production.

Because of that risk I would predict that the u... (read more)

There is a variety of solar power camping gear that can be used for showers, cooking, lighting, etc. Some subset of this might be worth looking at.

Here, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution shares his thoughts about possible parallels with Afghanistan, but more with the Russian occupation of Afghanistan: Could Ukraine be Putin’s Afghanistan?

He doen't really answer this, but gives a couple of questions on which an answer could hinge:

  1. Which state or states will be the frontline sponsor? [Pakistan in the case of Afghanistan]
  2. Are they ready to take the heat from Russia? 
  3. How much support will the United States and NATO provide? 
  4. Will the insurgency spark a broader conflict, and can it be co
... (read more)

Thermal nuclear weapons are still Big Five exclusive. (I think India claim to have it, but the test yield is not conclusive)

North Korea's test on 3 September 2017 could have been thermonuclear, too (BBC). Of course, even if true, that does not mean that they have successfully weaponized it yet. But North Korea being able to do that would lead me to updating the probability of other countries being able to develop thermonuclear weapons.

I think one has to look at what one can "afford" on different time scales. The answer can be quite different in the short run than with more time.

Of course, technically you are right. Germany could afford harsh sanctions against Russia even in the short term, in the sense that it will not be the end of Germany. However, living in Germany, I like to have electricity. And in winter I do like to have heating, too (the building I am living in is heated with natural gas - gas has a market share for heating of 48% in Germany, and district heating 14%, from which... (read more)

That has been a key problem of NATO's defense posture for many decades: How believable is it that the US will risk complete self destruction to protect the freedom of European countries? And iirc that was one reason during the cold war to switch from "massive retaliation" to "flexible response" as a deterrence doctrine.

As it was then, even now, I think, it is not about assuring the adversary that the US will be involved - there can't be certainty about that. It is more about changing the probabilities for a US involvement. That is the main reason behind th... (read more)

Not unexpectedly, Europe is divided on the sanctions against Russia. Germany, Italy, Cyprus, and maybe the Netherlands seem to have blocked Russia's exclusion from the international finance system SWIFT (Guardian). 

One reason behind Germany's position is the fear that without SWIFT it can't pay for the Russian gas it depends on (FAZ - in German) for heating and for electricity. 

6Evan R. Murphy2y
Germany has updated its position and a SWIFT ban is now in the works:

Apparently, in one important sense this isn't true: they physically possessed the weapons, but not the capacity to do anything with them.

That's an important point.

However, I believe that a highly industrialized nation with modern nuclear weapons (but without the launch codes) would have had the capacity to do something with them. Using the weapons grade material (not only the fissible material, also the electronics etc) and using the weapons as prototypes for designing warheads should have had the potential to greatly accelerate a nuclear weapons program.

S... (read more)

Nevertheless, I am quite confident that Putin could come up with historical arguments for invading the Baltic states, too. E.g., that the Baltic states were part of Russia for more than a century and had gotten their independence primarily from the German occupation forces at the end of WW I.

...that the setting up of the Union Republics of the USSR in 1922 (which included the three Baltic states) involved transferring the territory and "the population of what was historically Russia" to the new states. 

The setting up of the SU in 1922 did not include the Baltic states - these were independent states from 1918 until 1940 (and I don't think that in Monday's speech Putin contradicted that). 

Parties to the Treaty on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922 were only:
- Russian SFSR
- Ukrainian SSR
- Byelorussian SSR
- ... (read more)

7Dead Hour Canoe2y
Ah, thank you! I was completely wrong, ignore me

...with the Baltic states being analogous to Czechoslovakia (which was allies with France, but which was more or less abandoned to Hitler)

I think a key difference is the presence of NATO troops in the Baltic states (NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, Baltic Air Policing). Militarily, those are only a tripwire, but killing US pilots in an attack on the Baltic states seems to me a very dangerous move.

If France and England had had garrisons in Czechoslovakia, then 1938 could have played out quite differently.

Good point.

I don't expect another military attack against a neigbouring country of Russia soon - it takes some time to consolidate power after an invasion (if that really is Russia's objective).

What I do think likely is international treaties between Russia and some non-NATO former Sowjet republics giving Russia additional rights, maybe military bases, etc. Because Russia's "bargaining position" towards its neigbours should have increased considerably.

I think it could have indirect effects on you and people you know personally because of sanctions against Russia and Russia's countermoves against those sanctions. That are the key informations to watch the next days and weeks.

The three perspectives map to some extent on to the political discussion in Germany. Currently there is a debate whether there should be a general vaccination mandate (there is already a mandate for health care workers). The parlament will not decide along party lines (which is quite atypical for the German political system), currently there are three possible bills:

a) A general vaccination mandate (18+ years), the reasoning behind that look somewhat like "Zero COVID" (but maybe it's a combination of "Zero COVID" and "Flatten the Curve").

b) A vaccination m... (read more)

One possible component e.g. drug overdose deaths, with an increase of 31% from 2019 to 2020 (it will be interesting to see, how the numbers for 2021 are). CDC

Great list, thanks.

I think for 7. there is a possible alternative:

Writing something like "In the case that you would be willing to answer my questions I have included them below this mail" and putting them in at the end of the mail (below the closing of the e-mail).

This could have advantages for both sides:

  1. The recipient can, if they choose, have a short look at the questions and decide based on that whether they want to answer. They don't run the risk of saying "yes" and then being confronted with a time investment they didn't want to make once they read t
... (read more)
4. asking "would you answer my questions" and only with a confirmation, later, telling those questions wastes time and mental energy of the person being asked (i.e. they need to spend time considering the first question, replying to it and only then receive the real communication) Reminds me of a blog post I read a long time ago where a writer told a story how a high school student requested a sort of interview for a class project. The student essentially wrote the whole interview, including the writer's answers and said "if you want to take time to write your own answers I will be grateful, but in case that would take too much of your time, here is what I gathered from your writing, if you think something needs to be corrected, please tell me". The writer was delighted especially because it was so easy for her to say "yes" to the student
Agreed, I'd consider that fine.

In general, I agree with your view that one should try not to get Covid (Unless the individual costs for trying not to get it are very high, which would depend on the individual life circumstances. Since here in Germany many things are closed down anyway, for me the costs are smaller than the benefit of playing ist safe). Having said that, short remarks about two of your points:

G. Here it is interesting to look at different countries. For me the default in the tool was UK and Germany, and the differences in excess mortality for the age group 15-64 were hug... (read more)

Based on a study by the University Mainz (Germany) it seems to me that long Covid is real, but not necessarily if you look at the specific symptoms thought to be associated with long covid.

They compared three groups: 
Group 1 Covid patients ("wissentlich infizierte")
Group 2 persons with Covid antibodies not knowing that they had Covid ("unwissentlich infizierte")
Group 3 persons without Covid antibodies ("ohne Infektion")

a) Looking at a list of possible long Covid symptoms 59.5% of group 1 were asymptomatic, 60.4% of group 2 and 54.3% of group 3. Seriou... (read more)

As for the second risk (that your public claims become part of your identity), even pseudonymous blogging could be a problem if you have a certain number of followers.  To guard against this to some degree, the advice might be:
"You should try blogging under different pseudonyms" (maybe on different platforms when it is, understandably, discouraged to do so on one platform.)

Am curious, are you suggesting any actionable trading strategy?

No, primarily I wanted to point out certain risk factors. The last sentence of my post was meant primarily as an illustration of the sentence before that.

d) sounds like you might be suggesting long vol, are you suggesting that?

Based on the risk factors stated above (but also based on the fact that overvaluations can be quite long lasting) I think most likely is one of two scenarios: A continued increase in the stock market based on the feeling of "there is no alternative" or a marked reduction ... (read more)

1[comment deleted]2y

Thank you very much, now I have realized the problem. 

For some reason I had activated the option "Restore the previous WYSIWYG editor". After unselecting that I can paste pictures into the editor (but I don't have to because the current editors automatically used the best size for the pictures).

1Maxwell Peterson2y
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