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I think we're talking about an experience machine, not a pleasure button.

It's not about giving up. And it's also not about "intense pleasure". Video games can be very pleasurable to play, but that's because they challenge us and we overcome the challenges.

What if the machine was reframed as reliving your life, but better tuned, so that bad luck had significantly less effect, and the life you lived rewarded your efforts more directly? I'd probably take that, and enjoy it too. If it was done right, I'd probably be a lot healthier mentally as well.

I think the disgust at "wireheading" relies on some problematic assumptions: (1) that we're not already "wireheading", and (2) that "wireheading" would be a pathetic state somewhat like being strung out on heroin, or in an eternal masturbatory orgasm. But any real "wireheading" machine must directly challenge these things, otherwise it will not actually be a pleasurable experience (i.e. it would violate its own definition).

As Friendly-HI mentions elsewhere, I think "wireheading" is being confusingly conflated with the experience machine, which seems to be a distinct concept. Wireheading as a simple analogue of the push-button-heroin-dose is not desirable, I think everyone would agree. When I mention "wireheading" above, I mean the experience machine; but I was just quoting the word you yourself used.

I don't agree on the dragon book (Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools). It focuses too much on theory of parsing for front end stuff, and doesn't really have enough space to give a good treatment on the back end. It's a book I'd recommend if you were writing another compiler-compiler like yacc.

I'd rather suggest Modern Compiler Implementation in ML; even though there are C and Java versions too, a functional language with pattern matching makes writing a compiler a much more pleasant experience.

(I work on a commercial compiler for a living.)

A related idea that I've had for a decade or so: when someone (a country, a company, a person) wants to follow in the path of someone else, they shouldn't aim for their own conception of that other's location or path; rather, they should aim for what the other was aiming for, at the time they themselves traced their path.

I don't know about other people, but I do know something about myself: I don't fully know what I think until I either write it down or speak up. Moreover, the benefits of speaking up without fully thought through ideas is high in group conversations - rather than trying to complete a thought with one's own limited repertoire of to-hand facts and concepts, one can use the group's.

Given that it's such an important problem in people's lives, I am somewhat perplexed as to why it isn't covered in school. Given the effect choosing a mate can have, it should be a substantial part of the curriculum.

Exactly. If someone has $1.1M, spending $0.1M on a 15% chance of $1M is a good deal. Someone who has $0.05M and has to go into debt to buy the 15% chance is very probably insane.

Have you actually read the linked-to article? Heritability != genetic control. The textbook example:

The textbook example is that (essentially) all of the variance in the number of eyes, hearts, hands, kidneys, heads, etc. people have is environmental. (There are very, very few mutations which alter how many eyes people have, because those are strongly selected against, but people do lose eyes to environmental causes, such as accident, disease, torture, etc.) The heritability of these numbers is about as close to zero as possible, but the genetic control of them is about as absolute as possible.

That text is actually a quote from here, and that article is even more interesting and explicit on this point.