All of bendini's Comments + Replies

The rationalist community's location problem

(Disclaimer: This is a brief low effort reply because I've spent a large amount of time on this topic with very little to show for it, but I also don't want to ignore questions which people have a reasonable expectation of getting a response.)

  • UK immigration law is almost seamless if 1) you are just wanting to visit to get a taste of living here 2) are willing to visit for less than 6 months per year and are wealthy/willing to tolerate being in the defacto legal grey area of remote work on a tourist visa.
  • Immigration to the UK is about as straightforward as
... (read more)
Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

If you don't write a seperate post about it, you could reply to this comment with the results. (i have nothing further to add at this time.)

Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

I think the question becomes much more social than technical. It's not about how to design the UI, it's about evolving cultural norms. I would say it's both, it's getting users to want to do something and having the UI make it easy for them to do it.

(As a side note, for some reason people have become more reluctant in the past decade to rebel against interfaces and the implicit messages sent by its design choices. Like, until about last year you could not get people to use Discord as a tool for serious work, even though it was better than Slack, simply ... (read more)

2adamzerner8moAh, great point. Seems obvious in retrospect, but it's always good to talk to users. I agree that that would make sense as the first step.
Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

I think those things would be a step in the right direction, but I'd be surprised if they turned out to be sufficient. Remember, LessWrong already notifies the subset of the userbase most likely to reply (i.e. users who have already replied) when there are new comments, but those users choose to ignore them after ~2 weeks.

For things to actually change, I predict that we'd first need a widespread perception that this behaviour is a problem, then have various UI nudges put in place. The only way you'd get the desired behaviour change without that consensus is if the UI went beyond nudging and aggressively pushed it as the default.

3adamzerner8moMy apologies if I was being dense or if I was misunderstanding you before, but in reading this now, I agree and think it makes a lot of sense. So then, I think the question becomes much more social than technical. It's not about how to design the UI, it's about evolving cultural norms. I suppose a good starting point there would be to have a post talk in more detail about why this would be a good thing (I didn't really do that in this post). From there, maybe the next step would be if you started to see post authors do things like making pledges or holding office hours.
Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

I think points 2 and 3 are correct, but the thing I wanted to convey was that without strong explicit preferences for things to be different, it's unlikely that the necessary changes would be made.

I think that while 1 is often true in general, it is not true in this specific case. We already have the positive sum solution (notifications) which allows anyone to continue discussions for as long as they like without having to manually check for new replies, and this clearly isn't enough to unstick the norm of avoiding comment sections once a post is a few wee... (read more)

3adamzerner8moPerhaps, but you've gotta start somewhere! How about if: 1. In between the Recommendations and Latest sections on the home page, there was a short Ongoing Discussions section with three posts? And if you want to see more you can expand it. 2. On the page for an individual post, eg., above the comments section, there was a section for making pledges about ongoing discussions? Those two things seem like a) they'd be sufficient and b) wouldn't get in the way too much of people who aren't interested in ongoing discussions.
Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong?

I don't think it's completely to blame, but I suspect that the way the LessWrong homepage is set up encourages this cultural norm. LessWrong 2.0 has paid some attention to the need to revisit content, but the homepage is still much closer to Reddit (where discussions die out quickly) than a forum (where they don't).

My reason for thinking the website is not completely to blame is that it seems to reflect the revealed preferences of the users. If there was a strong (and conscious) preference for long running discussions, people would work around it via the n... (read more)

5adamzerner8moAgreed. However: 1. I think there's room on the site to accommodate both preferences. 2. With long running discussions, I think that a) more intellectual progress and b) deeper satisfaction happens. (a) and (b) seem like they would outweigh the downside of c) pleasing people who prefer shorter discussions. 3. I sense that (c) is actually a pretty small group. I think the majority of people here would be happier having longer, deeper conversations, and that similar to eg. Facebook, people's revealed preference of shallow usage doesn't [] actually indicate that it is what makes them happy.
The best things are often free or cheap

I don't think there are any important caveats, and I also wouldn't expect there to be. The reason I wouldn't is that if the best things in life weren't cheap, it would mean that the best things in life are the things that require lots of highly skilled labour that can't be amortised across a large number of people.

When things are expensive and highly desired, market forces incentivise people to put a lot of effort into making those things less expensive, so the only things that tend to remain that way are:

A) Things where there are hard constraints on how m... (read more)

2adamzerner10moInteresting take. I don't know enough about markets to really say. To feel confident in your argument I'd want to feel confident that 1) your list of A and B is exhaustive and 2) that both A and B are true. To feel confident in 1 and 2, I'd want to see if I could come up with counterexamples. That seems like a difficult thing for a person to do though, because the space of best things is large.
Why Boston?

To clarify, I was thinking more about the overall effect of the weather on people. You are not indoors all the time, nor can you cover every square inch of your body with warm clothing. At least from my point of view, being outdoors in 20F wind in a winter coat is worse than 85F in shorts + t-shirt. I'm not disputing that air conditioning is more technologically complex than a fireplace, I just don't think it's a major factor.

1Czynski1yI think it is a pretty major factor. 20 F is not that common, and much easier to work around than 100 F, which is approximately as common. Both are pretty terrible outdoors; 20 F often comes with some benefits that make it worth suffering through, most of which involve snow, and 100 F doesn't AFAIK, but that's a minor detail. And you're correct that the difficulty of dressing for the weather is not obviously tied to the difficulty of controlling an indoor environment; I think there's a weak correlation there, but it could just be noise. It's only inside that you can really work around either extreme enough to be comfortable. And how hard that is differs greatly due to the different underlying complexities of the problems.
Why Boston?

Ah, that makes more sense. I think if you'd posted this last year I would have assumed you were making an individual case, but the recent interest in moving the hub away from Berkeley made me think otherwise.

Why Boston?

From what I understand, the case for Boston is as follows:

A. Similar good things

  1. Boston has similar urban amenities of the SFBA (colleges, medicine, airport).
  2. Boston tolerates the rationalist kind of weirdness (queer and poly).
  3. Boston has lots of the activity groups rationalists enjoy (contra dance, kink).
  4. Boston has enough rationalists that it's possible to run weekly events and for people to have their own little friendship groups.
  5. Boston has plenty of buildings that are suitable for large grouphouses.
  6. Tech salaries in Boston are only 10-20% less than the SFBA
... (read more)
-4Czynski1yLet's try this again, being more explicit about the analogy, though it's incredibly simple so that really shouldn't be necessary. These are backwards. Cold winters are a lot easier to work around than sticky summers; a fireplace is simpler than an air conditioner. * A fireplace is simple, and is the simplest man-made method of dealing with cold. * Because it is simple, manufacturing tolerances and installation tolerances are large. * This makes it cheap, and easy to install, when installing it as intended * If you install a fireplace six inches to the left of the intended location, it will work without problems. (You will probably have other architectural problems, but they are not the fault of the fireplace; if it had been a window or a non-structural column that was moved, that would be equally problematic.) * Derivatives of the fireplace optimized for particular use-cases, such as being addable and subtractable after the building is finished, start from this extremely low baseline. They add complexity, reduce manufacturing and installation tolerances, etc. * But because the baseline is incredibly low, even after making those changes it remains very simple, so the devices remain cheap, easy to install, etc. * End result: Furnaces, space heaters, radiators, all are cheap and abundant. Contrast with * Air conditioners are the simplest general-applicability man-made method of dealing with heat. * They're really fuckin' complicated. Tolerances for installation and manufacture are small. * If you install an air conditioner six inches to the left, it probably won't work at all; the seal will be crap and you'll get worse results than you would have from leaving the window closed. At best you'll get 50% capacity. * Variants exist with better tolerances, (freestanding units with pipe) but they're more expensive and less efficient. * This also makes air conditioner
-1Czynski1yThese are backwards. Cold winters are a lot easier to work around than sticky summers. (A fireplace is simpler than an air conditioner.)

Big improvements (for me -- YMMV):
1. Boston has two of the world's best few universities very close together. (It's hard to live close to Stanford without studying there, and it's a huge trek from Stanford to Berkeley).
2. There's an obvious Schelling point in Boston for where to live (Camberville), while interesting people/companies/organizations in the Bay are in SF, Oakland, Berkeley, and South Bay/Peninsula. 
3. Boston is closer to NYC (and the other big East Coast cities) and Europe. 

I'd guess Camberville is significantly cheaper in term... (read more)

8jefftk1yThat's a pretty good summary! I'm not actually trying to make the case for moving the main rationalist hub; I actually think it's pretty likely that the hub cannot be moved, at least not intentionally. Instead, I'm trying to describe why people might consider moving here as individuals.
The rationalist community's location problem

What about homeschooling? Many people within the community plan to homeschool their children, yet a quick google search indicates that homeschooling is illegal in all of Germany and you will be arrested if you attempt to do so. 

1gogishvilli1yIf it will be a big community - would it be legal to organize some kind of private mini school? Something like Elon made for his kids - it could be better than homeschooling and regular private school both.
3Avi1yOn the positive side - there is a sizeable cluster of alternative schools in and around Berlin - including forest schools, free/democratic schools, Montessori/Waldorf etc.
3ESRogs1yFYI I think your second link is broken.
The rationalist community's location problem

Here's my incredibly detailed pitch for Manchester, UK. 

If anyone has feedback, you can reply here or comment on the article itself.

1DPiepgrass3moManchester sounds nice, but what can you tell me about UK immigration law? Is there a base of EAs, rationalists, or ACX fans already?
Construct a portfolio to profit from AI progress.

I've given this a strong downvote, but I'm writing a comment so the OP and passerby aren't confused why a long comment that provides relevant answers is (currently) sitting at -3 karma:

  1. Repeating the false but popular assertion that smart people can't outperform indexes without insider knowledge/huge amounts of luck.
  2. Conflating whether it's moral to invest in China with whether it is profitable.
  3. The suggestion that the asker should look into selling moonshine/other contraband. (This isn't a moral complaint, it's just bad advice. Starting a manufacturing business isn't a remotely suitable replacement for stock investing + the risk adjusted returns of such a business are very poor.)
1Stuart Anderson1y-
3MikkW1yI say props to Stuart for not letting Goodhart get the best of him, and we should follow suit. Investing in China might be profitable (i.e. provide financial returns), but it also increases the probability of living in a world that I don't want to live in- for selfish reasons as much as moral reasons. When investing, it's far too easy to be blinded by the numbers, and end up actively incentivizing bad things to happen. That's not something rationalists should strive to do.
Raemon's Shortform

I agree, but I also think there's a bit of a chicken and egg problem there too. Leaders fear that enforcing order will result in a mutiny, but if that fear is based on an accurate perception of what will happen, telling leadership to grow a pair is not going to fix it.

Raemon's Shortform

Thinking about my own experiences of seeing these bottlenecks in action, I don't think either is a subset of the other. It seems more like there's a ton of situations where the only way forward is for a few people to grow a spine and have the tough conversations, and an adjacent set of problems that need centralised competent leadership to solve, but it's in short supply for the usual economic reasons plus things like "rationalists won't defer authority to anyone they don't personally worship unless bribed with a salary".

2Raemon2yI think leadership also depends on backbone tho.
How Doomed are Large Organizations?

It was meant to include Canada (because I suspect it still applies to them and I was unsure if they were included in Moral Mazes) but not Mexico or any countries south of Mexico which are technically in North America. This was not clear in retrospect and I have edited my comment in light of that.

How Doomed are Large Organizations?

Fortunately or unfortunately, this problem seems much worse in America compared to other western countries. Unfortunately, because most of the audience lives and works there. Fortunately, because it means large organisations aren't destined to become hellholes. By no means are they absent, but when I researched this they seemed far less intense.

Have you looked into the workings of large organisations outside of the US or Canada?

3Raemon2yDo you actually mean "North America" or "United States in particular"?
How to Escape From Immoral Mazes
As George Carlin says, some people need practical advice. I didn't know how to go about providing what such a person would need, on that level. How would you go about doing that?

The solution is probably not a book. Many books have been written on escaping the rat race that could be downloaded for free in the next 5 minutes, yet people don't, and if some do in reaction to this comment they probably won't get very far.

Problems that are this big and resistant to being solved are not waiting for some lone genius to find the 100,000 word combina... (read more)

How to Escape From Immoral Mazes

I've been following your whole series on moral mazes. I felt the rest of them were important because they explained why "working for the man" was bad in explicit terms, but this one was a pleasant surprise. Until about halfway through this post, I was under the impression you were articulating the dangers of moral mazes in the abstract while carefully ignoring any implications it would have for your own career on Wall Street. The point I realised you'd actually quit was a jaw-dropping moment, given that I already knew you weren't s... (read more)

Thank you for all that. I worry about the same thing - that this will not feel/be sufficiently actionable for people, and they won't be that likely to change their situations based on it. As George Carlin says, some people need practical advice. I didn't know how to go about providing what such a person would need, on that level. How would you go about doing that? It feels like a book-length or longer problem, the same way one can't write a post on how to prepare for a street fight that would actually be that good, beyond giving basic pointers (like run away).

Please Critique Things for the Review!
Often what needs reviewing is less like "author made an unsubstantiated claim or logical error" and more like "is the entire worldview that generated the post, and the connections the post made to the rest of the world, reasonable?

I agree with this, but given that these posts were popular because lots of people thought they were true and important, deeming the entire worldview of the author flawed would also imply the worldview of the community was flawed as well. It's certainly possible that the community's entire worldview is flawed, but even if you believe that to be true, it would be very difficult to explain in a way that people would find believable.

2Raemon2y[edit: I re-read your comment and mostly retract mine, but am thinking about a new version of it]
Please Critique Things for the Review!

Those numbers look pretty good in percentage terms. I hadn't thought about it from that angle and I'm surprised they're that high.

FWIW, my original perception that there was a shortage was based on the ratio between the quantity of reviews and the quantity of new posts that have been written since the start of the review period. In theory, the latter takes a lot more effort than the former, so it would be unexpected if more people do the higher effort thing automatically and less people do the lower effort thing despite explicit calls to action and $2000 in prize money.

2Ruby2yRe: the ratio The ratio isn't obviously bad to me, depending on your expectation? Between the beginning of the review on Dec 8th and Jan 3rd [1] then there's been 199 posts (excluding question posts but not excluding link posts), but of those: - 149 post written by 66 users with over 100 karma - 95 written by 33 users above 1000 karma (the most relevant comparison) - 151 posts written by 75 people whose account was first active before 2019. Compare those with the 82 reviews by 32 reviewers, it's a ratio of reviews:posts between 1:1 and 1:2. I'm curious if you'd been expecting something much different. [ETA: because of the incomplete data you might want to say 120 posts vs 82 reviews which is 1:1.5.] Re: the effort It's not clear to me that the effort involved means you should expect more reviews: 1) I think the Cost-Benefit Ratio for posts is higher even if they take longer, 2) reviewing a post only happens if you've read the post and it impacted you enough to remember and feel motivated to say stuff about, 3) when I write posts, it's about something I've been thinking about and am excited about; I haven't developed any habit around being excited about reviews since I'm not used to it. [1] That's when I last pulled that particular data onto my machine and I'm being a bit lazy because 8 more days it isn't going to change the overall picture; though it means the relative numbers are a bit worse for reviews.
Please Critique Things for the Review!

I'm not surprised to learn that is the case.

This is my understanding of how karma maps to social prestige:

  • People with existing social prestige will be given more karma for a post or a comment than if it was written by someone unknown to the community.
  • Posts with more karma tend to be more interesting, which helps boost the author's prestige because more people will click on a post with higher karma.
  • Comments with high karma are viewed as more important.
  • Comments with higher karma than other comments in the same thread are viewed as the correct opin
... (read more)
Please Critique Things for the Review!

The shortage of reviews is both puzzling and concerning, but one explanation for it is that the expected financial return of writing reviews for the prize money is not high enough to motivate the average LessWrong user, and the expected social prestige for commenting on old things is lower per unit of effort than writing new things. (It's certainly true for me, I find commenting way easier than posting but I've never got any social recognition from it, whereas my single LW post introduced me to about 50 people.)

Another potential reason is that it... (read more)

8Thrasymachus2yI also buy the econ story here (and, per Ruby, I'm somewhat pleasantly surprised by the amount of reviewing activity given this). General observation suggests that people won't find writing reviews that intrinsically motivating (compare to just writing posts, which all the authors are doing 'for free' with scant chance of reward, also compare to academia - I don't think many academics find peer review/refereeing one of the highlights of their job). With apologies for the classic classical econ joke, if reviewing was so valuable, how come people weren't doing it already? [It also looks like ~25%? of reviews, especially the most extensive, are done by the author on their own work]. If we assume there's little intrinsic motivation (I'm comfortably in the 'you'd have to pay me' camp), the money doesn't offer that much incentive. Given Rudy's numbers suppose each of the 82 reviews takes an average of 45 minutes or so (factoring in (re)reading time and similar). If the nomination money is ~roughly allocated by person time spent, the marginal expected return of me taking an hour to review is something like $40. Facially, this isn't too bad an hourly rate, but the real value is significantly lower: * The 'person-time lottery' model should not be denominated by observed person-time so far, but one's expectation how much will be spent in total once reviewing finishes, which will be higher (especially conditioned on posts like this). * It's very unlikely the reward is going to allocated proportionately to time spent (/some crude proxy thereof like word count). Thus the EV would be discounted by whatever degree of risk aversion one has (I expect the modal 'payout' for a review to be $0). * Opaque allocation also incurs further EV-reducing uncertainty, but best guesses suggest there will be Pareto-principle/tournament dynamic game dynamics, so those with (e.g.) reasons to believe they're less likely to impress the mod team's evaluation of their

Raw numbers to go with Bendini's comment:

As of the time of writing this comment, there've been 82 reviews on the 75 qualified (i.e., twice-nominated) posts by 32 different reviewers. 24 reviews were by 18 different authors on their own posts. 

Whether this counts as a shortage, is puzzling, or is concerning is a harder question to answer. 

My quick thoughts:

  • Personally, I was significantly surprised by the level of contribution to the 2018 Review. It's really hard to get people to do things (especially thing that are New and Work) and I wouldn't hav
... (read more)
4Raemon2yAgree with these reasons this is hard. A few thoughts (this is all assuming you're the sort of person who basically thinks the Review makes sense as a concept and want to participate, obviously this may not apply to Mark) Re: Prestige: I don't know if this helps, but to be clear, I expect to include good reviews in the Best of 2018 book itself. I'm personally hoping that each post comes with at least one review, and in the event that there are deeply substantive reviews those may be given top-billing equivalent. I'm not 100% sure what will happen with reviews in the online seqeunce. (In fact, I expect reviews to be an potentially easier way to end up in the book than by writing posts, since the target area is more clearly specified.) "It's Hard to Review Posts" This is definitely true. Often what needs reviewing is less like "author made an unsubstantiated claim or logical error" and more like "is the entire worldview that generated the post, and the connections the post made to the rest of the world, reasonable? Does it contain subtle flaws? Are there better frames for carving up the world than the one in the post?" This is a hard problem, and doing a good job is honestly harder than one month work of work. But, this seems like a quite important problem for LessWrong to be able to solve. I think a lot of this site's value comes from people crystallizing ideas that shift one's frame, in domains where evidence is hard to come by. "How to evaluate that?" feels like an essential question for us to figure out how to answer. My best guess for now is for reviews to not try to fully answer "does this post check out?" (in cases where that depends on a lot of empirical questions that are hard to check, or where "is this the right ontology?" are hard to check). But, instead, to try to map out "what are the questions I would want answered, that would help me figure out if this post checked out?" (Example of this includes Eli Tyre's "Has there been a memetic collapse [ht
1Pattern2ySo posts should be (pre-)processed for theory/experimentation? (Or distilled?)
1Pattern2yOther possible factors: Maybe people read newer posts instead of (re-)reading older posts the time of the year (in which reviews occurred) the length of time open for reviews the set of users reviews are open to the set of posts open to review. For example, these are from long ago. (Perhaps if there was a 1 year retrospective, and 2 year, and so on up to 5 years, that could capture engagement earlier, and get ideas for short term and longer term effects.) some trivial inconveniences around reading the posts to be reviewed (probably already addressed, but did that affect things a lot?)
4DanielFilan2yFWIW from a karma perspective I've found writing reviews to be significantly more profitable than most comments. IDK how this translates into social prestige though.
4[anonymous]2yNot all of us agree with the project. I disagree with the entire concept of "pruning" output in this way. I wouldn't participate on principle.
Speaking Truth to Power Is a Schelling Point

I find this theory intuitively plausible, and I expect it will be very important if it's true. Having said that, you didn't provide any evidence for this theory, and I can't think of a good way to validate it using what I currently know.

Do you have any evidence that people could use to check this independently?

Why is the mail so much better than the DMV?

One possibility is that

1. The DMV is especially bad, because people don't have to tolerate using it on a weekly basis.

2. The USPS isn't especially good, but it's hard to notice because American delivery companies aren't much better by comparison.

How was your decade?

I've already given this an upvote, but I'm also leaving a comment because I think LessWrong has a shortage of this kind of content. I think broad personal overviews are particularly important because a lot of useful information you can get from "comparing notes" is hard to turn into standalone essays.

bendini's Shortform

Yesterday I noticed that some of what I'd attributed to cultural differences in communication strength between myself and the LessWrong audience was actually due to differences in when I would choose to verbalise something. I originally thought this was me opting to state my positions clearly instead of couching them in false uncertainty so they would sound less abrasive, but yesterday I left some comments where I found myself wanting to use vocabulary that was a significantly more "nuanced" than it used to be (example) and yet I didn't... (read more)

Propagating Facts into Aesthetics

I like this post a lot, but the example debates that seem like intractable aesthetic disagreements seem to be missing a 2 key ideas that are preventing resolution:

1. Shared verbal acknowledgement that regardless of the aesthetic considerations, the status quo is not working. If you're debating the merits of "everyone pitch in" vs "specialise and outsource" and you've failed to recognise that people are generally not clearing up after themselves or funnelling money towards the problem, your first order of business shouldn&apos... (read more)

"You can't possibly succeed without [My Pet Issue]"

For what it's worth, I think that post made the right tradeoff. There will probably be some people who will have glossed over it due to lack of examples, but in that case I think it was an acceptable price to pay.

What I'm referring to is when the community does this by default, not when the author has explicitly weighed up the pros and cons. Not wanting to get into an issue is okay in isolation, but when everyone does this it impedes the flow of information in ways that make it even more difficult to avoid talking past each other.

"You can't possibly succeed without [My Pet Issue]"

I don't disagree with that, but I do think one reason we find it difficult to form good models and coordinate is that there's an insane norm of only ever talking about issues in abstract terms like X and Y. Maybe the issue in question here is super sensitive, since I have no idea what you are talking about, but "raising awareness of general patterms" often seems to be used as a (mostly subconscious) justification for avoiding the object level because it might make someone important look bad.

4Raemon2yUsually when I'm avoiding addressing the object level it's a) engaging with someone I consider to be in roughly the same strata of social status and position-of-power as I, and b) I just don't want to get into that particular object level debate right now (either because it's exhausting, or distracting). I think a notable exception is Healthy Competition [], where I am in fact avoiding directly critiquing powers that be. I have a cluster of reasons I could point to there with varying degrees of virtuousness, but the unvirtuous ones are definitely there.
"You can't possibly succeed without [My Pet Issue]"


My first reaction was thinking of a few scenarios that were analogous to the original framing, one example being "if it takes you years to coordinate the local removal of [obvious abuser], why do you think you will be able to coordinate safe AI development on a global scale?"

This isn't a pet issue of mine, but I suspect it is important to be able to say things like this. I guess my overall view is that crystallising this pattern might be putting ducttape over a more structural problem.

2Raemon2yRecent motivating examples have been of the form "we can't possibly form good models and coordinate without X", to which I thought "WHAT!? X harms Y, and we can't possibly form good models and coordinate without Y". And it took me awhile to realize I was doing the same behavior that was annoying me. (I think the answer is that often you need a deep understanding of both the Rock and the Hard Place [] before you can, hopefully, eventually, just eliminate the problem entirely [] )
"You can't possibly succeed without [My Pet Issue]"

I have no trouble believing that this is common thing to hear if you're in a position of power, but what about situations where this is correct? After all, if it was never correct, people would never find it persuasive.

Are there any heuristics you use to figure out when this is likely to be true?

2Raemon2y(updated post to be a bit more clear about this)
2Raemon2yNod. The suggested tap of "build an actual model if you don't have one", or "doublecheck your model" (if you do), isn't meant to output "the statement is never true", just that you should check that you have a clear reason to believe it's true. It hasn't been true the times I've noticed myself saying it. I think it's more likely to be true in physical-system setups, where, like, your engine literally won't run if it doesn't have the right kind of fuel or whatever. I think some instances have been a person posing a mathematical formalism and saying 'this must be true', and it was true in the mathematical example but not AFAICT in the real world analogue. (In this cases there's being some kind of Law/Toolbox [] conflation)
More Dakka

I'm reading this again now because I remember liking it and wanted to link it in something I'm writing, however:

Yes, some countries printed too much money and very bad things happened, but no  countries printed too much money because they wanted more inflation. That’s not a thing.

That is absolutely a thing that some governments do. Even if we disregard hyperinflation, when a government's tax brackets, spending commitments and sovereign debt are denominated in nominal currency and it needs more money for stuff, the polit... (read more)

Karate Kid and Realistic Expectations for Disagreement Resolution

(Site meta: it would be useful if there was a way to get a notification for this kind of mention)

Some thoughts about specific points:

the whole point of this sequence is to go "Yo, guys, it seems like we should actually be able to be good at this?"

This is true for the sequence overall, but this post and some others you've written elsewhere follow the pattern of "we don't seem to be able to do the thing, therefore this thing is really hard and we shouldn't beat ourselves up about not being able to do it" that seems to come ... (read more)

LW For External Comments?

I strongly support this suggestion.

Karate Kid and Realistic Expectations for Disagreement Resolution

a) that you don't think disagreements take a long time for the reasons discussed in the post

Disagreements aren't always trivial to resolve, but you've been actively debating an issue for a month and zero progress has been made, either the resolution process is broken or someone is doing something besides putting maximum effort into resolving the disagreement.

b) that rationalists should easily be able to avoid the traps of disagreements being lengthy and difficult if only they "did it right".

Maybe people who call themselves rationalists "should" be a

... (read more)
Karate Kid and Realistic Expectations for Disagreement Resolution

I'm glad this post was written, but I don't think it's true in the sense that things have to be this way, even without new software to augment our abilities.

It's true that 99% of people cannot resolve disagreements in any real sense, but it's a mistake to assume that because Yudkowsky couldn't resolve a months long debate with Hanson and the LessWrong team can't resolve their disagreements that they're inherently intractable.

If the Yud vs Hanson debate was basically Eliezer making solid arguments and Hanson responding with interesting contrarian points bec

... (read more)
624joy2ySomething about this comment feels slightly off. You say But then go on to discuss specific cases in a way that gives me the impression a) that you don't think disagreements take a long time for the reasons discussed in the post b) that rationalists should easily be able to avoid the traps of disagreements being lengthy and difficult if only they "did it right". If the impression I get from the comment represents your view, I'm concerned you'll be missing ways to actually solve disagreements in more cases by dismissing the problem as other people's fault.
Is daily caffeine consumption beneficial to productivity?

I deliberately avoided giving a citation because I don't remember which paper I read that confirmed it, so searching for one that backs up a cached memory to appear more rigorous would be bad epistemic practice.

Instead, my confidence that this is true rests on several pieces of circumstantial evidence:

  • My experience for it working this way for other drugs.
  • The SSC survey where the majority of people reported not becoming dependant on other stimulants at therapeutic doses over the long term.
  • The fact that coffee has become universal to workplace culture
... (read more)
2ChristianKl2yA and B aren't the only choices. You don't need to show a watertight meta-analysis to state why you believe what you believe and be explicit about your uncertainty.
2Douglas_Knight2yYou are now making a different claim than your first comment (which was probably false and is definitely is contradicted by papers).
Is daily caffeine consumption beneficial to productivity?

Yes. When it comes to tolerance of stimulant drugs, there is such thing as a free lunch.

While you will get some tolerance, and ceasing use will give you some withdrawal effects, tolerance will eventually plateau unless you are taking far more than you should be. After tolerance is accounted for, using caffeine will still give you a higher baseline of productivity than taking nothing at all.

How do you know?

Do you get value out of contentless comments?

I don't get any value out of content-free comments, but a sentence or two explaining what someone liked about my post gives me better feedback than an anonymous upvote. And even if it's just a phatic "Good post!", just knowing who said it can be quite useful.

Comment, Don't Message

I'd like to second this and say my experience has also been completely different.

There are some conversations that make sense to have 1v1, and most of the value I've gained from writing things has been when someone contacts me in private.

It does seem that while LessWrong doesn't actively discourage it, the site's UX makes it quite inconvenient to have those interactions.

Arguing about housing
Squeezing everyone into college-dorm-style housing would certainly reduce living costs, but people who want that can already do it. Most don't.

You're right that dorm-style housing is an existing option, and most people don't want to in them for obvious reasons. However:

  • There isn't going to be a one-size-fits all solution to high housing costs, but that's okay. Housing isn't an all or nothing problem, progress can be made on the margin. If you come up with something that gets on the front page of Hacker News and receives 500 co
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Arguing about housing

(Thoughts translated from private message)

As I've said before, if political solutions were viable then this would have been solved 5+ years ago.

Addressing the problem will require an approach that doesn't assume you can build more housing in the expensive metro areas with good jobs. While that doesn't leave many options, I can think of at least 3 that are somewhat practical:

1. Find ways to increase the quality of the average grouphouse so more people want to live in them.

2. Coordinate groups of people to move from NIMBY cities with 10/10 job... (read more)

3jefftk2yThanks for being up for having this conversation in comments! Sorry for the slow response; I just got back to proper internet after several days on an island []. I still think dramatic improvement is possible via the political process for two main reasons: * The higher rents get, the more pressure there is to fix this. While it wasn't great five years ago, it's much worse now []. As terrible housing policy continues expanding the number of people it affects, it's easier to build support for measures to fix it. * Housing coalitions are shifting [], YIMBY is growing [] , and the idea that we can make things better by building more is spreading. I think we should continue trying to build this support. I think this could be a decent solution for many young relatively well off single people without kids, who live primarily digital lives. While this is a demographic we know many people in, it's only a very small slice of the people affected by the housing crisis. Separately, since different people have different preferences and constraints I suspect most people who would have the time, energy, and inclination to build something like this would actually want to customize it more for their situation. Which is fine! Your design can still be useful even if most builders use it as a jumping-off point; you don't need interchangeable parts. If people really did have generally similar preferences here you could build this in your apartment, and then when you moved you could sell it to the incoming tenant and leave it there. But if you actually tried this, even in a city like SF with tons of people in the target demographic, I expect pretty much everyone would ask you to bring it with you, even if you offered it for free.

Your solution is... a bunk bed with cabinets built in?

Squeezing everyone into college-dorm-style housing would certainly reduce living costs, but people who want that can already do it. Most don't.

Make more land

The problem with this proposal is not that it's a bad idea.

The problem is that you--a smart individual with no domain experience--can come up with an extremely sensible and pragmatic way to address a problem that:

  • Is causing over a trillion dollars of economic misallocation.
  • Has existed for 2 decades and gotten significantly worse over time.
  • Has reached a crisis point such that it has visceral effects on the day-to-day life of millionaires that they can't buy their way out of (e.g. faeces everywhere, being attacked by crazy homeless people).
  • Has a la
... (read more)

I have no particular interest in sharing any of my own, but there does seem to be a bad dynamic going on here that is worth pointing out.

Some people are downvoting the comments that they find abhorrent. This would normally be fine, but in this case it punishes people for correctly following instructions.

I've done what I can to remedy this by giving a strong upvote to the responses with low scores, but LessWrong needs to have a way to deal with this in future so the platform doesn't disincentivize the very behaviours it wants to encourage.

Following instructions doesn't really ring as a bell as a site goal. The setting of the question seems fair but the ill committed in ignoring the context is different from disobeyance.

Noticing Frame Differences

I'm interested to find out what worked for you, but I suspect that the root cause of failure in most cases is lacking enough motivation to converge. It takes two to tango, and without a shared purpose that feels more important than losing face, there isn't enough incentive to overcome epistemic complacency.

That being said, better software and social norms for arguing could significantly reduce the motivation threshold.

Are there technical/object-level fields that make sense to recruit to LessWrong?

Aside from what's already here, I can think of a few "character profiles" of fields that would benefit from LessWrong infrastructure:

  • Hard fields that are in decent epistemic health but could benefit from outsiders and cross pollination with our memeplex (e.g. economics).
  • Object level things where outside experts can perform the skill but the current epistemological foundations are so shaky that procedural instructions work poorly (e.g. home cooking).
  • Things that are very useful where good information exists but finding it requires navigating a
... (read more)
Meetups: Climbing uphill, flowing downhill, and the Uncanny Summit

The somewhat cynical take is that open attendance events ( and LW) are like group projects where organizers are competing for attendees. This makes organizing events a servant role rather than a leadership role, meaning that if you expend the resources to put on an interesting talk and offer free pizza people will think they've done their bit by showing up and adding entropy. Like the way people balk at paying for software now that Google et all have figured out that it's more efficient to take it out of your back pocket via advertising, people t

... (read more)
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