All of betterthanwell's Comments + Replies

June 2012: 0/33 Turing Award winners predict computers beating humans at go within next 10 years.

AlphaGo's victory over World Champion Lee Sedol made a (seemingly) deep impression on me at the time.

I had just NOT expected that. I had expected the game to remain intractable for decades. But the initial excitement and mild sense of doom that followed soon faded. I'm not a computer scientist, just a civilian interested for philosophical reasons.

But many people in attendance at the Alan Turing centenary celebration were World Champions of computer science. And either none of them knew any better, or if any did, or even suspected. Then, it seems that any suspicion that humans would be, uh, defeated at go, in the next decade, was defeated by subtle snickering and mild peer pressure.

How has lesswrong changed your life?

I discovered the idea of Bitcoin early, made a life-changing amount of money.

What is the most anti-altruistic way to spend a million dollars?

Thus, I maintain the attacks were a huge failure at accomplishing the attackers' political agenda.

Osama Bin Laden (2004):

...All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa'ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits to their private companies. This

... (read more)
3shminux8yI wonder if this is a bit more publicity than gwern bargained for.
0[anonymous]8y(ctrl+f "gwern")
0[anonymous]8y(ctrl+f "gwern" to skip to the relevant part)
Open Thread, June 16-30, 2013

Aaron Winborn: Monday was my 46th birthday and likely my last. Anything awesome I should try after I die?

Just over two years ago, I was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. In short, that means that my mind will increasingly become trapped in my body as the motor neurons continue to die, and the muscles atrophy and waste away, until my diaphragm dies, bringing me with it.


But yes, there is a silver lining to this all, such as it is. Kim Suozzi made a similar plea to the Internet a year ago today, and came up with the brilliant idea o

... (read more)
Justifiable Erroneous Scientific Pessimism

"I think there should be a law of Nature to prevent a star from behaving in this absurd way!" (Eddington, 1935)

Eddington erroneously dismissed M_(white dwarf) > M_limit ⇒ "a black hole" , but didn't he correctly anticipate new physics?
Do event horizons (Finkelstein, 1958) not prevent nature from behaving in "that absurd way", so far as we can ever observe?

0shminux9yIt's hard to know what Eddington meant by "absurd way". Presumably he meant that this hypothetical law would prevent matter from collapsing into nothing. Possibly if Chandrasekhar had figured out the strange properties of the event horizon back in 1935 and had emphasized that whatever weird stuff is happening beyond the final Chandrasekhar limit is hidden from view, Eddington would not have reacted as harshly. But that took another 20-30 years, even though the relevant calculations require at most 3rd year college math. Besides, Chandrasekhar's strength was in mathematics, not physics, and he could not compete with Eddington in physics intuition (which happened to be quite wrong in this particular case).
Recent updates to (2012-2013)

With some awe and much respect, I would say that you are an inspiration, but that has already been said. I'll upvote that and say something else instead. For whatever reason, some part of my brain tells me; "Yeah, this is pretty much what I would expect the research interests of of a "supervillain"-in-training to look like". I don't pretend to know exactly what awesomeness is, but you have grown a lot of it.

Farewell Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)

EDIT: OTOH, there's this... What person makes a will at 26?

It seems he published "If i get hit by a truck" in 2002, at age 16. Sad. Also, perhaps, awe-inspiring. Eliminating the problem of one's bus-factor would ordinarily be admirable... if you do it for the contingency where you simply get hit by a bus. I want, but can't, quite make myself believe that he didn't write this, at that time, in anticipation of an end like this. In that case; not awe-inspiring, only sad.

Notes on Psychopathy

Almost no chance at all. Keep in mind, the most important thing, when it comes to dealing with this, this... insidious threat, is to be intensely careful in avoiding any false negatives. There must be none what so ever. And besides, who cares, really — about a few — or a few million false positives. Oh, and this condition, it's really quite heritable, and, as head of the program, you would need to... well, deal with the children, in a like manner as that of the parents. Not that this would be a problem, of course.

Joe Stalin, the NKVD, the Moscow Trials, and the Great Purge sort of came to mind.

0atorm9yGodwin's Law.
[Link] 'Something feels wrong with the state of philosophy today.'

In the future, please consider adding a paragraph that provides a summary, or at least a snapshot, of the article's contents.

Yes. However, I would suggest not to wait for next time to do it right. Do it right, now.

I will downvote the top post, but I promise to upvote it, if and when benthamite's suggestion is followed.

Sorry for the carrot and stick, but doing so shouldn't take more than a minute.
(Which would be less than was spent on writing this.)

3alanog9ydone now, forgot you could edit these things.
Notes on Psychopathy

Maybe they need better treatments. Has anyone asked psychopaths - "How would you convince a psychopath like you to stop doing X?" Has anyone let psychopaths try? Aren't they the master manipulators? They even have a readily available model of a psychopath to test out the theory on. How convenient! Sufficiently motivating a psychopath with rewards for changing the mind of another psychopath might be an effective treatment for the first psychopath. Did they try that treatment?

Something like it was tried in Canada, in the sixties, with LSD, in a ... (read more)

-1buybuydandavis9yCool. But in case it wasn't clear, I wasn't proposing that as a guaranteed cure, only as an example of a treatment they may not have tried. The researchers concluded: It's the OP's jump from "nothing we tried works" to "resistance to all treatments don't work" that I objected to.
Musk, Mars and x-risk

"On the Earth, the IPCC states that "a 'runaway greenhouse effect'—analogous to Venus—appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities."

Hmm, the IPCC asserts this statement without providing any argument to support it.

Some quick thoughts: In the beginning, there were no oceans. The earth was molten and without form. Now, assume venusian-runaway is a possibility for for this planet's climate. Why has it not already occurred, much, much earlier in the planet's his... (read more)

4mwengler9yMy understanding is that all the Carbon which is fixed and stored under the ground in petroleum, coal, natural gas, and other "fossil" fuels was in the air of the earth as CO2 before it was fixed by plants and buried. So it would seem that even with ALL the fossil fuel carbon in the atmosphere, the earth supports life. Considering the adaptability of human life, especially with modern technology, I would be surprised if it was concluded that humanity would be wiped out by this.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) at Cambridge makes headlines.

Welcome, and thanks for the comments.

Even the term getting out there is a positive!


If journalism demands that you stick to Hollywood references when communicating a concept,
it wouldn't be so bad if journalists managed to understand and convey the distinction between:

  • The wholly implausible, worse than useless Terminator humanoid hunter-killer robot scenario.
  • The not completely far-fetched Skynet launches every nuke, humanity dies scenario.
2RomeoStevens9yI think it works as a hierarchy of increasingly complex models. Readers will stop at whichever rung they are comfortable with depending on their curiosity and background. My real life conversations on X-risk tend to go Terminator Drones Skynet Specialized AI General AI Friendly AI
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) at Cambridge makes headlines.

Yudkowsky seemed to me simplistic in his understanding of moral norms. “You would not kill a baby,” he said to me, implying that was one norm that could easily be programmed into a machine.
“Some people do,” I pointed out, but he didn’t see the full significance. SS officers killed babies routinely because of an adjustment in the society from which they sprang in the form of Nazism. Machines would be much more radically adjusted away from human social norms, however we programmed them.

Wow. This particular mistake seems to be an unlikely and even difficul... (read more)

Musk, Mars and x-risk

Which catastrophic risks does a mars colony mitigate? ... Climate change : yes

If a Mars colony mitigates catastrophic risk (extinction risk?) from climate change,
then climate change is not an existential risk to human civilization on earth.

If humans can thrive on Mars, Earth based humanity will be able to cope with any climate change less drastic than transforming the climate of Earth to something as hostile as the current climate of Mars.

2mwengler9yIs climate change seriously considered to be an existential risk? It seems to 1st order climate change would just move population densities, to 2nd order there might be net less or net more land and ag resources after the climate change, and either 2nd or 3rd order, the rate of hurricanes and other weather storms is changed. It doesn't seem to me that something which reduces human population from 6 billion to 2 billion should be considered an existential threat. A threat, yes, an expense we would prefer not to tolerate, perhaps. But a game ender? Not the way I play.
6gwern9yBy the same logic, Is not a good addition. The Mars-hardened facilities will be hardened only for Mars conditions (unless it's extremely easy to harden against any level of radiation?) in order to cut colonization costs from 'mindbogglingly expensive and equivalent to decades of world GDP' to something more reasonable like 'decade of world GDP'. So given a supernova, they will have to upgrade their facilities anyway and they are worse positioned than anyone on Earth: no ozone layer, no atmosphere in general, small resource & industrial base, etc. Any defense against supernova on Mars could be better done on Earth.
6JoshuaZ9yThis does not follow. One possible (although very unlikely) result of climate change is a much more severe situation resulting in a Venus like situation (although not as high as temp and not as much nasty stuff in the atmosphere). If that happens, Mars will be much easier to survive on than Earth, since with a lot of energy from nuclear power, extremely cold environments are much more hospitable than extremely hot environments. Current models makes such a strong runaway result unlikely, but it is a possibility.
1Viliam_Bur9yThe Mars colony could be useful to test the tools necessary to overcome the hostile climate, and it could make their development (possibly mass development) a higher priority. So in case the Earth climate starts to change very rapidly, we would have a choice to use already developed and tested equipment, built in existing factories, instead of trying to invent it amidst global chaos.
Causal Reference

Mainstream status points to /Eliezer_Yudkowsky-drafts/ (Forbidden: You aren't allowed to do that.)

0beoShaffer9ySo does the Mediation link.
Request for sympathy; frustrated with Dark Side

It is really quite frustrating to discuss the intersection of physics and free will with a man who is capable of posting this (...)

So... Don't?

The basic argument for the feasibility of transhumanism

What objections can be raised against this argument? I'm looking both for good objections and objections that many people are likely to raise, even if they aren't really any good.

I'm not sure if this is an objection many people are likely to raise, or a good one, but in any case, here are my initial thoughts:

Transhumanism is just a set of values, exactly like humanism is a set of values. The feasibility of transhumanism can be shown from a compiling a list of those values that are said to qualify someone as a transhumanist, and the observed existence of... (read more)

0ChrisHallquist9yWikipedia defines transhumanism as: So what I mean by "the feasibility of transhumanism" is just the "possibility" half of that definition, setting aside the desirability. Even granting all that, I suppose you can still quibble about semantics, but I ran through several possible labels for what I had in mind and that seemed the best choice.
The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world?

I'm Eliezer Yudkowsky! Do you have any idea how many distinct versions of me there are in Tegmark Levels I through III?


2BerryPick69yAm I the only one seeing a Hebrew letter here? Does א have some numerical significance I'm not aware of?
The Useful Idea of Truth


Page 20:

According to my proposal, what characterizes the empirical method is its manner of exposing to falsification, in every conceivable way, the system to be tested. Its aim is not to save the lives of untenable systems but, on the contrary, to select the one which is by comparison the fittest, by exposing them all to the fiercest struggle for survival.

[a number of indicative, but not decisive quotes omitted]

I had hoped to find some decisive sound bite in part one, which is a brief discussion of the epistemological problems facing any ... (read more)

The Useful Idea of Truth

A (very) quick attempt, perhaps this will suffice? (Let me know if not. )

I begin with the tersest possible defense of my claim that Popper argued that "you actually have to look at things to draw accurate maps of them...", even though this particular example is particularily trivial:

Page 19:

(Thus the statement, ‘It will rain or not rain here tomorrow’ will not be regarded as empirical, simply because it cannot be refuted; whereas the statement, ‘It will rain here tomorrow’ will be regarded as empirical.)

To paraphrase: You have to look actuall... (read more)

0betterthanwell9y(Continued) Page 20: [a number of indicative, but not decisive quotes omitted] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I had hoped to find some decisive sound bite in part one, which is a brief discussion of the epistemological problems facing any theory of scientific method, and an outline of Popper's framework, but it looks like I shall have to go deeper. Will look into this over the weekend. I also found another, though much more recent candidate, David Deutsch in The Beginning of Infinity, Chapter 1 on "The Reach of Explanations". Tough I'm beginning to suspect that although they both point out that "you have to look at things to draw accurate maps of them...", and describe "causal processes producing map-territory correspondences" (for example, between some state of affairs and the output of some scientific instument) both Deutsch and Popper seem to have omitted what one may call the "neuroscience of epistemology." (Where the photon reflects off your shoelace, gets absorbed by your retina, leading to information about the configuration of the world becoming entangled with some corresponding state of your brain, and so on.) This is admittedly quite a crucial step, which Yudkowsky's explanation does cover, and which I cannot recall to have seen elsewhere.
The Useful Idea of Truth

Could you please quote the part of Popper's book that makes the explicit connection from the correspondence theory of truth to "there are causal processes producing map-territory correspondences" to "you have to look at things to draw accurate maps of them..."?

Right, this is the obvious next question. I started looking for the appropriate "sound bites" yesterday, but encountered a bit of difficulty in doing so, as I shall explain. Popper's embrace of (Tarskian) correspondence theory should be at least somewhat clear from th... (read more)

0betterthanwell9yA (very) quick attempt, perhaps this will suffice? (Let me know if not. ) I begin with the tersest possible defense of my claim that Popper argued that "you actually have to look at things to draw accurate maps of them...", even though this particular example is particularily trivial: Page 19: To paraphrase: You have to look actually out the window to discover whether it is raining or not. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Continuing, page 16: (Oops, comment too long.)
The Useful Idea of Truth

I also can't think of a philosopher who has made an explicit connection from the correspondence theory of truth to "there are causal processes producing map-territory correspondences" to "you have to look at things to draw accurate maps of them..."

Karl Popper did so explicitly, thoroughly and convincingly in The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Pretty influential, and definitely a part of "Mainstream Academia."

Here's an interesting, if lengthy, footnote to Chapter 84 - Remarks Concerning the use of the concepts 'True' and 'Co... (read more)

3lukeprog9yCould you please quote the part of Popper's book that makes the explicit connection from the correspondence theory of truth to "there are causal processes producing map-territory correspondences" to "you have to look at things to draw accurate maps of them..."?
Eliezer's Sequences and Mainstream Academia

Yep. Gloriously lucid and quite readable book.
Encapsulates good chunks of the sequences.

Much more accessible than I had anticipated.

Neil Armstrong died before we could defeat death

But we can claim every star that now burns.

No, we can't. As I said, distant galaxies that we can see today are receding, such that no probe we send can ever reach them. Barring aliens already nearby, they will burn unclaimed.

Ouch! I had originally written "every star that burns in the night sky". But that sounded cheesy and pompous even in the context of the comment above. Apparently I failed to replace it with something reasonable before hitting the button.

Perhaps only every star and planet in every galaxy within a sphere centered at earth... (read more)

2bogdanb9yThat’s assuming nobody else will have a problem with us reaching them...
Neil Armstrong died before we could defeat death

We'll fill the stars and conquer death. The spark of intelligence and sentience will not extinguish.

No we won't, barring new physics. Even if our civilization avoids catastrophe and invents great improvements in therapies for aging, or brain emulation, that won't let us change the 2nd law of thermodynamics, or prevent the distant galaxies from accelerating out of our reach.

But we can claim every star that now burns. Even if in the vast, long, unimaginably long future of this universe, complexity itself must someday die, we should at least do what we ... (read more)

9CarlShulman9yNo, we can't. As I said, distant galaxies that we can see today are receding, such that no probe we send can ever reach them. Barring aliens already nearby, they will burn unclaimed.
Is lossless information transfer possible?

Lossless information transfer between humans may be possible, but it's certainly not free with respect to work and time, and it's certainly not the default.

For instance: Whenever I want to communicate a thought or an idea, for instance verbally or on paper, I find that I must first apply some work-intensive, lossy compression which outputs bad English. The output invariably looks or sounds much worse in comparison to the uncompressed idea I have in my head. Throughput is abysmal. A few minutes of thinking can sometimes require a few hours of writing in or... (read more)

A cynical explanation for why rationalists worry about FAI

What do you think of contemporary theoretical physics? That is also mostly "arguing on the Internet".

Some of it yes. At the end of the day though, some of it does lead to real experiments, which need to pay rent. And some of it does quite well at that. Look for example at the recent discovery of the Higgs boson.

These theoretical physicists had to argue for several decades until they managed to argue themselves into enough money to hire the thousands of people to design, build and operate a machine that was capable of refuting, or as it turn... (read more)

Link: Glial cells shown to be involved in working memory

I know next to nothing of biology, but I would naïvely expect the structure of the ATP, ADP, AMP, etc. to be fixed across all organisms with mitochondria. Shouldn't copying errors or variations that produce something other than ATP in place of ATP kill any eukaryote, let alone a human? Perhaps you mean variations to ATP synthase?

0NancyLebovitz9yI know little biology, too. I can check back with the person who told me that-- the way I understood it was that there are slightly different versions of ATP, some of which are more efficient, but all of which work.
Dual N-Back browser-based "game" in public alpha-testing state.

Some context: Several frequently cited studies on working memory training using dual n-back, most famously Jaeggi et al. 2008 strongly indicated that WMT could reliably produce lasting benefits to fluid intelligence. These studies obviously provide great material for marketing cognitive training software. See for instance this page by Lumosity:

In 2008, Dr. Susanne Jaeggi, Dr. Martin Buschkuehl and colleagues at the University of Michigan showed that cognitive training with a task called Dual N-Back enhanced fluid intelligence – the ability to creatively

... (read more)
5gwern10yMy meta-analysis [] supports the claim that much of the transfer is an effect due to using no-contact control groups.
-1buybuydandavis10yThey wouldn't have even run a study if there was no evidence. Finding no effect according to the study you made and the statistical tests you ran does not make eradicate that prior evidence from existence, and more importantly, it doesn't mean that you wouldn't find evidence if you looked outside the parameters of your study and the particular statistical tests you used.
CFAR website launched

I like it a whole lot. The design is beautiful, the layout is good, the prose is well crafted and concise. I feel a little bad for saying this but ... I like this website almost, but not quite as much as I dislike the new Singularity Institute website. I don't know what went wrong there, but the Singularity Institute website somehow seems / feels unprofessional and just badly done compared to this one.

Open Thread, July 1-15, 2012

Higgs day! Wohoo! Fist pumping and tap-dancing may be in order. Big day for Big Science.

0somervta10yGood to know I'm not the only one who did a little dance of joy!
Introduction to Game Theory: Sequence Guide

This entire sequence needs to be promoted into visibility.

Minimum Viable Workout Routine is Dangerously Misinformative

This is the main point of contention as I see it. I hold that getting newbies to consistently attain 85-95% of their maximum heart rate just isn't going to happen most of the time.

That's really not a problem, at least not physiologically. One cannot sustain this level of effort for more than a few minutes, which, it turns out, is enough. You'll need a heart rate monitor (cheststrap + wristwatch), get on a treadmill and warm up gently. Work out at around 4 x 4 minutes, with 3-4 minutes of lower intensity walking or jogging in between. Why 4 x 4 minutes, ... (read more)

Minimum Viable Workout Routine is Dangerously Misinformative

Excellent point. I should have thought of that.

I hope made the case that high intensity interval training is good for you, even if you're not very fit. Why do I think it is dangerous to advise people against endurance training? Because if you accept it, and update on it, and don't do endurance training because you read on Less Wrong that it is useless, soul-crushing and you shouldn't even try, you've increased your risk of getting sick and dying unnecessarily.

I also think it is dangerously misleading to warn people against certain vaccinations on the grou... (read more)

5Douglas_Knight10yAgain, you largely agree with Romeo Stevens on the facts of exercise. As to the consequences of the advice, I think you are very wrong. The fact that you misread his advice is a bad sign about his advice. It is probably evidence that everyone will misread it, but I am skeptical that they will misread it the same way you do. As a general rule, giving vague advice attacking specific advice causes people to do nothing. It is your post that is dangerous.
Group rationality diary, 6/11/12

Wow. What can that phrase even mean?

Uhm, time should run backwards?

0Multiheaded10yPhilip K. Dick did say that it should run backwards! I forgot how his line went, though.
Suggest alternate names for the "Singularity Institute"

This is clever but sounds too much like something out of Hollywood. I'd prefer bland but respectable.

I don't entirely disagree, but I do think Catastrophic Risks In Self-Improving Systems can be useful in pointing out the exact problem that the Singularity Institute exists to solve. I'm not at all sure at all that it would make a good name for the organisation itself. But I do perhaps think it would raise fewer questions, and be less confusing than The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence or The Singularity Institute.

In particular, there w... (read more)

Less Wrong used to like Bitcoin before it was cool. Time for a revisit?

Looks like you may be too late. The US based Bitcoin exchange Tradehill had to shut down operations earlier this year because of this exact method of fraud. Here is a description of the modus operandi. The fraud was conducted via an intermediary payment processing service.

1Dolores198410yInteresting. Not that I was actually planning on committing large scale identity theft, mind.
Less Wrong used to like Bitcoin before it was cool. Time for a revisit?

Their adjudication of bets is highly dubious and their customer service just screams "sham".

Could you please explicate your complaint? I've had no disputes so far.
I found less than a handful of complaints in the announcement thread.

Bets (are supposed to) get rejected if the outcome is not easily decidable.

Less Wrong used to like Bitcoin before it was cool. Time for a revisit?

Last year, MBlume suggested:

Someone should really write a prediction market using bitcoins -- it would be simpler for US-based users to participate.

This now exists at BetsOfBitcoin. I signed up one exactly one month ago.

So far, I've won 13 out of 13 bets. Mostly small bets and low yields, but winning is fun.

2Meni_Rosenfeld9yExcept it's not really a prediction market. You could know the exact probability of an event happening, which is different from the market's opinion, and still not be able to guarantee profit (on average).
4wedrifid10yI warn people against this site. Their adjudication of bets is highly dubious and their customer service just screams "sham". I no longer bet at the site.
Less Wrong used to like Bitcoin before it was cool. Time for a revisit?

Damn fine writing in that essay. Some of the only intelligent criticism I've seen of the protocol.

Less Wrong used to like Bitcoin before it was cool. Time for a revisit?

Clippy noticed that Bitcoin seems to make it easier for software agents to earn money, convince humans to do jobs for them, and optimize the universe in a paper-clip friendly direction.

If Clippy is right, is it a problem?

Singularity Institute visiting fellow Thomas McCabe is running GetBitcoin, a notable money handling service.

Does he have any insights to share?

Gwern wrote an article arguing that Bitcoin is an ugly protocol: Bitcoin is Worse is Better

What does gwern think today?

How should one extend or rework the protocol to make Bitcoin, or a succe... (read more)

0Will_Newsome10yNeedless to say, this is what Wei Dai / Satoshi Nakamoto would say if they were the same person.
7paulfchristiano10yAs with quantum computing itself, storing quantum money would require low enough error rates that you could successfully apply quantum error-correction (if error rates are too high, you introduce more errors during error-correction than you can correct). Before you hit this point you can't do the computations anyway, and after this point it is only a tiny bit harder to keep qubits around indefinitely. (Modern QKD works because you don't have to do any computations on the qubits, in addition to not having to store them.)

Gwern wrote an article arguing that Bitcoin is an ugly protocol : Bitcoin is Worse is Better. What does gwern think today?

I actually finished that a month or two ago, so it reflects my current sentiments. No events have substantially changed my opinion, and some reinforce them - for example, I thought it was very stupid for anyone to engage in finalization on Silk Road (releasing your money from escrow to the vendor before receiving anything), and indeed, a big vendor recently scammed buyers out of something like a hundred thousand plus dollars worth of bitcoins by requiring finalization and then absconding.

I have some half-baked questions that probably belong in the Ask a Physicist thread, but I will plop them here for visibility. Please stop me when my reasoning goes belly-up.

Mirror matter is a candidate for dark matter. This stuff is like the normal stuff, only it has it's "parity bit"* flipped with respect to normal matter, and therefore only interacts with us through the weak interaction. Does mirror matter feel curves in space time made by the normal stuff? Otherwise, how does something exist in the same spatio-temporal coordinates as us, yet ... (read more)

Is this any more likely to be true than the FTL-neutrinos?

First: Is what likely to be true? The quantitative result of the experiment, or their interpretation of it?

Second: Sounds like you noticed that one of the two scientists is affiliated with Gran Sasso?
They have recently acquired a reputation of jumping the gun at times. (Okay, cheap shot.)

Third: It would be something of a surprise if two scientists with a relatively simple apparatus were to make a discovery that would overshadow even the anticipated discovery of the Higgs particle at LHC. Is it likely that there is still low-hanging fruit of this size in physics?

Suggest alternate names for the "Singularity Institute"

After thinking this over while taking a shower:

The CRISIS Research Institute — Catastrophic Risks In Self-Improving Systems
Or, more akin to the old name: Catastrophic Risk Institute for Self-Improving Systems

Hmm, maybe better suited as a book title than the name of an organization.

5faul_sname10yIt would make an excellent book title, wouldn't it.
Suggest alternate names for the "Singularity Institute"

So I read this, and my brain started brainstorming. None of the names I came up with were particularly good. But I did happen to produce a short mnemonic for explaining the agenda and the research focus of the Singularity Institute.

A one word acronym that unfolds into a one sentence elevator pitch:

Crisis: Catastrophic Risks in Self Improving Software

  • "So, what do you do?"
  • "We do CRISIS research, that is, we work on figuring out and trying to manage the catastrophic risks that may be inherent to self improving software systems. Consider, f
... (read more)
0Epiphany9yCenter for Preventing a C.R.I.S.I.S. A.I. C.R.I.S.I.S. A.I. could be a new term also.
1thomblake10yThat's brilliant.

This is clever but sounds too much like something out of Hollywood. I'd prefer bland but respectable.

3Michelle_Z10yI agree. That doesn't sound bad at all.
Sebastian Thrun AMA on reddit [link]

I was looking forward to this IAMA, but left feeling disappointed in having learned nothing worth remembering.

In summary: Almost every question directly concern products offered by Udacity. I guess this was my fault, and our fault, for not asking interesting and challenging questions. Some answers did offer shallow advice on succeeding in computer science and education. Almost every answer could have been penned by an intern at Udacity, or any reasonably experienced computer science professional. Udacity's marketing departement is the only winner here. This was a failed opportunity.

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