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<blockquote> "If your source of inputs is narrower than 'whatever people anywhere using my ubergeneral sort utility will input' then you may be able to do better." </blockquote>

That's actually the scenario I had in mind, and I think it's the most common. Usually, when someone do...(read more)

Daniel I. Lewis, as I said, lists can have structure even when that structure is not chosen by a person.

<blockquote> "Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you get sorted lists (forwards or backwards) more often than chance, and the rest of the time you get a random permutation." </blockquote>...(read more)

GreedyAlgorithm, yes that's mostly why it's done. I'd add that it applies even when the source of the ordering is not a person. Measurement data can also follow the type of patterns you'd get by following a simple, fixed rule.

But I'd like to see it analyzed Eliezer's way.

How does the randomness...(read more)

How would you categorize the practice of randomly selecting the pivot element in a quicksort?

<blockquote> Brian, if this definition is more useful, then why isn't that license to take over the term? </blockquote>

Carey, I didn't say it was a more useful definition. I said that Eliezer may feel that the thing being referred to is more useful. I feel that money is more useful than mud, but...(read more)

<blockquote> To describe the universe well, you will have to distinguish these signatures from each other, and have separate names for "human intelligence", "evolution", "proteins", and "protons", because even if these things are related they are not at all the same. </blockquote>

Speaking of separ...(read more)

Cat Dancer, I think by "no alternative," he means the case of two girls.

Of course the mathematician could say something like "none are boys," but the point is whether or not the two-girls case gets special treatment. If you ask "is at least one a boy?" then "no" means two girls and "yes" means an...(read more)

"How many times does a coin have to come up heads before you believe the coin is fixed?"

I think your LHC question is closer to, "How many times does a coin have to come up heads before you believe a tails would destroy the world?" Which, in my opinion, makes no sense.

I've never been on a transhumanist mailing list, but I would have said, "Being able to figure out what's right isn't the same as actually doing it. You can't just increase the one and assume it takes care of the other. Many people do things they know (or could figure out) are wrong."

It's the typ...(read more)

When I read these stories you tell about your past thoughts, I'm struck by how different your experiences with ideas were. Things you found obvious seem subtle to me. Things you discovered with a feeling of revelation seem pedestrian. Things you dismissed wholesale and now borrow a smidgen of see...(read more)