All of brilee's Comments + Replies

'''I posit that people want to find others like them (in a continuum with finding a community of people like them, some place where they can belong), and it stings to realize that even people who hold many similar opinions still aren't carbon copies of you, that their cognitive engine doesn't work exactly the same way as yours, and that you'll have to either change yourself, or change others (both of which can be hard, unpleasant work), if you want there to be less friction between you (unless you agree to disagree, of course).'''

Well said.

Excuse me if I'm misunderstanding your ideas here, but isn't this, almost bullet for bullet, exactly what Khan academy is doing?

2Adam Zerner9y
Khan Academy doesn't come close to executing the dependency tree thing thoroughly enough. There are a lot of concepts that are unexplained, and Khan Academy doesn't test to see what you know before teaching you. When I refer to the dependency tree, I mean for it to have concepts on a much smaller scale than the typical calculus, precalculus, algebra, trig etc. An even smaller scale than this []. I apologize for not being able to effectively communicate the type of scale I'm trying to refer to. There are definitely some parallels with Sal's ideas though. For example, mastery based learning, learning from a web app, learning at your own pace and at your own convenience, and having smaller certificates. I'm not trying to "steal" his ideas or anything. I just see a huge bottleneck that is preventing progress (the absence of dependency tree driven education), and thought it'd be worth writing about.

Biophysics grad student dropout/work at startup now; I personally was sort of sick of mathematical modelling, so I decided not to go the machine learning route. But as I was based in Boston, there were machine learning jobs everywhere. I enjoyed working through SICP, and its functional style been pretty useful in quickly understanding new concepts (Javascript callbacks and promises, for example) in programming.

I got my programming start in a website for a tournament that I ran - it taught me my way around a large framework (Django) and as django was what people call a 'highly opinionated and bloated' framework, it taught me one version of how experts think a large-scale project 'should' be organized.

I did this sort of tracking for several months. My generalizable experiences are:

  • Everyone has their own situation. Following the guide of some other person exactly is bound to fail. Instead, you should start simple, and let your system evolve as you decide that you need to track different things.
  • That being said, it seems like some things tend to turn up repeatedly as "good things to keep track of", like "today I was happy for X", or "how much sleep did I get last night?"
  • Since no two people really have the same routine, instead of using specialized software, the flexibility of a raw text file with a template probably works best.
Indeed. I suspect that if I used the above template, it would actually have a hugely negative effect on me. There simply isn't enough stuff happening on any single day of my life to fill the template in a meaningful way, so I'd have to write either "nothing" or the huge general things that are very hard to change and which would come up every day, neither of which seems helpful.

I agree. I would rather not see the discussion section turned into There is for that.

Your comments seem like they answer a slightly different question: "What would it feel for a person who has free will to not have free will?". The right question is, "What would it feel for a person who doesn't have free will to not have free will?". (brushing all concerns about what 'free will' is under the carpet for now)

I don't mean either of those. You may have a feeling of having or not having free will regardless of what some future agreed upon definition of free will might turn out to be. I'm asking what (their own) subjective experiences would people classify as "feeling of not having free will". TheOtherDave linked to his personal experience, which seems to match at least one on my list. I make no assertions of whether he does or does not actually have free will, and neither does he. In fact, I don't believe that a reasonable definition of free will can be made without people first agreeing on the answers to the question I asked.

"But as the Arnolds' profile grows, of course, not everyone is a fan of this science of giving, especially since it comes at a cost to the many individuals and local organizations who need direct help now and could benefit from their billions. The answer to the most asked question may not be known for years: Will their plan work?""

I chuckled at this. All of a sudden, people are asking "will it work?", but they never asked the same questions of the charities they regularly donate to.

I stopped reading the article after I got to "Templeton Foundation". Don't think this is quite what you're thinking it is.

Beware of the confirmation bias.

...I'm reading every "pomo-" word in this comment section as "porno-" now. Thanks a lot.

You should see what I can do with a varsity sweater [].

Set double layers of alarms. I've turned off the first one and slept another two hours, way too many times!

Get in the habit of not turning off alarms unless you're doing the thing you're supposed to do. This sounds impossible for some people I know. I used to be one of those people that would set 10 snoozes. But simply doing what the alarm says immediately IS a trainable skill. Every time you set the snooze you're reinforcing setting the snooze.

(unrelated) - I'm confused. Is there a reason why random letters are bolded?

Kawoomba's post spells out "weathehollowmen", ("we the hollow men" it seems) and gwern's spells out "lipsthatwouldkissformprayerstobrokenchips" (I suppose that means "lips that would kiss form prayers to broken chips"). I have no idea why though... Probably a quote from something.

Signalling has an academic definition in economics, for sure. It's used both in an intentional sense ("workers signal their conscientiousness to employers by making their way through a 4-year college degree") and an unintentional sense ("being a high school dropout signals to the employer that a worker is in the bottom 5th percentile")

However, I do think LW uses it in a intellectual hipster sense as well - "Do you really think that, or are you just signalling?". The difference seems to me that instead of jockeying for economi... (read more)

Excellent post by Yvain... your excerpt really doesn't do it justice.

No... because the time it takes the sun's increased brilliance to reach the moon and reflect to the Earth is the same as the time it takes for the Earth to be wiped out by the energy wave.

This assumes that the supernova is expanding at the speed of light. According to wikipedia: <The explosion expels much or all of a star's material at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s (10% of the speed of light), driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium.

You have, in a nutshell, just explained why lobbyists exist.

I would argue it is easier to pull sideways [] by lobbying than voting or campaigning.

Yes, this. I'd like to see the author of the article give a similar analysis on whether or not we should quit our jobs and become lobbyists.

Alice, believing that the world will end, will spend all her money by her predicted end-of-the-world date. She will then be unable to pay back. Bob, knowing this, would never lend her the money.

Alice secures the loan with collateral. At the end of the loan, Bob keeps the collateral.
Alice will still have the human capital, in theory, to pay Bob back, though bankruptcy is an issue.

It's posts like this that remind me that the sequences are vast, excellent, and most importantly of all, not particularly organized at the moment.

Every so often, Lukeprog or others will make a small effort towards collating the sequences, but the resulting product disappears into the ether of Discussion archives.

Talk is cheap, but somebody really needs to do something about the sequences to make them more accessible and visible to a newcomer. The LW wiki index of the sequence is incomplete, and seems like it hasn't been changed since 'Tetronian' created it six months ago.

They're compiling a book-format edition of the Sequences, and there's quite a bit of work into an alternate pop-sci edition.

You know... purposely violating Godwin's Law seems to have become an applause light around here, as if we want to demonstrate how super rational we are that we don't succumb to obvious fallacies like Nazi analogies.

Godwin's law: Not an actual law

Is there any editing being done? In my opinion, a lot of essay 'refactoring' could be of use here for Eliezer's writing.

Modern highly processed food is optimized to our sense of taste, to the extent that they can be called superstimuli. They are also correspondingly unhealthier, on many metrics. (I suppose this is the part in contention... I don't have any sources for this claim, sorry.)

The paleo diet, as well as the Atkins diet and other diets, inadvertently 'works' because highly processed foods tend to be carb-based (crackers, cookies, chips, sugary cereals, sugary yogurts, sugary soft drinks, sugary baked goods), and are thus excluded.

Would be nice to have details of their algorithmic approach, instead of some nebulous buzzword like 'Recursive Cortical Network'. I suppose it does hint somewhat at neural networks...

Their website also seems to emphasize the wrong thing - emphasizing the potential of visual processing algorithms and such. I would be more worried about whether their team is smart/visionary/revolutionary enough to make significant headway on such a difficult problem. Because they're emphasizing the 'wrong' things, it sets off my 'Solyndra' alarms.

Agreed. Just giving their algorithm a fancy name doesn't mean that they've come up with something signficantly better than the ideas in the countless papers in Computer Vision... the only evidence for that seems to be the 15M they just raised (but for that it seems to be enough if you have a good implementation with near state-of-art performance and a workable business idea. Or is it?)

Idea: Understand the human psychology that leads to the stability of the concept of currency/money.

A little more of a description would be a good thing. I read part of the article, but it's just not showing me your vision. I think we need you to describe that vision.

While I agree with your sentiment, I think this is just begging the question - you are rejecting this speculation by assuming homo economicus.

How seriously would you take a non-wealthy person's claim to know a reliable way to win the lottery? I'm not so much assuming homo economicus as just taking the outside view.

I imagine the author has written this with a healthy dose of self-irony. I applaud him for being so forthright about what we should all do as advocates of cryonics.

As others have said, that option is no longer available. I don't find it as bad as you do though, for three reasons: * She's a relative, not a stranger, so this kind of discussion would have happened anyway if I'd cleared my cryonics cache before six months ago * She has reasons to accept it that she accepts; the problem with a lot of religious conversions is that the only reason I should believe in the religion is because it says to and anecdotal evidence; for cryonics, the reason to believe in it is the standardly-accepted science and evident technological progress, both things most people at least claim to accept, but without any anecdotal evidence that it works. * I am disgusted by people who think that something is that important but don't do anything about it. My standard example is vegetarians who believe that animals are conscious sentient beings whose death is as tragic as a human's, but don't attempt to persuade others not to eat meat. Of course, if they did persuade others, everybody else would be annoyed, but if they're committing murder and you can get them to stop, you should. Similarly, if somebody is dying and you can potentially stop them, you should. Edit: formatting
Yes, it would have been better for DanielH to tell his grandmother about cryonics before she was ill than it would be now. But that option is no longer available, so what matters now is whether there's some way of telling her now that's better than not telling her at all.
Jews don't solicit conversions. Conversion is possible, but it requires an extensive course of study which isn't feasible on a deathbed.
It would be extremely unlikely for a Rabbi to do that for specific theological reasons that I'm not going to get into at the moment. (Essentially even most Orthodox Jews are functionally close to universalists in regards to the afterlife and don't think that non-Jews need to convert to go to heaven.) There's also a clear distinction when one is talking to a relative like the OP mentions as opposed to being a stranger talking to essentially random people. As a society we consider that to be much less of a problem. But besides all that, I don't really have a problem with the Rabbi or Priest who does that. If they sincerely think that the stakes are just that high then they should do whatever they can to get people to convert. Someone who stands by while someone dies and they maybe had an opportunity to do something that they think will save them seems morally reprehensible. The problem with the person trying to get deathbed conversions is more because a) pragmatically it will likely have more of a negative reaction to surrounding individuals and thus hurt one's cause more than it helps b) the religions are simply wrong, and thus taking up the last few precious minutes someone has in this world.
If the rabbis go around turning it from a deathbed into just a bed, I'm all for it.

If a cryonics decision is to be made, it should be made when the person is not under duress.

From the above, I am not sure that this is one of the available options.

This seems to be taking down a straw man, and far from "challenging a central tenet of LW: reductionism", you perfectly describe it and expound on it, if a bit wordily. At least in my mind, it's very obvious that physical 'law' is a map-level concept. Physicists themselves have noticed that for a map-level concept, physical 'law' fits the territory so amazingly well, that they have written articles such as "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences"

I don't claim that this post in particular challenges the consensus (at least, I don't intend to claim that, but I can see how my phrasing in the intro suggests it). It's mostly just setup. I think the LW consensus is probably closer to what I call "explanatory reductionism" at the end of this post, but attacking that position required that I make it clear how I think about laws of nature. The ultimate position I want to defend is that the only tenable reductionism is the extremely weak mereological kind. Surely this is different from the position generally advocated here. That said, I don't think the position I'm attacking in this post is a straw man. As I point out, Paul Davies (hardly a fringe figure in physics) explicitly embraces it. He also says (in the linked excerpt) that "most physicists working on fundamental topics inhabit the prescriptive camp, even if they won't own up to it explicitly." In addition, I've seen nomic reductionism defended (and upvoted) on LW more than once. As an example, see some of the comments on this thread []. Even people who would, if pressed, agree that laws are description often unconsciously infer things that only work if you think of laws as rules. Do you think the points made in this post are common enough knowledge around here for the post to be of not much use?

Ah. Thanks for the link. Why is that post not front-paged, or indexed somewhere in the wiki?

I was trying to make use of known research that people who believe themselves to be hard workers will work harder, while people who believe themselves to be smart workers will work less. Of course, explaining that would have destroyed the effect, which is why I instead opted to start my post with something intentionally harsh-sounding.

I don't think that research is especially applicable here.
It's an elephant/rider [] problem. Treating the mind as a unified whole isn't helpful when one part wants to get out of the house and another part is terrified of doing so.

There seems to be some content here, but it requires massive editing to be of any use. First thing I'd recommend is to cut the first three paragraphs entirely.

In other words, a universe where the arrow of time runs backwards?

Not quite [edit]what I was intending[/edit], but yes. The purpose of considering entropy in reverse is to redefine entropy in the minds of people here from a problem to "One of those necessary preconditions of our existence." I started off by suggesting a consideration of what reversing entropy would look like to reveal the issue inherent in it - that it merely leads to a -different- inevitable doom.

This is an interesting line of reasoning, which is not easily refuted. It seems quite plausible biochemically, and my strongest attack on it would probably be through the conjunction fallacy - while each of these steps seems reasonable, perhaps the entire chain is faulty.

However, there is one thing that seems blatantly out of place - and that's the scale of the process. The citric acid cycle as a whole operates at a catalytic concentration of 1-5 millimolar, in just about every cell of the body. Multiplied by 70 kg of weight per person, that would equal 70... (read more)

Resurrecting a long dead topic here. I have a BS in Chemistry and only learned about the citric acid cycle in my last semester as an undergrad. I doubt many physics, math or comp. sci. people are ever exposed to it so it may be that the analysis can be done fairly easily, but that most people don't have the prior information to flag this as improbable.
It's been 25 years since I took chemistry.

I would suggest that an answer to "what do you think the percentage of employees who have stolen.." is a proxy question for, "just exactly how socially unacceptable to you is stealing from your employer"? It relates to, basically, your own levels of altruism, and what you perceive the local altruism levels to be. If you see that everyone around you is being altruistic, you feel a basic urge to keep the clean environment up, while if everyone around you is cheating, then you are less likely to keep up your own altruism.

I've had my bike... (read more)

It's not retribution if its not the person who stole your bike.

47 grams per liter of lemon/lime juice. That converts to ~25 g oxaloacetate per liter. Oranges apparently have less citric acid, to the tune of perhaps 500mg oxaloacetate equivalent per liter of juice.

Food-grade citric acid (also sold under the name "sour salt", usually shelved with spices) is FDA-classified as GRAS. Looking at Amazon, the Spicy World Citric Acid in the 5-pound bag is $19.23 (free shipping for me, since I have Amazon Prime). At the ~2g of citric acid metabolizing into ~1g of oxaloacetate you suggest, that translates to a price of $0.05 per three grams of oxaloacetate, or three orders of magnitude cheaper than buying a bottle of 30 100-mg capsules for $49.

Citric acid directly metabolizes to oxaloacetate in the body. This guy is selling you fruit juice at $50 bucks an orange.

I asked BenaGene, a company that also sells Oxaloacetate, why, if citric acid directly metabolize to oxaloacetate, I should take its product rather than having a bit of lime juice every day. I received the following response: Back when the "antioxidant" theory was big, there were several lifespan studies done with various antioxidants including Citric Acid (citrate) and ascorbic acid. There was no increase in lifespan. While under certain conditions oxaloacetate can convert to citrate, and vice versa, it does not create the conditions we want. We want to flood the cellular system with oxaloacetate so that it converts to malate. So why not just take a bunch of malate? (found in apples). It's because during the conversion of oxaloacetate to malate, NADH also converts to NAD+. This increase in the NAD+/NADH ratio is the key to activating AMPK which leads to similar genomic changes similar to a calorie restricted state. These changes then lead to increases in lifespan. On the other hand, lime juice is very helpful for making margaritas.....
In what quantity? How much citric acid would you have to take to get 100 mg of Oxaloacetate? Plus, all supplements sold without a prescription in the U.S. have to naturally exist within the body or be in "normal" foods. If resveratrol had proved to have anti-aging properties buying it wouldn't be a ripoff even though resveratrol is in red wine.

In the first quote, he sets up the straw man as gwern describes it. In the second quote, he defends his first straw man by saying "but that's what singularitarians believe", essentially putting up a second straw man to defend the first.

Oops, didn't see a further comment below: In response to a comment, " I still don’t understand why biologists insist that you have to do a perfect simulation, down to the smallest molecule, and then state the obvious fact that it’s not going to happen.", PZ says this:

"Errm, because that’s what the singularitarians we’re critiquing are proposing? This whole slice-and-scan proposal is all about recreating the physical components of the brain in a virtual space, without bothering to understand how those components work. We’re telling you that a... (read more)

Erm, please clarify how.

From the comments, PZ elaborates: "Andrew G: No, you don’t understand. Part of this magical “scan” has to include vast amounts of data on the physics of the entity…pieces which will interact in complex ways with each other and the environment. Unless you’re also planning to build a vastly sped up model of the whole universe, you’re going to have a simulation of brain running very fast in a sensory deprivation tank.

Or do you really think you can understand how the brain works in complete isolation from physiology, endocrinology, and sensation?"

Se... (read more)

Oops, didn't see a further comment below: In response to a comment, " I still don’t understand why biologists insist that you have to do a perfect simulation, down to the smallest molecule, and then state the obvious fact that it’s not going to happen.", PZ says this: "Errm, because that’s what the singularitarians we’re critiquing are proposing? This whole slice-and-scan proposal is all about recreating the physical components of the brain in a virtual space, without bothering to understand how those components work. We’re telling you that approach requires an awfully fine-grained simulation. An alternative would be to, for instance, break down the brain into components, figure out what the inputs and outputs to, say, the nucleus accumbens are, and then model how that tissue processes it all (that approach is being taken with models of portions of the hippocampus). That approach doesn’t require a detailed knowledge of what every molecule in the tissue is doing. But the method described here is a brute force dismantling and reconstruction of every cell in the brain. That requires details of every molecule." Still seems like a straw man.

I am also a really fast speed-reader, and my mind tends to ignore these sorts of words.

I remember one time I opened a fortune cookie, glanced at the slip, laughed, and repeated it to my friend, with perfect grammar. He grabbed the slip, actually read the slip (which apparently had had horrible grammar mistakes), and demanded to know how I had managed to read the slip while unintentionally correcting all the grammar mistakes in it.

Similar here.

The concepts of positive and negative selection are not quite well defined in your essay, I think.

Imagine that you have one test, with a gaussian distribution of outcomes. Let's arbitrarily set a threshold, and if people are above this threshold, they have passed this test. Call the sets of passing A and not passing ~A

Would you call this a positive or negative selection? It is neither, in my opinion.

Now, imagine you have two tests, A and B.

A positive test is one where A U B are selected. A negative test is one where ~(~A ^ ~B) are selected.

In other words - the operative difference between positive and negative selection is OR vs. AND.

Nice step toward clarity, but the leading example contrasts a single-test positive selection rule versus a multiple-test negative selection rule. I think it's worth a try to capture that contrast. Here's a try. A selection process winnows down a pool of applicants (let's call them) to a pool of winners. A step in a selection process, where the steps are applied in a given sequence, is "absolutely negative" if it removes less than half the remaining pool. A step in one process is "more negative" than another step (in the same or another process) if it accepts a larger fraction of the pool.

One word:


One massive examination that determines your entire future? Isn't that about as positive selection as you can get?

No. Positive selection means taking anyone who performs exceptionally well on any one out of many possible measures, whereas negative selection means taking anyone who performs at least passably on all of many measures. On the scale of how to integrate the information you get from each test, there only is one test, so you can't distinguish between positive and negative selection. On the scale of what the test itself measures, most exams tend to provide negative selection because the students usually know most of the material, so the smart kids can reliably get more than 90% of the questions correct, and the best way to do well involves having as few weak points as possible, rather than having some exceptionally strong abilities. So unless the one massive examination that they take in China is the Putnam, it's probably more like negative selection.

It would seem to me that parenting is one of those fields of knowledge where you don't know what you don't know until you've actually had kids yourself. If you find this hard to believe, then imagine how seriously you'd take your younger self if ey were to talk about how to be in a good relationship, before having had a significant other.

So, while I generally dislike discouraging people who are enthusiastic about getting something done, I would like to suggest that perhaps you are not the right person to write this post (or not yet). This is based on my reading of the rubber-ducking sentence as meaning that you have not yet had kids.

Most of my dating life has been the process of figuring out how to take my younger self's wisdom and actually implement it. I'd actually trust my younger self more than my current self - she didn't care about dating, and thus didn't have this annoying set of emotions getting in the way. I seem to be rather unusual in my dating life, but a quick look at the species seems to reveal that hormones and emotions are INCREDIBLE at clouding judgment when it comes to relationships.... In this, at least, I seem to actually manage to have a normal problem.
Yeah, that was one of my concerns in writing this. Mostly I want to get a discussion started and aggregate as much good info as possible.

You're very right about the moral of the story. I had intended it as a an allegory to publication bias in science, but I don't think I wrote the stories quite right.

Seems like a good post on its own; no need to bring down its apparent quality by making it appear to be an emotionally heated response to another post of lesser quality

To put it bluntly, HPMoR threads contribute a very non-trivial fraction of karma GDP. Shouldn't you be worried about that?

Yes []!

Huh. I finally understand the "logic" that has been espoused in HPMoR, ch 33 ""Precisely," said Harry Potter, his face now turning serious. "We are faced with a true Prisoner's Dilemma..."

What this reminds me of is the logistic equation: dx/dt = x(1-x).

This simple system has two equilibrium points: x = 0, and x = 1. x=0 is unstable - that is, any perturbation will cause the system to veer away from that equilibrium point. x=1 is stable, and any perturbations return to that equilbrium.

Hofstadter says that superrationalists... (read more)

I feel like that's not the way it should work in a worked-out theory. Maybe I or someone else will write a post about this someday.

"Reverbrating doubt", I believe Hofstadter's term is.

Could I get an explanation for the downvotes?

From Shirky's Essay on online groups: "The Wikipedia right now, the group collaborated online encyclopedia is the most interesting conversational artifact I know of, where product is a result of process. Rather than "We're specifically going to get together and create this presentation" it's just "What's left is a record of what we said."

When somebody goes to a wiki, they are not oging there to discuss elementary questions that have already been answered; they are going there to read the results of that discussion. Isn't this basi... (read more)


Why aren't we using the wiki more?

This is a really good question.

I don't use the wiki because me LW acount is not valid there. You need to make a seperate acocunt for the wiki.

That seems like an utterly stupid reason in retrospect, but I imagine that's a big reason why no one is wikiing.

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