On Destroying the World

We often distinguish between safety critical and non-safety critical components. The latter make up about 95% of components in my business and in general the thing we care most about is average performance.

In safety critical components we care about the worst component (material / manufacturing defect etc.) in e.g. 1,000,000. Otherwise >1 in 1,000,000 brakes fail and the vehicle runs someone over or drives into a canal.

The examples that you give of jokey but serious things are almost all non-safety critical things (except the dominance contest but I think that's quite a different example). If I miss that embedded agency is about something serious then that doesn't really matter - someone who makes that mistake is probably not really who it is important to make understand. The overall effect of the series is the most important thing.

My impression is that the message you sent is great for average performance (and that the most natural way to read it is as you intended) but that it isn't optimised for communicating with the biggest exception in 270. The person who shares the least common knowledge about the ritual or reads the message the fastest or has the prior you mention or a prior that the admins sometimes do pure jokes (e.g. April Fools) or whatever - that person is really the person you need to be writing for. That most people understood it correctly is largely irrelevant.

I feel like this is a huge lesson that this experience hammered home for me.

(The message changed slightly from last year to this - one section I particularly note is:

You’ve all been given the opportunity to show yourselves capable and trustworthy.

in 2019 was changed in 2020 to:

You've all been given the opportunity to not destroy LessWrong.

I'd be curious to know why this was changed as the former seems better optimised for setting expectations.)

Covid 9/24: Until Morale Improves

I suspect that those results don't generalise to the whole population.

Japan's testing shows 25,000 cases in Tokyo.

If that study's seropositivity rate generalises to the whole of Tokyo then there have been ~4,300,000 actual cases.

Japan's positivity rate on testing during the second peak got up to 6% so it is unlikely they are missing that many cases.

The numbers are so far apart that I wouldn't really believe that the seropositivity rate generalises at all.

(Note that Tokyo has 400 confirmed deaths and 25,000 cases giving CFR = 1.6%. Assuming some missed cases this puts the IFR in the normal range.)

Looking at it in a bit more detail the seroprevalence increased before Tokyo started seeing increases in positive tests so I really don't think these numbers will pan out in the long run.

On Destroying the World

Part of me wants to say you plonker for falling for it (as you said, there were plenty of clues, plus the fact that the launch codes weren't repeated in the second message) but another part of me remembers that I fell victim to a Trojan once so I have some sympathy for you.

On Destroying the World

In the spirit of learning from this, I'd be interested to know how many people you sent the message to and how you chose them etc. 

I particularly liked the "You will be asked to complete a short survey afterward" touch - what made you think to include it?

On Destroying the World

I'd kinda assumed that one wouldn't do this unless they were confident their friend would be ok with it, as indeed seems to be the case.

On Destroying the World

I think this case is fairly different to what you describe. The community organised for this to potentially happen and Chris publicised this fact to his friends. The community decided that it was worth the risk so the damage could be assumed not to be large and having the frontpage going down for 24 hours really isn't a huge deal. 

The actual damage is realisitically the fact that the experiment (and associated metaphor) didn't work but I feel like the lessons learnt should more than make up for that.

Covid 9/17: It’s Worse

It's worth noting that the R-squared value for a linear trend-line for 2000-2019 data has  so a constant prediction of 750k acres would only be marginally less accurate. (I think your excluding 2020 graph also excludes 2019 but the story doesn't change much either way)

It looks like up until 2016 everything was fairly constant and since then 3 out of 4 years have been bad.

Most Prisoner's Dilemmas are Stag Hunts; Most Stag Hunts are Battle of the Sexes

I had the same confusion.

One of the key things I think between the 3 games is whether communication beforehand helps (in single shot games).

In PD communication doesn't really help much as you there is little reason to trust what the other person.

In SH communication should be able to solve your problem as S-S is optimal for both players.

In BotS communication which results in agreement can at least be trusted as co-ordinating is optimal for both players. Choosing which option to co-ordinate on is another matter.

(assuming you've included the pleasure of spiting the other person etc. in the payoff matrix)

‘Ugh fields’, or why you can’t even bear to think about that task (Rob Wiblin)

Maybe I need to be more heterogenous in my hiring! 

I hadn't heard of pair-writing but it sounds like it could work well in my context.

‘Ugh fields’, or why you can’t even bear to think about that task (Rob Wiblin)

My intended point was that if one person has an ugh-field around something then it is often a generally unenjoyable task. Although other people don't have ugh-fields around the task, it still seems unfair (and would likely lead to bad team dynamics) to reassign it to someone else who merely dislikes the task.

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