CAE_Jones

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Instrumental Rationality 1: Starting Advice

Obvious advice is obvious because it works, yes. The background assumption is that it is all implementable without further advice-wanting requirements. Advice for building a kickass gaming PC in 2017 with secure income and access to the internet will be simpler than the same advice adapted for 1950, because PCs were not available in 1950, the internet did not exist, and computers were huge, slow, and low on storage capacity as compared to 2000, never mind 2017.

Of course, if this could be fully generalized to all contexts, it would likely have been done by now. It's not practical to account for every outlier when responding to a general audience, and even to an individual without extraordinary circumstances (such as being paid as a therapist/life-coach/etc). This is where generalized instrumental rationality should take over, and yet, signs seem to point toward GIR being much harder than ... eh, just about everything short of implementing Utopiae, I guess.

Instrumental Rationality 1: Starting Advice

Then again, I sometimes feel as if I'm one-eyed, saying "I understand how having two eyes would be better, but is it really necessary?"

You know, discovering LessWrong forced me to reconsider exactly this. I mean, the "you don't know what you're missing if you never had it" argument never seemed wrong before LW, just annoying.

Realistically, if a cheap and quick-to-heal eye repair/replacement method became available tomorrow, I can only try to imagine how my brain would respond to a random extra input. And depth perception sounds like some terrifying mindscrew, and what is this business about eye-crossing and seeing double? And I am a wee bit worried about what having the ability to see people in full detail would do to me (my one good eye went bad before I ever considered looking at porn... the possibility is unsettling for some hard to identify reason). And driving, and getting a decent reading speed, and hand-writing, would all take a very long time—years, most likely.

But nevertheless, leaving money on the ground is leaving money on the ground. I like braille, but it's less useful than print precisely because print is everywhere and everything is available in it. Learning math and science when most of the best books aren't readable is a pest. And I would be surprised if a whole sense shutting off isn't inherently depressing just due to decreased stimulation.

Does exercise work similarly? Eh, it depends? The whole forcing yourself to do something you simply can't get excited about for nebulous health benefits suffers from a heavy cost in effort. OTOH, if an activity can be engaging and healthy, the effort-reward ratio is high from the beginning. So this is where we look for something fun to do, rather than hitting the gym. Of course, if there is not a fun or otherwise rewarding solution available, then we're right back where we started.

Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

I've heard the phrase "disability markup" used to describe how almost everything ever targeted toward physical or sensory disabilities are absurdly expensive. That name implies more intentional malice than I expect is at work; I'd generally round off to "market forces"--it's difficult to take advantage of mass market capitalism when selling to a minority, but it is possible to take advantage of government assistance programs.

It seems like, though, based on my (very limited) understanding of hearing aids, a charitable version of "disability markup" might be closer to reality. After all, if it's treating a disability, especially one found in old people, either those who need it are going to be rich from a lifetime of savings, or poor and getting the government to pay for it anyway, right?

It isn't hearing aids so much as screen readers, but Chris Hofstader implies as much might be a component of business models for such companies in this article:

Will FS respond to this new found competition, possibly based in the fact that NVDA costs nothing and FS gets more than a thousand bucks for JAWS with a price cut? Probably not. I haven’t worked at FS for more than a decade but, back then, we discussed the possibility of a free or no cost screen reader coming onto the market and how we might respond. Our strategy then and likely now was that, if we felt competitive pressure from a low or no cost solution, we would raise the price of JAWS. As I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, there are technologies that one can only access using JAWS and the FS strategy was to make sure we kept our profits high by “eating the rich.” I don’t know if FS will respond this way ten and a half years later but, as NVDA RA adds a feature to NVDA that one needed to buy JAWS to get, , they may need to find a way to replace the dollars on their bottom line and may, in fact, respond by increasing the price of JAWS.

James_Miller's guess wouldn't apply so much to screen readers (but would apply to things like the Brain Port, which opened at a price of $10,000US), but I wouldn't be surprised if going through the FDA is a big part of the markup on hearing aids.

The Fable of the Burning Branch

No, I'm afraid of the witch-hunters. (So far, polling indicates that this was not the right hypothesis for the commentary in general.) I avoided commenting until my previous comment because I was pretty sure I'd regret it--probably missing the point or getting drawn into the political deluge--and it seems this was the correct expectation.

The Fable of the Burning Branch

Five years ago

Five years ago, we weren't just coming down from a spree of witch-hunts in which online mobs destroy people's lives for being insufficiently politically correct. I suspect lots of "be on the look out for anything that looks sexist" conditioning still hasn't worn off. But I might be mind-projecting.

Actually, it seems worth a poll. did/did not take it as something close to rape apologia, are/are not worried about doxing or other such harassment campaigns?

[pollid:1126]

Perhaps instead of "divorced from", I should have said "adversarial to"?

Or maybe I should have just left it at "adversarial" and not bothered bringing up the relation to reality at all.

I was thinking of a specific comment I wrote multiple replies to before successfully restraining myself with the realization that it was blatant flame-bait. I do not claim that the basic point ("groups x y and z produce fewer successful people on average than groups u v and w", and "mediocre success gets signal-boosted among disadvantaged groups") is false. I do claim that the way the_lion conducted himself during the discussion rapidly stopped including a willingness to engage with facts or use enough clarity to make some of his claims falsifiable, and the phrasing implied a deliberate attempt to provoke outrage (which I should note was mostly avoided; it is regrettable that a couple people succumbed to the temptation anyway.)

I'd certainly grant that you could well be correct in your impressions. After all, it's odd for him to go from this to this week's spree of what looks a lot like trolling, seemingly over getting a rule against his voting strategies enforced.

It wasn't so much the racism, as the completely assinine, dogmatic, insulting-to-everyone-involved, divorced-from-reality manner in which he went about it. At least his previous incarnations didn't sound like a Klansman got drunk and decided to go trolling (Heck, some of his stuff in his original form was downright reasonable, and when it wasn't, he still came across as the more rational person in the conversation at times, even if you disagreed with his conclusions).

He was originally banned for abusing the voting system to try and remove his political opponents from the conversation. So far as I could tell, his next two bans were because he could not resist doing the same thing. As the_lion and the_lion2, he escalated to just being a caricature of a straw white supremecist (who still abused the voting system).

I almost want to explain this as some twisted minuscule version of radicalizing they with nothing to lose, except in this case the ultimatum was abundantly clear: stop using downvotes as a political weapon, or get banned. The "Hellban" post was a blatant "You will never stop me, fools!" to anyone familiar with the history.

The map of quantum (big world) immortality

I understand QI as related to the Anthropic Principal. The point is that you will tend to find yourself observing things, which implies that there is an effectively immortal version of you somewhere in probability space. It doesn't require that any Quantum Immortals coexist in the same world.

Of course, we'd be far more likely to continue observing things in a world where immortality is already available than in one where it is not, but since we're not in that world, it doesn't seem too outlandish to give a little weight to the idea that the absence of Quantum Immortals is a precondition to being a Quantum Immortal. I have no idea how that makes sense, though. One could construct fantastic hypotheticals about eventually encountering an alien race intent on wiping out immortals, or some Highlander-esque shenanigans, but more likely is that immortality is just hard and not that many people can win the QI lottery in a single world. (Or even that we happen to be living at the time when immortality is attainable.)

Incidentally (or frustratingly), this gets us back into "it's all part of the divine plan" territory. Why do you go through problem X? Because if you didn't, you would eventually die forever.

I am now curious as to whether or not there are books that combine Quantum Immortality with religious eschitology[sic]. Just wait for the Quantum Messiah to invent a world-hopping ability to rescue everyone who has ever lived from their own personal eternity (which is probably a Quantum Hell by that point), and bring them to Quantum Heaven.

(I was not thinking Quantum Jesus would be an AI, but sure; why not? Now we have the Universal Reconciliation version of straw Singularitarianism.)

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