All of Caspian's Comments + Replies

Making intentions concrete - Trigger-Action Planning

This initially seemed like it would still be very difficult to use.

I didn't find any easier descriptions of TAPs available on lesswrong for a long time after this was written, but I just had another look and found some more recent posts that suggested a practice step after planning the trigger-action pair.

For example, here:
What are Trigger-Action Plans (TAPs)?

You can either practise with the real trigger, or practise with visualising the trigger.

There's lots more about TAPs on lesswrong now I that I haven't read yet but the practice idea stood out as particularly important.

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

I have taken the survey.

Too good to be true

One mistake is treating 95% as the chance of the study indicating two-tailed coins, given that they were two-tailed coins. More likely it was meant as the chance of the study not indicating two-tailed coins, given that they were not two-tailed coins.

Try this:

You want to test if a coin is biased towards heads. You flip it 5 times, and consider 5 heads as a positive result, 4 heads or fewer as negative. You're aiming for 95% confidence but have to get 31/32 = 96.875%. Treating 4 heads as a possible result wouldn't work either, as that would get you less than 95% confidence.

[LINK] Scott Aaronson on Google, Breaking Circularity and Eigenmorality

If we're aggregating cooperation rather than aggregating values, we certainly can create a system that distinguishes between societies that apply an extreme level of noncooperation (i.e. killing) to larger groups of people than other societies, and that uses our own definition of noncooperation rather than what the Nazi values judge as noncooperation.

That's not to say you couldn't still find tricky example societies where the system evaluation isn't doing what we want, I just mean to encourage further improvement to cover moral behaviour towards and from hated minorities, and in actual Nazi Germany.

Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously

Back up your data, people. It's so easy (if you've got a Mac, anyway).

Thanks for the encouragement. I decided to do this after reading this and other comments here, and yes it was easy. I used a portable hard drive many times larger than the Mac's internal drive, dedicated just to this, and was guided through the process when I plugged it in. I did read up a bit on what it was doing but was pretty satisfied that I didn't need to change anything.

Measuring lethality in reduced expected heartbeats

I think there's an error in your calculations.

If someone smoked for 40 years and that reduced their life by 10 years, that 4:1 ratio translates to every 24 hours of being a smoker reducing lifespan by 6 hours (360 minutes). Assuming 40 cigarettes a day, that's 360/40 or 9 minutes per cigarette, pretty close to the 11 given earlier.

Open thread for December 9 - 16, 2013

This story, where they treated and apparently cured someone's cancer, by taking some of his immune system cells, modifying them, and putting them back, looks pretty important.

cancer treatment link

5CellBioGuy7yFound the actual papers the coverage is based on. How it was done: removing T cells (the cells which kill body cells infected with viruses directly, unlike B cells which secrete antibody proteins) and using replication-incapable viruses to put in a chimeric gene composed of part of a mouse antibody against human B-cell antigens, part of the human T-cell receptor that activates the T cell when it binds to something, and an extra activation domain to make the T-cell activation and proliferation particularly strong. Cells were reinjected, and they proliferated over 1000-fold, killed off all the cancerous leukemia cells they could detect in most patients, and the T-cells are sticking around as a permanent part of the patients immune systems. Relapse rates have been pretty low (but not zero). This type of cancer (B-cell originating leukemia) is uniquely extraordinarily well suited for this kind of intervention for two reasons. One, there is an antigen on B cells and B-cell derived cancers that can be targeted without destroying anything else important in the body other than normal B cells. Two, since the modded T cells destroy both normal B cells carrying this antigen and the cancerous B cells, the patients have a permanent lack of antibodies after treatment which makes sure their immune system has a hard time reacting against the modified receptors present on the modded T cells, which has been a problem in other studies. Fortunately people can live without B cells if they are careful - it's living without T cells you cannot do. They also suspect that pre-treating with chemotherapy majorly helped these immune cells go after the weakened cancer cell population. You can repeat this with T-cells tuned against any protein you want, but you had better watch out for autoimmune effects or the patient's immune system going after the chimeric protein you add and eliminating the modded population. And watch out ten years down the line for any T-cell originating lymphomas derive
LINK: AI Researcher Yann LeCun on AI function

Surely any prediction device that would be called "intelligent" by anyone less gung-ho than, say, Ray Kurzweil would enable you to ask it questions like "suppose I -- with my current genome -- chose to smoke; then what?" and "suppose I -- with my current genome -- chose not to smoke; then what?".

But it would be better if you could ask: "suppose I chose to smoke, but my genome and any other similar factors I don't know about were to stay as they are, then what?" where the other similar factors are things that cause smoking.

LINK: AI Researcher Yann LeCun on AI function

In part of the interview LeCun is talking about predicting the actions of Facebook users, e.g. "Being able to predict what a user is going to do next is a key feature"

But not predicting everything they do and exactly what they'll type.

Yes, Virginia, You Can Be 99.99% (Or More!) Certain That 53 Is Prime

I believe that was part of the mistake, answering whether or not the numbers were prime, when the original question, last repeated several minutes earlier, was whether or not to accept a deal.

"Stupid" questions thread

I expect part of it's based on status of course, but part of it could be that it would be much harder for a mugger to escape on a plane. No crowd of people standing up to blend into, and no easy exits.

Also on some trains you have seats facing each other, so people get used to deliberately avoiding each others gaze (edit: I don't think I'm saying that quite right. They're looking away), which I think makes it feel both awkward and unsafe.

1satt8yFor comparison, here's what I come up with when I introspect about my intuition: 1. The planes I'm on usually have higher people density than the trains I ride. 2. People seem more likely to step in if a fight breaks out on a plane than on a train. (Although I wonder why I believe that, since I've never witnessed a fight on a plane. Maybe I'm influenced by point 1. I guess fliers are also quite proactive nowadays about piling on people who get violent on planes.) 3. Passengers on planes are screened for weapons before they board, and when they're on-board there's less room for them to take a swing at me than on a train. 4. Someone who confronts me on a plane is less likely/able to follow me home, or to somewhere isolated, than someone who confronts me on a train.
The Robots, AI, and Unemployment Anti-FAQ

Q. Are the current high levels of unemployment being caused by advances in Artificial Intelligence automating away human jobs?

A. Conventional economic theory says this shouldn't happen. Suppose it costs 2 units of labor to produce a hot dog and 1 unit of labor to produce a bun, and that 30 units of labor are producing 10 hot dogs in 10 buns. If automation makes it possible to produce a hot dog using 1 unit of labor instead, conventional economics says that some people should shift from making hot dogs to buns, and the new equilibrium should be 15 hot

... (read more)
0wedrifid8yThanks. Fixed. If someone wants to include discussion about how instrumental and epistemic rationality are related they may consider creating an additional subheading for that purpose. The 'instrumental rationality' section needs to be a simple definition of what the phrase refers to.
Gains from trade: Slug versus Galaxy - how much would I give up to control you?

Nonlinear utility functions (as a function of resources) do not accurately model human risk aversion. That could imply that we should either change our (or they/their) risk aversion or not be maximising expected utility.

0Stuart_Armstrong8yYep. Humans are not expected utility maximisers. But there's strong arguments that an AI would be...
9Zvi8yNonlinear jumps in utility from different amounts of a resource seem common for humans at least at some points in time. Example: Either I have enough to pay off the loan shark, or he'll break my legs.
Rationality Quotes July 2013

That's not intended for people who could work but chose not to. They require you to regularly apply for employment. The applications themselves can be stressful and difficult work if you don't like self-promotion.

-3Eugine_Nier8yOnly if you care about whether you get the job.
The Power of Reinforcement

I think I even have work-like play where a game stops being fun. And yes, play-like work is what I want to achieve.

1Vladimir_Golovin8yIn case of work-like play, I have a resolution: stop playing immediately. It doesn't mean quitting the game for good, but rather "end the session now, if a game permits that". Also, this is why I generally don't play games that punish me for leaving early (e.g. WoW raids, DOTA2).
1CAE_Jones8yAnecdote: I've made suggestions to someone on how he might optimize the time he spends writing for his various projects, and more than once he's responded that a given strategy would make it feel too much like work (I don't remember off hand if he said explicitly that this would be an instrumental problem, or if that was only implied). I'm not really sure how I feel on how I might go about applying this concept, mostly because of my extremely vague definitions of work / play, but I do find that having certain restrictions--something as simple as paper size, for example--tends to make it much easier to work on something. (I wrote a shortstory by specifying what it would need to fit in, and measuring books I'd made in the same format years earlier; I made a large number of maps for a game by using a format restricted to 32 tiles across, etc. I haven't found good ways to apply this strategy to most of what I try to do, though.).
The Power of Reinforcement

Reinforcing effort only in combination with poor performance wasn't the intent. Pick a better criterion that you can reinforce with honest self-praise. You do need to start off with low enough standards so you can reward improvement from your initial level though.

Applying Behavioral Psychology on Myself

I'm interested in what you rewarded for going to bed earlier (or given the 0% success rate, what you planned to reward if it ever happened) and how/when you rewarded it. Maybe rewarding subtasks would have helped.

2Cyan8yEach item on my daily to-do list earned me a 50% chance of a small chocolate square. Getting to bed early was one item on the list. Awarding myself the award was the last thing I did each day.
The Power of Reinforcement

I just read Don't Shoot The Dog, and one of the interesting bits was that it seemed like getting trained the way it described was fun for the animals, like a good game. Also as the skill was learnt the task difficulty level was raised so it wasn't too easy. And the rewards seemed somewhat symbolic - a clicker, and being fed with food that wasn't officially restricted outside the training sessions.

Thinking about applying it to myself, having the reward not be too important outside the game/practise means I'm not likely to want to bypass the game to get the ... (read more)

"Stupid" questions thread

Well, it seems we have a conflict of interests. Do you agree?

Yes. We also have interests in common, but yes.

If you do, do you think that it is fair to resolve it unilaterally in one direction?

Better to resolve it after considering inputs from all parties. Beyond that it depends on specifics of the resolution.

If you do not, what should be the compromise?

To concretize: some people (introverts? non-NTs? a sub-population defined some other way?) would prefer people-in-general to adopt a policy of not introducing oneself to strangers (at least in ways

... (read more)
"Stupid" questions thread

I think sitting really close beside someone I would be less likely to want to face them - it would feel too intimate.

"Stupid" questions thread

I would always find people in aeroplanes less threatening than in trains. I wouldn't imagine the person in the next seat mugging me, for example, whereas I would imagine it on a train.

What do other people think of strangers on a plane versus on a train?

1satt8yHadn't noticed that before but now you mention it, I think I have a weaker version of the same intuition.
2NancyLebovitz8yI don't see a difference.
"Stupid" questions thread

Like RolfAndreassen said: please back the fuck off and leave others alone.

Please stop discouraging people from introducing themselves to me in circumstances where it would be welcome.

7Said Achmiz8yWell, it seems we have a conflict of interests. Do you agree? If you do, do you think that it is fair to resolve it unilaterally in one direction? If you do not, what should be the compromise? To concretize: some people (introverts? non-NTs? a sub-population defined some other way?) would prefer people-in-general to adopt a policy of not introducing oneself to strangers (at least in ways and circumstances such as described by pragmatist [http://lesswrong.com/lw/hzd/stupid_questions_thread/9d8k]), because they prefer that people not introduce themselves to them personally. Other people (extraverts? NTs? something else?) would prefer people-in-general to adopt a policy of introducing oneself to strangers, because they prefer that people introduce themselves to them personally. Does this seem like a fair characterization of the situation? If so, then certain solutions present themselves, some better than others. We could agree that everyone should adopt one of the above policies. In such a case, those people who prefer the other policy would be harmed. (Make no mistake: harmed. It does no good to say that either side should "just deal with it". I recognize this to be true for those people who have preferences opposite to my own, as well as for myself.) The alternative, by construction, would be some sort of compromise (a mixed policy? one with more nuance, or one sensitive to case-specific information? But it's not obvious to me what such a policy would look like), or a solution that obviated the conflict in the first place. Your thoughts?
"Stupid" questions thread

I now plan to split up long boring tasks into short tasks with a little celebration of completion as the reward after each one. I actually decided to try this after reading Don't Shoot the Dog, which I think I saw recommended on Less Wrong. It's got me a somewhat more productive weekend. If it does stop helping, I suspect it would be from the reward stopping being fun.

Rationality Quotes July 2013

Getting back to post-scarcity for people who choose not to work, and what resources they would miss out on, a big concern would be not having a home. Clearly this is much more of a concern than drinks on flights. The main reason it is not considered a dire concern is that people's ability to choose not to work is not considered that vital.

-8Eugine_Nier8y
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

A second, hidden copy of himself could possibly use the time turner as soon as it was announced the ring was to be transfigured, and make sure Hermione was not in the ring, but I think Harry has better uses than that for as much time turning as he can get.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

My first thought was that she'd been transfigured into the pajamas, but I don't think that's likely. My theory is that when Harry slept in his bed it was the second time he'd been through that time period. The first time, he stayed invisible with transfigured Hermione in his possession, waited until woken-up Harry had finished being searched, gave her to woken-up Harry, then went back in time and went to bed.

4lfghjkl8yThat would require him to stay up all night, since he cannot know in advance the exact time Flitwick will arrive. It is much more likely that the Harry we saw was the first one, and that he's now going to go back in time to pick up the body.
For FAI: Is "Molecular Nanotechnology" putting our best foot forward?

You can get microphones much smaller than 7 cm, and they can detect frequencies way lower than 20 kHz. There's no rule saying you need a large detector to pick up a signal with a large wavelength.

3asr8yI believe the original comment isn't about the receiver, but about the emitter -- that if you use audible-range sound or even ultrasound, the spatial resolution of the signal will be impossibly large compared to a nanobot. Each nanobot will be able to get the signal, but you won't be able to only communicate with nanobots in a specific part of the body. This might not be a fatal objection, since you could imagine some sort of protocol with unique addresses or whatnot, but it's an objection.
On manipulating others

Women famously say "sometimes I just want to be listened to. Don't try to solve my problems, just show me that you care."

I would interpret that as being specific to problems. There may also be women who would like feigned interest in dopey things they're into, or they may prefer to just discuss them with their girlfriends who are actually interested.

When men do this, women say "yes, that's what I'm talking about" and attempt to reinforce that behavior, perhaps unconsciously.

Explicitly saying this can be taken at face value, I thi... (read more)

0mwengler8yThe reason to think that sincerity may not be the main thing is the seeming fact that sexual attraction is pre-rational. I think it is quite common, especially among older humans, to WANT to have the close pre-rational relationship with someone who rationally fits a pile of criteria for you, but to not so strongly feel the sexual attraction as you did when you were younger and when they were younger. At that point, you thank them for wearing makeup and flattering clothing and presenting decolletage and batting their eyes at you and making you feel like a million dollars in a pre-rational way. If it brings the relationship over the pre-rational threshold for some hotness, then you both feel like winners. Like any other tool, hacking attraction can be used for purposes you think are good and it can be used for purposes you think are bad. But given the prevalence of makeup, push up bras, slinky black and red dresses, hair coloring, flattery, brand-name signalling of wealth etc etc etc, I think hacking attraction is quite the norm across broad swathes of the population, inside and outside the rationalist community.
On manipulating others

When I buy stuff from people I don't know I'm mostly treating them as a means to an end. Not completely, because there are ways I'd try to be fair to a human that wouldn't apply to a thing, but to a larger extent than I would want in personal / social relationships.

Another rule of thumb I kind of like is: don't get people into interactions with you that they wouldn't want if they knew what you were doing. I feel like that probably encourages erring too far on the side of caution and altruism. But if you know the other person would prefer you to empathise ... (read more)

2DavidAgain8yYes: buying stuff from people is pretty much instrumentalising them. That's capitalism! Although there tend to be limits as you note. And the 'would they like this if they knew what I was doing' is obviously a very good rule of thumb. Occasionally, you'll have to break this. Sometimes somebody is irrationally self-destructive and you basically end up deciding that you have a better sense of what is best for them. But that's an INCREDIBLY radical/bold decision to make and shouldn't be done lightly.
[LINK] The Selected Papers Network

Not that I know of, but Advogato's trust metric limits the damage by a rogue endorser of many trolls with a calculation using maximum network flow. It doesn't allow for downvotes.

If you allow downvoting and blocking all of someone's nodes, that could be an incentive for the person to partition their publications into three pseudonyms, so that once the first is blocked, the others are still available.

Why do theists, undergrads, and Less Wrongers favor one-boxing on Newcomb?

That's a good question. Here's a definition of "fair" aimed at UDT-type thought experiments:

The agent has to know what thought experiment they are in as background knowledge, so the universe can only predict their counterfactual actions in situations that are in that thought experiment, and where the agent still has the knowledge of being in the thought experiment.

This disallows my anti-oneboxer setup here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/hqs/why_do_theists_undergrads_and_less_wrongers_favor/97ak (because the predictor is predicting what decision would b... (read more)

Why do theists, undergrads, and Less Wrongers favor one-boxing on Newcomb?

You penalise based on the counterfactual outcome: if they were in Newcomb's problem, this person would choose one box.

Rationality Quotes June 2013

The way I like to think about it is that convincingness is a 2-place function - a simulation is convincing to a particular mind/brain. If there's a reasonably well-defined interface between the mind and the simulation (e.g. the 5 senses and maybe a couple more) then it's cheating to bypass that interface and make the brain more gullible than normal, for example by introducing chemicals into the vat for that purpose.

From that perspective, dreams are not especially convincing compared to experience while awake, rather dreamers are especially convincable.

Denn... (read more)

3ChristianKl8yThe 5 senses are brain events. There aren't input channels to the brain. Take taste. How many different tastes of food can you perceive through your taste sense? More than 5. Why? Your brain takes data from nose, tongue and your memory and fits them together to something that you can perceive through your smell sense. You have no direct access to the data that your nose or tongue sends to your brain through your conscious qualia perception. If someone is open by receiving suggestions and you give him a hypnotic suggestion that a apple tastes like an orange you can awake him. If he eats the thing he will tell you that the apple is an orange. He might even get angry when someone tells him that the thing isn't an orange because it obviously tastes like an orange. You don't need to introduce any chemicals. Millions of years of evolutions have trained brains to have an extremly high prior for thinking that they aren't "brains in a vat". Doubting your own perception is an incredibly hard cognitive task. There are experients where an experimentor uses a single electron to trigger a subject to do a particular task like raising his arm. If the experimentor afterwards ask the subject why he raised the arm the subject makes up a story and believes in that story. It takes effort for the leader of an experiment to convince a subject that he made up the story and there was no reason he raised his arm.
Rationality Quotes June 2013

I want to use one of those phrases in conversation. Either grfgvat n znq ulcbgurfvf be znxvat znq bofreingvbaf (spoilers de-rot13ed)

Also I found the creator's page for the comic http://cowbirdsinlove.com/46

Googling is the first step. Consider adding scholarly searches to your arsenal.

I followed the first link http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/9/2108.short and the abstract there had "After adjusting for age, BMI, total energy intake, exercise, alcohol intake, cigarette smoking, and family history of diabetes, we found positive associations between intakes of red meat and processed meat and risk of type 2 diabetes."

And then later, "These results remained significant after further adjustment for intakes of dietary fiber, magnesium, glycemic load, and total fat." though I'm not sure if the latter was separate ... (read more)

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Isn't humour it's own reward? What extra reinforcement system could you use to increase it?

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Yes, I upvoted it as an interesting idea, but wouldn't endorse actually putting it into practice.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I don't think it would substitute for optometrist appointments, just for getting new glasses of the same prescription as you already had. For people who have had LASIK, had your glasses prescriptions been changing up until then? And did you vision continue to change afterwards?

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

As munchkinry, it's pretty good, but I'm not taking this seriously enough to actually try it. It's just a fun idea to me.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I am mentally connecting this with the comment about tulpas

No need to modify the host's identity, you can both share their brain.

ETA: and now I'm thinking of the movie Being John Malkovich - the host was treated in an abusive manner, but there was a level of cooperation between the other minds sharing his body.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Practice getting off the Internet and going to bed:

Starting while not absorbed in browsing the web, find some not-too-compelling website, browse for a few minutes (not enough to get really into it) and then go and lie in bed for a few minutes (which shouldn't feel as difficult as it's not committing to a full night's sleep). While in bed, let your mind wander away from the internet. This practice can lead into practice for getting out of bed.

I tried this a bit - I'm not sure it was worthwhile, as I did sometimes get absorbed in browsing when trying this exercise.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

When I was having a lot of trouble getting out of bed reasonably promptly in the mornings: practice getting out of bed - but not after just having woken up, that's what I was having trouble with in the first place. No, during the day, having been up for a while, go lie in bed for a couple of minutes with the alarm set, then get up when it goes off. Also, make this a pleasant routine with stretching, smiling and deep breathing.

I found this idea on the net here, which may have more details: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-wh... (read more)

0Tem425yI have found that I wake much more effectively when the alarm is very quiet; rather than waking suddenly and having my brain rebel, I wake over the course of 30 second to 2 minutes. This works much better than it has any reason to. The downside is that a very quiet alarm is easy to miss, and if there is environmental noise at the same time as the alarm goes off (from the air coming on to trash pickup), it's much too easy to sleep through. The solution that worked best for me was to run a white noise generator (actually an air filter) all night; this raised the noise threshold so that a louder alarm was needed to still be a quiet-but-audible alarm; the louder alarm is loud enough to be heard over the white noise, and thus loud enough to be heard over any environmental noise that is not also loud enough to wake me. Another useful trick, albeit slightly more painful, is to get up at the same time every morning. This means also on weekends. It really does help, but requires that you are willing to actually wake up enough to get out of bed. Once you are 'up', you may decide to just read Facebook for 5 minutes before going back to bed (I usually just went to the bathroom and then read in bed for 15 minutes before falling back to sleep). I only use this when I have a significant change in schedule, and only for a couple of weeks.
1Oklord8yI agree absolutely - however the effect wanes. I found the behavior would go extinct maybe a week or so after a 20 minute session of doing this. Reading this has inspired me to do the straightforward thing and just practice weekly.

FYI, this training is part of USAF basic training. With more yelling. I wouldn't call it a pleasant routine, but it's certainly effective when you do it for six hours straight and start to get an adrenaline surge when your alarm goes off.

That still persists 1.5 years later, so it may be a munchkin hack in itself.

An alternative, courtesy of Anders Sandberg (via Kaj Sotala), is to set your alarm to ring two hours before your desired wake-up time, take one or two 50mg caffeine pills when it rings, and go back to sleep immediately thereafter. When you wake two hours later, getting out of bed shouldn't be a problem. Details here.

The Lifespan Dilemma

I don't have an elegant fix for this, but I came up with a kludgy decision procedure that would not have the issue.

Problem: you don't want to give up a decent chance of something good, for something even better that's really unlikely to happen, no matter how much better that thing is.

Solution: when evaluating the utility of a probabilistic combination of outcomes, instead of taking the average of all of them, remove the top 5% (this is a somewhat arbitrary choice) and find the average utility of the remaining outcomes.

For example, assume utility is proport... (read more)

Talking Snakes: A Cautionary Tale

Making up absurd explanations for the talking snake goes against the direction of your post, but I wanted to share this one: a remote control snake the owner can talk through is the sort of thing that could be a children's toy. Santa Claus gave one to Satan, who used it for mischief.

New censorship: against hypothetical violence against identifiable people

Suicide in particular is often illegal.

ETA: possibly this statement of mine was outdated.

2wedrifid8yEither you or some of the people reading your comment seem to have been mislead into concluding that a thing being illegal and also violence against oneself can be generalised to conclude that violence against oneself or even discussion of violence against oneself is illegal. That seems to be a rather blatant confusion.
That Thing That Happened

BlazeOrangeDeer would be talking about this parody subreddit. Sometimes the parodies are in a similar "meta" style to Konkvistador's post.

Miracle Mineral Supplement

Others have covered your knee jerk poison-is-bad reaction so I'll let that pass, but the thing that stuck out for me as bad epistemic standards from MMS proponents was seeing some "explanation" for why it would give you an upset stomach despite the other claim that it would only harm "bad" bacteria. Something about how it's your body flushing out poisons and it's a good sign. It struck me as an untested rationalisation someone just made up.

1fubarobfusco8yPeople sometimes seem to use a model that says that potency is a scalar quantity. If you have a powerful illness, you need a powerful medicine to defeat it. Weak medicine has little side effects; powerful medicine has big side effects. So if something has big side effects, that means you know it is powerful medicine! People use a similar model for computer security: Installing antivirus, a firewall, or other security features gives your computer some number of security points. Like armor class in D&D, the more security points you have, the harder it is for an attacker or malware to hurt you. If you install a lot of security stuff, it will make you really safe ... and you can safely go do dangerous things like installing software that fell off the back of a truck, or browsing spammy porn sites with IE6. The problem in both cases is an ignorance of how the attacks work, and thus how the defenses have to work, too. An arbitrary chemical that has heavy "side effects" is not thereby a potent remedy for infections, cancer, wounds, and other diverse afflictions. Malware and attackers use specific exploits and tricks; in order to make your computer safe from a specific attack, security software has to block particular things. And unlike in classic D&D, putting on a helmet doesn't make it any harder to run you through with a lance.
How To Have Things Correctly

I'm assuming that if bought your cloak for the same price of a typical sweater, you would preferably use sweaters rather than the cloak.

Instead, just assume that if she had not found excuses to wear the cloak, she would use sweaters rather than the cloak. This could be chosen by habit rather than considered preference.

-1V_V9ySo why did she mention the price of the cloak as a relevant factor?
Causal Diagrams and Causal Models

I had meant to suggest some sort of unintelligent feedback system. Not coincidence, but also not an intelligent optimisation, so still not an exact parallel to his thermostat.

-2Eugine_Nier9yThe thermostat was created by an intelligent human. I never said the optimizing process had to be that intelligent, i.e., the blind-idiot-god [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Evolution_as_alien_god] counts.
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