All of Cato the Eider's Comments + Replies

Intro to Debt Crises

Without a shred of support I'll throw out there that perhaps we're dealing with a scale-free network [1]. There would be no "typical size" for economic disruptions; and it would invalidate all the 20/20 hindsight "why did it happen" stories (it makes reading the news a lot more relaxing, I find). I don't know how to evaluate this hypothesis, though.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale-free_network 

Death by Red Tape

I think you're far too charitable toward the FDA, TSA et al. I submit that they simultaneously reduce slack, increase fragility ... and reduce efficiency. They are best modeled as parasites, sapping resources from the host (the general public) for their own benefit.

[edit] Something I've been toying with is thinking of societal collapse as a scale-free distribution [1], from micro-collapse (a divorce, perhaps?) to Roman Empire events. In this model, a civilization-wide collapse doesn't have a "cause" per se, it's just a property of the system.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organized_criticality

2abramdemski8moOh, and for the FDA/TSA/etc, apologies for not being up to writing a more scathing review. This has to do with issues mentioned here [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/8SCepKYXv9HTqZf9p/death-by-red-tape?commentId=3TtT5gNavhLd6nrQb] . I welcome your more critical analysis if you'd want to write it. I sort of wrote the minimal thing I could. I do want to stand by the statement that it isn't highly fine-tuned utilitarian optimization by any stretch (IE it's not at all like Vernor Vinge's vision of over-optimization), and also, that many relevant people actively prefer for the TSA to exist (eg politicians and people on the street will often give defenses like "it helps avert these extreme risks"). I'm not sure we disagree on anything. I don't mean to imply that the TSA increases slack... Perhaps I over-emphasized the opposite-ness of my two scenarios. They are not opposite in every way. Death by No Slack: Utilitarian, puritan, detail-oriented (context-insensitive) thinking dominates everything. Goodhart's curse is everywhere. Performance measurements. Tests. All procedures are evidence-based. Empirical history has a tendency to win the argument over careful reasoning (including in conversations about catastrophic risks, which means risks are often under-estimated). But we have longstanding institutions which have become highly optimized. Things have been in economic equilibrium for a long time. Everything is finely tuned. Things are close to their malthusian limit. People wouldn't know how to deal with change. Death by Red Tape: Don't swim 30 minutes after eating. Don't fall asleep in a room with a fan going. The ultimate nanny state, regulating away anything which has been associated with danger in the past, unless it's perceived as necessary for society to function, in which case it comes with paperwork and oversight. Climbing trees is illegal unless you have a license. If you follow all the rules you have a very high chance of dying peacefully [https://slatestarc
2abramdemski8moI like the analogy between social collapse and sand-pile collapse this implies :) [actually, rice-pile collapse [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnOkkC4QND8]] But can you say anything more about the model, eg, how you would make a simple computer simulation illustrating the dynamics? Based on your divorce example, it seems like the model is roughly "people sometimes form groups" (as opposed to "sometimes a new grain is dropped" in the rice-pile analogy). But how can we model the formation of very large groups, such as nations?
Gauging the conscious experience of LessWrong

I've been curious about the phenomenon of memory, or perhaps more precisely, recall. For example, I can recall standing at the top of a granitic, sub-alpine cliff at the head of a waterfall. I can also "recall" standing near Wesley at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity.  Obviously I know that one happened to me and one didn't, but to me the two mental processes seem to be of the same catagory, and I'm suspicious that this is true of everyone but that few recognize it. I do recognize a very few "memories" that feel somewhat different - one is standing o... (read more)

Gauging the conscious experience of LessWrong

I've been curious about the phenomenon of memory, or perhaps more precisely, recall. For example, I can recall standing at the top of a granitic, sub-alpine cliff at the head of a waterfall. I can also "recall" standing near Wesley at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity.  Obviously I know that one happened to me and one didn't, but to me the two mental processes seem to be of the same catagory, and I'm suspicious that this is true of everyone but that few recognize it. I do recognize a very few "memories" that feel somewhat different - one is standing o... (read more)

1Measure1yI think my experience of memory vs. imagination matches this.
Rationality and Climate Change

I'll bite --- as a "not feeling alarmed" sort of person. First, though, I'll clarify that I'm reading"climate change" as shorthand for "climate change that is net-negative for human welfare" (herein CCNNHW), since obviously the climate is in a state of constant change.

Confidence levels expressed as rough probabilities:

0.70 : we are observing CCNNHW

0.80 : current human behavior increases probability of CCNNHW

0.10 : future magnitude of  CCNNHW will be massive

0.98 : future human behavior will change, given CCNNHW

0.90 : some current and proposed mitigatio... (read more)

The whirlpool of reality

Thank you for sharing this. I've long used the image (or metaphor) of the swirl of cream in a cup of coffee for this purpose, but have never expressed the idea as well. 

1sudhanshu_kasewa2yFascinating. Thanks. My sense is GoL already has this property; any intuitions on how to formalise it?
Covid 19 as a Fermi Paradox Zoo Hypothesis Subset (Laboratory Hypothesis) Nudge Point

I just have to call attention to "'burning plasma' global peace nude point" as one terrific phrase.

1JohnCDraper2yI hope my edit preserves the full semantic power of that phrase for posterity while indicating that I stand corrected. Special Circumstances aims to please!
Chapter 113: Final Exam

[Having finished Yudkowsky's work, am deleting my post. It grew from a different narrative intent and wasn't comfortable here.]

3Raemon3yFYI – We imported this from fanfiction.net, where the actual exam took place.