All of Curiouskid's Comments + Replies

Open thread, Nov. 23 - Nov. 29, 2015

So, I think the correct answer to the question "I have a 5-figure sum of money to invest" is to just go with Betterment/Wealthfront rather than Vanguard, so that you get diversification between asset classes (whereas a specific index fund will get you diversification within an asset class). If I'd known this when I'd asked the question, I would have picked a better mix of Vanguard index funds, and not hesitated as much with figuring out where to put the money. To be fair, Vaniver basically said this, I just think the links below explain it better... (read more)

2Vaniver5yMMM is in general excellent, and that's convinced me to move Betterment above Vanguard in my recommendation list in the future.
Open Thread April 4 - April 10, 2016

A good paper!

I'm curious how you found the paper. I asked myself how I would find such a paper (rather than just stumbling on it here). I first checked Tenenbaum's homepage, but it's out of date. Then I checked the CBMM publications page and found it.

Another interesting paper from that page: "Foveation-based Mechanisms Alleviate Adversarial Examples"

1[anonymous]5yHonestly? I browse /r/MachineLearning pretty regularly, and someone there tends to eventually post Tenenbaum-lab papers.
Request for advice: high school transferring

My parents were similarly irrational.

I think you could still take the GED and apply to colleges right now. I think it sometimes can help to discuss things concretely "I have my GED and have been accepted to XYZ Uni to study ABC" v. "I could get my GED and apply to colleges.".

If you can't graduate 2 years early with a GED, you could try graduating 1 year early by just earning all the necessary credits. My school offered credits for passing AP exams, and I just self-studied for several of them and passed them.

0argella425yI would do that, but they don't let you take the GED unless you've officially dropped out of high school. Which isn't happening... I've considered graduating a year early, but at that point I'd rather just finish it out. I'll have enough free room in my schedule to take fun art classes and stuff.
Request for advice: high school transferring

OP said:

it's very hard to socialize when you don't board at the school,

I'm saying it's very easy to socialize on a college campus. Not necessarily drinking and fucking your way through college. To give one example, Just hanging around and chatting with people after class if you don't have a class immediately afterward.

Request for advice: high school transferring

If I could re-do high school, I would get my GED as early as possible, and then do something useful with my time instead of gong to high school. For example, you could self-study a bunch of APs exams, test out of all the general education requirements at many universities, and then graduate from college early too.

Then, when you get to college, you can spend a bunch of your time socializing, on campus.

0Lumifer5yI sounds weird to me that you want to intensely study in high school just so that you can drink and fuck your way through college...
0argella425yBelieve me, I would do exactly that if I could, but my parents won't let me. It's not even that think I won't get into college--they don't seem to have a rational reason beyond "you just have to follow through with things" and "trust me, I'm much older than you, this is not a time in your life to waste opportunity" and "everybody needs a high school diploma, even if they go through college" none of which are strictly true, as far as I can tell. That's part of my motivation for going back to public school--because there are less requirements and the workload is less strenuous I can build my schedule in a way that is conducive to me learning things outside of class.
The map of global catastrophic risks connected with biological weapons and genetic engineering

I really like your knowledge maps.

I found a small typo: "Luck of ability to see consequences". I think you meant "lack".

2turchin5yThanks, fixed in pdf. Also I just found interesting article "The future of biological warfare" []which highlights risks of environment microbes and especially fungi. What it means is that doomsday bioweapon is now 10 times more probable by my estimate.
Where does our community disagree about meaningful issues?

I'll add some sub-points:

1) AI risk is important

2) Everybody should be vegan.

  • Veganism is healthier than other diets (e.g. paleo, keto)
  • Even if veganism is less healthy, it is still morally superior to other diets.

Other people have mentioned:

  • Cryonics
  • Relationships / PUA

Political topics:

  • Free Market Policies
  • Social Justice Movement
  • The importance of env
... (read more)
Public Service Announcement Collection

It could be also be casein intolerance. I actually feel fairly okay when I drink milk, but consuming a casein protein powder makes me bloated.

Rationality Quotes Thread December 2015

Probably people have seen this before, but I really like it:

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing, that's why we recommend it daily.

-Zig Ziglar

2lmm6yI don't see the point. The whole point of "motivating doesn't last" is "you will only be able to sustain effort if there is something in your day-to-day that motivates you to continue, not some distant ideal.
Why startup founders have mood swings (and why they may have uses)

I realized this about my own mood swings.

I tend to do a lot of "writing therapy" in workflowy. Thus, if I'm ever at a high, or a low, I record a lot of my thoughts into workflowy so that I can refactor/combine them later.

I like model this as "emotional retrograde amnesia". I like the movie "Memento" by Nolan because the protagonist writes lots of notes to himself because he has actual retrograde amnesia; similarly, I have emotional retrograde amnesia, so I write lots of notes to myself, so that I can piece together the "puzzle" later.

Open thread, Nov. 23 - Nov. 29, 2015

So, it seems like lots of people advise buying index funds, but how do I figure out which specific ones I should choose?

5Curiouskid5ySo, I think the correct answer to the question "I have a 5-figure sum of money to invest" is to just go with Betterment/Wealthfront rather than Vanguard, so that you get diversification between asset classes (whereas a specific index fund will get you diversification within an asset class). If I'd known this when I'd asked the question, I would have picked a better mix of Vanguard index funds, and not hesitated as much with figuring out where to put the money. To be fair, Vaniver basically said this, I just think the links below explain it better, so I could feel certain enough to make a decision rather than let the money burn away through inflation. [] []
6RichardKennaway6yI have a secondary question to that. These things seem to all operate online only, without bricks and mortar. How do I assure myself that a website that I have never seen before is trustworthy enough to invest, say, 6-figure sums of money in? Are there official ratings or registers, for probity rather than performance?
0[anonymous]6yI have a secondary question to that. These things seem to all operate online only, without bricks and mortar. How do I assure myself that an online website that I have never seen before is trustworthy enough to invest, say, 6-figure sums of money in? Are there official ratings or registers, for probity rather than performance?
6[anonymous]6yThe best argument for getting an index fund is the expense ratio; not broad versus narrow. Managed mutual funds have higher expense ratios because of the broker's salary. Private trading instead of buy and hold will similarly cost you more because of the transaction cost. To justify their transactions, a broker doesn't just have to beat the market, but to beat the market by a large enough swing to justify those extra costs. Because of the number of brokers out there, even if one has consistently beaten the market, it is impossible to determine whether that is due to skill or luck for any given broker. Large domestic index funds will generally have the lowest expense ratios.

Short version: try something like Vanguard's online recommendation, or check out Wealthfront or Betterment. Probably you'll just end up buying VTSMX.

Long version: The basic argument for index funds over individual stocks is that you think that a is going to outperform a because of general economic growth and reduced risk through pooling. So if you apply the same logic to index funds, what that argues is that you should find the index fund that covers the largest possible pool.

But it also becomes obvious that this logic only stretches so far--one might th... (read more)

1Lumifer6yYou need to figure out things like your own risk tolerance, your own time horizons for investments, and your own ideas about what might happen (or not) in the econo-financial world within your time horizons.
Open thread, Oct. 19 - Oct. 25, 2015

Another thing I've heard recently, but not looked into much is living in a house boat off of the coast of San Francisco, and then paddling in on a Kayak.

Open thread, Oct. 6 - Oct. 12, 2014

Umm, would anybody here have invites for torrent trackers for textbooks (e.g. BitMe, The Geeks, Bibliotik)? PM me.

Deliberate Grad School

I have some questions about step 1 (find a flexible program):

My understanding is that there are two sources of inflexibility for PhD programs: A. Requirements for your funding source (e.g. TA-ing) and B. Vague requirements of the program (e.g. publish X papers). I'm excluding Quals, since you just have to pass a test and then you're done.

Elsewhere in the comments, someone wrote:

"Grad school is free. At most good PhD programs in the US, if you get in then they will offer you funding which covers tuition and pays you a stipend on the order of $25K

... (read more)
6EHeller6yHow hard your quals are depends on how well you know your field. I went to a top 5 physics program, and everyone passed their qualifying exams, roughly half of whom opted to take the qual their first year of grad school. Obviously, we weren't randomly selected though. Fellowships are a crapshoot that depend on a lot of factors outside your control, but getting funding is generally pretty easy in the sciences. When you work as an "RA" you are basically just doing your thesis research. TAing can be time consuming, but literally no one cares if you do it poorly, so it's not high pressure. But this is a red flag: That isn't how research works, at least in the sciences. Research is generally 1% "big idea" and 99% slowly grinding it out to see if it works. Your adviser, if he/she is any good, will help you find a big idea that you can make some progress on and you'll be grinding it out every week and meeting with your adviser or other collaborators if you've gotten stuck. That said, a bad adviser probably won't pay any attention to you. So you can do whatever you want for about 7 years until people realize you've made no progress and the wheels come off the bus (at which point they'll probably hand you a masters degree and send you on your way).
5Vika6yHow much TAing is allowed or required depends on your field and department. I'm in a statistics department that expects PhD students to TA every semester (except their first and final year). It has taken me some effort to weasel out of around half of the teaching appointments, since I find teaching (especially grading) quite time-consuming, while industry internships both pay better and generate research experience. On the other hand, people I know from the CS department only have to teach 1-2 semesters during their entire PhD.
LessWrong Help Desk - free paper downloads and more (2014)

Introduction to Connectionist Modelling of Cognitive Processes. Reviewed on LW here.

State-Space of Background Assumptions

I have a question:

In your post, "A Workable Solution to the Problem of Other Minds", you talk about solving the problem by connecting and disconnecting minds (i.e. doing mind-coalescing and decolescing). I also had this idea, but I didn't really develop it much. Do you know where I could read more about this proposed solution to the problem of other minds?

2algekalipso6yThat is not enough to solve the problem of other minds, as the article explains. The main problem is that when you incorcoporate a whole brain into your overall brain-mass by connecting to it, you can't be certain whether the other being was conscious to begin with or whether the effect is a simple result of your massively amplified brain. That's why you need a scheme that allows the other being to solve a puzzle while you are disconnected. The puzzle needs to be such that only a conscious intelligence could solve it. And to actually verify that the entity solved it on its own you need to connect again to it and verify while merged that the solution is found there. Of course you need to make sure that you distract yourself while you are temporarily disconnected, otherwise you may suspect you accidentally solved the phenomenal puzzle on your own. The solution has a minimum of complexity, and to my knowledge no one else had proposed it before. Derek Parfit, Daniel Kolak, Borges and David Pearce get into some amazing territories that could well lead to a solution of this sort. But they always stay one step short of getting something where the creation of information is a demonstration of another entity actually being conscious.
Knowledge ready for Ankification

I did use it on my phone more than anything when I did use it. I just don't have much information I want to memorize at the moment.

The mechanics of my recent productivity

Also, I've discovered the CoqIDE theorem-proving assistant is about as addictive to me now as Legend of Zelda games used to be.

So, what you're saying is that you're addicted to Coq. :)

2[anonymous]6yTomoko scream []
Request for Intelligence Philosophy Essay Topic Suggestions

Another question I find interesting about animal consciousness I have is whether or not they can recognize cartoons. Cartoons are abstractions/analogies of the real-world. I'm curious if this abstract visual pattern recognition is possessed by animals, or if it requires human-level abstract pattern recognition. There are also some computer vision papers about classifying cartoons, and using artificially generated data-sets (since you mentioned it had to involve humans, animals, and robots).

Request for Intelligence Philosophy Essay Topic Suggestions

I recently re-read Gwern's Drug Heuristics, and this jumped out at me:

....In other words, from the starting point of those wormlike common ancestors in the environment of Earth, the resources of evolution independently produced complex learning, memory, and tool use both within and without the line of human ancestry....

...The obvious answer is that diminishing returns have kicked in for intelligence in primates and humans in particular5354. (Indeed, it’s apparently been argued that not only are humans not much smarter than primates55, but there is littl

... (read more)
2MalcolmOcean6yHuh! Yeah, that's super interesting, but it seems like it might be hard to actually tackle. The finding of info on animal intelligence as well as the supporting of specific reasons for human dominance anyway both seem a little messy. I'll put it on the list of options though :)
Compilation of currently existing project ideas to significantly impact the world

I expect that in vitro selection for IQ is an easier problem to solve and will have greater impact on the population's IQ.

Can we talk about mental illness?

I overcame depression a few years ago and have been meaning to write about how I did it, but honestly, the current me is so different from the old me, that I don't even remember how being depressed felt.

I do remember some of the things that got me out of the depression:

  • Coming independently to the insight that I should "Avoid Misinterpreting my Emotions". One day, I was sitting there thinking the same old depressed thoughts I'd usually thought. Something like "what's the purpose of doing anything." But, I realized that when those wor

... (read more)
Why the culture of exercise/fitness is broken and how to fix it

Pickup basketball games require some coordination once you get to the gym (getting a game going can be somewhat difficult, but is usually pretty easy), but, you can just go whenever you want.

The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

I've not finished reading either book, but Tanenbaum's OS book seemed very dry to me compared to "Operating System Concepts" (which has just been delightful to read!).

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

See also: "The Perfect/Great is the enemy of the Good"

1parabarbarian6yWithout the Perfect, the Good would have no standard for measurement. This is especially important when making popcorn or building airplanes.
Innate Mathematical Ability

Thank you for writing this series Jonah. I'm don't have the time now to think deeply about this topic, so I thought I'd add to the discussion by mentioning a few related interesting anecdotes.

I doubt what made the Polgar sisters great was innate intelligence.

Another interesting anecdote is von Neumann not (initially?) appreciating the importance of higher-level programming languages:

John von Neumann, when he first heard about FORTRAN in 1954, was unimpressed and asked "why would you want more than machine language?" One of von Neumann's stud

... (read more)
3alienist6yGiven the state of computing at the time, it's possible that computer time really was more valuable then graduate student time.
0IlyaShpitser6yThat is a very interesting anecdote about von Neumann, if true. The man was one of a kind, and it would be interesting if the need for abstraction in this domain was not clear to him just from doing a ton of math. Maybe blindness-due-to-status ("clerical work...")
3dxu6yTheir father, Laszlo Polgar, was himself a fairly strong chess player, and it is well-known that intelligence is heritable. In addition, Judit Polgar at least (I don't know about the others) was a child prodigy, implying that she had a great deal of innate ability. Furthermore, chess requires very good working memory (due to something called the touch-move rule [] forcing players to calculate variations mentally), and it is theorized that working memory may actually be intelligence [], further supporting the "innate ability" hypothesis.
The Truth About Mathematical Ability

I'm not qualified to say judge the accuracy of these claims, but I was speaking with a PhD in physics who said that he thought that only ~50 people in theoretical physics were doing anything important.

Innate Mathematical Ability

This is how I did it. My first instinct was to decompose the problem into the shapes {dots, circles, diamonds, square, +, X} and then plot which cells the shapes appear in. It's pretty easy to see the rectangles after that. Though, I didn't make the connection to XOR.

Open thread, Feb. 16 - Feb. 22, 2015

I recently found out that Feynmann only had an IQ of 125.

This is very surprising to me. How should I/you update?

Perhaps the IQ test was administered poorly.

I think that high g/IQ is still really important to success in various fields. (Stephen Hsu points out that more physicists have IQs of 150 than 140, etc. In other words, that marginal IQ matters even past 140.).

2Epictetus6yIQ is iffy enough as it is, it was even iffier back in the 1930s, and Feynmann doesn't strike me as the sort who'd take IQ tests seriously.
2passive_fist6yA related question, concerning Hsu's point: How much can historical data be trusted to reflect current trends? During the 50's and 60's, physics (especially nuclear physics and the closely-related field of particle physics) were "hot topics" and everyone "wanted in"; it's not hard to imagine that the very best and brightest people entered the field during that time. But is that true anymore? It's possible that as the desirability of a physics career has decreased, the average level of intelligence in the physics community has also decreased, and that the reputation that physics has for being "the smartest of the smart" may just be a leftover from a previous era.

Feynman was younger than 15 when he took it, and very near this factoid in Gleick's bio, he recounts Feynman asking about very basic algebra (2^x=4) and wondering why anything found it hard - the IQ is mentioned immediately before the section on 'grammar school', or middle school, implying that the 'school IQ test' was done well before he entered high school, putting him at much younger than 15. (15 is important because Feynman had mastered calculus by age 15, Gleick says, so he wouldn't be asking his father why algebra is useful at age >15.) - Given t

... (read more)
Open thread, Feb. 16 - Feb. 22, 2015

Stephen Hsu estimates that we'll be able to have genetically enhanced children with IQs ~15 points higher in the next 10 years.

Bostrom and Carl Schulman's paper on iterated embryo selection roughly agrees.

It seems almost too good to be true. The arguments/facts that lead us to believe that it will happen soon are:

  • we do pre-screening for other traits. The reason we can't do it for intelligence at the moment is that we don't know what genes to select for.
  • We will get that data soon, as the cost of genetic sequencing falls faster than Moore's law.

I st... (read more)

The difference between having a child with an IQ 55 vs IQ 145 partner already gives you more than 15 IQ points in your child on average.

Open thread, Feb. 16 - Feb. 22, 2015

I think this is relatively common. I was talking about this with a friend a while back.

Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015

How many gigabytes of text is LW? I guess it'd probably be under a terabyte, and therefore, fairly cheap for even a lay person to backup.

2ChristianKl6yThe English Wikipedia is less than 10 Gigabyte []. Size of LW won't be an issue. The issue is rather having a friendly script that transfers the data.

Back of envelope: suppose one 200-byte comment/post per minute every day for 5 years (I guess 200b is below mean length, 1/minute is above mean frequency, and I think LW is older than 5 years but younger than 10). That's 5 x 365 x 24 x 60 x 200 bytes. Round everything off to powers of 2 and 5: 5 x 400 x 25 x 50 x 200 = 500MB. So, less than a gigabyte, never mind a terabyte.

Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015

I think that I have the capacity to be genuinely happy on a day-to-day basis.

There are times when I'm generally on top of things. I've got my GTD system functioning, I've got an exercise/food/sleep routine that I like. I've "goal-factored" and feel like I know what I'm doing with my life. ETC. All that really remains for me to do in times like these is to DO things.

Though, I would say that I don't feel like this too often. For the past few months, I've felt somewhat anxious/uncertain about what my life plans were. So, I wasn't as happy on a day to day basis. But, I feel like in the long-run, I'll be able to get into the "on top of things" state more consistently.

Reply to Holden on 'Tool AI'

Actually, most modern AI applications don't involve human input, so it's not obvious that AGI will develop along Tool AI lines.

I'm not really sure what's meant by this.

For example, in computer vision, you can input an image and get a classification as output. The input is supplied by a human. The computation doesn't involve the human. The output is well defined. The same could be true of a tool AI that makes predictions.

Reply to Holden on 'Tool AI'

Many leading AGI thinkers have their own pet idea about what AGI should do. Few to none endorse Tool AI. If it was obvious all the leading AGI thinkers would endorse it.

Both Andrew Ng and Jeff Hawkins think that tool AI is the most likely approach.

0Weedlayer6yI would consider 3 to be a few.
Non-obvious skills with highly measurable progress?

Debatable how measurable progress in meditation feels, but when I've stuck with it in the past, I've subjectively felt noticeable progress.

Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life

Tutoring is a general one. I was just talking to somebody the other day who independently was excited by the idea of paying a PhD student to privately tutor them in advanced math.

CFAR in 2014: Continuing to climb out of the startup pit, heading toward a full prototype

What is Ember Associates? I did a quick google search, and when I clicked on their site, I got a page that said "Website Expired". What other groups do you have in mind?

5ColonelMustard7yIt is, or was, an organisation to teach thinking skills. Please don't focus on the example; it was the first one that came to mind and I didn't realise the website had expired. The point is that a lot of groups claim to teach thinking skills. Do you consider all such count to be EA? If not, what distinguishes CFAR from those that don't?
3MalcolmOcean7yWas just about to post the same thing. Having your website expired is definitely evidence against effectiveness.
Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

If it's in Main, why does the article's Karma Bubble look like it's in Discussion? (i.e. it's not a filled in with green).

6Nornagest7yNot everything in Main is promoted; in fact, most of it isn't. Only promoted articles get the green bubbles.
Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014


I noticed that this recent lw post showed up on the "recent comments" side-bar, but that it doesn't show up in the list of "discussion" posts. Is this just me? Do other people have this show up in "discussion"? (Also, this is not the first time that I've noticed that there are posts in the side-bar that I can't find in Discussion).

3hyporational7yIt's in Main [] where the best written and most rationality-relevant articles go. Discussion is for lower quality and less relevant posts. I wonder if missing Main is common and whether something should be done about that.
Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from So8res's, recent guide to MIRI's research]

Just thought add links to these other "guides":

"Atoms of Neural computation": List of promising research directions for neuro-inspired AI (IOW, tries to answer the question "Deep Learning is just regression, so what could we possibly do next?")

"Physical Principles for Scalable Neural Recording": List of promising research directions for developing tools to do live recording of the brain (a separate issue from connectomics).

MIRI Research Guide

Just thought add links to these other "guides":

"Atoms of Neural computation": List of promising research directions for neuro-inspired AI (IOW, tries to answer the question "Deep Learning is just regression, so what could we possibly do next?")

"Physical Principles for Scalable Neural Recording": List of promising research directions for developing tools to do live recording of the brain (a separate issue from connectomics).

[Link]"Neural Turing Machines"

Highly secretive sounds cooler (to most of their audience). Personally, I find open science exciting.

Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

I'd appreciate suggestions for resources on open relationships / polyamory.

2dspeyer7yThe Ferrett [] often has interesting things to say on the subject.
6fubarobfusco7yTwo standard texts are Easton and Hardy's The Ethical Slut and Taormino's Opening Up.
3ChristianKl7yWhat specifically do you want to know about them?
Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014

Bayesianism and Causality, or, Why I am only a Half-Bayesian (Judea Pearl)

“The bulk of human knowledge is organized around causal, not probabilistic relationships, and the grammar of probability calculus is insufficient for capturing those relationships.”

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