All of Dagon's Comments + Replies

Advertising as a Parasite on the Semantic Commons

I agree with some of the premises - adverts are often harmful, and can degrade the common intelligibility of groups.  I think you go too quickly to conclusions like 

Governments have decided adverts are passive providers of information and thus their display is allowed virtually everywhere

My counter-model is that governments have decided that communication among citizens is something that should not be judged or interfered with except in dire cases.  It's not positive decision to allow it, it's just not a decision to prevent it.

The most we ca

... (read more)
1ThomasMore3hThanks for the comments - you're right on the first point, I didn't want to go into too much detail on the regulation of adverts because it raises many political and philosophical issues. The freedom of advertising is almost certainly a facet of the liberal state. Certain counter-examples stick out, such as limits on tobacco advertising, fast food advertising, and advertising aimed at children. The former two seem premised, at least in the UK, on a notion the wider public is burdened by the consumption of these products, and possibly on the basis we can all agree on health as an unqualified good. The latter is an instance of the advert target being regarded as too susceptible to manipulation. Whether these are plausible or sustainable exceptions is a wider question. On the second point, my point was a little opaque. Even if we individually reduce consumption of adverts, and notice how they affect our beliefs, that doesn't change the fact we must interact with others who consume adverts unquestioningly. Further, these interactions will involve the use of shared concepts, which can be altered and undermined regardless of the vigilance of specific individuals. So, in terms of action we could attempt to inform others of the harms of advertising and convince them to be more critical; likewise, we could associate with others who share our view on advertising and work together in this educational project. Within these groups, we would also be able to communicate and spend time together without as much influence from the effects of adverts. The emphasis should probably have been on the second part of the sentence - that this is a collective issue so will require some form of collective action if we wish to change the broader cultural landscape.
Newcomb's Grandfather

I like the version you're implying with this comment:

You have an imaginary thought experiment where a being has unrealistic abilities to predict your behaviors.  You haven't yet been presented with two boxes, but you're speculating on what you'd choose.  What should you do?

A strange game.  The only winning move is not to play.

Newcomb's Lottery Problem

[ epistimic status: commenting for fun, not seriously objecting.  I like these posts, even if I don't see how they further our understanding of decisions ]

The range is a thousand numbers btw, it includes 1 and 1000
larger than 1 and smaller than or equal to 1000.

We're both wrong.  It includes 1000 but not 1.  Agreed with the "whatever" :)

I don't see how precommitting to one thing and then doing the other, thereby fooling Omega is possible

That's the problem with underspecified thought experiments.  I don't see how Omega's prediction is... (read more)

1Heighn2dCool. I apologize if I came of a bit snarky earlier. Thanks for commenting! I read Eliezer's post and was thinking about how to make a problem I like (even) more, and this was the result. Just for fun, mostly :) Well, I defined the range. I can't really be wrong, haha ;) But I get your point, with prime and composite, >=2 would make more sense. The accuracy is something I need to learn more about at some point, but it should (I think) simply be read as "Whatever choice I make, there's 0.99 probability Omega predicted it." Thanks Dagon! Fixing it.
Newcomb's Lottery Problem

I took the original "ultimate" post as mostly a joke - there didn't seem to be any interesting theoretical implications beyond the standard Newcomb's problem interactions between causality and decision theory.  This doesn't seem to make the joke any funnier, nor demonstrate any confusions not already identified by simpler thought experiments.

What am I missing?  (edit: this comment came out way more negative than I intended, sorry!  This question is legitimate, and I'd like someone to ELI5 what new conundrum this adds to decision-theory or mo... (read more)

1Heighn2dI was mostly just having fun, and find almost every new problem I see fun. I figured others might like it. You don't - so be it. The range is a thousand numbers btw, it includes 1 and 1000, but whatever. I don't see how precommitting to one thing and then doing the other, thereby fooling Omega is possible. In problem 1, one-boxing is the rational choice.
Excessive Nuance and Derailing Conversations

I'm not sure how to use this advice/observation.  I think the purposes for discussion, style and knowledge of participants, and social expectations of that particular setting vary pretty widely, and other than "make the implicit explicit" in terms of getting what you want from the interaction, there's too much existing nuance to generalize advice like this.

There are specific conversations where allowing the conversation to meander and allowing the conversational stack to grow and blend are OK.

I think this exemplifies my point.  Except I think it'... (read more)

There is a line in the sand, just not where you think it is

I think two mistakes in your friend's model.  The first is simple over-correction - seeing one instance and believing that's universal.   The second is over-simplification, which is what you're pointing at with this post.  People are complex, and most social decisions are heavily context-dependent.  Some people get away with things that others don't.  the very concept of "norm" is named for "normal", and is about the median/center of a set of behaviors.  Forgetting that people are actually on many distributions, which can have pretty long tails, is the error.

Guidelines for cold messaging people

Thanks.  My intent was to dissuade people from taking the post as "these are conditions you should cold-contact people on LW" (which is how I interpreted it), by pointing out that I'd prefer not to be contacted at all, even with the recommended information.  

MackGopherSena's Shortform

The concept of cost requires alternatives.   What do you cost, compared to the same universe with someone else in your place?  very little.  What do you cost, compared to no universe at all? you cost the universe.

What's Up With Confusingly Pervasive Consequentialism?

I wonder if the confusion isn't about implications of consequentialism, but about the implications of independent agents.  Related to the (often mentioned, but never really addressed) problem that humans don't have a CEV, and we have competition built-in to our (inconsistent) utility functions.

I have yet to see a model of multiple agents WRT "alignment".  The ONLY reason that power/resources/self-preservation is instrumental is if there are unaligned agents in competition.  If multiple agents agree on the best outcomes and the best way to ac... (read more)

Choosing battles (on the Internet)

obXKCD already linked, so I don't need to do that, good.  I like that you're coming to the same conclusion from a different direction: you don't want to improve their models or "fix" the wrongness on behalf of someone else, you just want to learn and improve your own model (ok, probably all of the above, but focusing on internal knowledge).

> my arguing is a limited resource.

This generalizes.  Your thinking is a limited resource.  Some discussions on the internet (or in person, for that matter) are more valuable than the next-best thing yo... (read more)

Guidelines for cold messaging people

I'm surprised that this is a controversial comment - 8 votes for a net of 0!  

6ChristianKl7dI haven't down-voted. The amount number of private messages that get sent on LessWrong seems to be quite low. For most topics, it makes sense to ask a question publically, but there are messages that are personalized enough that private messages make sense. I wouldn't like to have a public norm that forbids messages like "I really like what you wrote on X, can I hire you to research Y and write a post about it". When it comes to telling someone about typos in their post a private message is usually better than a comment. A net negative karma score suggests to me that a majority believes that your proposed policy is too strict.
3philh8dI didn't vote myself, but my feeling is that it's a combination of * Innocuous but mostly-irrelevant personal opinion; * Implicit unhelpful advice / criticism of OP. Like, the literal content is mostly just "I don't like receiving cold emails". Okay, so why are you telling us this? If we assume you intended to communicate more than just the literal content, it becomes the advice/moralizing "don't send cold emails". But if that is what you intend, it's kind of passive-aggressive and it's not very helpful. If you think one should never send cold emails, why not? If you think there are circumstances where it's okay, which circumstances? My current guess is that you didn't intend that advice/moralizing? But I still felt it in your comment, and I expect it's a large part of why you got downvoted.
Guidelines for cold messaging people

Ah, that's important context.  Putting your contact info on your public website is an invitation to be contacted.  It's probably best to specify there (perhaps on a "contact me" page, which has your info AFTER this) under what conditions you'd like to connect.

How to Build New Countries à la 1729?

Only skimmed, because it didn't seem worth a lot of time at first glance.  I didn't see any acknowledgement or plan for the base purpose of a country: to enforce some level of cooperation within the borders and to keep other nations, criminal groups, or just individuals from taking members' stuff or lives.

In other words, where does the force come from that defines and preserves property and bodily rights?  

Is there a good way to read deep into LW comment histories on mobile?

The experience on mobile is bad enough (clicking brings up windows that can't be easily dismissed, wierd bugs where expanding a comment marks others as read, etc.) that this is a site that I just don't read except on desktop. 

1Maxwell Peterson12dInteresting! I haven’t noticed any other issues on mobile except the refreshing (which is a problem on all infinite-scrollers; I have the same problem reading through a user’s page on Quora) and not being able to hyperlink text when commenting.
Guidelines for cold messaging people

Any generalizable rules you can think of about whom better not to cold message at all?

Yes.  Contact people you see posting on sites with a norm for individual contact on random topics (I don't know what those are, but I don't think it's LW).  Contact people whose profile description asks you to contact them.  Contact people if they post or comment that they'd like to be contacted.

Judgement call to contact people you have a comment exchange with that you want to explore further (I'd argue this isn't "cold").

Otherwise, leave them alone.

You can... (read more)

1Severin T. Seehrich11dThanks, I didn't take into account that people might read this as an encouragement to randomly message people on Lesswrong. And thanks for giving me more clarity about the implicit norms here. To clarify: The person likely found my mail address on my homepage, where it is exactly for the reason that I'm generally happy to be contacted by strangers.
Being the Hero is hard with the void

A hero is someone who suffers for a sympathetic cause.  The suffering can be abstracted to 'takes risk' or 'sacrifices something', but the sympathy is mandatory.  If the audience doesn't think the cause is "good", that's not a hero, it's a villain.  

It doesn't require success, or even reasonable hope of success, only the suffering and the sympathetic cause.  

Don't be a hero.  Instead, do what gives you the best world.

Guidelines for cold messaging people

For me, I'd add 0: Don't.  A public note or post that something's available for me to opt into is fine (in related forums), but otherwise leave me alone unless I've explicitly asked to be contacted.

2Dagon9dI'm surprised that this is a controversial comment - 8 votes for a net of 0!
4Severin T. Seehrich12dHighly depends on your role and personality I guess. As a community builder and someone pretty high on extraversion, I'm generally happy to add more people to my loose network. If there's just a bit of overlap between my and a stranger's interests, I expect there to be a far higher upside than downside risk to us knowing that the other exists and what they work on. Of course, I may change my opinion on this over time while my time becomes more valuable and my loose network larger. Any generalizable rules you can think of about whom better not to cold message at all?
Quinn's Shortform

Why are you specifying 100 or 0 value, and using fuzzy language like "acceptably small" for disvalue?

Is this based on "value" and "disvalue" being different dimensions, and thus incomparable?  Wouldn't you just include both in your prediction, and run it through your (best guess of) utility function and pick highest expectation, weighted by your probability estimate of which universe you'll find yourself in?   

1TLW10d100 and 0 in this context make sense. Or at least in my initial reading: arbitrarily-chosen values that are in a decent range to work quickly with (akin to why people often work in percentages instead of 0..1) It is - I'm going to say "often", although I am aware this is suboptimal phrasing - often the case that you are confident in the sign of an outcome but not the magnitude of the outcome. As such, you can often end up with discontinuities at zero. Dropping the entire probability distribution of outcomes through your utility function doesn't even necessarily have a closed-form result. In a universe where computation itself is a cost, finding a cheaper heuristic (and working through if said heuristic has any particular basis or problems) can be valuable. The heuristic in the grandparent comment is just what happens if you are simultaneously very confident in the sign of positive results, and have very little confidence in the magnitude of negative results.
Reflections on Connect Developers

I'm not actually sure where you would go if you were looking for the latter type of conversation. Anything come to mind for you?

Nope, but then I'm not looking for this, and I can't quite identify WHY someone would look for this (with no geographic or in-person possibilities).   

I was thinking that you can ballpark it and assume that something like 50% of the matches end up having a video call, and 1% of those end up being friends

This is the principal thing in an early-stage business plan / sketch.  Write down your assumptions and unknowns, a... (read more)

Reflections on Connect Developers

Upvote for the post-mortem, and great happiness and congratulations for "did a thing"!

I think the "write a business plan already" is absolutely key here.  And really, you often only need a business sketch, not a plan.  What customers/developers have this need to connect, and why is this method any better than the hundreds of other community and discussion sites that exist?  

What IS success for this?  Number of surveys taken?  Number of initial messages sent?  Actual calls made?  Long-term friendships formed that still sta... (read more)

2adamzerner13dThank you! Yeah, I agree. As my thoughts settle after this experience, that's the main thing that keeps swimming around in the back of my mind. And that's so true about only needing a sketch, not a plan. Btw, it's good to get this data point of someone really liking the "write a business plan already" idea. The post didn't receive many upvotes, which surprised me and makes me question whether there is something unwise about it. I guess what I'm saying is that I notice some confusion, and so data points here are helpful to me. Well, there are places to chat with people, but a) it's usually centered around some topic. Like if you join a Discord group for a particular programming language, the types of conversations that are expected are different from the types of conversations you'd have if you sat down to get coffee with someone. I'm not actually sure where you would go if you were looking for the latter type of conversation. Anything come to mind for you? b) I think having those types of coffee shop conversations via text is different from having them via video chat (which is different from having them via email, which is different from having them in person). Perhaps the differences aren't very large, and there is a substitute good [] sort of thing going on. OTOH, perhaps not. I don't feel particularly confident that text is sufficient for the large majority of people, and they wouldn't be excited about video chat. I think success is utilons generated. If you have fun filling out the survey and then decide not to follow through and actually do the video call, that generates a pretty small amount of utilons. If you have one call and it is ok, then that generates some utilons. If you make a long term friend, that generates a ton of utilons. I agree that it is hard to tell these things though. I was thinking that you can ballpark it and assume that something like 50% of the matches end up having a video call, and 1%
School Daze

I think the biggest cause of societal decay is the fact that we’ve lost the ability to play to win on any game that can be criticized easily.

davidad's Shortform

Why is that not Bayesian? The decision to bet is going to include a term for your counterparty’s willingness to bet, which is some evidence.

One way to overcome this in thought experiments is to frame it as a line with no spread, and no neutral option. At, say, 150k:1, which side would you bet? Then adjust to where you'd SET a line where you had to accept a wager on either side.

Tips for productively using short (<30min) blocks of time
Answer by DagonJan 10, 202212

A few things that can help (which I do sometimes, but sometimes do just "waste" the interstitial periods).

  • Keep multiple task lists by granularity, or keep entries on your task list that can be done (or worked on) in short time periods with low cost to switch in or out of.
  • ABR: Always. Be. Reading/Researching.  15 minutes is enough to remove 1-5 browser "read later" bookmarks.   Or enough to read a few more pages of my current novel or lightweight non-fiction.
1Dorian Stern vukotic19d"Keep multiple task lists by granularity, or keep entries on your task list that can be done (or worked on) in short time periods with low cost to switch in or out of." This seems like it will take more time than its worth in the context of the question.
adamzerner's Shortform

I remember this confusion from Jr. High, many decades ago.  I was lucky enough to have an approachable teacher who pointed me to books with more complete explanations, including the Strong Nuclear force and some details about why inverse-square doesn't apply, making it able to overcome EM at very small distances, when you'd think EM is strongest.

Uncontroversially good legislation

I very much like this line of thinking, but I'm curious what you think are the reasons that these "uncontroversial" good laws haven't been passed yet.  Laws are somewhat similar to markets, in that they're the visible result of competing hidden desires, and to some extent the Efficient Market Hypothesis applies to politics.  If it's easy and universally beneficial, it's already done.  (note: the objections to EMH still apply, too: it can take a long time, and there's a LOT of irrationality and inefficient friction that opposes it).

Most of th... (read more)

2braces19dThanks for the question. I like the EMH metaphor. I think that the "uncontroversially good" legislative opportunities can generally be viewed as the result of some inefficiency. You bring up the case of diffuse harm and concentrated benefits. It seems widely acknowledged that lobbyists and interest groups have too much leverage. The inefficiency is that voters can't keep track of all the small ways they're being harmed and so donations do not track welfare impacts. But, as you say, these reforms would be controversial to someone, so perhaps I could improve my language. I want a pithy way to say: "Behind closed doors, most politicians would see this as utterly reasonable and good." While I'm on it, here are two other sources of inefficiency which I think could be relevant here: 1. Myopia. In the US, Social Security will be insolvent in 2033 [] . But it seems like politicians (and voters) are not that excited about tackling this one. Pandemic preparedness is another example. 2. "Laboratories of democracy." State and local governments should probably try more things than they're selfishly incentivized to because their experience with the reforms becomes a public good that other governments can learn from and imitate.
AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school.

An important factor that often goes unconsidered in these discussions are how much one size does not fit all.  Unschooling seems great for very smart kids with stable and conscientious parents.  How would you describe your background and capabilities, and do you think any aspect of your situation was more critical than others to your success?

At what point did you become involved in the decision to remain independent vs changing to a more traditional schooling?  Especially around high-school ages, what did you do to decide that continuing unschooling was better than other options, specifically for college prep.

5iceplant22dI absolutely agree. My parents both have graduate degrees, worked part time throughout my childhood, and our family/housing unit was relatively stable. This helped a lot. If you look at r/HomeschoolerRecovery many stories there are of kids with parents who have no experience teaching and used homeschooling to justify controlling and often abusive behavior. That said, I don't think this is a sufficient condition for homeschooling, especially unschooling, to work well. Like you said, I think the kid's learning style needs to be compatible with that level of independence, and the parents need to be confident in their abilities to provide the vast set of resources schools can provide.
Signaling isn't about signaling, it's about Goodhart

Ah, that's a very helpful clarification, and a distinction that I missed on first reading.  I absolutely agree that a focus on the underlying behaviors and true good intents yields better results (both better signals and better outcomes, and most importantly, for many, is personally more satisfying) than trying to consciously work out the best signals.

I'm not sure it's feasible to totally forget the signaling portion of your interactions - knowing about it MAY be helpful in choosing some marginal actions or statements, and it's certainly valuable in i... (read more)

Signaling isn't about signaling, it's about Goodhart

I don't think you're "dropping all effort" to signal, you're rather getting good at signaling, by actually being truthful and information-focused.   The useful signals are those which are difficult/expensive to fake and cheap(er) to display truthfully.  

When you say to Bob "Let me know what you need here to make a good decision. I'll see what I can do", THAT is a great signal, in that it's a request for Bob to tell you what further signals he wants, and an indication that you intend to provide them, even if they'd be difficult to fake.

I rea... (read more)

7Valentine22d…which is much more likely to fail if I think of it like this while doing it. I agree with what I think you're saying. I think there's been a definitional sliding here. When I say "Drop all effort to signal", I'm describing the experience on the inside. I think you're saying that from the outside, signaling is still happening, and the benefits of "dropping all effort to signal" can be understood in signaling terms. I agree with that. I'm just suggesting that in practice, the experience on the inside is of turning attention away from signals and entirely toward a plain and simple attention on what is. I agree. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. (I imagine this is a reaction to the title? That was tongue-in-cheek. I said so, though maybe you missed it. It was meant to artistically gesture at the thesis in an entertaining way rather than as a truth statement accurately summarizing the point.)
How reasonable are concerns about asking for patents to be lifted for COVID-19 vaccines?

My impression is similar to yours - those who are advocating to break the patents are doing so because they don't like patents and this is a high-profile topic to use for that agenda.  I have seen no reasoned, logical path whereby the patents are the main concern.

We need a theory of anthropic measure binding

I don't get a strong impression that you read the post. It was pretty clear about what rents the beliefs are paying.

I think I did, and I just read it again, and still don't see it.  What anticipated experiences are contingent on this?  What is the (potential) future evidence which will let you update your probability, and/or resolve whatever bets you're making?

1jollybard24dWell, ask the question, should the bigger brain receive a million dollar, or do you not care?
The Map-Territory Distinction Creates Confusion

Thanks for this.  I sometimes forget that "predicted experience" is not what everyone means by "map", and "actual experience" not what they mean when they say "territory".

2Pattern19dThe Map-Territory Distinction -> The "predicted experience"-"actual experience" distinction
How an alien theory of mind might be unlearnable

I think the way around that issue is to bite the bullet - those things belong in a proper theory of mind.  Most people want to be conformist (or at least to maintain a pleasant-to-them self-image) more than they want to be rich.  That seems like a truth (lowercase t - it's culture-sensitive, not necessarily universal) that should be modeled more than a trap to be avoided.

2Stuart_Armstrong25dBut people are still leaving a lot of efficient, low effort, conformity on the table - a superintelligent conformist human could be so much better at being (or appearing) conformist, than we can ever manage.
Quinn's Shortform

One thing to be careful about in such decisions - you don't know your own utility function very precisely, and your modeling of both future interactions and your value from such are EXTREMELY lossy.

The best argument for deontological approaches is that you're running on very corrupt hardware, and rules that have evolved and been tested over a long period of time are far more trustworthy than your ad-hoc analysis which privileges obvious visible artifacts over more subtle (but often more important) considerations.

How an alien theory of mind might be unlearnable

I think "unlearnable" is a level removed from equally-important questions (like un-modelable, or sufficiently-precise model is not computable by Alice's means, even if she could learn/find it).  And that this treatment gives FAR too binary a focus on what a "theory of mind" actually does, and how precise and correct it is.

I think we have to start with "how good is Stuart Armstrong's theory of mind for humans (both for their best friend and for a randomly-selected person from a different culture and generation, and for a population making collective de... (read more)

Each reference class has its own end

Each reference class has its own end.

I initially read this as "you infer or choose reference classes based on what you want to predict", taking end to mean purpose of the reference class.  But you're talking end more literally, for reference classes that have a duration.  I think that's a little more suspect.  

The reference class problem seems to apply equally to SIA and SSA, and in fact to non-anthropic probability as well.  Categories are simply not natural things, and there is no "correct" reference class.

2avturchin1moI actually meant "you infer or choose reference classes based on what you want to predict", but my point of interest was specific application of the problem, that is, Doomsday argument.
Can each event in the world be attributed conditions under which it occurs?

Well, the partitioning of time and space (or of experience, if you prefer) into "events" is already a modeling choice.   The underlying reality seems not to care - it's just a configuration of elementary particles which changes according to simple rules (but complicated state - there's really quite a lot of it).

So, yes, a modeler can attribute whatever they like to whatever they like.  Depending on the fidelity of the model, they may even be able to predict future abstractions over configurations (or localized configurations) with a limited precision.

Whether you call this "causality" or just "consistency" or "correlation" is up to you.

What are sane reasons that Covid data is treated as reliable?

I figure my extended circle (including 2nd and 3rd degree connections who I've met or heard some detailed story about) is on the order of 10K people, spanning ages from young kids (mostly children or grandchildren of friends) to quite old (parents and grandparents of acquaintances).  I've heard plenty of reports of unpleasant vaccine reactions (including DAYS of downtime), and one or two where the reaction was bad enough that their doctor told them not to have the second shot.   ZERO that I'd call "serious medical problems".  

I'm aware of my... (read more)

Taboo Truth

In addition to the risk that you'll feel bad about yourself for causing someone else to suffer for your truth, there's a significant risk that they'll do a much worse job than you, and make it easier for the truth to be denied.

1unparadoxed1moGood point! If one wants to privately discuss a taboo truth, should one equally emphasize both the "taboo" as well as the "truth" of the matter? On first thought, ethically I would say yes.
Hedging the Possibility of Russia invading Ukraine

is a reasonable summary of what Russian military leaders might be thinking.  I'd say invasion with long-term troops is still unlikely, but some form of hot conflict seems to be brewing.

2quanticle14dI should have clarified. My question was not about whether Russia would or would not invade Ukraine. My question was, conditional on Russia invading Ukraine, why do you think your portfolio of investments would be negatively affected? The US and Russian economies are not tightly coupled. Yes, the uncertainty from a military act could cause price spikes (especially in commodities that Russia exports), but historically these have dissipated in a matter of months. So why not sit tight and do nothing?
We need a theory of anthropic measure binding

Wow.  someone really didn't like this.  any reason for the strong downvotes?

3MakoYass1moI don't get a strong impression that you read the post. It was pretty clear about what rents the beliefs are paying. Generally it sucks to see someone take a there is no answer, the question is ill-specified transcended analytic philosopher posture towards a decision problem (or a pair of specific decision problems that fall under it) that actually is extremely well-specified and that it seems like a genuinely good analytic philosopher should be able to answer. Over the course of our interactions I get the impression that you're mainly about generating excuses to ignore any problem that surprises you too much, I've never seen you acknowledge or contribute to solving a conceptual problem. I love a good excuse to ignore a wrong question, but they haven't been good excuses.
We need a theory of anthropic measure binding

What is your probability that you're the heavier brain?

Undefined.  It matters a lot what rent the belief is paying.  The specifics of how you'll resolve your probability (or at least what differential evidence would let you update) will help you pick the reference class(es) which matter, and inform your choice of prior (in this case, the amalgam of experience and models, and unidentified previous evidence you've accumulated).

2gwillen1moI do not have a lot of evidence or detailed thinking to support this viewpoint, but I think I agree with you. I have the general sense that anthropic probabilities like this do not necessarily have well-defined values.
4Dagon1moWow. someone really didn't like this. any reason for the strong downvotes?
DanielFilan's Shortform Feed

First, suppose that you think of all psychological descendants of your current self as 'you', but you don't think of descendants of your past self as 'you'.

I'm having trouble supposing this.  Aren't ALL descendants of my past selves "me", including the me who is writing this comment?  I'm good with differing degrees of "me-ness", based on some edit-distance measure that hasn't been formalized, but that's not based on path, it's based on similarity.  My intuition is that it's symmetrical.

2DanielFilan1moI'm sympathetic to the idea this is a silly assumption, I just think it buys you a neat result.
Internet Literacy Atrophy

Transcripts and playback at 1.5-2.5 speed (depending content) definitely helps a lot, as does a ToC with timestamps. You're right that it's higher bandwidth (in terms of information per second of participation), but I think my objection is that not all of that information is equally valuable, and I often prefer lower-bandwidth more-heavily-curated information.

Hmm, I wonder if I can generalize this to "communication bandwidth is a cost, not a benefit".  Spending lots more attention-effort to get a small amount more useful information isn't a tradeoff I'll make most of the time.

Spending lots more attention-effort to get a small amount more useful information isn't a tradeoff I'll make most of the time.

This makes it generally a worse medium for a rational debate. Few people are willing to spend dozens of hours to become familiar with the arguments of their opponents. So instead the vlog debate will degenerate into "each side produces hours of convicing videos, everyone watches the videos of their side and throws the links to the opponents, but no one bothers watching the opponents' videos".

Why did computer science get so galaxy-brained?

Note: I'm not sure what "galaxy-brained" means, so I'm not sure what aspect of software eating the world (can't find a good free link; the phrase is from a 2011 WSJ oped by Marc Andreeson) surprises you.

I think it's mostly because we live in a mechanistic universe, and being able to calculate/predict things with a fair amount of precision is incredibly valuable for almost all endeavors.  I doubt it's path-dependent (doesn't matter who invented it or which came first), more that software is simply a superset of other things.

BTW, this ship has sailed, b... (read more)

1NicholasKross1moCounterpoint: knowing nuclear physics helps at least somewhat with nuclear power generation. Same with academic CS and real-life SWEN problem-solving. "Galaxy-brained" in this context is a little hard to define, but I'd extrinsically define it as "Cold War paranoia giant datacenters complicated plots Death Note Greyball [] anything HPMOR!Harry comes up with sweaty palms any evil plot that makes you go 'DAMN that was clever and elegant'". (I may eventually create a post or website fleshing out this idea cluster in more detail).
Gerald Monroe's Shortform

Hmm.  Either I'm misunderstanding, or you just described a completely amoral optimizer, which will kill billions as long as it can't be held financially liable.  Maybe just take over the governments (or at least currency control), so it can't be financially penalized for anything, ever.

Also, you're adding paperclip-differential to money, so the result won't be pure money.  That's probably good, because otherwise this beast stops making paperclips and optimizes for negative realized costs on one of the other dimensions.

Internet Literacy Atrophy

I despise videos when text and photos would do - I'm far too often in a noisy (or shared quiet) space, and I read so much faster than people talk.  I'm even more annoyed at videos that pad their runtime to hit ad minima or something - I can't take a quick scroll to the end to see if it's worthwhile, then go back and absorb what I need at my own pace.

I recognized that videos take less time from the creator, and pay better.  So that's the way of the world, but I don't have to like it.  I mention this mostly as an explanation that I know I'm in the "old man yells at cloud" phase of my life, and a reason that I'm OK with some aspects of it.

9Gunnar_Zarncke1moI think video has a potentially higher bandwidth of information that text. The downside is that it more difficult to skim esp for people who can speedread. I was very happy when my son pointed out the transcript panel in YouTube which partly solves that. I think there are quite some valuable features left in that solution space.
The Debtor's Revolt

I don't agree that the debt/capital distinction has changed all that much.  Personal debt (for a mortgage on a house you're occupying, or for student loans, or for other non-income-stream purposes) isn't much of a driver of economies or decisions at scale.  Corporate debt, as compared with share ownership, is still an important claim on future income/assets.  

I guess I'm saying the standard microenomic model dominates - profits are good, and debt represents reduction of future profits.  Investments (non-consumption lending or spending-w... (read more)

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Gerald Monroe's Shortform

Put units on your equation.  I don't think H will end up being what you think it is.  Or, the coefficients R1-R4 are exactly as complex as the problem you started with, and you've accomplished no simplification with this.

Heck, even the first term, (quota - paperclips made) hand-waves where the quota comes from, and any non-linearity in making slightly more for next year being better than slightly fewer than needed this year.

1Gerald Monroe1moR1 <-> R4 are arbitrary positive floating point numbers. Units are currency units. So "human harm" is in terms of estimated actual costs + estimate reputation damage paid for injuries/wrongful deaths, "outside boundary" is an estimate of the fines for trespassing and settlements paid in lawsuits, "paperclips made" is the economic value of the paperclips, and operating cost is obvious.
Gunnar_Zarncke's Shortform

Humans don't seem to have identifiable near-mode utility functions - they sometimes espouse words which might map to a far-mode value function, but it's hard to take them seriously.

What does stay the same

THAT is the primary question for a model of individuality, and I have yet to hear a compelling set of answers.   How different is a 5-year old from the "same" person 20 and 80 years later, and is that more or less different than from their twin at the same age?  Extend to any population - why does identity-over-time matter in ethical terms?

Tough Choices and Disappointment

I'm not sure I subscribe to this conception of choice, nor disappointment.  To me, disappointment comes from a failure to believe that the world was as it is, and a sense of loss that something you'd hoped/believed is not true.  And that's not really connected to choices, which are generally about how to prioritize a multi-dimensional (perceived value over time, at least) future preference.

I think the "tough" choices are those where the net values of the options are similar (that is, it's non-obvious), but there's a large difference in the timing... (read more)

3maralorn1moI agree with your definition of disappointment. And I agree that the concepts choice and disappointment are quite far apart. My biggest point was "accept the world first", like you said. The open question is how common the problem I tried to describe is. I still have the feeling that not having accepted a disappointment is a common reason for choices to feel hard. That doesn‘t seem obvious with your definition of “tough” choice, though. I was going for a more narrow definition, which would make that statement more tautological. I like your definition, and mine was a bit ad-hoc. Need to think more about this …
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