Dan Weinand


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Internal Double Crux: Video Games

A one point improvement (measured on a ten point scale) feels like a massive change to expect. I like the guts to bet that it'll happen and change your mind otherwise, but I'm curious if you actually expected that scale of change.

For me, a one point change requires super drastic measures (ex. getting 2 hours too few sleep for 3+ days straight). Although I may well be arbitrarily compressing too much of my life into 6-9 on the ten point scale.

Some blindspots in rationality and effective altruism

One of GiveDirectly's blog posts on survey and focus group results, by the way.

Some blindspots in rationality and effective altruism

Fair points!

I don't know if I'd consider JPAL directly EA, but they at least claim to conduct regular qualitative fieldwork before/after/during their formal interventions (source from Poor Economics, I've sadly forgotten the exact point but they mention it several times). Similarly, GiveDirectly regularly meets with program participants for both structured polls and unstructured focus groups if I recall correctly. Regardless, I agree with the concrete point that this is an important thing to do and EA/rationality folks are less inclined to collect unstructured qualitative feedback than its importance deserves.

Some blindspots in rationality and effective altruism

I found it immensely refreshing to see valid criticisms of EA. I very much related to the note that many criticisms of EA come off as vague or misinformed. I really appreciated that this post called out specific instances of what you saw as significant issues, and also engaged with the areas where particular EA aligned groups have already taken steps to address the criticisms you mention.

I think I disagree on the degree to which EA folks expect results to be universal and generalizable (this is in response to your note at the end of point 3). As a concrete example, I think GiveWell/EAers in general would be unlikely to agree that GiveDirectly style charity would have similarly sized benefits in the developed world (even if scaled to equivalent size given normal incomes in the nation) without RCTs suggesting as much. I expect that the evidence from other nations would be taken into account, but the consensus would be that experiments should be conducted before immediately concluding large benefits would result.

The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence

Picking a Schelling point is hard. Since the post focused on very recent results, I thought that a one year time horizon was an obvious line. Vanguard does note that the performance numbers I quoted are time weighted averages.

You are of course correct that over the long run you should expect closer to 5-8% returns from the stock market at large.

The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence

I currently have a roughly 50/50 split between VTIAX and VTSAX. I would of course not expect to continue to get 30% returns moving forward (I expect 5% return after inflation), but that is the figure I got when I selected a one year time horizon for showing my return on Vanguard.com.

If I instead compute from 01/2020 to 01/2021, I had a roughly 18% rate of return. I don't know how your Wealthfront is setup, but I'll note that I have a relatively aggressive split of 100% stock and nothing in bonds.

The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence

Thanks for the reply! I find those numbers more persuasive than anything else. Well done!

The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence

You're claiming you've been correctly noticing good investment opportunities over a several month period. What has been your effective return over the last year (real return on all actual investments, not hypothetical)?

I feel like the strongest way to address the "If you are so smart why aren't you rich?" question is to show that you are in fact rich.

My Vanguard has gotten a 30.4% return over the last year. I have a very simple, everything in the basic large funds strategy (I can share the exact mix if its relevant).  Your advice is substantially harder to execute than this, so it would be great to know the actual relative return.

Babble challenge: 50 ways to escape a locked room

knot shirt, force under door, pull

twist knob back and forth for hours, slowly wearing through a hole

kick down door

rip out teeth, use to scratch through door

text owner

call police

call friends to open door

hire locksmith


air duct

ply away floorboards

give up concern with the door


smash phone, cut through door

hack through electronic door with phone

order pizza to door

post criminal pictures from phone, include locations (SWAT self)

break apart phone, use wires and battery to burn hinge

break phone, use screen protector as 'credit card trick'

rope ladder using clothes

feed shredded clothes through lock as a long thread, yank door knob out of door

break through wall with kicks

scream for help

fashion battery into key using teeth

add water to door hinges periodically, wait for rust

log back on to video game from respawn point

wait for release from good behavior

scratch through wood, waiting for nails to grow back

purchase building, order demolition

Dig out (use tooth to dig out small section of floor, then small section of floor can be used to dig further)

use teeth to scratch through hinges

use the internet to escape into video games

pee repetitively on the wood, weakening it to break through

wait, there is a decent probability the property will change hands over the next 10 years and be inspected

use teeth to dig around hinges to collapse door

go out the door that is not locked

unlock the latch

enter the key code

I'm in the room, so it's not empty' and leave via the logical contradiction

program as a job via the phone, acquire sufficient money to buy the property

make a lash out of untied clothing and teeth, use it to wear through doors

plant sufficient incriminatory evidence to get a drone strike called just nearby, leave through wreckage

remotely pilot drone purchased on amazon and wired up via task rabbit to unlock door

hire task rabbit to unlock the door

start fire using battery and wetted cloth threads near door, triggering fire alarm and emergency door unlock

climb out via punching through ceiling

spread reports that building is condemned, hire contractor to demolish building, escape via wreckage

launch gofundme for ransom to kidnappers

persuade kidnappers I am on their side, and should be released

step over the door (it is a locked doggie door)

3 Interview-like Algorithm Questions for Programmers

These questions are way too 'Eureka!'/trivia for my taste. The first question relies on language specifics and then is really much more of a 'do you know the moderately weird sorting algs' question than an actual algorithms question. The second involves an oddly diluting resistant test. The third, again seems to test moderately well known crypto triva.

I've conducted ~60 interviews for Google and Waymo. To be clear, when I or most other interviewers I've seen say that a question covers 'algorithms' it means that it covers algorithm design. Ex. how do you find all pairs in an array whose sum is a given value? Such a question can be answered in several different ways, and the 'best' way involves using some moderately interesting data structures.

I'm super curious what kind of rubric you use in grading these questions.

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