David Hornbein

Wiki Contributions


My impression from rather cursory research is that serious or long-lasting side effects are extremely rare. I would guess that most of the health risk is probably concentrated in car accidents on the way to/from the vaccine clinic. Minor side effects like "the injection site is mildly sore for a couple weeks" are common. Injection with the bifurcated needle method also produced a small permanent scar (older people often have these), although all or most of the current vaccinations are done with the subcutaneous injection method common with other vaccines and so do not produce scarring.

I naively guess that from the perspective of society at large the biggest cost of the vaccine program is the operational overhead of distribution and administration, not the side effects; and that on the personal scale the biggest cost is the time it takes to register for and receive the vaccine, rather than the side effects.

As to the benefit side of the equation, the risks of outbreak are extremely conjectural and rely on several layers of guesswork about technology development and adversarial political decisions—two areas which are notoriously hard to predict—so I don't have much to say on that front beyond "make your best guess".

Black's development of specific heat capacity and latent heat is widely attested, including in the Wikipedia articles on Black and on the history of thermodynamics. I don't recall where I first saw the claim.

Yudkowsky is correct. The advance that made the steam engine useful was Watt's separate condenser. The separate condenser was based on the research of Joseph Black, who did much of the work of quantifying thermodynamics. Black was a close friend of Watt, lent Watt money to finance his R&D, and introduced Watt to his first business partner John Roebuck.

Before Watt, the early, crude steam engines like Savery's and Newcomen's were preceded by early, crude research on pressure from scientists like Papin. These engines were niche tools with only one narrow economically-useful application (pumping water out of mines).

The linked article is completely wrong in claiming Carnot's work was the "First Stirrings of Thermodynamics", and wrong in treating Watt's invention of the separate condenser as a sideshow.

There are investments you can’t make from a structured, nine-to-five, narrowly teleological environment. ... The best search strategies for complex problems like life generally don’t seek out particular homogeneous objectives, but interesting novelty. The search space is too complicated and unknown for linear objective-chasing to work. ... you cannot pursue interesting novelty—things that no one else is doing or which you have never seen before, or the little threads of nagging curiosity or doubt—by chasing along known direct value gradients. But that’s where the treasure is.

Quit Your Job

Registering that I much prefer the format of the older repositories you link to, where additions are left as comments that can be voted on, over the format here, where everything is in a giant list sorted by topic rather than ranking. For any crowdsourced repository, most suggestions will be mediocre or half-baked, but with voting and sorting it's easy to read only the ones that rise to the top. I'd also be curious to check out the highest-voted suggestions on this topic, but not curious enough to wade through an unranked list of (I assume) mostly mediocre and half-baked ideas to find them.

I disagree strongly. To me it seems that AI safety has long punched below its weight because its proponents are unwilling to be confrontational, and are too reluctant to put moderate social pressure on people doing the activities which AI safety proponents hold to be very extremely bad. It is not a coincidence that among AI safety proponents, Eliezer is both unusually confrontational and unusually successful.

This isn't specific to AI safety. A lot of people in this community generally believe that arguments which make people feel bad are counterproductive because people will be "turned off".

This is false. There are tons of examples of disparaging arguments against bad (or "bad") behavior that succeed wildly. Such arguments very frequently succeed in instilling individual values like e.g. conscientiousness or honesty. Prominent political movements which use this rhetoric abound. When this website was young, Eliezer and many others participated in an aggressive campaign of discourse against religious ideas, and this campaign accomplished many of its goals. I could name many many more large and small examples. I bet you can too.

Obviously this isn't to say that confrontational and insulting argument is always the best style. Sometimes it's truth-tracking and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's persuasive and sometimes it isn't. Which cases are which is a difficult topic that I won't get into here (except to briefly mention that it matters a lot whether the reasons given are actually good). Nor is this to say that the "turning people off" effect is completely absent; what I object to is the casual assumption that it outweighs any other effects. (Personally I'm turned off by the soft-gloved style of the parent comment, but I would not claim this necessarily means it's inappropriate or ineffective—it's not directed at me!) The point is that this very frequent claim does not match the evidence. Indeed, strong counterevidence is so easy to find that I suspect this is often not people's real objection.

The solution to your first problem may not be easy, but it is obvious: those who want community holidays with different emphasis and/or more variety of holidays can create those holidays. The culture belongs to those who put in the work to create it, both in practice and in justice. This goes double if you're correct that "we currently don’t have enough rationalist holidays and people are desperate for more" (which I have no independent opinion on).

The idea of "hardware overhang" from Chinese printing tech seems extremely unlikely. There was almost certainly no contact between Chinese and European printers at the time. European printing tech was independently derived, and differed from its Chinese precursors in many many important details. Gutenberg's most important innovation, the system of mass-producing types from a matrix (and the development of specialized lead alloys to make this possible), has no Chinese precedent. The economic conditions were also very different; most notably, the Europeans had cheap paper from the water-powered paper mill (a 13th-century invention), which made printing a much bigger industry even before Gutenberg.

"6 Karma across 11 votes" is, like, not good. It's about what I'd expect from a comment that is "mildly toxic [but] does raise [a] valid consideration" and "none of the offenses ... are particularly heinous", as you put it. (For better or worse, comments here generally don't get downvoted into the negative unless they're pretty heinous; as I write this only one comment on this post has been voted to zero, and that comment's only response describes it as "borderline-unintelligible".) It sounds like you're interpreting the score as something like qualified approval because it's above zero, but taking into account the overall voting pattern I interpret the score more like "most people generally dislike the comment and want to push it to the back of the line, even if they don't want to actively silence the voice". This would explain Rob calibrating the strength of his downvote over time.

While the Petrov Day ritual might be innocuous, it is a scary precedent if LessWrong/EA Forum organizers freely shape the moral symbolic landscape this way, without the checks and balances of broader community discussion.

I think this is fair. and this makes me realize that the LessWrong team has more power (and therefore more responsibility) than we previously credited oursevles with. We set out to build culture, including ritual and tradition, but it’s another matter to start defining the boundaries of good and bad. I think possibly this should be done, but again probably with more community consultation.

I don't find this precedent scary. IMO forum moderators (and other leaders of voluntary easy-to-exit communities) should generally be bold and decisive in shaping the communities they're responsible for. Maintaining a space like LW requires leaders with freedom of action and the ability to make controversial moves. Community discussion has its place, but that place should be as a source of feedback and advice to a person/team with ownership, not a line-item veto. By all means incorporate reactions and complaints into the design of future events iff you feel it's warranted, but your wording here makes me suspect that you might be feeling too beholden to the loudest unhappy people, and I encourage you not to worry too much about that. (There will always be some unhappy people!)

The LW team has earned its power and responsibility by creating this space. If you hadn't, we wouldn't be here.

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