Yes, good point that I hadn't thought of, thanks. It's very easy to imagine far-future technology in one respect and forget about it entirely in another.
To rescue my scenario a little, there'll be an energy cost in transporting the iron together; the cheapest way is to move it very slowly. So maybe there'll be paperclips left for a period of time between the first pass of the harvesters and the matter ending up at the local black hole harvester.
That, and/or increased sweating, and/or larger temperature gain between inspired and expired air, or wearing fewer/thinner clothes. There's lots of ways to dump heat.
I would definitely expect someone with a faster metabolism to put out more total net heat, which is measurable with difficulty, and also consume oxygen faster (and produce carbon dioxide faster) which is measurable with some difficulty, but a lot less.
Therefore they must not vary all that much in terms of metabolism.
I don't think that follows, or at least not without a lot of other explanation, even if you grant that temperature doesn't vary in any significant way between people (which I'm not sure I do). The body has multiple mechanisms for maintaining temperature, of which metabolic rate is only one. It seems entirely plausible to me that people run their metabolisms at different rates and adjust their peripheral vasodilation and sweating rate to balance it all out near 37 C/98 F. Core temperature might vary between people by only a few degrees, but surface temperature varies much more widely.
Also, they were not just AIDS researchers but AIDS activists and campaigners. The conference they were going to was expecting 12-15,000 delegates (depending on the report); it's the most prominent international conference in the area but far from the only one. As you say, a terrible loss, particularly for those close to the dead. The wider HIV/AIDS community will be sobered, but it will not be sunk. If nothing else, they coped with far higher annual death rates before effective therapies became widespread in the developed world.
The story of this story does helpfully remind us that the other 'facts' about this situation - which we know from the same media sources - may be similarly mistaken.
Much of modern medicine involves covering up symptoms with drugs proven to do this, without understanding the underlying cause of the symptom.
What, really? There certainly is a lot of that approach around, but it's not what I think of when I think of modern medicine, as opposed to more traditional forms. Can you give examples?
Most of the ones I can think of are things that have fallen to the modern turn to evidence-based practice. The poster-child one in my head is the story of H. pylori and how a better understanding of the causes of gastritis and gas...
Interesting stuff, thanks; looking forward to the rest of the series.
As an aside, this makes the benefits of being able to rely on trust most of the time very apparent. Jack and Jill can coordinate very simply and quickly if they trust each other to honestly disclose their true value for the project. They don't even need to be able to trust 100%, just trust enough that on average they lose no more to dishonesty than the costs of more complex and sophisticated methods of bargaining. (Which require more calculating capacity than unaided humans have evolved.)
I find similar techniques help with my children.
It seems closely related to the technique where, to stop them doing something you don't want them to do, you encourage them to do something else that prevents them from doing the first thing. (There's a snappy name for this that I've forgotten.) So, for example, stopping them from bothering another child by getting them interested in an entirely different activity.
I really don't think we have to posit nanoassemblers for this particular scenario to work. Robot drones are needed, but I think they fall out as a consequence of currently existing robots and the all-singing all-dancing AI we've imagined in the first place. There are shedloads of robots around at the moment - the OP mentioned the existence of Internet-connected robot-controlled cars, but there are plenty of others, including most high tech manufacturer. Sure, those robots aren't autonomous, but they don't need to be if we've assumed an all-singing all-danc...
One thing I should mention where I wasn't able to get a very good match between my own observations and mainstream science.
The Sun and the Moon are very, very close in their apparent diameter in the sky. They are almost exactly the same size. You can measure them yourself and compare, although this is a bit fiddly; I certainly got well within my own measurement errors, although those errors were large. However, you can verify it very easily and directly at the time of solar eclipses. They are so near in size that the wobbliness of the Moon's orbit means t...
An AI controlling a company like Google would be able to, say, buy up many of the world’s battle robot manufacturers, or invest a lot of money into human-focused bioengineering), despite those activities being almost entirely unrelated to their core business, and without giving any specific idea of why.
Indeed, on the evidence of the press coverage of Google's investments, it seems likely that many people would spend a lot of effort inventing plausible cover stories for the AI.
I'll grant that "a very large proportion of the world's computing resources" was under-specified and over-stated. Sorry.
Bedford Level Experiment [...] has the disadvantage that it shows that the Earth is flat.
I love this. As it happens, I live quite near Bedford and am terribly tempted to actually try it one day. (Edit Looking closer, turns out the Bedford Level is in Norfolk, not Bedfordshire, so a little less nearby than I thought.)
There are loads of fun ways of verifying that the Earth isn't flat. Some of these were easily available to the ancients - e.g. the shape of the shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse (it's always a curve). Others are easier ...
I spent quite a lot of time many years ago doing my own independent checks on astronomy.
I started down this line after an argument with a friend who believed in astrology. It became apparent that they were talking about planets being in different constellations to the ones I'd seen them in. I forget the details of their particular brand of astrology, but they had an algorithm for calculating a sort-of 'logical' position of the planets in the 12 zodiacal signs, and this algorithm did not match observation, even given that the zodiacal signs do not line up n...
If you are at all mathematical, you can verify that relativity affects GPS signals by calculating what difference both special relativity (satellite clock moving faster than clock on Earth, hence slower) and general relativity (satellite clock higher up the gravitational field than clock on Earth) would make to timekeeping and hence accuracy of location. The effects work against each other, but one is larger than the other.
You can verify accuracy of location of a GPS yourself. IME this is almost always considerably less accurate than published estimates b...
To be fair to the medieval, their theories about how one can build large, beautiful buildings were pretty sound.
Do you believe that if Obama were to ask the NSA to take over Russia, that the NSA could easily do so?
No. I think the phrase "take over" is describing two very different scenarios if we compare "Obama trying to take over the world" and "a hypothetical hostile AI trying to take over the world". Obama has many human scruples and cares a lot about continued human survival, and specifically not just about the continued existence of the people of the USA but that they thrive. (Thankfully!)
I entirely agree that killing huge num...
Could the NSA, the security agency of the most powerful country on Earth, implement any of these schemes?
Er, yes, very easily.
Gaining effective control of the NSA would be one route to the AI taking over. Through, for example, subtle man-in-the-middle attacks on communications and records to change the scope of projects over time, steathily inserting its own code, subtle manipulation of individuals, or even straight-up bribery or blackmail. The David Petraeus incident suggests op sec practice at the highest levels is surprisingly weak. (He had an illic...
Another class of routes is for the AI to obtain the resources entirely legitimately, through e.g. running a very successful business where extra intelligence adds significant value. For instance, it's fun to imagine that Larry Page and Sergey Brin's first success was not a better search algorithm, but building and/or stumbling on an AI that invented it (and a successful business model) for them; Google now controls a very large proportion of the world's computing resources. Similarly, if a bit more prosaically, Walmart in the US and Tesco in the UK have gr...
For a fully-capable sophisticated AGI, the question is surely trivial and admits of many, many possible answers.
One obvious class of routes is to simply con the resources it wants out of people. Determined and skilled human attackers can obtain substantial resources illegitimately - through social engineering, fraud, directed hacking attack, and so on. If you grant the premise of an AI that is smarter than humans, the AI will be able to deceive humans much more successfully than the best humans at the job. Think Frank Abagnale crossed with Kevin Mitnick, o...
R is free & open source, and widely used for stats, data manipulation, analysis and plots. You can get geographical boundary data from GADM in RData format, and use R packages such as sp to produce charts easily.
Or at least, as easily as you can do anything in R. I hesitate to suggest it to people who already do data work in Python (it's less ... clean) but in this sort of domain it can do many things easily that are much harder or less commonly done in Python. My impression is the really whizzy, clever stats/graphics stuff is still all about R. (See e...
I consider myself to be "thin" even though my BMI of 24 puts me close to the official line for "overweight."
Aha! I think we've found the main source of our disagreement here, and it's purely terminology. Totally agree that maintaining a BMI around 24 is a reasonable, broadly-supported aspiration (all other factors being equal), particularly if you're younger than middle age.
this seems unlikely -- at least as the primary factor
Agreed it's probably not the largest effect, but I do think there's good reason to think there is an effe...
My concern is particularly describing "thin" as healthy, or low risk for mortality. If by "thin" you mean BMI 18-25, then I'm with you, but that's officially labelled "healthy" or "normal" weight and is not what most people mean by thin. The official "underweight" category (<18) is much riskier than the official "overweight" category (25-30). The risk profile either side of official "healthy" weight is not symmetrical - and indeed there are sound reasons to think that tending toward...
If you happen to read your horoscope, or your Myers-Briggs personality type, or any similar sort of thing, and find that it fits quite well for you, I can recommend selecting a few others, not intended for you, and see if you can make them fit you as well. You can also use this technique with a credulous friend, by reading them the 'wrong' one.
For me this works well to undo the 'magic' effect. But then that's just the sort of shenanigans you'd expect from a truth-seeking Sagittarius or 'Teacher' ENFJ.*
A fun project! And one I'm trying to do for my kids.
One thing that worries me a little about trying to tell parables about these sorts of concepts is that, outside mathematical formalism, most real-world examples are not clear cut. Most fallacies, for instance, have versions that are useful real-world heuristics. Take post hoc ergo propter hoc. It is indeed strictly a fallacy to deduce that and event was caused by the event that immediately preceded it. But "What did you do differently just before it broke?" can be a really useful diagnostic ques...
the observation that fat people have significantly greater mortality than thin people
That's not how I read that chart and the many similar ones showing mortality as a function of body mass index.
If, for the sake of argument, we make the (unreasonable and wrong!) assumption that the variance in mortality is caused by the variance in body mass index, it looks to me more like being fat is much less dangerous than being thin. Look at the shape of the curves as you move away from the minimum mortality trough around BMI 19-26 or so (which is slightly higher ...
I don't think I do much subvocalisation. There are certainly some words that I don't subvocalise: I often (like about once a week or a fortnight or so) have the experience of talking in person about a topic that I've previously only read and written about, and realising that I have never even tried to say key specialist vocabulary out loud, and so have no idea about how you pronounce it.
I got mine in a large pharmacist, in case you're still looking.
How often should I apply it?
I'd be guided by the instructions on the product and your common sense.
For me, a single application is usually enough these days - so long as I've been able to leave it on for ages and not have to wash my hands. The first time I used it, when my fingernails had got very bad, it took about three or four applications over a week. Then ordinary hand moisturiser and wearing gloves outside is enough for maintenance. Then I get careless and forget and my fingernails...
This is the beginning of a very good idea. Happily, many, many highly-competent educational researchers have had it already, and some have pursued it to a fair degree of success, particularly in constrained domain fields (think science, technology, engineering, maths, medicine). It certainly seems to be blooming as a field again these last 5-10 years.
Potentially-useful search terms include: intelligent tutoring systems, AI in Education, educational data mining.
One particularly-nifty system is the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Centre's Datashop, which is a...
Yes - that's the part I too have trouble with, and that these products and practices help. They also help the nail itself, but fewer people tend to have that problem.
In my explanation should've said "Splitting/peeling nails, and troubles with the skin around them, are usually due to insufficient oil ...", sorry.
There's no reason why you should trust a random Internet person like me with health advice. But think cost/expected benefit. If your hangnails are anything like as painful and distracting as mine were, trying out a tube of nail cream, moi...
I'd be cautious about using nail polish and similar products. The solvents in them are likely to strip more oil from the nail and nail bed, which will make the problem worse, not better. +1 for asking a beautician for advice, but if you just pick a random one rather than one you personally trust, the risk is that they will give you a profit-maximising answer rather than a cheap-but-effective one.
To repair hangnails: Nail cream or nail oil. I had no idea these products existed, but they do, and they are designed specifically to deal with this problem, and do a very good job IME. Regular application for a few days fixes my problems.
To prevent it: Keep your hands protected outside (gloves). Minimise exposure of your hands to things that will strip water or oil from them (e.g. detergent, soap, solvents, nail varnish, nail varnish remover), and when you can't avoid those, use moisturiser afterwards to replace the lost oil.
This is very much my experience too. There is also a very high variance in quality of discourse in face-to-face situations.
I think it's slightly easier to have moderate-to-high quality discussions in asynchronous online writing (assuming that's what the participants want), because you can treat stuff-you-can-Google-easily as an assumed baseline of knowledge and competence.
A silly idea I have is to model the quality of conversation as a random walk. With no boundary, you will almost-surely sink below the YouTube Comment Event Horizon as time passes. But if you have Wikipedia as a lower bound, the average quality of discussions will tend to increase over time.
... and this is part of why my kids have always known that Santa and the Tooth Fairy are fun pretend games we play, not real. I really don't see what they're "missing out": they seem no less excited about Santa coming than other kids, and get no fewer presents.
Not lying about it has all sorts of extra benefits. It makes keeping the story straight easy. It means I'm not dreading that awkward moment when they've half-guessed the truth and ask about it outright. And I wasn't remotely tempted to tell them -as several people I know did - that the Inte...
Another benefit for me is reduced mistakes in picking items from the list.
Some people don't use online shopping because they worry pickers may make errors. My experience is that they do, but at a much lower rate than I do when I go myself. I frequently miss minor items off my list on the first circuit through the shop, and don't go back for it because it'd take too long to find. I am also influenced by in-store advertising, product arrangements, "special" offers and tiredness in to purchasing items that I would rather not. It's much easier to whi...
Isn't it the aspiration of the LW community for the causation to run the other way? That is, the LW community aspires to approve of protoscience but disapprove of pseudoscience.
Also, I strongly suspect there are typical mind fallacy effects at work here.
Some people can think clearly without having words in their mind, and tend to assume that of course thought is possible without language. Other people can't think at all without words, and tend to assume that of course language is required for thought.
There's also a philosophical literature on 'thought without language' that I've never got to grips with, and the associated pop-philosophy stuff that's even harder to make sense of.
I took the survey.
I, like many others, was very amused at the structure of the MONETARY AWARD.
I'm not sure it was an advisable move, though. There's an ongoing argument about the effect of rewards on intrinsic motivation. But few argue that incentives don't tend to incentivise the behaviour they reward, rather than the behaviour the rewarder would like to incentivise. In this instance, the structure of the reward appears to incentivise multiple submissions, which I'm pretty sure is not something we want to happen more.
In some contexts you could rely on mos...
Starting today, Monday 25 November 2013, some Stoic philosophers are running "Stoic Week", a week-long mass-participation "experiment" in Stoic philosophy and whether Stoic exercises make you happier.
There is more information on their blog.
To participate, you have to complete the initial exercises (baseline scores) by midnight today (wherever you are), Monday 25 November.
If that's an interesting insight for you, you might get a kick out of realising that trees come from out of the air.
For a different mind-blowing angle, a tree is the combined trajectory of its buds.
(From Theodore Stugeon's "The Education of Drusilla Strange", but I think it's fairly sound if you ignore persistent wind, random damage, and some thickening.)
I think this is spectacularly hard to get a robust estimate of, but my wild uninformed guess is your chances of dying of it interacting with your heart condition are less than 25%, and probably less than 5%. (I try not to pull probabilities higher or lower than 5%/95% out of the air - I need a model for that.) That's for the simple case where you don't get addicted and take ever-higher doses or start taking other stimulants too or start smoking, etc.
The only hard information I can get a handle on is that the US manufacturer lists existing cardiovascular co...
if the lottery has one-in-a-million odds, then for every million timelines in which you buy a lottery ticket, in one timeline you'll win it
I don't understand this way of thinking about MWI, but in a single universe, you will only win a one-in-a-million lottery one time in a million on average if you play it many, many millions of times. You can easily buy a million lottery tickets and not get a winner at 1-in-a-million odds - in fact the chances of that happening are just short of 37%. Think of how often in a "throw a six to start" game some p...
Fitness does have a relatively strong correlation with overall human utility.
I really don't think that's true, if you mean 'fitness' in the evolutionary sense. One massive counterexample is the popularity of birth control - which seems to rise as people feel better off. Evolutionary fitness is not what we, as humans, value. And a good job too, I say: evolution produces horrors and monstrosities, favouring only those things that tend to reproduce.
I'm not sure that's true in general. I can think of situations where the prudent course of action is to act as fast as possible. For instance, if you accidentally set yourself on fire on the cooker, if you are acting prudently, you will stop, drop and roll, and do it hastily.
Generally, you should not be in the habit of doing things that have a 0.1% chance of killing you. Do so on a daily basis, and on average you will be dead in less than three years
It's even worse than that might suggest: 0.999^(3*365.25) = 0.334, so after three years you are almost exactly twice as likely to be dead than alive.
To get 50%, you only need 693 days, or about 1.9 years. Conversely, you need a surprising length of time (6500 days, about 17.8 years) to reduce your survival chances to 0.001.
The field of high-availability computing seems co...
I wonder whether some of the inferential distance here is around what is understood by 'the human experience'.
Materially, the human experience has changed quite profoundly, along the lines Vaniver points out (dramatic improvements in life expectancy, food supply, mechanisation, transport and travel, and so on).
Subjectively, though, the human experience has not changed much at all: the experience of love, loss, fear, ambition, in/security, friendship, community, excitement and so on seems to have been pretty much the same for humans living now as it was for...
Guy on the right is Markus Kalisch.
Not sure about the one on the left - outside chance it's Bertrand Russell but probably not.
One evening, when I was in my mid-teens, my parents had gone out and were due back very late. For story-unrelated reasons there was a lot of tension, nervousness and worry in the household at that time. My younger brothers went to bed, and I stayed up a bit watching the film Cat's Eye, a mild horror film written by Stephen King.
In the final part of the film, a girl is threatened by a vicious troll, a short, ugly, nasty creature with a dagger. It repeatedly creeps in to her bedroom in the night, first slaughtering her pet parrot, and then trying to kill her...
Play to your strengths; do what you're best at. You don't have to be best in the world at it for it to be valuable.
Good things about this advice are (a) it has a fairly-sound theory behind it (Comparative advantage), and (b) it applies whether or not you're smart, normal or dumb, so you don't get in to socially-destructive comparisons of intelligence.
Empirically we seem to be converging on the idea that the expansion of the universe continues forever (see Wikipedia for a summary of the possibilities), but it's not totally slam-dunk yet. If there is a Big Crunch, then that puts a hard limit on the time available.
If - as we currently believe - that doesn't happen, then the universe will cool over time, until it gets too cold (=too short of negentropy) to sustain any given process. A superintelligence would obviously see this coming, and have plenty of time to prepare - we're talking hundreds of trillions... (read more)