Elithrion

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Utilitarianism twice fails

I was supposed to check on this a long time ago, but forgot/went inactive on LW, but the post actually ended up at -26, so seemingly slightly lower than it was, which is evidence against your regression to 0 theory.

Boring Advice Repository

I agree with tut that increasing speed might help. Sometimes if I listen at default speed, I find my attention drifting off mid-sentence just because it's going so slowly. (Conversely, at higher speed, when my attention does drift off briefly, I sometimes miss a full sentence or two and have to rewind slightly.)

If that doesn't work, I don't really have many other ideas. Maybe you could try other repetitive mechanical actions to see if they coexist well with audiobooks. For example, maybe cooking, drawing, or exercising might work (if you do any of those). In general, I find it easy to not miss anything in an audiobook so long as I'm simultaneously doing something that does not also involve words.

Open Thread, June 16-30, 2013

[I made a request for job finding suggestions. I didn't really want to leave details lying around indefinitely, to be honest, so, after a week, I edited it to this.]

Maximizing Your Donations via a Job

Incidentally, if your discount rate is really this high (you mention 22% annual at one point), you should be borrowing as much as you can from banks (including potentially running up credit cards if you have to - many of those seem to be 20% annual) and just using your income to pay down your debt.

I'd say just use your cost of borrowing (probably 7% or so?) for the purposes of discounting your salary and things, and then decide whether you should borrow to donate or not based on whether that rate is less than the expected rate of return for charities. (This is assuming that you can get access to adequate funds at this rate - I'm not entirely sure, but it seems plausible.)

Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013

I am really disappointed in you, gwern. Why would you use an English auction when you can use an incentive-compatible one (a second price auction, for example)? You're making it needlessly harder for bidders to come up with valuations!

(But I guess maybe if you're just trying to drive up the price, this may be a good choice. Sneaky.)

Drowning In An Information Ocean

Hm, that's true, I have heard that. Although in that particular case, it's actually unknown whether the shape is constructible or not, and I was trying to prove (in)constructibility rather than construct.

A Rational Altruist Punch in The Stomach

This is more like a conservative investment in various things by the managing funds for 200 years, followed by a reckless investment in the cities of Philadelphia and Boston at the end of 200 years. It probably didn't do particularly more for the people 200 years from the time than it did for people in the interim.

Also, the most recent comment by cournot is interesting on the topic:

You may also be using the wrong deflators. If you use standard CPI or other price indices, it does seem to be a lot of money. But if you think about it in terms of relative wealth you get a different figure [and standard price adjustments aren't great for looking far back in the past]. I think a pound was about 5 dollars. So if we assume that 1000 pounds = 5000 nominal dollars and we use the Econ History's price deflators http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/ we find that this comes to over $2M if we use the unskilled wage and about $5M if we use nominal GDP. As a relative share of GDP, this figure would have been an enormous $380M or so. The latter is not an irrelevant calculation.

Given how wealthy someone had to be (relative to the poor in the 18th century) to fork over a thousand pounds in Franklin's time, he might have done more good with it then than you could do with 2 to 5 million bucks today.

Buridan's ass and the psychological origins of objective probability

Interestingly, that trick does get the ass to walk to at least one bale in finite time, but it's still possible to get it to do silly things, like walk right up to one bale of hay, then ignore it and eat the other.

Okay, sure, but that seems like the problem is "solved" (i.e. the donkey ends up eating hay instead of starving).

Buridan's ass and the psychological origins of objective probability

Does that really work for all (continuous? differentiable?) functions. For example, if his preference for the bigger/closer one is linear with size/closeness, but his preference for the left one increases quadratically with time, I'm not sure there's a stable solution where he doesn't move. I feel like if there's a strong time factor, either a) the ass will start walking right away and get to the size-preferred hay, or b) he'll start walking once enough time has past and get to the time-preferred hay. I could write down an equation for precision if I figure out what it's supposed to be in terms of, exactly...

A Rational Altruist Punch in The Stomach

I'm not sure what an investment in a particular far-future time would look like. Money does not, in fact, breed and multiply when left in a vault for long enough. It increases by being invested in things that give payoffs or otherwise rise in value. Even if you have a giant stockpile of cash and put it in a bank savings account, the bank will then take it and lend it out to people who will make use of it for whatever projects they're up to. If you do that, all you're doing is letting the bank (and the borrowers) choose the uses of your money for the first while, and then when you eventually take it out you take the choice back and make it yourself. The one way I can think of to actually invest in the distant future is to find or create some project that will have a massive payoff in the distant future but low payoffs before that, and I don't think anyone knows of a project that pays off further than 100 years in the future.

Maybe you could try to create a fund that explicitly looks for far-future payoff opportunities and invests in them, but I don't think one exists right now, and the idea is non-trivial.

I dunno, maybe there's something else I'm missing, though.

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