All of Emile's Comments + Replies

Blind Empiricism

I've been the guy religiously arguing for pushing an early version of the product in front of users as soon as possible (as the saying goes, "if you're not ashamed of your first version then you've released too late"), not in order to learn whether it's a good product or not, but to learn details of what needs to be improved but also what doesn't need to be improved (because nobody cares about / notices the "problem").

A related debate has been about how much you should spec out your product before putting it bef... (read more)

5ryan_b4yIt is worth considering that in other environments than this one, speaking directly to the point with calibrated confidence is not the persuasive tactic. Just get something in front of users is a not a complete statement of the optimal strategy, it is a rhetorical overreaction to insisting on millions of dollars and years worth of waterfall-model development before actually checking to see if anyone cares. When these ideas were first proposed, IBM had overwhelming market share in computing. The big corporate model of product development was and is very good at producing a finished product, the problem is it doesn't address whether anyone will buy it. This is solving the wrong problem - Big Design Up Front was mostly about how to use the corporation's technical resources efficiently. Further, it is all-or-nothing; people either buy the finished product or they do not. This still looks like the basic case of good model or bad model, not one of no model at all. There are two further things to consider: one, that IBM is generations of dominance ago clearly indicates the norm has moved a great deal from that time; two, IBM is still alive and still routinely criticized for the heavy, bureaucratic way it goes about business.
Open thread, Aug. 10 - Aug. 16, 2015

if I could give them back just ten minutes of their lives, most of them wouldn’t be here.

He's wrong about that. He would need to give them back 10 minutes of their lives, and then keep on giving them back different 10 minutes on a very regular basis.

I disagree. Let's take drivers who got into a serious accident : if you "gave them just back ten minutes" so that they avoided getting into that accident, most of them wouldn't have had another accident later on. It's not as if the world neatly divided into safe drivers, who never have accidents... (read more)

1Lumifer6yHow do you know? Yeah, but we are not talking about average kids. We're talking about kids who found themselves in juvenile detention and that's a huge selection bias right there. You can treat them as a sample (which got caught) from the larger underlying population which does the same things but didn't get caught (yet). It's not an entirely unbiased sample, but I think it's good enough for our handwaving. Well, of course. I don't think anyone suggested any certainties here.
1[anonymous]6yWould you think that in future, when such technologies will probably become widespread, driver training should include at least one grisly crash, simulated and showed in 3-D? Or at least a mild crash?
Getting Over Dust Theory

I mean, roughly, that not only are the two empircally indistinguishable, but that I don't even see a reason to care about whether I'm "in a simulation" or not, and it's not even clear what would qualify as a simulation...

0TheAncientGeek7yDon't you mean "have been indistinguishable up to time T" Simulations support counterfactuals, such as shutdowns. getting out into the real world, etc. If we're given assurances that things you might care about, such as being abruptly halted, aren't going to happen, then you might have nothing further to care about....but it is difficult to see what such assurances would consist of,
Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics

A bug breaks it for me now:

I'm on iPad, any topic I click on redirects me to http://www.omnilibrium.com/topic_mobile.php, which doesn't exist. So I can't even read anything but the titles.

...edit: aaand it's been fixed, thanks Cleonid, that was quick :)

Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015

I can't say I ran into it before (whereas "economists think humans are all rational self-interested agents", jeez...)

Language Learning and the Dark Arts.

Pretty neat website you got there!

Knocking through a bunch of exercises every day feels efficient but it's not exactly fun and I put in less time than I should.

I've been reviewing Anki pretty much daily for the past couple of years, and I put in enough time to have all my cards reviewed. What helps:

  • Doing it on my smartphones at times were I can't do much else anyway (in public transport, waiting in a queue); the most "productive" thing I could be doing with that time is reading a book, and even then, reading a book standing up is more of a
... (read more)
Request for help: Android app to shut down a smartphone late at night

Alternative implementation: an android widget that posts a "snitch" message somewhere online if ever your phone is unlocked in certain time frames; such that other people can easily see online whether you unlocked your phone in the "forbidden" timeframe.

0The_Jaded_One7ythere are already severe consequences the next day - being tired, grumpy etc. I already don't want to stay up late on my phone. The problem is the "hyperbolic discount"/time preference inconsistency.
Learning by Doing

As far as I can tell, folks either learn everything beyond the mechanics and algorithms of programming from your seniors in the workplace or discover it for themself.

... or from Stack Overflow / Wikipedia, no? When encountering a difficult problem, one can either ask someone more knowledgeable, figure it out himself, or look it up on the internet.

0imuli7yI'm talking about things on the level of selecting which concepts are necessary and useful to implement in a system or higher. At the simplest that's recognizing that you have three types of things that have arbitrary attributes attached and implementing an underlying thing-with-arbitrary-attributes type instead of three special cases. You tend to get that kind of review from people with whom you share a project and a social relationship such that they can tell you what you're doing wrong without offense.
Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015

One charitable interpretation is "it's something you learn by doing, not something you learn by reading".

"Art" has a bit of a double meaning, there's the "something that's pretty/pleasing/aesthetic/original/creative", but there's also the "craft" meaning, as in "the art of XXX".

I want to focus on the "art is inherently intuitive and not about breaking things down into components like science" part. My thought is that these people who say this are confusing their map for the territory. They may n

... (read more)
Is arrogance a symptom of bad intellectual hygeine?

I'd say there are cases where it's reasonable to dismiss others' opinions out of hand (apart from politeness etc.) BUT it takes more than "I'm much smarter than them"; there should be a factor like "I have all the evidence they have / I know all they know on that topic" and of course "I have good reasons to believe I'm smarter than them and know more".

And even then it's the kind of thing that's reasonable "on average", i.e. it can be a decent time-saving heuristic if needed, but it can still get wrong. Say Alice is s... (read more)

1dxu7yYes, of course I agree. Domain expertise should also be included in your analysis.
The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

I think that for the specific case of Harry Potter Fanfic, this hypothesis has been disproved by [Yudkowsky, 2010].

Though for "many people's perception of 'quality'", there's probably some truth there.

[LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging

It might be worth rereading the passage in question:

The Confessor held up a hand. "I mean it, my lord Akon. It is not polite idealism. We ancients can't steer. We remember too much disaster. We're too cautious to dare the bold path forward. Do you know there was a time when nonconsensual sex was illegal?"

Akon wasn't sure whether to smile or grimace. "The Prohibition, right? During the first century pre-Net? I expect everyone was glad to have that law taken off the books. I can't imagine how boring your sex lives must have been up

... (read more)
2NancyLebovitz7yI think the problem is that it's a scenario of being raped by someone you find attractive in some sense, which is necessarily how rape fantasies inside one's own head go. Even if it's a degradation fantasy, you're still running it. I don't see how such rules can be made to be a generally good experience in the real world for all involved, unless there's some extreme improvement in people's ability to read each other for "this will be fun" and willingness to not override other people's real consent.
4skeptical_lurker7yOh yes I understand the value dissonance and controversy. But... babyeating is certainly controversial, and yet I think it does not alienate people in the same way that rape will, largely because far more people have traumatic memories of rape than of infant cannibalism. At the end of the day, I personally prefer the controversial writing, but its a trade off against PR. I would certainly prefer the really controversial bits get edited out to EY stopping writing because of negative PR.
Succeess depends on finding a balance between "geek" and "jock"

Counterexamples: Bill Gates nor Arnold Schwarzenegger seem respectively 100% geek and 100% jock, and are among the most successful people on earth. Which seem to show you can be extremely successful without "striking a balance".

Going 100% geek seems like a perfectly viable strategy, especially if you mostly care about success at geeky things (which amazingly a lot of geeks do).

Which isn't to say there aren't any "geek failure modes" to avoid, but "try to strike a balance between geek and jock" doesn't seem like a very useful rule of thumb.

1skeptical_lurker7yFun fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger paints his own Christmas cards.
Succeess depends on finding a balance between "geek" and "jock"

So this problem already arose at the earliest tribal societies, of the triangular chieftain - shaman - warrior dynamic.

Do you have good anthropological evidence that this "dynamic" actually exists / existed, and corresponds to what you're referring to?

"How our proud ancestors lived" in popular culture is full of bad/old science, romantic notions, nationalist/political propaganda (in either direction), and I trust it as much as I trust talk of "positive energy".

There are a bunch of stories (books, movies, games...) set in a ... (read more)

Defining a limited satisficer

Thinking aloud here:

Say I'm an agent that wants to increase u, but not "too strongly" (this whole thing is about how to formalize "too strongly"). Couldn't I have a way of estimating how much other agents who don't care about u might still care about what I do, and minimize that? i.e. avoid anything that would make other agents want to model my working as something more than "wants to increase u".

(back in agent-designer shoes) So we could create a "moderate increaser" agent, give it a utility function u and inform it... (read more)

1Stuart_Armstrong7yNot too far away from my ideas here: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/lv0/creating_a_satisficer/ [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/lv0/creating_a_satisficer/]
[LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging

The bit on legalized rape is an important way of conveying that the future will seem weird and surprising and immoral to us, just like 2015 would seem weird and surprising and immoral to someone from a few centuries ago. I want my science-fiction to show how weird things are likely to be (even if the specific kind of weirdness is of course likely to be very wrong), I don't want it to be a bowdlerized soap opera with robots and lasers in the background.

And if people can't understand that and read any kind of far-off weirdness through the lens of this decade... (read more)

3skeptical_lurker7yYeah, I get the whole weirdtopia thing. But like Mark says, its probably not the best weird thing to be chosen. In one way, I think this attitude is commendable - interlectual and artistic integrity and not having to kowtow to people who are offended. But at the same time, 'anyone who disagrees can just fuck off' ... its not the best PR. And I don't think 'not being scared of rape' is an important criteria for rationalists. I've read a similar idea to legalised rape before, in the context of a future where it was considered extremely bad manners to refuse sex. I can kinda imagine this could work. But legalised violent rape... What I imagine would happen is that one person would try to rape another, they would fight back, their friends would intervene, a full-blown bar fight would ensue, someone would smash a bottle, and people would end up in the hospital, or the mental asylum, or the morgue. Or are they not allowed to fight back? Is it maybe just date rape which is legal, or can you for instance, kidnap and rape someone who is on their way to an important business meeting? Do people say "First on the agenda, Mrs Brown and Mr Black give their apologies that they are unable to attend the emergency meeting on disaster relief for Proxima centuri - alpha, as Mrs Brown has contracted space measles and Mr Black is otherwise engaged in being anally gang raped"? I mean, even if everyone in the future are the sort of ultra-kinky people who enjoy being raped, and everyone is bisexual to avoid the problem of being raped by the wrong gender, it still doesn't make sense.
6[anonymous]7yAny number of examples could have been chosen however. So why pick one which is legitimately a hot button issue for anyone who has been personally affected by it, a depressingly large portion of the population?
Open thread, Mar. 9 - Mar. 15, 2015

I'm toying with the idea of programming a game based on .

Are you missing a word there?

0DanielLC7yFixed. I messed up the link.
Impartial ethics and personal decisions

But is caring for yourself and your friends and family an instrumental value that helps you stay sane so that you can help others more efficiently, or is it a terminal value? It sure feels like a terminal value, and your "morality of self-care" sounds like a roundabout way of explaining why people care so much about it by making it instrumental.

0MathiasZaman7yI don't know. I also don't know if terminal values for utility maximizers and terminal values for fallible human beings perfectly line up, even if humans might strive to be perfectly selfless utility maximizers. What I do know is that for a lot of people the practical utility increase they can manage goes up when they have friends and family they can care about. If you forbid people from self-care, you create a net decrease of utility in the world.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117

Because children are not fully capable of taking care of themselves, and so there is a norm that all adults (and older children) have a duty of helping and protecting them (even against themselves).

And also because if an adult harms a child, it is much more likely that the victim is innocent and didn't "deserve" that harm than if the victim is an adult.

(and I don't think "greater moral value" accurately describes the situation)

Impartial ethics and personal decisions

The Spring and Autumn period definitely seems relevant, and I think someone could get a lot of interesting posts out of it.

Yep, I've been reading a fair amount about it recently; I had considering first making a "prequel" post talking about that period and about how studying ancient China can be fairly interesting, in that it shows us a pretty alien society that still had similar debates.

I had heard from various sources how Confucius said it was normal to care more about some than others, and it took me a bit of work to dig up what that notion was called exactly.

Impartial ethics and personal decisions

What if, for example, the institution of family is crucial for the well-being of humans, and not putting your close ones first in the short run would undermine that institution?

If that was the real reason you would treat your brother better than one kid in Africa, than you would be willing to sacrifice a good relationship with your brother in exchange for saving two good brother-relationships between poor kids in Africa.

I agree you could evaluate impersonally how much good the institution of the family (and other similar things, like marriages, promises... (read more)

Impartial ethics and personal decisions

Suppose I get my weights from inside me, and you get yours from inside you; then we might not be able to coordinate, instead wrestling each other over the ability to flip the switch.

In practice people with different values manage to coordinate perfectly fine via trade; I agree an external source of morality would be sufficient for cooperation, but it's not necessary (also having all humans really take an external source as the real basis for all their choices would require some pretty heavy rewriting of human nature).

Plane crashes

Yeah, that was my thought too - after an accident, everyone is more careful and diligent, because there will be a search for someone to blame, and that's really not a good time to be asleep at the wheel, whatever your level of responsibility.

Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer.

Maybe practice editing more? If you suck at it, rewriting /editing your posts will only make you better at it. It might be a bit of work, it might take a bit of time, but it's nice to take ten minutes of your time to save thirty seconds to a hundred readers (and more importantly to save all the time wasted by comments who misunderstood part of what you said and the ensuing back-and-forth).

(I personally don't have much time to spend reading long preachy walls of texts telling me about my supposed self-hatred; I didn't downvote your post but skipped to the discussion because the post itself wasn't very engaging and seemed to get things wrong fairly quickly)

0[anonymous]7yI just don't know what to delete...
Ask me anything.

I suspect most people here find this post very confusing as they don't know who you are (I don't recognize your username), and it's not really clear what you're getting at or why we would want to ask you anything.

-5sunflowers7y
Is Pragmatarianism (Tax Choice) Less Wrong?

A bit of a nitpick (which could explain some of the reception you're getting here): I don't think the term "Pragmatarianism" is a good description for your proposal, it's just an unrelated name that sounds good. Might as well say 'I'm calling this proposal "Sensible Tax Policy"' or 'My idea, called "Reasonablism", is that...', etc.

A more modest and descriptive name would probably be better received, especially in places who dislike marketing.

-1Xerographica7yYou think "pragmatarianism" sounds good? Have you said it out loud? My tongue usually trips over it. I'm not a writer or a wordsmith so anybody is more than welcome to come up with a better name. Preferably one that meets the google alerts standard. From my perspective, giving your taxes directly to the EPA is as practical as giving a donation directly to the World Wildlife Fund. Having to convince millions and millions of voters in order for more of your own taxes to be spent on the environment is the epitome of impractical. Yet, we do it because that's how we've always done it.
Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI

Okay, though we're still far from a true robot butler. I don't know if we're ten years away though, especially if you're tolerant in what you expect a butler to be able to do (welcome guests, take their names, point them in the right direction, answer basic questions? We can already do it. Go up a flight of stairs? Not yet.)

2Dr_Manhattan7yYou can always just weld the butler on top of Spot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8YjvHYbZ9w [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8YjvHYbZ9w] (this does not seem to be a significant blocker)
Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI

There are already quite a few of them deployed in stores in Japan, interacting with customers, so for now it's going okay :)

Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI

It's debatable how much a "remote controlled helicopters with a camera" should fall under "robotics"; progress in that area seems pretty orthogonal to issues like manipulation and autonomy.

(Though on the other hand modern drones are better at mechanical control "just" remote control: good drones have a feedback loop so that they correct their position)

1Punoxysm7yI think drones will probably serve as the driver of more advanced technologies - e.g. drones that can deposit and pick up payloads, ground-based remote-controlled robots with an integration of human and automatic motion control.
Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI

We won't have robot butlers or maids in the next ten years.

(for what it's worth, I work on this robot for a living)

1Daniel_Burfoot7yCool project! Do you think those robots are going to be a big commercial success?
3Dr_Manhattan7yAnd how is it going?
Je suis Charlie

I think my chain falls of on the idea that we can assign reliable probabilities to various hypotheses, prior to our own thorough investigation of the available scientific material.

Yep! We do it all the time! How likely do you think it is that the city of New York has just been destroyed by a nuclear blast? That your parents are actually undercover agents sent by Thailand? That there is a scorpion in the sandwich you're about to eat? Most people would consider those extremely unlikely without a second thought, and would not feel any need for a "thorough investigation of the available scientific material". And that's a perfectly sensible thing to do!

0[anonymous]7yIndeed it is perfectly sensible from a pragmatic point of view. But is it actual knowledge?
Je suis Charlie

I guess we can agree that the most rational response would be to enter a state of aporia until sufficient evidence is at hand.

Not really; consider how much effort is worth investigating the question of whether Barack Obama is actually secretly Transgender, in different scenarios:

  • You just thought about it, but don't have any special reason to privilege that hypothesis
  • Someone mentioned the idea a a thought experiment on LessWrong.com, but doesn't seem to think it's even remotely likely
  • Someone on the internet seems to honestly believe it (but may be a
... (read more)
0[anonymous]7yI definitely see your point. Couldn't the problem be solved by dividing my convictions into two groups: 1. Those that I need in order to survive and prosper in my life. 2. Those that I don't need in order to survive and prosper in my life. Then I could go into aporia for all those who belong to group 2, while allowing more gut feeling for those in group 1. The Charlie Hebdo question doesn't affect my life quality, so I for that case I could afford the epistemological "luxury" of aporia.
Open thread Jan. 5-11, 2015

I've used The bootstrap framework to make web apps that don't look horribly ugly. Learning all the things you'd need to make apps that use that (so a bit of JS, CSS, HTML, etc. as sixes_and_seven says) would probably be a good start. (It would be probably easier than trying to make good-looking CSS from scratch, which is more of a pain).

6sixes_and_sevens7yBootstrap is particularly good if you're a design doofus and have minimal knowledge of web standards, accessibility, fluid layouts, etc. I'm sure ancestor commenters know this, but it's worth mentioning that design is a distinct discipline which doesn't come for free when you learn to code.
Inverse relationship between belief in foom and years worked in commercial software

Side note: I keep seeing a bizarre assumption (which I can only assume is a Hollywood trope) from a lot of people here that even a merely human-level AI would automatically be awesome at dealing with software just because they're made of software. (like how humans are automatically experts in advanced genetic engineering just because we're made of DNA)

Not "just because they're made of software" - but because there are many useful things that a computer is already better than a human at (notably, vastly greater "working memory"), so a... (read more)

0Brian_Tomasik7yGood points. However, keep in mind that humans can also use software to do boring jobs that require less-than-human intelligence. If we were near human-level AI, there may by then be narrow-AI programs that help with the items you describe.
0HungryHobo7yit depends how your AI is implemented, perhaps it will turn out that the first human level AI's are simply massive ANN's of some kind. Such an AI might have human equivalent working memory and have to do the equivalent of making notes outside of it's own mind just as we do. Given how very very far we are from that level of AI we might very well see actual brain enhancements similar to this only for humans first which could leave us on a much for even footing with the AI's: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-06/artificial-memory-chip-rats-can-remember-and-forget-touch-button [http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-06/artificial-memory-chip-rats-can-remember-and-forget-touch-button]
Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014

Maybe completely blanking on that question is a sign of having studied some physics?

6bramflakes7yThe difference is that the guy who studies physics can explain why the question is difficult.

That's the kind of knowledge humanity is better off not having.

Open thread, Nov. 24 - Nov. 30, 2014

?! But your name seems even less tractable to yourself than mine is, and I don't worry about that!

(also, if you take into account the probability that they will link those comments to you, and that they will think badly of you because of it, no?)

Memory Improvement: Mnemonics, Tools, or Books on the Topic?

exactly what the singularity is god for

... I'm not sure whether that is a misspelling ... (Freudian slip?)

0Capla7yIt was a misspelling, but I decided to keep it.
xkcd on the AI box experiment

(ok, I deleted my duplicate post then)

Also worth mentioning: the Forum thread, in which Eliezer chimes in.

So I'm going to say this here rather than anywhere else, but I think Eliezer's approach to this has been completely wrong headed. His response has always come tinged with a hint of outrage and upset. He may even be right to be that upset and angry about the internet's reaction to this, but I don't think it looks good! From a PR perspective, I would personally stick with an amused tone. Something like:

"Hi, Eliezer here. Yeah, that whole thing was kind of a mess! I over-reacted, everyone else over-reacted to my over-reaction... just urgh. To clear thing... (read more)

8Artaxerxes7yI wonder if Eliezer will have to be on damage control for the basilisk forever. 4 years on, and it still garners interest.

From here:

(Do not write his name in the comments without the dots. Writing his name online summons him. I'm not joking.)

(not that this policy has been applied much here; and indeed he has been summoned)

(I also wondered whether it was that person, but decided the russian thing made it unlikely)

Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

What's so great about impacting the status quo? That doesn't seem like something worth aiming for. I mean, yeah, sure, most ways of making the world a better place impact the status quo; but most ways of making the world a better place involve making noise at one point of the other, that doesn't mean that making noise is some great thing we should aim for.

Things that make the world (or lesswrong, or your family, etc.) a worse place are more likely to make people upset than things that make the world a better place. There are also more ways to make things worse than to make things better.

1Lumifer7yDepends on your value system, of course. But impacting the status quo is a synonym for "making a difference" and if you don't ever make a difference, well...
Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

if I'm not upsetting some people, I'm not doing a good job

Why?? I occasionally hear that repeated, but it sounds like a cheap excuse to act like a dick, or to retroactively brush off when people point out when you said something wrong in public. It calls to mind the image of a lazy teen spouting out every random stupid idea that goes through his mind and considering that the essence of being a Brave Independent Thinker.

(this is not targeted at you, Capla, I haven't been paying special attention to your posts)

4Lumifer7yBecause if you're not upsetting some people, you are not impacting the status quo in any meaningful way.
Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

As others mentioned: mining, special manufacturing exploiting microgravity.

A lot of competition and innovation in the area of data transfer protocols and encryption and localization and espionage increasing the need for engineers that can build, test and maintain new communications directly from orbit, which is cheaper than launching prototype after prototype.

A fad for having a marriage and honeymoon in space, making luxury space hotels commercially viable.

Companies having headquarters in space as the ultimate signal. Especially if it gives them an advanta... (read more)

The Danger of Invisible Problems

I was expecting you to write about another kind of invisible problem, one that you just don't know exists, such as "I have really bad breath". That kind of problem is harder to detect!

Academic papers

(you also have "soundign" in your article)

Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014

Apparently I have 6887 cards (though that includes those I suspended because they're boring, useless, too difficult, duplicated, or possibly wrong; I tend to often suspend cards instead of deleting them); of those around 3000 are Chinese pinyin cards I automatically created with a Python script (I set them up to get between 1 and 5 new ones per day, depending on how busy I tend to be), 1000 are Japanese (the biggest deck of manually-entered cards), and the remaining decks rarely go over 300 cards.

I study probably between 20 and 40 minutes per day, usually... (read more)

Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014

You may be interested in "Chimpanzee Politics", by Frans de Waals (something like that), which is about exactly that (observing a group of Chimps in a zoo, and how their politics and alliances evolves, with a couple coups).

1MrMind7yGreat! Added to my Amazon whislist ;)
Load More