All of Ender's Comments + Replies

Archimedes's Chronophone

You might pull together a good message just based on the original question, "what advice do you give to Archimedes, and how do you say it into the chronophone." Yudkowsky's question was designed to make us think non-obvious thoughts, after all.

"Would you be able to ask anything meaningful through the chronophone?"

(My construction might not be quite right. I'm feeling all smug and Godelian, but it's 1 AM, so I've probably missed something.)

My Bayesian Enlightenment

Ideally we want a theory of how to change energy into winning, not information and a prior into accurate hypotheses about the world, which is what probability theory gives us, and is very good at.

You need accurate information about the world in order to figure out how to "change energy into winning."

The Cartoon Guide to Löb's Theorem

Jeepers. I haven't thought about this problem for a long time. Thanks.

The answer that occurs to me for the original puzzle is that Yudkowsky never proved (◻(2 = 1) -> (2 = 1)). I don't know it that is actually the answer, but I really need to go do other work and stop thinking about this problem.

Fake Optimization Criteria

This article from 2005 says that while there are some different theories about the evolution of music, there is not enough evidence yet to reach a conclusion. http://www.cns.nyu.edu/~jhm/mcdermott_hauser_mp.pdf

In another article, Geoffrey F. Miller explained that Darwin hypothesized that hominids might have included some music in their courtship, similar to birdsong, before the development of language. Darwin's theory is described pretty clearly in the refrain of "Who Put the Bomp," but you can also google the article.

G. F. (2000). Evolution of ... (read more)

The Fabric of Real Things

And since it has observable consequences, you can do science to it! Yay!

The Useful Idea of Truth

In that case, they're arguing about the wrong thing. Their real dispute is that the painting isn't what the Mongolian wanted as a result of a miscommunication which neither of them noticed until one of them had spent money (or promised to) and the other had spent days painting.

So, no, even in that situation, there's no such thing as a dragon, so they might as well be arguing about the migratory patterns of unicorns.

The Cartoon Guide to Löb's Theorem

I think that this is what the theorem means;

If (X->Y) -> Y, then ~X -> Y (If it's true that "If it's true that 'if X is true, then Y is true,' then Y must be true," then Y must be true, even if X is not true).

This makes sense because the first line, "(X->Y) -> Y," can be true whether or not X is actually true. The fact that ~X -> Y if this is true is an overly specific example of that "The first line being true (regardless of the truth of X)" -> Y. It's actually worded kind of weirdly, unless "imply&q... (read more)

2VHanson8yI did study stuff like this a LONG time ago, so I respect your trying to work this out from 'common sense'. The way I see it, the key to the puzzle is the truth-value of Y, not 'whether or not X is actually true'. By working out the truth-tables for the various implications, the statement "((◻C)->C)->C" has a False truth-value when both (◻C) and C are False, i.e. if C is both unprovable and false the statement is false. Even though the 'material implication' "(X->Y)->Y implies (not X)->Y" is a tautology (because when the 1st part is false the 2nd part is true & vice-versa) that does not guarantee the truth of the 2nd part alone. In fact, it is intuitively unsurprising that if C is false, the premise that 'C is provable' is also false (of course such intuition is logically unreliable, but it feels nice to me when it happens to be confirmed in a truth table). What may seem counterintuitive is that this is the only case for which the premise is True, but the encompassing implication is False. That's because a 'logical implication' is equivalent to stating that 'either the premise (1st part) is False or the conclusion (2nd part) is True (or both)'. So, for the entire statement "((◻C)->C)->C" to be True when C is False, means "((◻C)->C)" must be False. "((◻C)->C)" is only False when "(◻C)" is True and "C" is False. Here's where the anti-intuitive feature of material implication causes brain-freeze - that with a false premise any implication is assigned a True truth-value. But that does NOT mean that such an implication somehow forces the conclusion to be true! It only affirms that for any implication to be true, it must be the case that "IF the premise is true then the conclusion is true." If the premise is False, the conclusion may be True or False. If the premise is True and the conclusion is False, then the implication itself is False! The translation of " (not ◻C)->C" as "all statements which lack proofs are true" is a ringer. I'd say the implication "If it is not t
1lightlike9y"The fact that ~X -> Y if this is true is an overly specific example of that "The first line being true (regardless of the truth of X)" -> Y." This is basically correct; if ~X then X -> Y is always true because X never has the opportunity to be true, in a sense.
Are Your Enemies Innately Evil?

Making perfect, evil plots can be a great conversation starter.

The Substitution Principle

I have a friend who is much better at starcraft than I am; he says that he's largely better because he's worked out a lot of things like exactly the most efficient time to start harvesting gas and the resource collection per minute harvesters under optimal conditions, and he uses that information when he plays. It works better than playing based on feelings (by which I mean that he beats me).

If you don't have way too much time on your hands, though, it's about as much fun to not bother with all of that.

Also, I notice you cited a Wikipedia page. Naughty, naughty, naughty.

2Dmytry10yWell yea the start timings are important... they correspond to 'book' knowledge of chess openings. I did those a fair lot when i were playing chess more seriously (which was long long ago when i was 10-12). You have to do those before you start actually playing, and in RTS those openings are not so well developed as to read 'em off an old book like you do in chess. Chess computer btw also uses openings, i think none of the 16 possible first moves leads to loss of king in 10ply (i'd wager a bet that none of possible white's first moves leads to inevitable loss or victory at all, and certainly not in less than 50ply), and the computer does e2-e4 (or other good first move) purely by book. It doesn't figure out that e2-e4 is better move than say a2-a3 from the rules alone. There's a LOT of human thought about chess that chess AI relies on to beat humans.
How to understand people better

I like your suggestion to learn to learn to like things. If anyone is looking for things to learn to like, these are some nice ones.

Ligeti's etudes (and other 12-tone music); www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0qoue0JbbU

This piece by Charles Ives; www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBU_XzWZNtc

Plays! You don't need to buy hundred-dollar tickets to fancy Broadway shows; community theater productions are often comically horrible in movies, but I've only seen good ones in real life (I did just put drama in a group with Ligeti etudes and cowboy music, but not because it's really weird).

1Bill_McGrath10yUpvoted for reccommending Ligeti! I'm working on a thesis about Ligeti for my degree in composition, he's a marvellous composer. If I may offer one slight correction: Ligeti's Etudes aren't 12-tone compositions; they're atonal, but written according to rules of his own devising rather than using the rows and permutations of 12-tone/serialist music. I don't think he wrote any serialist works after he left Hungary. That said, I haven't examined all of the etudes in detail so I could be wrong.
The Third Alternative

I think I wrote an essay for a middle-school english teacher to the effect that any belief that I had in [the belief in] Santa Claus dragged my belief in [my belief in] God along as it went away (Which would have been around... when I was three or five; my parents didn't really try very hard to convince my siblings or me that Santa actually existed).

I don't remember a time when I believed in more than a belief in Santa, or, though my parents tried a little harder on this front, in God. My mother read to me from a kid's bible (with stories like Noah's Ar... (read more)

3Mets8yWhy is it that people use "belief in god" as "belief in Christianity" and "no belief in Christianity" as "atheism"? Even disregarding other religions, there's a whole range of positions between them.
Mutual Information, and Density in Thingspace

Just so you know, there are two columns of Y subscript 3s in the first joint distribution.

1[anonymous]8yThis typo is still there. Fourth column has misnumbered subscripts.
Words as Mental Paintbrush Handles

I heard about this study in the book Moonwalking with Einstien: the Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by Joshua Foer. Apparently there was only one test subject who seemed to have eidetic memory, and instead of doing more tests after the one that you described, the experimenter married the subject.

When John Merritt put a similar test in newspapers, nobody who wrote in with the correct answer could do the test "with scientists looking over their shoulders."

Foer, Joshua. Moonwalking with Einstein: the Art and Science of Remembering Everything. New York: Penguin, 2011. Print.

Lonely Dissent

Now cryonics are starting to sound like a religion; if you are an interesting person, and have a good enough reputation, then someone will bother to reanimate you and you will live forever. I like it.

Lonely Dissent

Sorry, I didn't mean to do that, and I don't know how it happened.

New Improved Lottery

This isn't entirely relevant, but it's a good story, so... I recently heard from one of my mom's friends that my fifth grade teacher won the lottery, and continued teaching afterward. This makes me very happy, because he's a fantastic teacher (he has a reputation, actually, for making his classes really fun, like using remote-control cars for an Oregon Trail activity), and, as has been mentioned on this site, a lot of people don't end up being very happy once they've one the lottery. I'm glad Mr. Lesh was smart enough to keep teaching his class, which he obviously loved doing.

Failed Utopia #4-2

Teehee... "Men are from Mars..."

Fake Optimization Criteria

The mention of music and evolution sent me off on a tangent, which was to wonder why human brains have a sense of music. A lot of music theory makes mathematical sense (the overtone series), but it seems odd from an evolution standpoint that musicianship was a good allele to have.

4ialdabaoth9yI believe the current theory is that musical talent was a sexual selection criteria that 'blew up'. Good rhythm, a good singing voice, and an ability to remember complex rhythm were originally linked to timing and muscle coordination, and so helped to signal for hunting fitness; and to intelligence, and so helped to signal for the ability to navigate the pack's social landscape. But once sexual selection for a trait begins, that trait can take on a life of its own, leading to things like peacocks' tails and lyre bird's mating calls.
A Case Study of Motivated Continuation

I think, based on everyone's level of discomfort with this problem, that if there were an experiment wherein people in one group were asked a question like this, but on a much smaller scale, say, "torture one person for an hour or put a speck of dust into the eyes of (3^^^3)/438300," or even one second of torture vs (3^^^3)/1577880000 (Obviously in decimal notation in the experiment) specks of dust, and in the second group, people were told the original question with the big numbers, people in the first group would choose the torture more often ... (read more)

A Case Study of Motivated Continuation

In the end, the crime is committed not by the person who has to choose between two presented evils, but by the person who sets up the choice. Choose the lesser of the evils, preferably with math, and then don't feel responsible.

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A Case Study of Motivated Continuation

I should begin by saying that I caught myself writing my conclusion as the first sentence of this post, and then doing the math. I'm doing the calculations entirely in terms of the victim's time, which is quantifiable.

Dust specks would take up a much smaller portion of the victims' lifes (say, a generous 9 seconds of blinking out of 2483583120 seconds of life expectancy (78.7 years) per person), whereas torture would take up a whole fifty years of a single person's life.

All of my math came crashing down when I realized that 3^^^3 is a bigger number than my... (read more)

Truly Part Of You

There were actually a few times (in my elementary school education) when I didn't understand why certain techniques that the teacher taught were supposed to be helpful (for reasons which I only recently figured out). The problem of subtracting 8 from 35 would be simplified as such;

35 - 8 = 20 + (15 - 8)

I never quite got why this made the problem "easier" to solve, until, looking back recently, I realized that I was supposed to have MEMORIZED "15 - 8 = 7!"

At the time, I simplified it to this, instead. 35 - 8 = 30 + (5 - 8) = 20 + 10 + (... (read more)

3Viktor Riabtsev3yWow. I've never even conceived of this (on it's own or) as a simplification. My entire life has been the latter simplification method.
Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark

Following what Constant has pointed out, I am wondering if there is, in fact, a way to solve the 2 4 6 problem without first guessing, and then adjusting your guess.

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Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark

Following what Constant has pointed out, I am wondering if there is, in fact, a way to solve the 2 4 6 problem without first guessing, and then adjusting your guess.

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Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark

In the situation you described, it would be necessary to test values that did and didn't match the hypothesis, which ends up working an awful lot like adjusting away from an anchor. Is there a way of solving the 2 4 6 problem without coming up with a hypothesis too early?

4pure-awesome9yThe problem is not that they come up with a hypothesis too early, it's that they stop too early without testing examples that are not supposed to work. In most cases people are given as many opportunities to test as they'd like, yet they are confident in their answer after only testing one or two cases (all of which came up positive). The trick is that you should come up with one or more hypotheses as soon as you can (maybe without announcing them), but test both cases which do and don't confirm it, and be prepared to change your hypothesis if you are proven wrong.
1dlthomas10yCome up with several hypotheses in parallel, perhaps?
-1wedrifid11ySooo many double posts! This new interface is buggy as @#$!
Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark

In the situation you described, it would be necessary to test values that did and didn't match the hypothesis, which ends up working an awful lot like adjusting away from an anchor. Is there a way of solving the 2 4 6 problem without coming up with a hypothesis too early?

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Lonely Dissent

Actually, I think that historians would love to wake up random people from way back when, whether or not they were famous or influential at the time.

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0danlowlite11yOK. I'll follow up. They might want to, but what events would that trigger? The benefits might be clear, but for what costs? Firstly, you would add another person to the population pool. That addition, in and of itself, is probably a negligible effect. Humans do this with some regularity. It is unlikely that the addition of one specific historical figure would push us over some theoretical tipping point. What would be a greater cost would be one of rights: does the resurrected "owe" anything for being plucked from history, financially or metaphorically? What psychological toll might be exacted on an 200's era Roman slave when he shows up in Chicago in 2023? Assuming he could even grasp what had happened and learn a modern language, how is he to provide for himself? If he cannot, who? The historian, perhaps. What a decidedly high-risk research proposal: what if your resurrection is a boring fool? Sure, I think it'd be neat to interview Hannibal or Twain or any number of folks from the past, I just think it might be a bad idea. Probably reading into the idea a bit much at this point...
Lonely Dissent

Actually, I think that historians would love to wake up random people from way back when, whether or not they were famous or influential at the time

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Lonely Dissent

Actually, I think that historians would love to wake up random people from way back when, whether or not they were famous or influential at the time

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Lonely Dissent

Actually, I think that historians would love to wake up random people from way back when, whether or not they were famous or influential at the time.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Lonely Dissent

Actually, I think that historians would love to wake up random people from way back when, whether or not they were famous or influential at the time.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Lonely Dissent

Actually, I think that historians would love to wake up random people from way back when, whether or not they were famous at the time.

1Alicorn11yYou have posted this several times; please delete the excess.