ErickBall

I am currently a nuclear engineer with a focus in nuclear plant safety and probabilistic risk assessment. I am also an aspiring EA, interested in X-risk mitigation and the intersection of science and policy.

Wiki Contributions

Comments

Epistemic Spot Check: Fatigue and the Central Governor Module

Following up on this because what I said about VO2 max is misleading. I've since learned that VO2 max is unusually useful as a measure of fitness specifically because it bypasses the problem of motivation. As effort and power output increase during the test, VO2 initially increases but then plateaus even as output continues to increase. So as long as motivation is sufficient to reach that plateau, VO2 max measures a physiological parameter rather than a combination of physiology and motivation.

What Do GDP Growth Curves Really Mean?

One could have picked even more extreme examples, like the triple product in nuclear fusion that has improved even faster than Moore's law yet has generated approximately zero value for society thus far.

Side note: this claim about the triple product only seems to have been true until about the early 90s. Since the early 2000s there have been no demonstrated increases at all (though future increases are projected). 

See here: https://www.fusionenergybase.com/article/measuring-progress-in-fusion-energy-the-triple-products

Lots of technologies advance rapidly at first, but Moore's Law was exceptional in terms of how long it continued even after massive research efforts had picked the low hanging fruit.

The Best Software For Every Need

I use Life Reminders for this on Android. One nice feature is that the notifications persist until you tell it the task is done (or tell it to sleep until later).

The Best Software For Every Need

I have used RemNote for a while but I am transitioning to notegarden.io. I find the memorization interface much nicer (nicer than Anki, too). Plus it's not so buggy, though part of that is it doesn't have as many features yet.

A whirlwind tour of Ethereum finance

Is there any use case for these over-collateralized loans other than getting leveraged exposure to token prices? (Or, like Vitalk did, retaining exposure to token prices while also using the money for something else?) So, for instance, if crypto prices stabilized long term, would the demand for overcollateralized loans disappear? Does anybody take out loans collateralized by stablecoins?

Reasonable ways for an average LW retail investor to get upside risk?

The Kelly criterion is intended to maximize log wealth. Do you think that's a good goal to optimize? How would your betting strategy be different if your utility function were closer to linear in wealth (e.g. if you planned to donate most of it above some threshold)?

Some Thoughts on My Psychiatry Practice

Totally agree about having weights at home. Besides the cost, one upside is there's no energy barrier to exercising--I can take a 1-minute break from browsing the web or whatever, do a set, and go back to what I was doing without even breaking a sweat. A downside is it's harder to get in the mindset of doing a full high-intensity workout for 45 minutes; but I think it's a good tradeoff overall.

(USA) N95 masks are available on Amazon

In practice the big difference is that KN95 masks generally have ear loops, while N95 masks have straps that go around the back of your head which makes them fit tighter and seal better against your face. Traditional N95 masks (but not the duckbill type discussed here) also have more structure and are less flexible, which might help with fit depending on your face shape.

Wholehearted choices and “morality as taxes”

I like this as a way to clarify my intuition. But I think (as some other commenters here and on the EA forum pointed out) it would help to extend it to a more realistic example.

So let's say instead of hearing a commotion by the river as I start my walk, I'm driving somewhere, and I come across a random stranger who was walking next to the road, and a car swerves over into the shoulder and is about to hit him. There's a fence so the pedestrian has no way to dodge. The only thing I can do is swerve my car into the other car to make it hit the fence and stop; this won't be dangerous to me or the other driver, but it will wreck both cars. And I'm pretty sure it will work. But my car will cost $5,000 to replace (let's leave insurance out of this hypothetical). Of course, I'll do it--the poor guy's life is at stake.

Then the next time I'm driving somewhere, I see this happen again. Would I do it the second time? I mean, yeah, probably. I technically can replace the car again, though it'll strain things a bit. But I'm definitely going to start thinking about the other factors involved. Why do so many pedestrians feel like they have to walk on this shoulder? Could nobody build a goddamn sidewalk? And why do the other drivers have such poor steering? They're obviously not trying to kill pedestrians but something has gone very, very wrong. The third time it happens, I think I'll keep driving, and start looking for more systematic solutions. Throwing money at the problem is clearly better than nothing, up to a point, but it doesn't seem like the best possible move.

100 Tips for a Better Life

Some people think that multivitamins are actually harmful (or at least cause harms that partially cancel out the benefits) because they contain large amounts of certain things like manganese that we may already get too much of from food.

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