All of evolution-is-just-a-theorem's Comments + Replies

5namespace3yI literally don't even know if this is a real thing or not because I use GreaterWrong [].
Updates from Boston

We have at least one person who was part of Caltech culture for a while, so that is probably where we got it.

Success and Fail Rates of Monthly Policies

I am happy to have helped cause this post to exist.

2lionhearted3yThank you. I agree that people don't report back on techniques enough — and that successes contextualized around failures and experiments are particularly valuable.
Updates from Boston

Our first iteration had questions extremely similar to yours, actually. I believe we had rewordings of each of those questions.

I don't have a good idea of what made them work, because I only started participating after they'd started to decline. There was a lot of socializing that dragged down discussions, but even when we limited socializing I didn't notice any improvement.

Personally I'm skeptical of the entire endeavour. People claimed lots of positive effects, but then as soon as I tried to measure them they disappeared. I kind of su... (read more)

1malcolm.m.ocean3yI don't have statistical data on it, but it is generally my experience that doing weekly reviews causes me to choose new priorities for the week, that I wouldn't have chosen otherwise, and to the extent that those priorities are actually better, I then do them. One of the advantages of doing weekly reviews as part of Complice is that the review system is integrated with a system for intentionally doing things each day, so I suspect it means that any possibilities noticed are more likely to be followed through on. The integration isn't as good as it could be though, and we have some sketches of a UI that'll make it better. That'll be added sometime this year unless my priorities shift.
Updates from Boston

Habitica is an app for tracking habits and tasks, designed to mimic an RPG, including the part where players form parties.

Updates from Boston

(If you want the full list I'd need an email so I can share the relevant spreadsheet)

  • Schedule passport photo appointment
  • Order glasses
  • Set up account with Vanguard
  • Call insurance company
  • Set up password management system
  • Schedule dentist appointment
Updates from Boston

I might have represented these as more social than I intended? 3/8 (sprints, worksheets, and Sphex) are not inherently group-focused. We tend to do them in groups, but I've tried all three on my own and seen approximately the same results.

Still now that you point it out I think we (meaning the Boston community) are biasing ourselves towards generating group interventions. Will try a few rounds of generating purely individual interventions/techniques.

Updates from Boston

I think it's better to think about it on the question level:

  • There were a lot of questions ("What are you working on now", for instance) that received basically the same answer every time, so they were useless.
  • Some other questions ("What do you need to get off your plate") tended to receive the same answer every time, and they created an ugh field around the relevant thing by repeatedly reminding participants of their failure to do the thing.
  • Some questions were designed to catch rare-but-bad events ("Do you need to refill your
... (read more)
Updates from Boston

Maybe worth saying: I think of all of these as instrumental rationality outputs. They aren't meant to make people more rational, they're ideas a rational person might come up with in order to accomplish other goals.

2tcheasdfjkl3yI think these also work as rationality-by-example training. I think I've learned a mindset of looking for interventions like this largely by seeing people do this.
Blind Empiricism

From a software engineering perspective, your first founder is completely correct. The second you have something that runs you want to show it to users, because they're part of your feedback loop. You want to see how someone who knows nothing about your system will interact with it, whether they'll be able to use the interface, what new bugs they'll turn up with their fiddling, etc.

I wonder if perhaps the market research use of an MVP and the software engineering use have been confused, because they're both "the first time you show the product to users".

Inadequacy and Modesty

So why didn't the Bank of Japan print more money? If they didn't have an incentive one way or another I would expect them to cave to the political pressure, so what was the counter-incentive? Did they genuinely disagree and think that printing money was a bad idea? Were they reluctant to change policies because then they would look stupid?

Also I propose the "I can't do anything because doing something would be arrogant" attitude be termed modesty-paralysis.

4Rob Bensinger4yEliezer's account seems to be the one in his inflation target FAQ [] . In the above post, though, Eliezer isn't claiming to know of any strong reason for the Bank of Japan to be behaving this way; he's saying that the obvious incentives favoring competence aren't so strong that they allow us to make confident predictions one way or the other. He's sufficiently uncertain at the outset about how good their decision-making will be that he can take local evidence of poor decision-making more or less at face value, even without knowing the specifics of why they're behaving in this particular way. The key decisionmakers at the Bank of Japan might been vulnerable to any number of ideological commitments or epistemic missteps. They might have had respected colleagues or friends whose beliefs or esteem they especially valued, and who happened to skew toward bad views of monetary policy. It's surprising if someone is willing to forgo large financial incentives in order to look good to a handful of friends at dinner parties, but it's not so surprising if someone is willing to forgo looking good to one group of people in order to look good to another group.
7PeterMcCluskey4yScott Sumner suggests here that central banks worry about small risks that they'll need to be bailed out if their balance sheets get too large. (

Genuinely held austarity-type ideologies are popular among people who care a lot about central banking (possibly due to the great depression?), and I'm guessing that's what happened at the BoJ. It seems to be what happened in the US, which made similar mistakes, though less badly.