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How to solve the argument about what the algorithm should do

It's an interesting idea, but I worry that it would only make these platforms more polarizing. I'm imagining a social justice recommender algorithm, which promotes the most extreme and censorious social justice positions, and maybe flags people taking not-so-woke positions (say against affirmative action) for unfriending/unfollowing. One could imagine something similar coming from the political right. And then these platforms become even more polarizing. 

Neurocryopreservation vs whole-body preservation

I'm somewhat confused about what the success scenario for neuro preservation looks like. Are we expecting future medical science to grow a new biological body? Are we expecting some kind of upload into a computer?

I have no particular knowledge of cryonics or even of biology or medicine. But I imagine that reviving the actual body that is frozen will be easier than either of the above scenarios, and will therefor happen centuries sooner than any mechanism for reviving a bodyless brain. If I am right, fewer centuries in a freezer is a lot less risk, fewer centuries where something could go wrong with that freezer. That seems like a strong argument for whole-body preservation.

If we are simply reviving frozen whole bodies, then what does the recovery process look like? For the first batch of people frozen and unfrozen, which is what we hope to be, might there be a months or years long process of physical therapy, learning to walk again, etc? If so, might that negate any benefit to the musician/etc of keeping the same hands? Might they have to re-learn their instrument (if they choose to) anyway?

These two lines of throught seem to push in opposite directions, and are both obviously highly speculative, but I'm curious what thoughts mingyaun or anyone else might have on them.

Circle Games

This post starts as a discussion of babies enjoying simple repetitive games and observes that for babies this is how they learn a skill. It then suggests that we should apply the same frame to understand adults who engage in seemingly maladaptive social behaviors, such as repetitive arguments, romantic drama, and being shocking to get attention. Finally, it gives several ideas of what might being happening in very abstract terms, in the language of machine learning. It fails to connect any of these abstract, machine-learning-type explanations to any of the examples of adult maladaptive behavior, or to consider ways in which human brains don't work like machine learning algorithms. Overall, the first half might work in a volume on children/parenting, the second half should be labeled as "epistemic status: speculative" and is probably not worth including.

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

The First Amendment and freedom of speech are NOT synonymous. The First Amendment is only one legal protection of free speech in one context. It is true that banning Trump from Twitter does not violate the First Amendment, but it is a violation of freedom of speech. We live in a world there the speech that used to occur as literal speech in public places, protected by the First Amendment, now occurs largely online on Twitter and Facebook and such. They fill the role of providing a medium for speech which used to be filled by the government, and we need to hold them to the same standards. 

You have also misconstrued the point of section 230. Section 230 says that platforms cannot be held laible for what users post, it is there to allow platforms to respect free speech, not to give them discretion not to.

It is true that smaller-scale entities like SSC or LW regulating content is not necessarily bad. There are thousands of blogs on the scale of LW or SSC, there is only one Twitter and one Facebook, and really nothing else on that scale. In order to have a healthy ecosystem for exchanging ideas, the larger platforms need to respect freedom of speech on their platforms, in the same way that the First Amendment requires of the government. How big does a platform need to be before it needs to respect freedom of speech? I don't know, there may be a gray area, but Twitter is definitely not in the gray area.

Some Thoughts on My Psychiatry Practice

This post is an observation about a difference between the patients in the doctor's prior practice dealing with poor Medicaid patients, and her current practice dealing with richer patients. The former were concerned with their relationships, the latter with their accomplishments. And the former wanted pills, the later often refused pills. And for these richer patients, refusing pills is a matter of identity - they want to be the type of people who can muddle through and don't need pills. They continue at jobs they hate, because they want to be the type of person who has that job. These richer patients are obviously more similar to LW readers.

In one sense this idea that people make decisions that cause suffering because of their attachment to identities, this has been observed for mellenia, most famously in Buddhism. This post simply makes the observation from a more scientific standpoint, from inside our community and epistemology. That is a contribution.

The author acknowledges that she isn't sure what the point of these observations is, and I wish she had written a follow up post on that. For me, I have certainly felt resistance to the idea of even talking to a mental health professional because of this same type of identity, not wanting to be the kind of person who needs that. Perhaps the point is that members of our community should be more open to the help of mental health professionals. Perhaps the point is that in a community where we pride ourselves on keeping our identities as small as possible, we ought not to identify as people who don't need professional mental health care in general or pills in particular.

Moral moralizing

define "moralizing". I'm not sure what it is you think we maybe shouldn't do.

I would also point out that professional ethicists are if anything worse than ordinary people. Professional ethicists are the ones who prevented most of the kinds of studies, like human challenge trials, that could have made this pandemic much less bad. 

Epistemic Warfare

Contract law could be much more workable, yes, especially if the contract specifies some private entity, not a judge, to be the arbiter of what is a lie.

Epistemic Warfare

You've misunderstood my claim. But since you want to go into the legal technicalities, let's go there. There actually was no majority opinion in US v. Alvarez. There was an opinion by Justice Kennedy for himself and three other justices, which talks a lot about content-based discrimination. The idea here is that lies are a subcategory of content-based discrimination. Suppose there is a statute prohibiting me from lying about how many chairs there are in this room, and I assert that there are three chairs in this room, when there are in fact only two. I have violated the statute. But had I made a different claim on the same topic, had I asserted that there are only two chairs in this room, I would not have violated the statute. That makes the statute content-based. 

The controlling opinion in US v. Alvarez is actually the opinion by Justice Breyer, not Justice Kennedy, and Justice Breyer more or less skips over the whole issue of whether it is content-based, but ends up applying strict scrutiny anyway. According to Justice Breyer's controlling opinion, regulations of false speech in areas that “would present a grave and unacceptable danger of suppressing truthful speech”, such as “philosophy, religion, history, the social sciences, the arts, and the like”, get strict scrutiny. Regulations of “false statements about easily verifiable facts that do not concern such subject matter” get intermediate scrutiny, which means they still might not be constitutional.

Both opinions recognize that there are a lot of specific categories of lies, such as perjury which you mention, that are generally thought to be proscribable, and which US v. Alvarez does not touch. Neither opinion suggests that these categories of lies are somehow content-neutral. Even for content-based regulations, courts then have to ask whether the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting the speech, and whether the prohibition is narrowly tailored to that compelling interest, before declaring a prohibition on speech unconstitutional. There are a variety of other exceptions to free speech that the Supreme Court has recognized over the years (defamation, true threats, incitement of imminent lawless action, etc.) The idea with many of the categories of presumably proscribable lies mentioned in US v Alvarez is that these categories of lies are proscribable because they generally cause significant harms, even though they are content-based. This is how Justice Breyer puts it: "I also must concede that many statutes and common-law doctrines make the utterance of certain kinds of false statements unlawful. Those prohibitions, however, tend to be narrower than the statute before us, in that they limit the scope of their application, sometimes by requiring proof of specific harm to identifiable victims; sometimes by specifying that the lies be made in contexts in which a tangible harm to others is especially likely to occur; and sometimes by limiting the prohibited lies to those that are particularly likely to produce harm." Since you mentioned perjury and lying to cops specifically, here is what Justice Breyer has to say about that: "Perjury statutes prohibit a particular set of false statements—those made under oath—while requiring a showing of materiality. See, e.g., 18 U. S. C. §1621. Statutes forbidding lying to a government official (not under oath) are typically limited to circumstances where a lie is likely to work particular and specific harm by interfering with the functioning of a government department, and those statutes also require a showing of materiality. See, e.g., §1001."

The point: US v. Alvarez actually is a serious impediment to any prohibition on lying aimed at improving the general epistemic environment of public debate, and for good reason: any such prohibition has to be enforced by the government, and allowing the government to decide what counts as a lie is a recipe for censorship. People like Donald Trump sometimes win elections, and do you want him deciding what counts as a lie and is therefor prohibited?

This argument about affidavits seems wrong to me too. I've never heard of an affidavit being used in a context where there wasn't the idea of the document being used in a court proceeding, and I'm not sure such a thing would be allowed. Can you please cite a particular statute that you think would allow a podcaster to legally bind himself with an affidavit? And if such a thing did become common, do you think courts would be willing to be the arbiters of which statements were true in podcasts, or do you think they would be unwilling to enforce what they would (rightly in my view) see as a misuse of a tool intended to protect only their own integrity? The latter seems much more likely to me.

Epistemic Warfare

US v. Alvarez doesn't make any distinction between prohibitions on lying that are content-based and prohibitions on lying that are content neutral. And I don't think you can make such a distinction, any prohibition on lying necessarily permits a person to assert the negation of whatever is prohibited, and would therefor necessarily be content-based.

It is certainly true that US v. Alvarez allows a lot of specific prohibitions on lying in contexts where there is concrete harm, I just took the post to be arguing for a broader prohibition on lying, a prohibition on all lying, which I think would be clearly unconstitutional under US v. Alvarez. Could we expand the contexts in which a legal prohibition applies? Possibly to some degree, but I don't think the very abstract metaphorical war that the post talks about would be a harm that any court would recognize, and I'm not sure the kinds of narrow prohibitions would address the posts concerns. 

Writing tools for tabooing?

A problem with any simple implementation, like editing the dictionary of your spell checker, is that you may want to taboo one meaning of a word but not another. For example, I try not to talk about privilege - the thing the oppressors are supposed to have and the oppressed do not have. However, I have no objection to talking about privilege - the thing where certain relationships (attorney/client, doctor/patient, etc) create an exception to the general duty to testify when subpoenaed.

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