All of frelkins's Comments + Replies


"Cynicism is fundamentally about self-defense from future pain"

I find this confusing. Aren't cynics actually Idealists? That is, their fundamental position is that there is Virtue to be found once the falsity of fame, power, wealth, vanity, and pomp are cast aside? They don't seem to be defending themselves from pain, rather the almost seem to seek it - that's why they wandered homeless like wild dogs (cynic, from cyne, Greek for dog) or at best lived unwashed in barrels?


"read to me like a self-satisfied expression of condescension towards an audience so naive as to expect some justice in this world"

Tyrell, actually it appears a standard part of the traditional African folktale formula. Remember, most folktales were not told in private settings. African folktales were traditionally told by people with social performance/storyteller roles at public events. African folktales often end with a similar "proverb" and a statement by the story teller that the tale is done, and discussion of the moral ca... (read more)


Because we in the West also say "no good deed goes unpunished," we do not mean that one shouldn't do good deeds, or that the failure of others to correctly respect good deeds is a fact of life that should cause us to throw up our hands and collapse gloomily at the unchanging evils of the world. Rather it is an ironic statement in sympathy with the person whose good deed was unrewarded, to show that we recognize ourselves the goodness of good deeds, unlike those other nasty monkeys who aren't "nice."


What? Of course it is a r... (read more)

EY I think you completely misinterpret the meaning of this important story:

". . .one of the most pervasive features of [African] tales: the use of them as a discussion of how to act correctly. . . This is the way of the small community worldwide, for the well-being of the group resides in the sharing of this kind of [moral] knowledge, through which family and friendship obligations are woven into the web of community.

This process of engagement, of using moral tales to open rather than close off discussion, is precisely the modus operandi of a group of... (read more)


"Nearly all people for thousands of years thought it was perfectly all right to keep slaves"

And many still do today - for example, Shari'a endorses slavery. Our Western values are far from universal and cannot be taken for granted.


"if there is a reason to expect human rightness to be in some sense coherent"

Alas there probably is not. Sir Isaiah Berlin speaks powerfully and beautifully of this so-called values pluralism in his book Liberty.

There are several ironies - if not outright tragedies - of life and this is one: that we don't want what we want to want, and that the things we think we ought to want often conflict with each other as well as our underlying motives. We are not in charge of ourselves and we are mysterious to our own hearts. Men and women are conflicted and, due to evolution, conflict.

@Mike Blume

"On Firefly, Kaylee is beautiful, has an above-female-average sex drive, and falls in love with the introverted, socially awkward intellectual character - isn't she exactly the sort of catgirl most male sci-fi fans would want?"

No. That would certainly freak the nerd out. M. Vassar and I have several times discussed this problem - nerds seem to integrate their low status, so often if any even half-decent skirt shows an interest in them they reject instantly, thinking "wow, I know I'm a loser, so you must be worse to like me." Nerds would do better to uncoil from the defensive crouch of that identity ASAP.


I think nerds fantasize about women being more like men psychologically in the sense of them being the ones who take initiative and risk loss of face in courtship.

Economic weirdtopia . . .after the Ultimate Crash of 2105, the best ems got together and created a new universal atomic currency, based on not just on gold, but on reserves of quark-gluon plasma made from gold nuclei in deference to mankind's historical preferences.

Sexual weirdtopia. . .since death is over through nanotechology or uploading into perfect android bodies you can get on a 3-year-lease, there's no need for birth. If ems want to create a new being from themselves, they just copy different brain modules from the catalog and create the perfect &qu... (read more)

@Eli "Ben Franklin, say" Franklin is probably the best person to come to the here - it's very well-known he wished to preserve his body in Madeira so he could be revived to see the future, yes? Plus if you've actually read any of his letters and other writing, you see how much more flexible his mind was than just anyone you have ever met. My impression is that he would find today less shocking than probably 75% of those who live now do.

"talking about science in public is socially unacceptable" This is already true in many places around ... (read more)


My understanding of the disagreement appears different than Eli's. My impression is that the core of the disagreement lies in Robin's statement:

"This history of when innovation rates sped up by how much just doesn't seem to support your claim that the strongest speedups are caused by and coincide with new optimization processes, and to a lesser extent protected meta-level innovations"

The fwoom!, god-to-rule-us-all, and issues around models all seem to me to fall out of this contention.

After the discussion around the disagreement, I gave H... (read more)

@Doug S


Stuck!?!? Tiresias is said to have enjoyed his time as a woman: "Of ten parts a man enjoys one only." Ahem.


Thank you for such an honest telling of your perspective. It's very moving. I embrace you.

"that gendered behavior is hard-wired into the brain at birth"

Eli I think here is very careful to say "genes on your Y chromosome that tweaked your brain to some extent" - note the some, he avoids speculating as to how much - and uses the term "emotional architecture" as well as correctly in his comments distinguishing between the terms sex and gender. As a cisgendered F, I hope you will accept my word that Eli is scrupulous in hi... (read more)

@Doug S


Gwern is referring to the famous story by Borges, Funes the Memorious, I believe. It's in Ficciones.



It's no curse to be a girl, honestly.


"If you want to try being female for a while"

I mean, if anyone wants to check it out, just try Second Life. Most guys who try it tho' in my experience scarcely last a day - if you think it's hard to talk to girls as a guy, try to see if you can manage to talk to girls as a girl - they flunk the shoe chatter and reveal themselves quickly.

I know only two who are convincing for more than a couple of hours in regular conversation - and one of them is a filmmaker who writes screenplays for a living, which is how he learned to really "hear" and create feminine dialog.

@Toby Ord

It seems to me that Eli is interested in the known branch of anthropology known as ludology, or game studies. The first ludologist I ever knew of was the eminent philosopher Sir Michael Dummett of Oxford, an amazing, diverse guy. The history of playing cards is one of his specialties, and he has written 2 books on them.

Games can be silly (apparently the only truly universal game is peekaboo - why is that?) or profund (go). They of course are intriguing for what they say about culture, history, innate human ethics, their use of language, their uniq... (read more)



Forgive me, I don't see how any of your list displays overclocking, or increased speed.

I was speaking just Friday to a shrink acquaintance of mine on the subject of Asbergers. He in fact argues these autism spectrum disorders are due to underclocking and poor brain region synchronization, as based on recent discoveries from brain imaging studies. That is, austism spectrum people may have a lot of stuff up there, and parts of it may seem overconnected, but those links seem weak and underperforming, while other parts of the brai... (read more)

This post has got me thinking about my after-froze/after-upload career path. Hmm. Great! I think I've now found 3. So now when I retire, I know what to pursue to improve my odds of adapting successfully later.

On TV addiction:

"Recent studies have found that 2 to 12 percent of viewers see themselves as addicted to television: they feel unhappy watching as much as they do, yet seem powerless to stop themselves."

-- NY Times

"On average, people have 35 to 40 hours a week of discretionary time and spend about 21 hours near the tube. The [University of Maryland] study found that the happiest people estimated they tuned in to television 18.9 hours a week. For the least happy, it was nearly 25 hours a week.

The study, published in the December issue of the ... (read more)


"Instead of winning by being the best female monkey"

Girlworld isn't like that, Patri. Isn't that guyworld you're describing? I don't have be the best skirt monkey at all to "win," if you consider what my chick definition of winning is. "Being the best" is what male monkeys need to be - the gorilla troupe's got only 1 alpha silverback.

Whereas all I need to be is just high enough in the harem hierarchy that the silverback will do me when I solicit him and I have enough social support among my female relatives to raise his ... (read more)

You're assuming humans are polygynous. But in terms of observed behavior... we're actually pretty close to monogamous (with a side of polygyny occasionally thrown in). Hate to break it to you, but female humans also have to compete pretty hard for mates.


"For every rule within your company, you may not know the person who decided on that rule, and have no realistic way to talk to them about the effects of that rule on you."

Which is one reason I run the prediction market. Corporate markets, once they take strong root, can change the organization, just as Robin predicted. It takes a little time though.

"Angelina Jolie"

Someone has to sit on top of the female monkey hierarchy, Eli. We really don't care who it is, or if we meet her, as long as we can kind of relate to her somehow and unde... (read more)

"please please slow all this change down"

No way no how. Bring the change on, baby. Bring.It.On.

For those who complain about being on your toes all the time, I say take ballet.

Also, think of all the millions of children you're killing because we didn't cure their diseases fast enough.

@Doug S

Rickrolling is bad for you. It is really is. It devalues your online social currency - the internet is a link economy, right? - and causes people to trust your information less. Trust is the ultimate value, not only in the stock market but also in social networking.

Eli, really - rickrolling!


"wouldn't at all claim that uploading can't increase the value and meaning of life."

Despite the confusing-to-some negative form of phrasing here, my impression that is I do in fact understand your position on this. However, the woman on Sunday believed she was arguing against you. This was exactly why I used this example here in Imaginary Positions, sorry if it seemed unclear to you.

My impression is that many people who do not regularly read OB with care come across your ideas in other places where they may not be well-stated, for example i... (read more)


"flip the switch in the brain"

I guess you mean undo the oxytocin & vasopressin effects that caused pair bonding? Get that old dopamine, adrenaline & serotonin flowing wild & free, or whatever the ultimate mechanism is proven to be? I suppose we could give men little vials of vasopressin suppressors to inject themselves with so that it would "feel new" each time?

Evolution appears to totally suck. As a man, you want it somewhat new (vasopressin suppression) but as a woman, I actually like it better when it's not n... (read more)

"long-term couples have to go to such lengths to prevent sexual boredom"

On this subject I generally remark that if you are so bored, then you are 1 - living and sleeping with the wrong person and/or 2 - not communicating your sexual and emotional needs well. That you might communicate them well but they are not heard or acted upon takes you back to 1. If you are communicating well, and with the right person: wow. It can be wow all the time.


"The chances that average frozen body would be tried to be restored are close to zero too."

Hmm. There is still great interest in Oetzi, yes?


I think Alec Greven may be your man. Or perhaps like Lucy van Pelt I should set up office hours offering Love Advice, 5 cents?


FOOM (actually, it should be FWOOM!) is onomatopoeia for the sound of flash ignition - imagine filling your oven with gas and then tossing in a match - FWOOM! Also in video games it's often the sound your head makes when it explodes.

I believe it's Robin's humor to designate the "feeling" of the hard takeoff, and humanity's social reaction to such major sudden change.


Understand that she feels like "That's me in the spotlight." There's a lot of social pressure, as we see here - her choice seems to endanger them, too. It will take her a while to be able to stand under her own tree and just sing.

Jo, I suggest you start with Kierkegaard's Fear & Trembling. Then see how you feel.


"But consciousness is not an object; it's the subject, that by which objects are perceived. Trying to apply rules about objects to it is a category error"

Yes I agree, Jaron appears to argue as a neo-Kantian, a la Thomas Nagel. This is an intellectually respectable position. Robin has called Nagel excellent.


If we were rational in good faith and sought truth, wouldn't we all have moved closer to Jaron? Otherwise, what are we?

@Tim Tyler

Let's just bite the bullet. We all know better. In the spirit of Robin's talk, why didn't EY & Jaron agree? Why didn't either one move?

Crucially, why have we, the observers of the disaster, not moved? To repeat myself from the open thread: what's wrong with us? What's wrong with me?


I wouldn't say Jaron thinks the discussion is "silly." He has several rather stark differences with EY, which he makes clear. First, it's obvious - and he basically comes out and says so - that he doesn't regard EY as a humanist.

EY at one point is forced to plaintively protest "But I'm a humanist!" It's clear they have differing definitions of humanism, and also as to what constitutes "knowability" in epistemology. That's clear from the beginning.

It also seems clear that Jaron has a different idea of free will than EY, al... (read more)

With all due respect and truly no offense meant, I worry some commenters here may be missing Jaron's position. He quickly appears to conclude that he cannot really discuss any issues with EY because they don't even share the same premises. He makes this clear early on in his points on humanism and epistemology.

Jaron's laughter seems largely the laughter of frustrated politesse. This comes out in his speech when he repeats to EY "I've been having this discussion for decades." He appears to feel that his thinking has moved on, but EY's may be stuck... (read more)

In short, Freddie, EY appears largely to have a correspondence theory of truth.

Plus Wilkinson is hilarious. Sick & twisted sense of humor. Excellent!

I grow more interested in the ideas of William James on this subject. Statements such as:

The passing Thought itself is the only verifiable thinker
Thought is a passing thought that incessantly remembers previous thoughts and appropriates some of them to itself
There is a "judging Thought" that identifies and owns some parts of the stream of consciousness while disowning others
The next moment another Thought takes up the expiring Thought and appropriates it. It binds the individual past facts with each other and with itself.
In this way, what ho... (read more)

Thinking seriously about this, I'm wondering how - over time by which I mean more than 2 hours - either Stockholm or Lima syndrome could be avoided. In fact, won't one actually morph into the other over a long enough time? Either way will result in eventual AI success. The assumption that the AI is in fact the "captive" may not be correct, since it may not have an attachment psychology.

The gatekeeper just can't ever be one human safely. You'd need at least a 2-key system, as for nuclear weapons, I'd suggest.

Now that the shorting ban is over, the question is did it work? Did it help? Or did it just power-drive the market even lower as traders abandoned longs they would have otherwise kept? And did really increase transaction costs by more than 40%?

@eric falkenstein

"solving little problems"

But you know eric, solving the seemingly little problem often illuminates a great natural principle. One of my favorite examples of this is Huygens, when down with the flu, suddenly noticing how the pendulums of his clocks always ended up swinging against each other. Such a tiny thing, how important could it be? Yet in the end so-called coupled oscillation is everywhere from lasers to fireflies. Never underestimate the power of the small insight.

Gentlemen - Let me propose that the heart of serious intellectual achievement is synthesis, creativity, simplicity.

These are factors that actually increase with age and are not "IQ" or "g" driven. In fact I believe Edward de Bono argued that creativity drops at IQ 125 or so: maybe because people begin to fall into an "expert trap," where they have to maintain their previous work and expert status more than anything else.

Creativity need not decline with age at all - if you can avoid common habit errors.

My objection to Vassar... (read more)

Why make the assumption at all, and much less so blatantly, that women are not reading your messages or posting on this site?


Um, think prediction market? Isn't Intrade already running contracts on bank failure & the bailout? But it seems like what you want is a policy market. . .in which case you've come to the right place. . .


"Nobody actually says things like "70% probability the sky is green."

I do, all the time, because I run a prediction market. So far it's been right 57 out of 60 times. The market's ability to say 70% that [insert key business metric] is [insert major corporate strategy] allows management to make very valuable decision trees. Highly recommended.

"But if it comes up heads 100 times, it's taking you too long to notice"

Ros. Heads. (He puts it in his bag. The process is repeated.) Heads. (Again.) Heads. (Again.) Heads. (Again.) Guil. (Flipping a coin) There is an art to the building of suspense. Ros. Heads. Guild. (Flipping another) Though it can be done by luck alone. Ros. Heads. Guil. If that's the word I'm after. Ros. (Raises his head) 76! (Guil gets up but has nowhere to go. He spins the coin over shoulder without looking at it.) Heads Guil. A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his... (read more)

Might want to reformat that, looks like markdown did you in.


I hear your cry. I take you seriously and have no interest in insulting you. If you think this is an issue for you, may I suggest you consider a neurologist? Have you ever had a brain scan? There are many kinds of temporal lobe events, and you may benefit from diagnosis and possibly treatment. You may find relief with Tegretol or a similar agent.

Of course you know what your wife is imagining: you know her well and are obviously adept at reading her subconscious facial and body cues. Many of us often know what our friends are thinking, but I assure you ... (read more)


"- my tentative analogy between mathematical objects and supernatural entities"

By the Chair of Jacob Klein! That part. Right there. No. The Eide are not that. The Eide are what thinking thinks about, the Forms (Eide) the Mind (Nous) Shines (phaino) Upon. They are "seen" only in the light of the intellect. Supernatural entities - I guess you mean ghosts or souls or such - are not. . .ack! English sucks sometimes. . .

This is very difficult, as English doesn't have good terms to equal the Greek. German might be better. WTF. Ghosts ... (read more)

The possibility that many "paranormal" or "psi" experiences are caused by undiagnosed or transient temporal lobe disorders should not be overlooked. Epilepsy is still poorly understood, underdiagnosed, and misdiagnosed. These "supernatural" things could be caused by natural but unusual brain states.

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