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Diseased disciplines: the strange case of the inverted chart

Strictly speaking these are bar charts rather than histograms, aren't they?

The Human's Hidden Utility Function (Maybe)

As a first reaction (and without being read up on the details), I'm very skeptical. Assuming these three systems are actually in place, I don't see any convincing reason why any one of them should be trusted in isolation. Natural selection has only ever been able to work on their compound output, oblivious to the role played by each one individually and how they interact.

Maybe the "smart" system has been trained to assign some particular outcome a value of 5 utilons, whereas we would all agree that it's surely and under all circumstances worth more than 20, because as it happens throughout evolution one of the other "dumb" systems has always kicked in and provided the equivalent of at least 15 utilons. If you then extract the first system bare and naked, it might deliver some awful outputs.

What Curiosity Looks Like

At least for me, I've found that studying some machine learning has kind of broadened my perspectives on rationality in general. Even if we humans don't apply the algorithms that we find in machine learning textbooks ourselves, I still find it illuminating to study how we try make machines perform rational inference. The field also concerns itself with more general, if you will philosophical questions relating to e.g. how to properly evaluate the performance of predictive agents, the trade-off between model complexity and generality and the issue of overfitting. These kind of questions are very general in nature and should probably be of some interest to students of any kind of learning agents, be they human or machine.

Drawing Less Wrong: Overview of Skills, and Relevance to Rationality

I'm still not convinced that drawing has any real relevance to rationality. To me drawing seems to mostly involve unconscious motor learning that does not generalize much to other domains. For most rationality related purposes I don't see any major difference from other motor-based, practice-requiring skills such as juggling, playing golf, playing an instrument or patting-your-head-while-rubbing-your-stomach.

Sure, in some sense you will have to "see reality, as it truly is", and sure "your model of reality will be flawed, and you'll need to fix it", but I think this is in a sense that is only trivially analogous to what we usually talk about when we talk rationality, and I think the same statements could be made about the other motor skills mentioned above. When you practice these kinds of skills some parts of your brain/body do develop better models of reality, but it doesn't seem like those parts are particularly conscious or that what these parts have learned will benefit other parts much.

I don't know much about the neuroscience of learning, but my own experience with these kinds of skills is that you simply get better by repeated practice and that the underlying basis for the improvement is highly unconscious and hidden away somewhere in the structure of whatever neural systems deal with these kind of motor activities. Your muscle memory is developing a better model of reality, but your muscle memory is probably very disconnected from whatever parts of your brain deal with rationality in the traditional LW sense (which of course is not necessarily conscious). Placing drawing in the same bucket as "grokking quantum physics or abandoning a religion" seems very far-fetched to me. My guess is that the underlying cognitive structures are very different.

Existential Risk

The link for "Countdown to Zero" points to the wrong place (I presume).

Rationality Quotes November 2011

You can't make a movie and say 'It was all a big accident' - no, it has to be a conspiracy, people plotting together. Because in a story, a story is about intention. A story is not about spontaneous order or complex human institutions which are the product of human action but not of human design - no, a story is about evil people plotting together.

Meetup : Stockholm meetup

Yeah sure, that's cool with me. We could also decide on the train for the way back (if you're going back), though SJ's site is down for maintenance at the moment. Anyhow I'll send you my contact info by PM.

Get genotyped for free ( If your IQ is high enough)

I think "Get genotyped for free" would work, I don't know how many people will not fully understand what is meant but it'd be hard to come up with something else without getting non-snappy.

Meetup : Stockholm meetup

I will come - I'm in Uppsala currently but I'll take the train down there.

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