All of gattsuru's Comments + Replies

Y Couchinator

I would caution that in many states -- including California -- the law specifically prohibits waiver of some tenant rights. Even where not prohibited, such waivers can be challenged easily and, even if that challenge is unsuccessful, will be both extremely expensive and time-consuming.

That style of worst-case scenario is unlikely, but it's something to be very aware about.

January 2016 Media Thread

Abrams's style of movie-making is unbearably light and facile, to the point where blowing up multiple planets doesn't even register emotionally - and how did that particular scene even make sense? does this whole movie take place in a single solar system or something?

The Starkiller Base is described as a hyperspace weapon, while the target locations were (supposedly) all in one location, and Expanded Universe physics allow bleedoff of energy or physical interaction between objects moving within hyperspace and normal space (though never for anything inte... (read more)

Snape's knowledge of valence shells

It's possible that he read it from Harry's mind. Snape is a powerful legilimens, does not believe that anything is cheating when he has to win, Harry had no protection or even deep knowledge of the technique, had to have been thinking of the answer, and hadn't thought to avert his gaze until later.

That said, Severus is more in tune with the Muggle world than most others in the setting, and in Chapter 61 we see Dumbledore treat him as an expert source on muggle technology :

"Severus?" the old wizard said. "What was it actually?" "

... (read more)
Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice"

So that's an argument for why it would be better if life were fair.

If the experienced observations were to look different. Stuck with the universe we've got, though...

Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice"

I don't see what this quote is supposed to mean, besides a deep-wisdomy way of saying that you don't want to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

Ah, it's not really about locus of control: the context is destitute people falling ill due to contaminated food. It's more about situations where bad things happen that are not readily controlled or avoided due to lack of knowledge or circumstance.

The point of the quote is that it is no more comforting to be Job, and to have your family killed and everything taken from you because it is a... (read more)

0seer6ySo that's an argument for why it would be better if life were fair.
Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice"

Robertson doesn't strike me as a particularly scholarly thinker, but even less well-thought religious folk have confronted the problems of evil and tragedy. The story of Job is a common subject of discussion in churches and among religious folk, and it's always framed as horrible things happened to Job because of his belief in a deity and because of the deity. Christians aren't unused to the concept of bad things happened because of their faith rebounding on them.

He's fantasizing about the outside world giving 'indisputable proof' of external morality. ... (read more)

0DanArmak6yMany religious traditions believe just this. Bad things are punishments from God. When bad things (with no human cause) happen to someone, that proves they sinned.
-2seer6yI don't see what this quote is supposed to mean, besides a deep-wisdomy way of saying that you don't want to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120

Also, whether Harry intended it or not, he gave two separate choices: whether Harry should stay away entirely, and whether Harry should be a friend that does not manipulate or risk harming Draco ever again. At least to some extent, Draco's refusal to respond reflects a disjoint answer to both questions, and has invited Harry to remain a friend that may manipulate or harm Draco for his own good.

I think the spirit of Draco's response is closer to 'jesus christ I'm not dealing with this shit right now, could you have possibly picked a worse time' than to 'I give you permission to manipulate me without my knowledge forever, let's be BFFs'.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120

Crouch, Nott, or Jugson, though I'd guess the latter more heavily -- Jugson's constantly in the center of the blood-purist aligned factions during one of the battle games, and mentioned as Dumbledore's example of a powerful Death Eater with a seat on the Wizengamot, as well.

Mr. White was selected for a particularly humiliating and harmful process, and coincidentally Quirrelmort had wanted to harm Lucius badly on the scale of framing him for attempted murder of his own son, and there's a pretty clear connection.

2TobyBartels6yIronic that the canon Wikia says that it's not even known whether Jugson was free or an Azkaban escapee! Eliezer has certainly made him a much more significant character.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119

Possible, but Dumbledore's discussions of death and mortality in chapter 39 seemed like he was trying to avoid becoming Harry's Mentor/Opponent -- ie, if he were trying to manipulate Harry with this deep emotional reveal, he'd have done so in a different way. He continues to treat death as a normal matter in chapter 110, even though he doesn't believe Harry to be nearby and does believe that the only listener will not be able to communicate his position to Harry, and Quirrelmort says that he'd expoused such positions long before he had access or cause to access the hall of prophecies.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119

Dumbledore is fundamentally Deathist, and not only has he personally been locked out of mortality by his own trap, several of his interventions (most obviously killing a pet rock) were less related to making Harry oppose Voldemort effectively, and more into making Harry the sort of person that would promote transhumanist ideas including anti-Deathism.

1drethelin6yDo we know that? Like we just got a reveal that HUGE portions of his life and actions were based on deliberately obfuscating what he believed and wanted to do.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119

In this setting, there are things you avoid learning even if you're higher status than the secret-keeper. Some secrets are dangerous even to the listener.

I suspect Mrs. Bones includes anything rising from a fragment of Voldemort's torn soul, whether the trick that decapitated dozens or revived an ancient dark lord, in that set. Part of the reason she distrusts Harry is that she believe he's an eleven-year-old struggling with a dark spirit -- which gives him a comparative advantage of knowing what evils needs must be kept under wraps

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119

I find it funny that Dumbledore's efforts to subvert prophecies for his own ends resulted in something directly opposed to his claimed values. I wonder if that's a direct attribute of prophecy, or just coincidence, or both.

1drethelin6yWhat's the something? He seems to have successfully caused Harry to defeat Voldemort
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

He'd just been attacked by a magical source that disarmed his weapons at the wrists, was cast wordlessly and without wand motions, and did not leave an obvious bolt to block. This is probably a bad time to show off.

At a deeper level, Voldemort (and Mad-Eye Moody) favor a combat philosophy of dodging, under the quite reasonable realization that there are a large number of spells that can overwhelm shields or are unblockable.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118

The Officials involved have believed Quirrel to be David Monroe for a long time (chapter 84), that seems to have become the Official Story over the last couple days, and Mad-Eye Moody knew that Quirrelmort should have been fired out of a cannon into a sun as soon as he took the Defense position, so they've been asking questions and taking the first reasonable answer for a while.

I'm fully expected Moody to dive through a door with stunners flying, yelling "Not paranoid enough!" because /someone/ didn't expect door transfiguration, but most of the other people involved have already gotten suspicious and had their suspicions allayed.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117

Then he'd be an eleven-year old surrounded by bleeding but live adult Death Eaters, and with only (and specifically) two tourniquets, with no easy way to get them medical attention or stun them.

There's ways to incapacitate them less lethally, but you'd need to think a little further outside of the box, and they're not really compatible with MoR!Harry's outlook nor the narrative progression.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117

We have strong evidence suggesting that bringing people back to life is possible in this setting, and turning wizards into the same person except not-magic is possible. It does not require God-like powers, or even as much investment as bringing them back to life as magical beings, so much as it requires MoR!Harry to have been more invested in his ethics.

Of course, if he were, then they'd probably not have needed to die in the first place.

On the other hand... According to various world clocks, 37 people die every 15 seconds. I'm not so heavily into the ef... (read more)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117

In a search for kindness, not using cloistered information for personal advantage, and low tendency for factionalism, "child of a Death Eater" is a pretty hard constraint.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117

Quirrel had seen Harry use /Diffendo/ on some trees, and later that the trees have been cut. He was unconscious (and in an extradimensional bag) when Harry had cut through the wall in Azkaban, and only saw a cut circle of wall. He may not have known that Harry had anything up his sleeve more complicated than a Cutting Charm; he certainly had no reason to believe that Harry could wordlessly transfigure the tip of his wand into well over a hundred feet of braided carbon nanotubes. Quirrelmort has never seen -- only Dumbledore, Hermoine, and Professor McGo... (read more)

3Val6yIndeed. Harry saying that he has the capability to kill everyone present did not frighten Voldemort. Had Harry said he has the capability to incapacitate everyone present, then Voldemort (even if he were almost sure Harry was wrong) would have shot him with his gun instantly.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

It's implied that more experienced wizards and witches can freely transfigure objects at a range, but Harry can't do that. However, even without Partial Transfiguration, objects that have been joined together can be transmuted as a whole (see chapter 28, with a wand touching one part of an object and converting parts into different components. We've also seen transfiguration operate differently on different components of a system. Once Harry has stuck spider-silk between his wand and a Death Eater, he can convert components of the Death Eater as easily ... (read more)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

What are you talking about here?

In Chapter 16, Quirrelmort instructed the class in a very simple hex that caused a small amount of pain and no lasting harm called Ma-Ha-Su. He then selects three students, Hermoine, Draco, and Harry Potter, and then requires them to select a student and fire Ma-Ha-Su at them, taking Quirrel and later House points for non-compliance. The comparisons to the Millgram Experiments become explicit in chapter 63. Hermoine refuses, Draco fires on Hermoine, and Harry fires on himself.

Harry explicitly beats Quirrelmort's plans,... (read more)

2Ben Pace6yThat was very interesting, thanks.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

Is that what we've seen presented so far?

Dumbledore won during the Battle of the Three Armies. His assault on Azkaban would have gotten him killed (and more seriously, set back his efforts by years) for a stupid communication error, were Harry not willing to risk his own life and invent new magic to save the man. Hermoine outlasted several hours of the Defense Professor's most aggressive psychological attacks possible, using fairly basic deontology. His 'lesson plan' with Ma-Ha-Su in Chapter 16 was bluntly stupid, even if Harry hadn't used the easy way ... (read more)

I think this is a great comment, but could you please expand on two points?

His 'lesson plan' with Ma-Ha-Su in Chapter 16 was bluntly stupid, even if Harry hadn't used the easy way out.

What are you talking about here?

And also

he's running on distilled Command Push

What does this mean?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

MoR!Harry's opposition to killing has always been more of a philosophical objection than an instinctual one, foreshadowed heavily back in chapters 7, 10, and 16. Given the effects of Voldemort's alterations to his brain during youth, depending on your idea of identity this not the typical situation of confronting the psychological cost of taking life.

Ironically, non-lethal transfiguration was probably available, even if Harry wouldn't or couldn't think of it -- there's no restriction to, say, converting people's blood into propofol or methohexital, for ex... (read more)

1buybuydandavis6yFree transfiguration requires wand contact with the object, right? Seems a little arbitrary at the quantum level, but I think that prevents Harry from just transfiguring someone's blood from afar.
1TobyBartels6yNow, why didn't you suggest this during the exam!?
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

It's not been explicitly confirmed, but given the similarity in forms to later notes signed Santa (and confirmed to be Dumbledore), the note's writer claiming the Cloak was freely given by Harry's father, and the explicit warning against letting Dumbledore see the Cloak, it's very likely that Dumbledore gave Harry the Cloak as in canon.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

Dumbledore gave Harry a pack of cards that had portkey functionality, under the name Santa Claus and claiming that they were a portkey to Salem, but instead heading to a location somewhere in London. Harry gave them back for further investigation, thinking that they might be a trap, Dumbledore took them back but didn't activate the portkey.

It's possible that this was just a short reference, meant to establish Dumbledore's steps of trust in parallel to the gift of the Cloak of Invisibility, and that Harry did not retrieve the portkey and Dumbledore did not... (read more)

0BrindIf6yBy the way, who gave the Cloak to Harry?
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

So there is no defense against Obliviation that Voldemort could have prepared for himself?

With perfect sight toward the future, perhaps he could have. It's far from convincing that it would have actually helped, without blocking thirty other vulnerabilities.

Obliviation's particularly interesting because it requires no upkeep, but it's far from the only thing that would bypass Horcruxes. Voldemort's just as vulnerable to being repeatedly stunned, to petrification (hence the murder of the basilisk), to transfiguration, to the Imperius, to pretty much an... (read more)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115

Interesting. I wonder ifHarry just killed Sirius. I suppose that's not exactly the most important thing from a shut-up-and-multiply perspective, but it might also explain an additional reason why Harry avoids looking (and finding information about) something he may change later with the use of a time turner.

Also, no reference to a certain pack of cards yet.

9Nornagest6yMr. Counsel is probably Lucius Malfoy, too. I imagine Draco's not going to be too happy about that.
1Jost6yWasn’t that resolved in chapter 79?
1linkhyrule56yPack of cards?
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112

Before Harry shot at him, Voldemort was cursed to be unable to threaten Harry's immortality, and given the several times he's found himself getting wrong answers to questions previously, I don't think he was certain Harry would have betrayed him even with such a convenient que. So that covers anything that happens before Harry fires the gun.

After that point... I think he's trying to cover his bases. That he set up such a ploy to enable him to kill Harry means that he's likely at least going to try. But that's not the only Winning move, and it's a Winnin... (read more)

Don't think the curse actually enforces oaths, just ensures that you're telling the truth at the time you said it.

Besides, Voldemort, from his point of view, isn't harming Hermione - since, after all, he just went ridiculously out of his way to make sure she wouldn't care.

Stupid Questions December 2014

What is your threat model?

An attacker creates a large number of nodes and overwhelms any signal in the initial system.

For the specific example of a reddit-based forum, it's trivial for an attacker to make up a sizable proportion of assigned reputation points through the use of sockpuppets. It is only moderately difficult for an attacker to automate the time-consuming portions of this process.

I also don't think there's a good solution to sockpuppetry short of mandatory biometrics.

10% of the problem is hard. That does not explain the small amount of... (read more)

1alienist6yLimit the ability of low karma users to upvote.
1Lumifer6yYou seem to want to build a massive sledgehammer-wielding mech to solve the problem of fruit flies on a banana. So the attacker expends a not inconsiderable amount of effort to build his sockpuppet army and achieves sky-high karma on a forum. And..? It's not like you can sell karma or even gain respect for your posts from other than newbies. What would be the point? Not to mention that there is a lot of empirical evidence out there -- formal reputation systems on forums go back at least as far as early Slashdot and y'know? they kinda work. They don't achieve anything spectacular, but they also tend not have massive failure modes. Once the sockpuppet general gains the attention of an admin or at least a moderator, his army is useless. You want to write a library which will attempt to identify sockpuppets through some kind of multifactor analysis? Sure, that would be a nice thing to have -- as long as it's reasonable about things. One of the problems with automated defense mechanisms is that they can be often used as DOS tools if the admin is not careful. That still actually is the case for Twitter and FB.
Stupid Questions December 2014

What's wrong with a username/password combo (besides all the usual things) or, if you want to get a bit more sophisticated, with having the user generate a private key for himself?

In addition to the usual problems, which are pretty serious to start with, you're relying on the client. To borrow from information security, the client is in the hands of the enemy. Sockpuppet (sybil in trust networks) attacks, where entity pretends to be many different users (aka sockpuppets), and impersonation attacks, where a user pretends to be someone they are not, are... (read more)

0Lumifer6yYes, of course, but if we start to talk in these terms, the first in line is the standard question: What is your threat model? I also don't think there's a good solution to sockpuppetry short of mandatory biometrics. Why not? The trade-off is in the details of how much reputation matters. There is a large space between reputation being just a number that's not used anywhere and reputation determining what, how, and when can you post. Attack? Again, threat model, please. Not if you can trivially easy block/ignore them which is the case for Twitter and FB.
Stupid Questions December 2014

what is it that you authenticate? Do you mean trust in the same sense as "web of trust" in PGP-type crypto systems?

For starters, a system to be sure that a user or service is the same user or service it was previously. Web of trusts /or/ a central authority would work, but honestly we run into limits even before the gap between electronic worlds and meatspace. PGP would be nice, but PGP itself is closed-source, and neither PGP nor OpenPGP/GPG are user-accessible enough to even survive in the e-mail sphere they were originally intended to ope... (read more)

0iamthelowercase6yInre: Facebook/Twitter: TL;DR I think Twitter Facebook et al do have something complex, but it is outside the hood rather than under it. (I guess they could have both.) The "friending" system takes advantage of human's built-in reputation system. When I look at X's user page, it tells me that W, Y, and Z also follow/"friended" X. Then when I make my judgement of X, X leaches some amount of "free" "reputation points" from Z's "reputation". Of course, if W, Y, and Z all have bad reputations, that is reflected. Maybe W and Z have good reputations, but Y does not -- now I'm not sure what X's reputation should be like and need to look at X more closely. Of course, this doesn't scale beyond a couple hundred people.
1Lumifer6yThat seems to be pretty trivial. What's wrong with a username/password combo (besides all the usual things) or, if you want to get a bit more sophisticated, with having the user generate a private key for himself? You don't need a web of trust or any central authority to verify that the user named X is in possession of a private key which the user named X had before. Well, again, the critical question is: What are you really trying to achieve? If you want the online equivalent of the meatspace reputation, well, first meatspace reputation does not exist as one convenient number, and second it's still a two-argument function. Once again, with feeling :-D -- to which purpose? Generally speaking, if you run a forum all you need is a way to filter out idiots and trolls. Your regular users will figure out reputation on their own and their conclusions will be all different. You can build an automated system to suit your fancy, but there's no guarantee (and, actually, a pretty solid bet) that it won't suit other people well. Why would Twitter or FB bother assigning reputation to users? They want to filter out bad actors and maximize their eyeballs and their revenue which generally means keeping users sufficiently happy and well-measured.
PSA: Eugine_Nier evading ban?

Commenting to 'save' this comment. That's a really clever way to handle that.

Stupid Questions December 2014

For clarity, I meant "trust" and "reputation" in the technical senses, where "trust" is authentication, and where "reputation" is an assessment or group of assessments for (ideally trusted) user ratings of another user.

But good point, especially for value systems.

0Lumifer6yI am still confused. When you say that trust is authentication, what is it that you authenticate? Do you mean trust in the same sense as "web of trust" in PGP-type crypto systems? For reputation as an assessment of user ratings, you can obviously build a bunch of various metrics, but the real question is which one is the best. And that question implies another one: Best for what? Note that weeding out idiots, sockpuppets, and trolls is much easier than constructing a useful-for-everyone ranking of legitimate users. Different people will expect and want your rankings to do different things.
Stupid Questions December 2014

There are simultaneously a large number of laws prohibiting employers from retaliating against persons for voting, and a number of accusations of retaliation for voting. So this isn't a theoretical issue. I'm not sure it's distinct from other methods of compromising trusted users -- the effects are similar whether the compromised node was beaten with a wrench, got brain-eaten, or just trusted Microsoft with their Certificates -- but it's a good demonstration that you simply can't trust any node inside a network.

(There's some interesting overlap with MIRI... (read more)

Stupid Questions December 2014

Are there any good trust, value, or reputation metrics in the open source space? I've recently established a small internal-use Discourse forum and been rather appalled by the limitations of what is intended to be a next-generation system (status flag, number of posts, tagging), and from a quick overview most competitors don't seem to be much stronger. Even fairly specialist fora only seem marginally more capable.

This is obviously a really hard problem and conflux of many other hard problems, but it seems odd that there are so many obvious improvements available.

((Inspired somewhat by my frustration with Karma, but I'm honestly more interested in its relevance for outside situations.))

0Lumifer6yYou may be interested in the new system called Dissent [http://dedis.cs.yale.edu/dissent/]
5Lumifer6yThe first problem is defining what do you want to measure. "Trust" and "reputation" are two-argument functions and "value" is notoriously vague.

Tangentially, is it possible for a good reputation metric to survive attacks in real life?

Imagine that you become e.g. a famous computer programmer. But although you are a celebrity among free software people, you fail to convert this fame to money. So must keep a day job at a computer company which produces shitty software.

One day your boss will realize that you have high prestige in the given metric, and the company has low prestige. So the boss will ask you to "recommend" the company on your social network page (which would increase the compan... (read more)

3fubarobfusco6yI don't know of one. I doubt that everyone wants the same sort of thing out of such a metric. Just off the top of my head, some possible conflicts: * Is a post good because it attracts a lot of responses? Then a flamebait post that riles people into an unproductive squabble is a good post. * Is a post good because it leads to increased readership? Then spamming other forums to promote a post makes it a better post, and posting porn (or something else irrelevant that attracts attention) is really very good. * Is a post good because a lot of users upvote it? Then people who create sock-puppet accounts to upvote themselves are better posters; as are people who recruit their friends to mass-upvote their posts. * Is a post good because the moderator approves of it? Then as the forum becomes more popular, if the moderator has no additional time to review posts, a diminishing fraction of posts are good. The old wiki-oid site Everything2 explicitly assigns "levels" to users, based on how popular their posts are. Users who have proven themselves have the ability to signal-boost posts they like with a super-upvote. It seems to me that something analogous to PageRank would be an interesting approach: the estimated quality of a post is specifically an estimate of how likely a high-quality forum member is to appreciate that post. Long-term high-quality posters' upvotes should probably count for a lot more than newcomers' votes. And moderators or other central, core-team users should probably be able to manually adjust a poster's quality score to compensate for things like a formerly-good poster going off the deep end, the revelation that someone is a troll or saboteur, or (in the positive direction) someone of known-good offline reputation joining the forum.
Stupid Questions December 2014

A number of these matters seem more narrative or genre conveniences : Francisco acts a playboy in the same way Bruce Wayne does, Rearden's bridge development passes a lot of work to his specialist engineers (similarly to Rearden metal having a team of scientists skeptically helping him) and pretends that the man is still a one-man designer (among other handwaves). At the same time, Batman is not described as a superhuman engineer or playboy, nor would he act as those types of heroes. I'm also not sure we can know the long-term negative repercussions John... (read more)

Good things to have learned....

I took a Philosophy course that emphasized Aristotle, Sartre, Plato, Freud, Karl Popper, and a handful of psychologists and other philosophers that I frankly didn't bother to remember ten minutes after the final.

It didn't tell me why I'd actually care about philosophy.

Other harder sciences sometimes had this issue -- most notoriously math -- but the answer to a math problem is the same no matter why you're interested in it. That's not really the case here, and that my instructors didn't even feel such an argument was worth mentioning is... frustrating.

Good things to have learned....

There have been some attempts to improve this, such as the video A Girls Guide To 21st Century Sex or the book Guide to Getting It On (obviously, both heavily NSFW) seem to be working toward helping this, though not without their limitations.

I've not seen much about the relationship aspects of sex that I can recommend, unfortunately.

I'm not sure a college curricula is the best place to examine these sorts of things, but for all the good Dan Savage or OhJoy!SexToy or Scarleteen do, it's disappointing that they're some of the best options available.

December 2014 Media Thread

How about ending or at least toning down the war on drugs?

In addition to the public choice theory issues that gwern has already described, many of the problems and most of the severe problems of the war on drugs are path-dependent. Just as the mafia didn't disappear at the end of Prohibition, there's no reason to expect gangs to close up shop because drug funding disappears.

2Izeinwinter6yThe gangs wont, but the addicts will stop committing crimes to support their habit, which will free up lots of police manhours, and just about all alternative forms of crime the core gangs would turn to are different from the drug trade in one key aspect - The victims will generally cooperate with the law when it comes to putting them behind bars. And without addicts doing stupid stuff and getting caught, lots of empty jail cells to throw the gangs in, too.
December 2014 Media Thread

The book is better than the HBO series, but both are very much written from a noncombat perspective and have a number of limitations because of that. If you enjoyed it, I'd strongly recommend trying to track down a copy of One Bullet Away.

0lmm6yHave done so, found it much less illuminating tbh. Fick makes it all sound normal - I assume because to him it is. Wright has an outsider's perspective and so is more able to highlight the quirks, the absurdities, the parts that make the Marines very different from your typical corporation.
Things to consider when optimizing: Commuting, Transportation

Razor's handlebars are well-padded, but their mainstream models rely on hard plastic/resin materials for the wheel and only include shock absorbers on the higher-end models. It won't be too bad in parking lots, but older asphalt is pretty noticeable and you can feel the expansion joints in concrete sidewalks.

Other models sometimes include larger soft-rubber tires that should significantly reduce this effect. I've not tried them myself, though, and for some basic physics reasons this tradeoff will likely reduce speed and increase expended effort.

Open thread, Nov. 10 - Nov. 16, 2014

I would expect that even as a fairly squishy pro-abortion Westerner (incredibly discomforted with the procedure but even more discomforted by the actions necessary to ban it), I'm likely to underestimate the health risks of even contragestives, and significantly underestimate the health risks of abortion procedures. Discussion in these circles also overstates the effectiveness of conventional contraception and often underestimates the number of abortions performed yearly. The last number is probably the easiest to support through evidence, although I'd w... (read more)

0NancyLebovitz7yIt wouldn't surprise me if people generally overestimate the safety and effectiveness of drugs and medical procedures-- would you want to compare the accuracy of people's evaluation of contraceptives and abortions to their evaluation of medicine in general? It also wouldn't surprise me if there's a minority who drasitically underestimate the safety and effectiveness of medicine.
2Stefan_Schubert7yThese are good ideas. You've got it quite right - these are exactly the kinds of questions I'm looking for. Possibly the health risks questions are the best ones - I'll see what evidence I can find on those issues. Thanks!
Things to consider when optimizing: Commuting, Transportation

The IRS publishes a standardized mileage rate. This isn't a very accurate description of just the simple dollar costs of commuting by car, but it's at least a number that actually means something. Multiplied by your commute multiplied by times that commute is traveled gives you some idea of the costs of the commute.

That it presents somewhere in the order of a 100 USD to 300 USD in monthly additional costs for a ten mile difference in travel time to you work is almost certainly an underestimate, but it's really easy to forget these sort of tradeoffs when ... (read more)

Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

Nate Silver (of 538) has some space that he's dedicated to this effort in The Signal and the Noise. Randal Olson's reproduced some of that related to current-day abilities, which show that we're currently able to give better-than-random results for a few days in advance, but not much better after that. And, unsurprisingly, data beats expertise when it comes to accuracy.

A good deal of the data-collecting tools have been developed or implemented relatively recently, and that seems to correlate with improvements to short-term forecasting, to the point where... (read more)

Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

Editing options do not appear to be available from the Youtopia list, and the only remaining Sequence-related tasks as of this post are related to reading and translation to foreign languages..

((Just trying to save folk time and account management.))

0Ixiel7yOh great! If that's all that's left the English book is just about ready to sell then? I hope there's a big announcement because I suspect demand is high and awareness less so (given someone asked this before and after me, and not all who wonder ask)
Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

Some of these advances are also nearing the end of low-hanging fruit, most obviously image recognition. We're quickly approaching human levels for simple problems, and while there's a massive amount of space for optimization and better training, these aren't likely to be newsworthy in the same way.

2ChristianKl7yThe link still suggest that humans are much better. I don't see how better than human level at image recognition won't provide newsworthy stories. We are still a long way from security cameras in companies simply identifying every person who walks around via facial recognition. Question such as whether a school or university is allowed to track attendance rates via facial recognition software will produce social debates. Evernote does a bit image recognition for documents but aside from that I haven't used any computer guided image recognition for a while.
Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

Most obviously, the Streisand effect means that any effort used to silence a statement might as been used to shout it from the hilltops. The Basilisk is very heavily discussed despite its obvious flaws, in no small part because of the context of being censored. If we're actually discussing a memetic hazard, that's the exact opposite of what we want.

There are also some structural and community outreach issues that resulted from the effort and weren't terribly good. Yudkowsky's discussed the matter from his perspective here (warning: wall of text).

((On th... (read more)

3Vulture7yI just realized that it has become pretty low-status to spend time talking about decision-theoretic memetic hazards around here, which might be a good thing.
3the-citizen7yCheers, that all seems to make sense. I wonder if the Basilisk with its rather obvious flaws actually provides a rather superb illustration of how memetic hazard works in practice, and so doing so provides a significant opportuntity of improving how we handle it.
Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

True, albeit in a way that is still costly, unlikely to leave an identifiable corpse, and prone to retributory violence. Depends on what sort of heroes and villains you're looking to write.

Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014

The high cost of access could well be the point : if you can easily hire a boat to get to your private island, it's pretty simple for governments or peoples to do the same, club you, and take your stuff. A hundred thousand bucks would cover invading you, and make good return on investment.

By contrast, you'd have to have something of very high value to cover a rocket launch, and that something must be mobile enough to send down easily. (Or in extreme cases, you might be the only people who retain full knowledge of the manufacturing necessary to make the rockets, in some way that isn't easy to reverse engineer -- see the difficulty we have reproducing several engine designs as a guide here.)

0marchdown7yIt may be hard to rob you, but easy to shoot you down.
Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014

Yeah, other terminology is probably a better idea. I'd avoided 'trigger' because it isn't likely to actually trigger anything, but there's no reason to use new terms when perfectly good existing ones are available. Content warning isn't quite right, but it's close enough and enough people are unaware of the original meaning, that its probably preferable to use.

Stupid Questions (10/27/2014)

Renting :

  • Landlord covers most maintenance. Most rental apartments will even mow the lawn and shovel snow, but .even renting a home will usually cover any serious elbow work. If the gutters leak and a kid throws a baseball through your window, you call the landlord and it gets handled. This isn't just monetary : it saves you from having to spend most of the time hunting these things down.

  • Mobility. If you got the job of your dreams and the love of your life half-way across the country, leaving a rental apartment or house requires days of work, where

... (read more)
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