All of gilch's Comments + Replies

The Darwin Game

Zack_M_Davis isn't the only one.

I've also written Hissp now. I'm curious how they compare for data science work (and other applications).

I've also seen evhub, the author of Coconut, here on LessWrong.

What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship

I know of no good books on this subject. In my experience, you have to understand what it's like to use many different software paradigms and how they are implemented.

Maybe Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming? I haven't finished that one, but the first part was good.

Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection

Then the week afterwards, the world learned that Emergent had put ingredients for the AstraZeneca vaccine into a batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, running the entire batch of 15 million doses.

Did you mean "ruining"?

Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021

U.S. pauses J&J COVID-19 vaccine over rare blood clots

Zvi argued pretty persuasively that it was a massively bad idea when most of Europe suspended the AZ vaccine for similar reasons.

Are we making the same mistake now, or is it different this time for some reason?

5DFri3dWe are making the same mistake now. The rate of serious adverse side effects is minimal. However, just as we engage in security theatre at the airports, so must we engage in public health theatre in our COVID response. With any adverse reactions occurring at all, and the need for our media system to spin every story far out of control and milk the pandemic for every bit of advertising dollars that it can yield, the public health authorities have to make a show of investigating this incredibly rare side effect, only to predictably determine that the rewards far outweigh the risks.
A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering

Are sperm necessary at all? Eggs have also gone through meiosis, so they're haploid just like a sperm nucleus. Can you just implant the nucleus from a selected embryo's egg into another selected egg and then add the "you've been fertilized" chemical signal? I'm not sure how complex that process is.

If that's too hard, what about surgically swapping in the nucleus from an egg cell produced from a selected embryo into a healthy sperm cell? Would the sperm function for long enough to fertilize an egg?

Of course, we can only produce females this way, but that co... (read more)

3GeneSmith5dThis is an interesting idea. Nuclear transfer has been used in cloning before, but it is not particularly reliable. That being said, perhaps future research could improve the success rate (and more importantly the ease of doing so). At the end of the day, the entire iterated embryo selection process is about generating a complete DNA sequence that scores better on our tests. I left out whole genome synthesis from the original post because from the brief reading I did on the topic it seemed prohibitively expensive. But that could change in the future, as the cost per base pair has been declining exponentially for some time now. The most notable recent use of whole-genome sequencing was to create the mRNA in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Maybe I'll write a future post about this topic.
A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering

Searching around the web, it looks like most miscarriages are due to aneuploidy. That would be easy to detect and select against.

It's hard to find good numbers for the human mutation rate. I saw numbers ranging from 42 to 200 per generation. Sperm seem to have more mutations than eggs on average. It can vary based on environmental exposure to mutagens, and older parents tend to have more mutations on average. Perhaps embryonic parents simply wouldn't have the time to accumulate many mutations. On the other hand, one has to do unnatural things to get these embryonic cells to turn into gametes. If any of these steps are mutagenic, then the mutation rate could be even worse.

A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering

Wouldn't genes which stop the baby from being born, quickly exit the gene pool?

Yes, by killing the fetus before it's born. New mutations still happen all the time. Usually they hit junk DNA and not much happens, but what if it breaks something vital? And it's possible to inherit deleterious recessive alleles from both parents. That why incest is still a problem, from a genetic standpoint.

Similarly for gamete formation processes which allow such mutations to arise?

And yet we still have transposons. Evolution requires some amount of mutation, which is... (read more)

2TurnTrout6dWe're aware of many species which evolved to extinction. I guess I'm looking for why there's no plausible "path" in genome-space between this arrangement and an arrangement which makes fatal errors happen less frequently. EG why wouldn't it be locally beneficial to the individual genes to code for more robustness against spontaneous abortions, or an argument that this just isn't possible for evolution to find (like wheels instead of legs, or machine guns instead of claws).
A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering

There's another problem with iterated embryo selection that I haven't seen accounted for. I don't recall the exact numbers, but some surprisingly large fraction of natural human pregnancies result in a spontaneous abortion. Exact causes of this may vary, but I think a significant fraction of those are simply not viable due to genetic mutations. Adult parents have at least proven they have the genes necessary to both survive until adulthood and find a mate. Embryonic parents haven't proven that. Certainly we can use genetic tests to screen them for known genetic diseases, and that is kind of the point, but how do we screen them for unknown genetic diseases?

2gilch6dSearching around the web, it looks like most miscarriages are due to aneuploidy. That would be easy to detect and select against. It's hard to find good numbers for the human mutation rate. I saw numbers ranging from 42 to 200 per generation. Sperm seem to have more mutations than eggs on average. It can vary based on environmental exposure to mutagens, and older parents tend to have more mutations on average. Perhaps embryonic parents simply wouldn't have the time to accumulate many mutations. On the other hand, one has to do unnatural things to get these embryonic cells to turn into gametes. If any of these steps are mutagenic, then the mutation rate could be even worse.
2TurnTrout6dI feel confused wrt the genetic mutation hypothesis for the spontaneous abortion phenomenon. Wouldn't genes which stop the baby from being born, quickly exit the gene pool? Similarly for gamete formation processes which allow such mutations to arise?
A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering

Wouldn't a more limited form of iterated embryo selection still be possible with the oocytes alone? You'd still have to fertilize the eggs with sperm from the current generation, but the eggs could be derived from a selected female embryo, then you do it again, sperm from the current generation, but eggs from second-generation selected female embryos, etc.

2GeneSmith6dThis is an interesting idea. I suspect that this type of selection would asymptotically approach twice the per-generation gain of simple embryo selection. So useful but not really transformative.
IQcaptcha enters beta

This one's better. Not in such bad taste like the last one. Are you actually finding these on Twitter, or making them up? I feel like better examples exist. This one still feels like it could be more about culture war than intelligence, but maybe that's most of what's stupid on Twitter. Given the snark in the rest of the page a funnier example would fit better. Maybe something so not-even-wrong you want to facepalm.

Vim

Yes? I mean, other vimmers might feel differently, but I basically don't use counts like that. Counting to move the cursor is too much effort, especially if you're counting higher than 2-3. It's not worth the time it takes.

ww is the same number of keystrokes as 2w. I might use the latter if I needed a single motion operator to repeat later with ., like c2w, but ww or even www would be easier most of the time. Past that, we're getting to the 4-5 keystrokes where / is better, and you can probably do it in two to three keystrokes with f-something (;) as easil... (read more)

Vim

The choices become much more obvious with experience. Waiting 3-5 seconds is completely unrealistic once you know what you are doing. I'd fall back to using the mouse well before 3 seconds, unless I'm in a remote terminal or something that doesn't support it, in which case I'd use / / ? and n.

You could theoretically target any character in the file using only Space to advance the cursor and gg to go back to the start (well, depending on your settings). But nobody even thinks to do it this way (because it's stupid), so it doesn't seem to drain any mental re... (read more)

2ChristianKl7dDo you mean that for both doing "4w" and "wwww"?
IQcaptcha enters beta

I very much agree with the premise, if taken literally rather than as satire. Communities that refuse to defend their borders eventually get destroyed.

That said, I can take most of the wording in the linked page as humor, but the blocked example was, at best, in bad taste, if not literally racist without context.

If LW did have an Eternal September-like crisis, I'm not sure what we'd do about it. A simple entry test like this seems like an option. But rather than an IQ-captcha, I'd like to see a rationality-captcha. Intelligence is not the same thing as rationality. Clever people tell themselves clever lies.

1ballerburg90057dWhat do you think of the new quote?
Vim

You have to reach farther for Escape than for CapsLock, which makes Escape slower.

I mapped fd to Escape, because that's what Spacemacs uses. It's also much less error-prone than jj and jk, which seem to be common choices.

Vim

There's the paradox of choice and having more choices to accomplish a task costs mental resources.

As your vocabulary has grown, has your speech slowed down? Is it faster to look at the keyboard and type with one finger, or touch-type with all ten? Have you ever played fighting video games? Is someone who knows more moves at a disadvantage? It might depend on how much they've practiced them!

More conscious choices slow me down, it's true, but once it's ingrained at the level of habit, you can do it almost as fast as you can think it, just like speaking o... (read more)

2ChristianKl9dTouch typing doesn't increase the amount of choices if you do it properly. If you learn touch typing properly there's a single finger that's responsible for a single key. That's a bad comparison because as my vocabulary grew I also get better got speaking. In cross language comparisons more choices, do slow down speakers. Speakers of a language with fewer phomenes are faster at speaking a single phoneme then speakers of a language with more different phonemes.
Vim

I've found that / is still often faster for that. Not always, but often. I still use the mouse sometimes.

Vim

At least for PyCharm, this was somewhat easier on macOS than on Windows, since you have control, option, command and shift, instead of just Ctrl, Alt, and Shift (well, and the Win key, but the OS reserves too many bindings there.) On macOS, The IDE uses command for most things, while Vim usually uses control when it needs a modifier at all. On Windows they both want to use Ctrl, so it's more difficult to configure all the bindings.

Vim

Vim is far from optimal, but it's very customizable, which makes it easy to paper over the more obvious cracks.

For alternative ideas, the Canon Cat had a pretty well-designed interface for text editing, which Jef Raskin described in The Humane Interface, which has influenced my thinking about UI design. It's still not as fast as Vim, but much easier to learn. The 80% solution for the 20% effort maybe. If you want to try it out, it's old enough that you can emulate it in your browser, although I had to download MAME to get all the keybindings working.

Vim

I've done pair programming with devs who don't know vim, and remember on multiple occasions watching the other dev try to make an edit while thinking that I'd be done by now if I was the one typing.

Most of the time, what I do with vim is at the level of habit and "muscle memory". I don't have to think about it. If I'm programming a macro or writing a regex, sure, I have to think. But the motion commands just happen now.

Vim

I have an AutoHotKey script that copies any highlighted text, pops up a gVim window with that text, and then I can save it back into the clipboard with :wq. I works on any plain text field in any app that respects the C-c copy-selection shortcut. I'm sure someone with your skills could put together something similar. I think I had a variant that would also C-a to select all and then C-v after I closed gVim.

I also have a more involved AHK script that does a subset of vim commands in any normal text field while I hold down the tab button. Getting the f comma... (read more)

1Sunny from QAD9dIt's funny that this came up on LessWrong around this time, as I've just recently been thinking about how to get vim-like behavior out of arbitrary text boxes. Except I also have the additional problem that I'm somewhat unsatisfied with vim. I've been trying to put together my own editor with an "API first" mentality, so that I might be able to, I don't know, eventually produce some kind of GTK widget that acts like my editor by default. Or something. And then maybe it'll be easy to make a variant of, say, Thunderbird, in which the email-editing text box is one of those instead of a normal text box. (If you're curious, I have two complaints about vim. (1) It's a little bloated, what with being able to open a terminal inside of the editor and using a presumably baked-in variant of sed to do find-and-replace rather than making you go through a generic "run such-and-such program on such-and-such text selection" command if you want the fancy sed stuff. And (2) its commands are slightly irregular, like how d/foo deletes everything up to what the cursor would land on if you just typed /foo but how dfi deletes everything up to and including what the cursor would land on if you just typed fi.)
Rationalism before the Sequences

Not being an expert in Zen, I'm not sure what "Zen rhetoric" means. Could you provide examples quoted from the Sequences of what you are talking about and what makes it "Zen"?

I think a collection of examples and analysis would be a post in itself.

But I can give you one suggestive example from Twelve Virtues itself: "If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it."

It is a Zen idea that the essence of enlightenment cannot be discovered by talking about enlightenment; rather one must put one's mind in the state where enlightenment is.  Moreover, talk and chatter - even about Zen itself - drives that state away.

Eliezer is trying to say here that the the center of rationalist practice is not in what you know about rati... (read more)

What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings?

Having tried both now, I can say they're basically the same thing.

The Price Of Space Is Friendship

If we're talking about orbital propellant depots, the individual launches of fuel don't have to be very big, as long as the price per kilogram to LEO is favorable. Rockoons are but one methods circumventing the rocket equation. Many others are known, with some being more realistic than others in the short term.

The Price Of Space Is Friendship

the vast majority of that fuel is burned in the lower atmosphere.

Then why not launch from high-altitude balloons?

2BossSleepy19dThis is air launch [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_launch] -- using a balloon is just one variant. All of the schemes I've seen seem to have fairly small payloads, I assume the trade-offs don't work well above some threshold.
Mary and the Black And White Memory Implant

Mary has perfect knowledge - that is, all knowable information she possibly can - about an experience

I dispute this premise. If Mary knows how to visualize something red (and learned how to do so through some means other than seeing it with her eyes) and knows that it's called "red", then that's knowledge, and she won't learn anything new by seeing it for the first time. This isn't knowledge that Mary could acquire by reading black-and-white textbooks about cone cells and neurons, but hypothetically the knowledge could be implanted in her brain via some technology while bypassing her eyes.

1sxae23dMary aquires the new, novel experience of believing that she has seen the color red, when she previously held the belief that she only had perfect, but non-subjective knowledge. Qualia does not necessarily need to be new information as this attempts to demonstrate, it just is whatever is different about your mind when you actually experience a thing.
Mary and the Black And White Memory Implant

OK, I think we agree that subjective mental states correspond to physically real states in the brain, and that Mary's Room is insufficient to refute physicalism. Was that your point/conclusion?

What I'm not understanding is your argument for getting there. Either it's not valid, or I don't understand what you mean.

1sxae23dI mean it was a point that I made from just playing around with the thought experiment. I don't know if it is the point, that's why I'm trying to dissect it a little here. I would be happy to keep trying to explain. Let me try to lay it out again in a different way, and I'd be interested to hear what you think: * Mary has perfect knowledge - that is, all knowable information she possibly can - about an experience * At the start of the experiment, Mary knows with certainty that they have not actually had that experience * Mary goes through a door, and I randomly flip two coins - one to determine if we implant the memory or actually give Mary the experience, and one to determine if we inform Mary of the first coin flip. I don't tell you about the outcomes of either flip. * Mary comes back through the door, and your task is to interrogate Mary to find out the coin flips. What questions can you ask Mary to determine these answers? When can you be confident, and when is the answer indeterminable? A second way to think about it is if you sent Mary through the door a 2nd time, in which scenarios would Mary learn something new - and therefore experience the qualia they did not posess at the start of the experiment, despite their perfect information?
Mary and the Black And White Memory Implant

The experience of recalling experiences is itself an experience. The experience of imagining an experience is itself an experience. These internal mental experiences are less vivid than a direct sensory experience is in the present for most people most of the time, but sometimes dreams can be as vivid as waking life. Internal mental experiences still have qualia, and they use the same sensory channels as the direct sensory experience does. You can recall or imagine or dream about how something looks or sounds or feels like etc.

The memory doesn't have qualia except during the act of recalling it consciously.

Mary and the Black And White Memory Implant

This whole post strikes me as extremely confused. I'm trying to put my finger on why.

What then is the difference in qualia between this version of Mary and the version of Mary that did genuinely leave the room?

Nothing. Assuming Mary can mentally visualize colors (not everyone can), then she now has access to e.g. the "redness" quale, and has that experience of redness whenever she recalls her false experience, and now has the ability to imagine red things, and when doing so will also have the experience of "redness". She can generate the "redness" qual... (read more)

1sxae23dHi gilch! I apologise that this was confusing, hopefully I can clarify what I am trying to say here. Thanks for your in-depth response. Yes, this was the answer that was meant to be inferred here. Maybe I could have been more clear that this is the correct answer. There isn't really any question that you can perform to determine which Mary genuinely had the experience and the Mary which did not. I think it might be useful to think about Mary's room in more abstract terms, to avoid these contextual assumptions we make about the nature of qualia like with colour. Because colour is a general qualia of existence, as opposed to a specific experience (e.g. the example given elsewhere in the comments of the qualia of climbing Mt. Everest) we have different expectations around it. I would be curious to know if the more abstracted version of Mary's Room outlined in this comment here [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/YuDz9iaz4kqnSMnrq/mary-and-the-black-and-white-memory-implant?commentId=eWppYKFecyNEGYgcb] would make this clearer.
The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence

As long as the borrowing rate is lower than the expected return on SPY, leveraging will always improve your return.

Maybe not what you meant, but this wording is too strong. If you leverage high enough to exceed the Kelly bet size by 2x or more, then your long-run portfolio value will be zero.

1Rune1moYes, you're right. I'll weaken the claim to 1.1x SPY will beat SPY in expected return historically and in almost all reasonable contexts. Certainly often enough to invalidate the incorrect EMH stated above. My statement was motivated by the single time period investment model, as is considered in the standard mean-variance diagram of modern portfolio theory. On that diagram, as long as the risk free rate is below the market portfolio, you can draw a straight line between them and once you go beyond the market portfolio, you'll always have higher expected return all the way to infinity. But a single time period is not the best way to model long-term investing.
What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria?

I guess if we’re writing -2 as a simplification, that’s fine, but seems to introduce a kind of meaningless extra step

is the simplified form of , not the other way around, in the same sense that is the simplified form of .

Why do we think it's consistent that we can express a multiplicative inverse without an operator, but we can't do the same for an additive inverse? A number system with compliments can express a negative number on its own rather than requiring you to express it in terms of a positive number and an inversion opera... (read more)

1fiddler1moOk, I think I understand our crux here. In the fields of math I’m talking about, 3^(-1) is a far better way to express the multiplicative inverse of 3, simply because it’s not dependent on any specific representation scheme and immediately carries the relevant meaning. I don’t know enough about the pedagogy of elementary school math to opine on that.
Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform

The point was to outlaw artificial molecular assemblers like Drexler described in Engines of Creation. Think of maybe something like bacteria but with cell walls made of diamond. They might be hard to deal with once released into the wild. Diamond is just carbon, so they could potentially consume carbon-based life, but no natural organism could eat them. This is the "ecophagy" scenario.

But, I still think this is a fair objection. Some paths to molecular nanotechnology might go through bio-engineering, the so-called "wet nanotechnology" approach. We'd start... (read more)

1Gerald Monroe1moThe point was to outlaw artificial molecular assemblers like Drexler described in Engines of Creation. Not outlaw.Prohibit "free floating" ones that can work without any further input (besides raw materials). Allowed assemblers would be connected via network ports to a host computer system that has the needed digital files, kept in something that is large enough for humans to see it/break it with a fire axe or shotgun. Note that making bacteria with gene knockouts so they can't replicate solely on their own, but have to be given specific amino acids in a nutrient broth, would be a way to retain control if you needed to do it the 'wet' way. The law against self replication is the same testable principle, actually - putting the gene knockouts back would be breaking the law because each wet modified bacteria has all the components in itself to replicate itself again.
What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria?

Maybe it's not better. I could be wrong. My opinion is weakly held. But I'm talking about eliminating the arithmetic of subtraction, not eliminating the algebra of negation. You'd still have a minus sign you can do algebra with, but it would be strictly unary. I don't see high-school algebra changing very much with that. We'd have some more compact notation to represent the , maybe I'll use ^ for now. So you can still write for algebra, it just simplifies to ^8 for when you need to do arithmetic on it. And instead of writing , you write . ... (read more)

1fiddler1moSorry for the lack of clarity-I’m not talking about high school algebra, I’m talking about abstract algebra. I guess if we’re writing -2 as a simplification, that’s fine, but seems to introduce a kind of meaningless extra step-I don’t quite understand the “special cases” you’re talking about, because it seems to me that you can eliminate subtraction without doing this? In fact, for anything more abstract than calculus, that’s standard-groups, for example, don’t have subtraction defined (usually) other than as the addition of the inverse.
What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society?

Maybe that would incentivize lab-grown organs? Which seems like a better long-term solution anyway.

What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria?

And while we're at it, I think that when we teach arithmetic, we should be representing negative numbers using compliments like computers do. It makes negation a little more difficult, but still pretty easy, and eliminates subtraction as a distinct concept from negation and addition, along with the entire subtraction table.

So, for example, a -2 is like saying . We're used to having a weird unnecessary special case when going below zero, but if we mechanically use the normal subtraction rules, realizing that there are an infinite number of implicit leadi... (read more)

1fiddler1moThis seems super annoying when you start dealing with more abstract math: while it's plausibly more intuitive as a transition into finite fields (thinking specifically of quadratic residues, for example), it would really really suck for graphing, functions, calculus, or any sort of coefficent-based work. It also sounds tremendously annoying for conceptualizing bases/field-adjoins/sigma notation.
What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria?
Answer by gilchMar 11, 202110

We're still teaching children arithmetic in base ten. The objectively correct base is six.

I'm serious. This is not just my opinion. The base we choose had better be a whole number, but the size of the multiplication table we have to memorize goes up roughly quadradically in the size of our base (although there are regularities that can sometimes make this easier), so it has to be a fairly small whole number. There just aren't that many choices, and we've checked them all. Base six is optimal.

  • The smallest four primes {2, 3, 5, 7} are either divisors or ne
... (read more)
4gilch1moAnd while we're at it, I think that when we teach arithmetic, we should be representing negative numbers using compliments [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_complements] like computers do. It makes negation a little more difficult, but still pretty easy, and eliminates subtraction as a distinct concept from negation and addition, along with the entire subtraction table. So, for example, a -2 is like saying 0−2. We're used to having a weird unnecessary special case when going below zero, but if we mechanically use the normal subtraction rules, realizing that there are an infinite number of implicit leading zeros for these numbers, we see it's really a case of ¯¯¯00−2. Normally when subtracting digit-by-digit, you borrow one from the next digit, e.g. 100−002 becomes 108−010 then 198−100, then 098−000 or just 98. So for ¯¯¯00 −2 the borrowing continues indefinitely and it becomes ¯¯¯98. Add two to this and it flips all the nines, so we're back to zero. You can represent any negative number this way and then "subtraction" is just normal addition.
Reasonable ways for an average LW retail investor to get upside risk?

I think it's not so much the height of the spike that did it that time, but that combined with how low the VIX was just before that spike. Inverse ETFs are strange beasts. There's no hard limit to the upside of what they're tracking, but the inverse ETF can't drop below zero, and this is a good thing compared to shorting the underlying yourself, since it caps your losses. For daily-tracking inverse ETFs with 1x leverage, a one-day move of the underlying of 100% of its previous day's value would mean a total wipeout. For a 2x inverse ETF, it would only take... (read more)

Tips/tricks/notes on optimizing investments

Are the kind of people who take out P2P loans the same kind of people who have a lot of excess money to invest in the stock market? How correlated would they be?

That depends. If you're investing in small businesses, maybe a lot. People borrow money for various reasons, and have different risk profiles, and as the investor, you can pick and choose.

For example, a recent college graduate who just landed a high-paying job may get a P2P loan to consolidate credit card debt. How correlated do you expect that to be to the stock market?

Individuals are still affect... (read more)

Tips/tricks/notes on optimizing investments

It's not about the absolute returns, but their correlation to your other investments.

Having uncorrelated return streams in your portfolio drastically lowers the volatility of your portfolio.

Even if it's a worse investment than the stock market on its own, adding it to your portfolio can make the overall portfolio better, if sized appropriately to its volatility. That's why I said not to start with this unless you're already investing in the usual instruments.

3bluefalcon1moIs it actually uncorrelated? Seems like default would be significantly more likely at the same times that a stock market crash would be, because that's when ppl lose their jobs. Can you do P2P loans to ppl in other countries? That would reduce correlation somewhat.
How I Meditate

I don't do all the ceremony, but my experience of doing the actual meditating when I tried it for a while was similar. Isn't something more interesting supposed to happen though? People I take seriously take meditation seriously, for reasons they seem to have trouble articulating, but seem to think the practice is worth it somehow, for reasons I still don't fully understand, so I tried it. I had hoped to at least get a glimpse of these reasons, but after a month or so of practice, I didn't notice any progress beyond what you're describing and kind of moved on.

3G Gordon Worley III1moThe Zen answer is that there's nothing special that necessarily happens. That said, sometimes weird, exciting, etc. things do happen while meditating, but to just let them come and go as they please. Some kinds of practices in other traditions do more to cultivate these sorts of experiences, whereas the method I've described doesn't and instead sees meditation as a kind of evidence gathering operation that will cause updates in your mind below the level of consciousness that will later result in insight, such as at the hearing of a "turning" word. I think it's hard to express the value of it because sometimes the recognition of its value takes a long time to be realized. Other methods give you something sooner that you'll be excited about and come back to. To make an analogy, these other methods I'm gesturing at might be like planting a field with a crop that sprouts after a few days, grows quickly, and fruits after a few weeks. Shikantaza is more like planting a field with seeds, water for weeks, eventually seeing some sprouts, and then continuing to care for it for months while the plant grows beneath the soil, only growing and fruiting suddenly after months of effort. Of course, this analogy sort of leaves out why this might be a good idea, but hopefully that gives some flavor or why I choose to stick with it.
What is the VIX?

The behavior of the VIX is a lot more predictable than something like a stock. It tends to hang out at a certain level, and occasionally spike. If you could trade it directly, this suggests a simple strategy: Buy when it's steady, and then sell when it spikes. Even if you can't time the spikes perfectly, you'll make a lot of money.

So can you do this with the futures? No, because someone has to take the other side of the trade, and they know it might spike, so they'll price that in! It's like buying insurance. You have to pay a "risk premium" to the market ... (read more)

5SimonM1moIt's actually more subtle than this. There are two things going on (which I believe you understand based on "Wrong side of risk") but you have conflated here: 1. The VIX exhibits behaviour whereby there are strategies where if you could trade it you could guarantee a profit: "Buy when it's steady, and then sell when it spikes" 2. "You have to pay a "risk premium" to the market to hold a long vol position" The reason you have to pay a "risk premium" to hold a long vol position is because the "spikes" are negatively correlated to the market portfolio / other assets / the economy. This means that if the expected value for holding a long vol position was zero (or positive) you could improve your portfolio risk-adjusted returns (and hence by leverage total returns) by simply adding a "long vol" position to your portfolio. Another way of saying this is "You are only compensated (positive return) for systemic risks, and long vol as is inversely correlated to systemic risk so must have a negative return". If there was an analogous index where the spikes weren't uncorrelated to the broader market, the futures would still have some term structure such that you couldn't exploit future spikes and expect to make money. However, you wouldn't see the long term decay you see looking at (long) VIX ETFs that you do now. As I've said elsewhere [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Sc6aDyuBCCwyCv2jZ/?commentId=TzFHPCnXFMHtsLdqh] , I think collecting vol risk premium is a poor strategy for retail investors. Vol risk premium should exist and adding expected negative return assets to your portfolio can enhance your returns. Equivalently, adding a positive expected return asset to your portfolio can reduce your returns. Caveat emptor
2Gunnar_Zarncke1moThank you. I had already noticed this and wondered where the catch is.
What other peptide vaccines might it be useful to make?

There are other coronavirus types that cause the common cold. If this type of peptide vaccine is effective in protecting against the novel coronavirus, it might work for the older types as well, if made with the appropriate peptides, of course.

What should experienced rationalists know?
Answer by gilchMar 02, 202111

I'll answer with some of the "rationalist" ideas I've personally learned and consider important. (I expect that I still have important knowledge gaps compared to other experienced rationalists though. I'm working on it.)

Intelligence is not the same thing as rationality. So much of "Epistemic Rationality" comes down to not lying to yourself. Clever people tell themselves clever lies. The Litany of Tarski is the correct attitude for a rationalist.

Raising the Sanity Waterline is a mini-sequence in its own right, if you read its links. The worldviews taught b... (read more)

A No-Nonsense Guide to Early Retirement

started off like 5% of my portfolio. Now it is like 70%.

Is that because your portfolio's crypto ratio inflated that much on its own before you started rebalancing, or did you sell other assets to buy that much more in crypto?

A No-Nonsense Guide to Early Retirement

Bitcoin is just a bit over 5% of my portfolio at the moment. I'm using the same dynamic volatility targeting I use for the stock and bond ETFs, but because of its sky-high volatility, that means I have to leverage down. BTC has historically been (mostly) uncorrelated with the stock market, which makes it a powerful portfolio diversifier.

This means that your portfolio's overall volatility can actually be made lower by adding the extremely volatile Bitcoins to the mix, counterintuitive as that may seem, but only by adding them in sufficiently small amounts.

B... (read more)

Why aren't we all using Taffix?

Benzalkonium chloride is a surfactant, which might help the hypro form a gel layer, and also an antimicrobial agent. I do not know if it would affect viruses.

From previous discussion, BZK appears to effective against the coronavirus

A No-Nonsense Guide to Early Retirement

Skimming that link, I think it shows backtesting; have you actually beaten the index yourself with real money?

I am not rich yet. I haven't been doing this long enough for my results to be meaningful. Ask me that again in five years. Or ten.

When the hypothesis at hand makes time valuable - when the proposition at hand, conditional on its being true, means there are certain things we should be doing NOW - then you've got to do your best to figure things out with the evidence that we have. — Eliezer Yudkowsky, You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That

... (read more)
5tryactions2moAfter reading around for half an hour, I think there's a decent chance that some form of leveraged investing via e.g. ETFs might be a good idea. The basic idea makes sense to me. This is currently completely out-weighed by my "being too clever in markets is a great way to lose all of your money" prior. But I'll probably look into it more and see how convincing I find the numbers and historical evidence. If I'm pretty convinced I could see myself allocating 10-20% of my investments in a leveraged strategy at some point in the future. A cursory look at box spreads makes me think it's the kind of thing with so many caveats that I'd never feel certain I'd eliminated enough tail risk from it.
A No-Nonsense Guide to Early Retirement

Don't discount bonds just because they have lower returns. They also have lower volatility. E.g. BND (Vanguard total bond market) has a Sharpe ratio of about 0.81, while VTI (Vangaurd total stock market) has a Sharpe ratio of about 0.56. That makes BND a better investment overall. If you had borrowed money to leverage BND up to the same volatility as VTI, you would have gotten a better return than from VTI alone.

Buying index funds is a much better plan than not buying assets, or using that money to buy liabilities. But I Can Beat the Index, and it's not th... (read more)

5tryactions2moSkimming that link, I think it shows backtesting; have you actually beaten the index yourself with real money? For what time period / amount of assets? I mostly avoided leverage in this post because I don't use it and kind of don't trust it. But if I had to give a better defense of avoiding it, it would be because 1. it's really easy to lose a bunch of money if you use it wrong and 2. I'm not sure there's a reliable way to borrow money at low enough rates to get good results. Most of what I've read about leverage pretends the interest rate is 0, which it's not -- looks like Robinhood offers 2.5%? What's the most reliable interest rate people can get, and does this rate kill results? Definitely agree not to discount bonds though; without leverage, small amounts give you large risk reductions for small reductions in growth. I personally am 100% stocks because I'm preferring to maximize (unleveraged) growth, and have decided I can tolerate the increase volatility over 10-20 year time spans.
Open & Welcome Thread – February 2021

"Not even wrong."
"This sentence is a lie."

Reasonable ways for an average LW retail investor to get upside risk?

Box spreads. That's still margin though.

Leveraged ETFs.

Leverage is very important for maximizing returns, but too much is counterproductive. Sometimes even 1x is too much, or even 10x is not enough. The right amount is the Kelly fraction and it depends on the payoff distribution of your strategy, which you can only estimate. This is mostly what I was getting at in How to Lose a Fair Game

Reasonable ways for an average LW retail investor to get upside risk?

They all have a range of distributions but largely they are money-losing (on average). The reasons for this are fairly straightforward. Everyone likes lots of upside, with limited downside, so those bets get bid up and their expected returns fall. Personally I think these are a bad thing to do systematically*.

This is basically what I was trying to say in The Wrong Side of Risk.

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