All of Gram_Stone's Comments + Replies

Will there be LaTeX support?

Please add this.

(Not very familiar with math.)

The Heyting-algebraic definition of implication makes intuitive sense to me, or at least after you state your confusion. 'One circle lies inside the other' is like saying A is a subset of B, which is a statement that describes a relation between two sets, and not a statement that describes a set, so we shouldn't expect that that mental image would correspond to a set. Furthermore, the definition of implication you've given is very similar to the material implication rule; that we may substitute 'P implies Q' with 'not-P or Q'.

Also, I have personally been enjoying your recent posts with few prerequisites. (Seems to be a thing.)

Thanks! I'm not an amazing writer like Eliezer, but I enjoy being on LW and I want other people to enjoy it as well. The definition of implication is actually a bit more complex, you need to take the largest open subset of "not-P or Q". Similarly, negation isn't just complement, but the largest open subset of the complement. That's what makes the intuitionistic stuff work, otherwise you get classical logic as Alex said. But topology isn't everyone's cup of tea, so I left it out.

I have what feels like a naive question. Is there any reason that we can't keep appealing to even higher-order preferences? I mean, when I find that I have these sorts of inconsistencies, I find myself making an additional moral judgment that tries to resolve the inconsistency. So couldn't you show the human (or, if the AI is doing all this in its 'head', a suitably accurate simulation of the human) that their preference depends on the philosopher that we introduce them to? Or in other cases where, say, ordering matters, show them multiple orderings, or t... (read more)

I don't think most humans have higher order preferences, beyond, say, two levels max.

Discipline, especially internal psychological, also increases skills.

This is a little ambiguous; does he mean self-control or punishment?

Definitely the former. For more context:

Mi konsideras la disciplinon tre grava pedagogia faktoro. Mi estas nek for fera disciplino, nek por troa liberemo. Mi pledas por racia kaj memdirekta disciplino... La vera scienculo... bezonas memvolan feran disciplinon, por koncentri ĉiujn siajn kapablon al tasko... La blindan disciplinon mi tute rifuzas, ĉar ĝi ne venas de-interne. Mi atingas disciplinon per interesigo, ŝatigo de la objekto, kaj ne per trudo... La discipliniteco estas kompreneble ne nur ekstera kadro, sed ankaŭ interna psika kapablo. La eduko al

... (read more)

I think these are all points that many people have considered privately or publicly in isolation, but that thus far no one has explicitly written them down and drawn a connection between them. In particular, lots of people have independently made the observation that ontological crises in AIs are apparently similar to existential angst in humans, ontology identification seems philosophically difficult, and so plausibly studying ontology identification in humans is a promising route to understanding ontology identification for arbitrary minds. So, thank you... (read more)

We had succeeded in obtaining John yon Neumann as keynote speaker. He discussed the need for, and likely impact of, electronic computing. He mentioned the "new programming method" for ENIAC and explained that its seemingly small vocabulary was in fact ample: that future computers, then in the design stage, would get along on a dozen instruction types, and this was known to be adequate for expressing all of mathematics. (Parenthetically, it is as true today as it was then that "programming" a problem means giving it a mathematical formu

... (read more)

Neuroscience of art & art appreciation

A slightly broader keyword would be 'neuroaesthetics.'

Evolutionary basis for storytelling

I haven't done an exhaustive literature search, but one book I'm going through right now is Brian Boyd's On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction.


psychopathology* (Genuinely trying to be helpful, not nitpicky; keywords are important.)

Related, broader keyword: abnormal psychology.

Thanks, while FreeDictonary does have an entry for pathopsychology [], Google Ngram [] shows that psychopathology is the more frequent English word by orders of magnitude.

Tangentially, I thought you might find repair theory interesting, if not useful. Briefly, when students make mistakes while doing arithmetic, these mistakes are rarely the effect of a trembling hand; rather, most such mistakes can be explained via a small set of procedural skills that systematically produce incorrect answers.

I've had a strong urge to ask about the relation between Project Hufflepuff and group epistemic rationality since you started writing this sequence. This also seems like a good time to ask because your criticism of the essays that you cite (with the caveat that you believe them to contain grains of truth) seems fundamentally to be an epistemological one. Your final remarks are altogether an uncontroversial epistemological prescription, "We have time and we should use it because other things equal taking more time increases the reliability of our reaso... (read more)

I think there's a consistent epistemic failure that leads to throwing away millennia of instrumental optimization of group dynamics in favor of a clever idea that someone had last Thursday. The narrative of extreme individual improvement borders on insanity: you think you can land on a global optimum with 30 years of one-shot optimization? Academia may have a better process, and individual intelligence may be more targeted, but natural + memetic selection has had a LOOOT more time and data to work with. We'll be much stronger for learning how to leverage already-existing processes than in learning how to reinvent the wheel really quickly.

I enjoyed this very much. One thing I really like is that your interpretation of the evolutionary origin of Type 2 processes and their relationship with Type 1 processes seems a lot more realistic to me than what I usually see. Usually the two are made to sound very adversarial, with Type 2 processes having some kind of executive control. I've always wondered how you could actually get this setup through incremental adaptations. It doesn't seem like Azathoth's signature. I wrote something relevant to this in correspondence:

If Type 2 just popped up in the

... (read more)
Yes, and also the neocortex could later assume control too, once it had been selected into fitness with the ecosystem.

Thank you for following up after all this time. Longitudinal studies seem important.

I find the metaphor plausible. Let's see if I understand where you're coming from.

I've been looking into predecision processes as a means of figuring out where human decisionmaking systematically goes wrong. One such process is hypothesis generation. I found an interesting result in this paper; the researchers compared the hypothesis sets generated by individuals, natural groups and synthetic groups. In this study, a synthetic group's hypothesis set is agglomerated from the hypothesis sets of individuals who never interact socially. They found that natural... (read more)

I was familiar with this.

I find the first etiology similar to my model. Did you mean to imply this similarity by use of the word 'indeed'? I can see how one might interpret my model as an algorithm that outputs a little 'gender token' black box that directly causes the self-reports, but I really didn't mean to propose anything besides "Once gendered behavior has been determined, however that occurs, cisgender males don't say "I'm a boy!" for cognitive reasons that are substantially different from the reasons that transgender males say "... (read more)

Except "cisgender" boys don't generally engage in questioning "am I really a boy".
Except "cisgender" boys don't generally engage in questioning "am I really a boy".

I was familiar with this.

Yup. This is a case (I can think of one more, but I'll let that be someone else's crusade) where we have the correct theory in the psychology literature, and all the nice smart socially-liberal people have heard of the theory, but they think to themselves, "Oh, but only bad outgroup people could believe something crazy like that; it's just some guy's theory; it probably isn't actually true."

Surprise! Everyone is lying! Everyone is lying because telling the truth would be politically inconvenient!

I find the first etio

... (read more)

This is an excellent summary of my argument! Thank you so much for compressing this into a soundbite!

And the comment seems to have gotten lost along the way, so I am taking the liberty of reproducing it for the sake of future readers:

I think this topic is really only as political as you make it.

I did in fact decide not to reply to the grandparent because I estimated that it would cause less harm in this respect than replying. This article is intended to be a contribution to the philosophy of gender identity in the style of EY's executable philosophy, and it is more directly a reply to lucidfox's Gender Identity and Rationality. This topic was perfectly acceptable in 2010.

To clarify, I was entirely replying to Dagon. I have no quarrel with your post itself in the slightest.

Can you break that down to the extent that I broke down my confusion above? I'm having a hard time seeing deep similarities between these problems.

Like you said, it is conceivable that we could have been someone else, thus it is natural to at least flesh out the possible conclusions that can be reached from that assumption. If "which mind you find yourself as" was indeed drawn from a probability distribution, then it is natural to believe that our observations about our consciousness are not too far from the mode, and are unlikely to be outliers. And yet, something that I have found surprising since childhood, I seem to find myself as a human mind, in a world where human minds seem to be the most intelligent and "most conscious" out of all the types of minds we find on Earth. This would seem tremendously lucky if it really were possible that we could have been born as something else. Humans are far from the most numerically abundant type of animal. And so perhaps you would speculate that it could have only been possible to be another human mind, as these minds are the easiest to conceive of being. If you were born as a random human out of all humans that have ever and will ever exist, assuming a uniform distribution, then there is an X% chance you are in the last X% of humans who will ever live. This is a fairly disturbing thought. If you are roughly the 60 billionth human, there is a 50% chance that there will only be ~60 billion more humans. This is the "doomsday paradox." Even if you allocate some probability mass to minds that are not human, you still run into variations of doomsday paradoxes. If the universe will last for trillions of years, then it should be fairly disconcerting that we find ourselves towards the beginning of it, and not during some flourishing interstellar empire with trillions of intelligent minds. Another possibility is that the distribution is not over time, but only a function of time. In that case, we still have to explain why our experience is likely. Maybe the probability mass is not uniform over all minds, but more mass is allocated to minds that are capable of a greater "amo

This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be all right, because this World was meant to have him in it, was buil

... (read more)

"Why was I born as myself rather than someone else?" versus "Why do I think I was born as myself rather than someone else?"

This never got solved in the comments.

I was sitting in microeconomics class in twelfth grade when I asked myself, "Why am I me? Why am I not Kelsey or David or who-have-you?" Then I remembered that there are no souls, that 'I' was a product of my brain, and thus that the existence of my mind necessitates the existence of my body (or something that serves a similar function). Seeing the contradiction, I ... (read more)

There are also the many bizarre conclusions you can draw from the assumption that the mind you find yourself as was drawn from a probability distribution, such as the doomsday argument [].

The quote is from this article, section 4.1. There might be other descriptions elsewhere, Lenat himself cites some documents released by the organization hosting the wargame. You might want to check out the other articles in the 'Nature of Heuristics' series too. I think there are free pdfs for all of them on Google Scholar.

Recently in the LW Facebook group, I shared a real-world example of an AI being patched and finding a nearby unblocked strategy several times. Maybe you can use it one day. This example is about Douglas Lenat's Eurisko and the strategies it generated in a naval wargame. In this case, the 'patch' was a rules change. For some context, R7 is the name of one of Eurisko's heuristics:

A second use of R7 in the naval design task, one which also inspired a rules change, was in regard to the fuel tenders for the fleet. The constraints specified a minimum fractiona

... (read more)
Thanks! Do you have a link to the original article?

Why do you mourn when you can contemplate politics no more? What makes you think about it so much in the first place? That just seems like something you wouldn't want to ignore.

I admit I don't quite understand what MINERVA-DM is...I glanced at the paper briefly and it appears to be a...theoretical framework for making decisions which is shown to exhibit similar biases to human thought? (With cells and rows and ones?)

I can't describe it too much better than that. The framework is meant to be descriptive as opposed to normative.

A complete description of MINERVA-DM would involve some simple math, but I can try to describe it in words. The rows of numbers you saw are vectors. We take a vector that represents an observation, called... (read more)

Huh, okay, cool. Thanks for the additional info!

I am assuming the first point is about this post and the second two are about the planning primer?

The first two are about this article and the third is about the planning fallacy primer. I mentioned hypothesis generation because you talked about 'pair debugging' and asking people to state the obvious solutions to a problem as ways to increase the number of hypotheses that are generated, and it pattern matched to what I'd read about hypothesis generation.

There are definitely several papers on memory bias affecting decisions, although I'm unsure if we'r

... (read more)
Okay, gotcha. Thanks for the clarification on the points. I admit I don't quite understand what MINERVA-DM is...I glanced at the paper briefly and it appears to be a...theoretical framework for making decisions which is shown to exhibit similar biases to human thought? (With cells and rows and ones?) I'm definitely not strong in this domain; any chance you could summarize?

There is a problem where I say "Your hypothesis is backed by the evidence," when your entirely verbal theory is probably amenable to many interpretations and it's not clear how many virtue points you should get. But, I wanted to share some things from the literature that support your points about using feelings as information and avoiding miserliness.

First, there is something that's actually just called 'feelings-as-information theory', and has to do with how we, surprise, use feelings as sources of information. 'Feelings' is meant to be a more g... (read more)

Hey Gram, Thanks for the additional information! I am assuming the first point is about this post and the second two are about the planning primer? The feelings-as-information literature is new to me, and most of what I wrote here is from conversations w/ folks at CFAR. (Who, by the way, would probably be interested in seeing those links as well.) I'll freely admit that the decision making part in groups was the weakest part of my planning primer. I'm not very sure on the data, so your additional info on improved group hypothesis generation is pretty cool. There are definitely several papers on memory bias affecting decisions, although I'm unsure if we're talking about the same thing here. What I want to say is something like "improperly recalling how long things took in the past is a problem that can bias predictions we make" and this phenomena has been studied several times. But there is also a separate thing where "in observed studies of people planning, very few of them seem to even use their memories, in the sense of recalling past information, to create a reference class and use it to help them with their estimates for their plans", which might also be what you're referring to.

I'll try to write a short post on it at some point.

Please do!

(Tentatively upvoted.)

I find that a good way to make statements criticizing individuals or organizations less provocative is to frame your criticism as a confusion. This simultaneously allows you to demonstrate that you've thought about their reasoning for more than five minutes and tends to make any further discussion less adversial.

The abstract reasoning about why prison reform is a bipartisan cause makes sense to me: prisons cost lots of money (bad conservative metric) and they're disproportionately inhabited by minorities (bad liberal metric), but if your descriptions of their recommended organizations are charitable, then I too am confused right now.

I believe that's called a "concern troll". It also means that people with actual confusion will no longer be able to get answers because they will be mistaken for people like you.

Similarly, whe I see statements like this...

The fact that they let this stuff through reduces my confidence in 80,000 hours and the EA movement as a whole.

...I hope we are also able to post an opposite message (that something increased someone's confidence in EA) when an opposite situation happens. Otherwise we have yet another case of why our kind can't cooperate.

Please check the links and report back, I am one person working alone so it is possible I have missed something important. Well I have been accused of being a concern troll [] in the past for doing exactly that. So, I am being up-front: this is a critical article with that caveat that criticism of professional altruists is a necessary evil.

Does anyone have an electronic copy of the Oxford Handbook of Metamemory that they're willing to share?

I think it's possible to exercise Hufflepuff virtue in the act of encouraging more Ravenclaw virtue, right? That is, getting an arbitrary ball rolling is a Hufflepuff thing to do, even if you roll the ball in a Ravenclaw direction? That's an important distinction to me.

A mid-term goal of mine is to replicate Dougherty et al.'s MINERVA-DM in MIT/GNU Scheme (it was originally written in Pascal; no, I haven't requested the authors' source code, and I don't intend to). I also intend to test at least one of its untested predictions using Amazon Mechanical Turk,... (read more)

(for example, focusing seems to be related to nonverbal parts, but it sort of breaks the S1/S2 dichotomy by being nonverbal but slow.)

Noncentral nitpick that is meant to be helpful: Focusing is a counterexample to the lay dual process theory that people sometimes use around here, but not the up-to-date, cognitive-scientific one.

Briefly, the key distinction (and it seems, the distinction that implies the fewest assumptions) is the amount of demand that a given process places on working memory.


Although language is often involved in Type 2 pro... (read more)

comments to comments

Do you know if you'll be able to maintain their familial relationships as well?

We picked Telescope because it has a threaded commenting system, as opposed to systems like Discourse.

Yeah, post hoc rationalization or deception makes more sense than what I said.

Now that I think of it you're not entirely wrong either though. There must, at some level, be a certain amount of rationalization in the minds of managers who implement changes that are not going to make anyone's lives easier, and then lie and say they will - because most people don't like to think of themselves as cynical bastards. Is it a doublethink thing? Do they tell the board that it'll increase profits by doubling widget production, and then go out on the floor and say it'll make life easier, and somehow hold both as true in their minds at the same time? I've been a manager, but I don't recall ever doing that. I'm pretty sure I always told people "They're giving us a new widget thing. We'll be able to make twice as many widgets in a day. You get to spend Wednesday training on it instead of working." My people were generally fine with that. It made no difference to the X amount of work they were doing per day, and if X was acceptable to all parties and the coffee strong and plentiful, everyone was happy. Until, of course, Widgetron™ turned out to be an overpriced pile of crap that kept breaking down, but that's another issue.

Stipulation is obviously sometimes a cheat. I would be surprised if it was always one.

(Upvoted.) Just wanted to say, "Welcome to LessWrong."

I think this is worth pointing out because it seems like an easy mistake to use my reasoning to justify dictatorship. I also think this is an example of two ships passing in the night. Eliezer was talking about a meta-level/domain-general ethical injunction. When I was talking to the student, I was talking about how to avoid screwing up the object-level/domain-specific operationalization of the phrase 'good governance'.

My argument was that if you're asking yourself the question, "What does the best government look like?", assuming that that is in... (read more)

My point is that using fiction to sneak ideas about the real world past people is a cheat. It is possible to be certain about something fictional in a way in which one cannot be certain about the real world.

Thanks for clarifying. It was easy for me to forget that as well as being a moderator, you're also just another user with a stake in what happens to LW.

Genuine question: Did the Apolitical Guideline become an Apolitical Rule? Or have I always been mistaken about it being a guideline?

Always a guideline. I am still uneasy about the link being here, and would prefer to make it clear, rather than be silent.

Additional data point: I see [deleted].

Me, as well. (Edit: looking at Internet Archive's cached snapshots [*/], all of them that I checked look that way to me too.) (Edit2: it has looked that way to others as well [] for quite some time. I wouldn't worry about it.)

I know this is on the blogroll right now, but since it was originally on Facebook I thought it might be nice to start a place for discussion on LW. Linkposts are also quite a bit more visible than the blogroll.

This post is already getting too long so I deleted the section on lessons to be learned, but if there is interest I'll do a followup. Let me know what you think in the comments!

I at least would be interested in hearing anything else that you have to say about this topic. I'm not averse to private conversation on the matter either; most such conversations of mine are private.

Hypothesis: Fiction silently allows people to switch into truthseeking mode about politics.

A history student friend of mine was playing Fallout: New Vegas, and he wanted to talk to m... (read more)

Thanks, if there's a decent amount of interest I'll definitely do a followup. I might do one anyway, it's half-written, I need to do some editing before I unleash the hordes on it though!
That's an interesting insight actually, and dovetails with what I am saying. Politics isn't about Policy. If you want to do Policy, you need to talk about computer games ;0

Something I've been meaning to say for a while:

Keyword: Utopian studies.

Genuine question: why do you anticipate that we'll assume that you're being disingenuous?

Because it sounded like a joke when I reread it. (But as it stands above, it is a bit different from what it was then because after reading it I rewrote it to take a bit of that away.)

If you don't get a proper response, it may be worthwhile to make this into its own post, if you have the karma. (Open thread is another option.)

I've always really liked this idea. I already do the toothbrushing thing. Hygiene's a good category to pull from. A few others I use:

  • Feeling of cold air
  • Warmth of sunlight
  • Warmth of water, be it bathing, dishwashing, etc.
  • Smell of clean laundry
  • Smell of coffee/warm beverages
  • Feel of wearing freshly cleaned clothing
  • Feel of a fresh shave
  • I often have long hair, and notice that my hair actually starts to feel heavier the longer it goes unwashed, so, the lightness of freshly washed hair
This, and: * seeing sudden patterns in random objects around me (like archipelagos of melting snow) * choosing just a single book at my parents' place * eating cherries from the tree * having ice-cream after a field survey in August * watching my kid play with other children (he is often ill, so we always count this as a win) * packing away winter coats...
Nice list! I've used most of these as well, but I have a pretty weak sense of smell, so I often forget to pay any attention to the smell ones in the first place. Could add those to my own list. :)

But I would say that these disadvantages are necessary evils that, while they might be possible to mitigate somewhat, go along with having a genuinely public discourse and public accountability.

I'm often afraid of being an unwanted participant, so I've thought about this particular point somewhat. The worst case version of this phenomenon is the Eternal September, when the newbies become so numerous that the non-newbies decide to exit en masse.

I think there's something important that people miss when they think about the Eternal September phenomenon. Fr... (read more)

"letting people sell their organs after they're dead doesn't seem like it would increase the supply that much"

seems very suspect. If you could sell the rights to your organs, there's now incentive to set up a "pay people to be signed up for organ donation" business. This is also not harmful to the donor, unlike kidneys.

True. More than anything I was trying to bite off a small piece of the larger 'organ market question'. Given your comment, a better way to do this would have been to note that even perfectly allocating all cadaveric or... (read more)

Mostly horror, though it's a decent point in favor of setting up better legal options for organ transplants, in order to reduce the incentives towards that kind of system.
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