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Lesswrong 2016 Survey

Took the survey, had the recurring survey confusion about some questions. For instance, I think some taxes should be higher and others should be lower. Saying I have no strong opinion is inaccurate but at least it seemed like the least inaccurate answer.

Rationality Quotes Thread October 2015

Odd that Freeman Dyson thinks politicians and administrators are particularly difficult to persuade here. This is the whole point of why capitalism works better than having clever people run a command economy. You can be clever enough to notice you need roads and infrastructure, but no one is clever enough to predict what technologies will run the future (truly, this principle applies to almost every reasonably complex thing, not just technology -- the finance angle in particular is the standard phrasing, hence me bringing up capitalism).

Rationality Quotes January 2015

I imagine it would be quite hard to be happy. In a society that demands that only a certain portion of your life can contain imagination and impossibilities and robots and dinosaurs and make-believe in general, the most make-believe-y stuff has real social costs.

As a small child I remember imagining dramatic stories all around me. It's hard to escape the conclusion that if my mind wandered quite so much today, had such a focus on the unreal and imaginative, there would be almost no place in the world at all for me. Sadness would follow in the wake of all vivid diversions.

Thank goodness television is socially acceptable! While most of it is hardly fictional at all, at least that element of life hasn't been completely subtracted from adult society.

Has LessWrong Ever Backfired On You?

So, obviously that list isn't exhaustive, because there are more ways to split interactions than public/private, but in an attempt to add meaningful new outlooks:

4) Speak about your weaknesses openly when in public, and deny them in private.

Many high status individuals are much harsher, demanding, arrogant, and certain in private than in public. I think this is a result of -- when you don't know the target well -- not knowing who you will have to impress, who you have to suck up to, and who is only useful when they get you the thing you want.

How can I reduce existential risk from AI?

I'm having trouble imagining how risk would ever go down, sans entering a machine-run totalitarian state, so I clearly don't have the same assessment of bad things happening "sooner rather than later". I can't imagine a single dangerous activity that is harder or less dangerous now than it was in the past, and I suspect this will continue. The only things that will happen sooner than later are establishing stable and safe equilibria (like post-Cold War nuclear politics). If me personally being alive meaningfully effects an equilibrium (implicit or explicit) then Humanity is quite completely screwed.

Open thread, Nov. 24 - Nov. 30, 2014

Is it just me or is this a proxy bravery debate? Are we collectively committed to getting to the bottom of who / which tribe is the true victim of those mean people on the internet? I'm not entirely sure why this has been promoted to the level of "have two extremely smart LW posters discuss". You both are quite keen thinkers, and I imagine the topics this funges against for your attention will delight yourselves and the wider LW community even more.

Rationality Quotes November 2014

Perhaps a more precise point is that the first American government failed. John Hanson and the other 9 Presidents of the United States under the articles of confederation were operating the true government they threw the revolution for. It failed almost immediately -- you would be astonished at how hard it was to convince someone to run the country, hence the extremely high turnover on Presidents.

I, and many other people here on Less Wrong, live in a massive, surprisingly enduring Plan B of a government.

[It's worth pointing out I like this one better, because we can find appropriately qualified staff, which is, ya know, pretty good. But alas, I was not a father of the American Revolution.]

You have a set amount of "weirdness points". Spend them wisely.

I think all three of us are right and secretly all agree.

(1) that weirdness points are bayesian evidence of being wrong (surely timecube doesn't seem more accurate because no one believes it). Normal stuff is wrong quite a lot but not more wrong than guessing.

(2) weirdness points can never give you enough certainty to dismiss an issue completely. Time Cube is wrong because it is Time Cube (read: insane ramblings), not because it's unpopular. Of course we don't have a duty to research all unlikely things, but if we already are thinking about it, "it's weird" isn't a good/rational place to stop, unless you want to just do something else, like eat a banana or go to the park or something.

and, critically, (3) If you don't have evidence enough to completely swamp and replace the bayesian update from weirdness points, you really don't have enough evidence to contribute a whole lot to any search for truth. That's what I was getting at. It's also pretty unlikely that the weirdness that "weirdness points" refer to would be unknown to someone you're talking with.

You have a set amount of "weirdness points". Spend them wisely.

It might be worth emphasizing the difference between persuading people and being right. The kind of people who care about weirdness points are seldom the ones contributing good new data to any question of fact, nor those posing the best reasoning for judgments of value. I appreciate the impulse to try to convince people of things, but convincing people is extremely hard. I'm not Noam Chomsky; therefore, I have other things to do aside from thinking and arguing with people. And if I have to do one of those two worse in order to save time, I choose to dump the 'convince people' stat and load up on clear thinking.

November 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread

The returns diminish when it comes to impact on your grade, yes, and I certainly enjoyed transparency about how the grades I got would be impacted by my work.

The distribution of value for learning, though, goes up with difficulty until it drops to zero (the point at which you cannot solve the puzzle at all). My only point is that we should strongly prefer systems that allow us to soak up all that high-intensity high-value work -- modern universities aren't that for many students, though, but independently reading textbooks could/should be.

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