All of Hyena's Comments + Replies

[link] SMBC on utilitarianism and vegatarianism.

Well, that's my point. There's all these arguments hanging around here and when you take any of the general approaches, like utility theory, you tend to bump into them with nasty consequences. As I said: I don't really have a way to "solve" this.

1Peter Wildeford10yWhy can't we just reject that Parfitian argument?
Does Hyperbolic Discounting Really Exist?

So far as I recall, Ainslie's thesis is that the various "modules" of the brain have hyperbolic discount curves which are then composed to yield an exponential curve. Akrasia is what happens when particularly strong specific impulses spike above the exponential discount curve. Ainslie predicts what you actually see: lots of people making rational decisions punctuated by failures of "willpower" large and small.

I'm also unsure whether you're overstating LessWrong's obsession with akrasia. It's never felt over-generalized. The focus on it ... (read more)

LW Philosophers versus Analytics

Your target populations are very different. Your average philosophy undergrad is closer to your average undergrad than is the average LeWer. Pitting LeWers against philosophy undergrads who spend substantial amounts of their time on unassigned philosophical investigation and discussion seems a more fair fight, at least if you also handicap LeWers for age.

2Ronny10yMost people that major in philosophy in my school do do a fair amount of philosophy on their own time.
How rationality can make your life more awesome

Shokwave got it more or less in narrative form. Thinking rationally gives you a shot at breaking path dependence before you get too far gone to turn back.

What I think about you

The irony of this thread is that there are, atm, 24 comments, one post and 46 karma points between them. So either there's a lot of counterbalancing karma or no one wants to opine!

Life Extension versus Replacement

This presumes that extending the life of an existing person by 100 years precludes the creation of a new person with a lifespan of 100 years. We will be motivated to prefer the former scenario because it is difficult for us to feel its relevance to the latter.

Might I ask for some advice?

No, he's probably not wrong but he's also not relevant. The OP probably isn't importing the meme directly from 19th century France. In the US, you import the meme from two general sources: hippies or the tech industry. Given the author's own description of his life, the tech industry seems most likely.

But who knows: maybe he's a meme hipster and only imports French originals?

Might I ask for some advice?

Facts that need to be cleared first: (1) you are 22, (2) "passion" is a meme imported from the tech industry.

You shouldn't have a sense of direction at 22. If you do, you're doing it wrong; it means forswearing experimentation, which is a huge net positive endeavor at that age.

People usually develop a sense of direction because of path dependence. Since you are not in a professional major, dependence is weak. The down economy, with its ebb of opportunity and grim signals, worsens any confusion. If you feel you are even more confused than you shou... (read more)

9Karmakaiser10yI wasn't aware that the meme that one should "do what you love" came from the tech boom. I was given to understand by Alain de Botton (I believe in his TED talk) that this idea orginiated in France among the upper class at the same time that life long romantic love began to become a thing. Is he wrong, or is it that the tech boom allowed the lower and middle classes to buy into this idea that passion can be economic sustaining?
Query the LessWrong Hivemind

If you query Less Wrong, what is the probability that the median response is acceptably close to correct? Please provide confidence intervals, feel free to break out any classes of propositions if you feel that it would be unfair/poor form/not very fun at all to group all classes together but explain why.

0D_Malik10yWe would give you our estimates, but they're probably wrong. Seriously: For practical real-world questions, my wild guess is that the most-upvoted answer will be "acceptably close to correct" in about two thirds of the questions that are asked. For more nebulous philosophical stuff like many-worlds and qualia, I'd put our accuracy much lower. Related is the calibration question in the old survey, though I think the staggering accuracy here was a fluke:
Low legibility of Cognitive Reflection Test dramatically improves performance?

What is the proposed mechanism? Is it that they think harder about it or simply that they read more carefully? Test design criteria often specify a number of interventions to prevent mistaken readings (for example, using "NOT" rather than "not" or emphasizing queries in bold type after a long paragraph).

4uzalud10yAuthor continues: System 1 is the impulsive, unconscious, eager but not very intelligent aspect of the mind. System 2 is slow, conscious and more thoughtful, but "lazy" and prone to accept suggestions from the System 1. Theory is that inducing cognitive strain diverts more mental resources to the System 2, which then tends to do a proper job at solving the test.
A clever argument for buying lottery tickets

I see that Wei_Dai has come up with the answer. I was unwilling to dedicate the time to it, as your example was needlessly overgrown. I should have simply said nothing save that. My apologies.

A clever argument for buying lottery tickets

I don't think this works because you're submitting to the same probabilistic calculation but muddying the waters, so somewhere you should be missing something which pushes expected value in line and makes it a bad decision. There's also the issue that no lottery has proper payoffs where expected value is par.

A better argument is to note that we lose money with little utility gained all the time because we don't intuit our accounts very well unless we're close to the edge of them by some factor. In that case, buying lottery tickets is a good bet up to edge * factor because they have a higher expected value than simply losing the money altogether.

3RolfAndreassen10yFine, but where and what? I've already gone through the math a couple of times looking for errors; the purpose of posting here was to get fresh eyes on the problem.
Do we have it too easy?

One of the things Yudkowsky has done very well is coin memorable phrases for questions about cognitive bias or poor reasoning. Terms like "true rejection" are great mnemonics. But there is also a danger--which Yudkowsky himself would recognize--of forming a group identity around this patois.

That's the jargon I'm talking about. You should think twice before adopting these terms when writing or speaking.

Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

Maybe. I read a massive quantity of material daily, on the order of 80-90,000 words some weeks. This is combined with comment across a variety of forums and fields. I rely heavily on cues from websites to keep straight who I'm talking to and that I'm even on the right submission forms when I say something.

Do we have it too easy?

To avoid cult mode, try to avoid the local jargon. That will help you keep some distance by not turning on your slogan-loyalty loop. I've avoided this because I remember when this topic space was young, none of these sites existed and this sort of thing was still the stuff of excited conversation among college students. It's nice to see it all laid out in various places, but it will never appear to me as the work of monumental genius it does to some people.

3Dorikka10yAre there any particularly nasty bits you can think of?
2Klao10yThis sounds like a very good piece of advice. A slight problem is that some of the jargon is very useful for expressing things that otherwise would be hard to express. But, I'll try to be conscious about it.
Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

Nothing to clarify, actually. I apologize; I've been busy and the header switch occasioned by using the context link threw me. It changes the title to "XXXX comments on YYYY". Not being someone who comments consistently, this tends to make me mistake who originally posted because it plants an association between the person I'm replying to and the title of the post.

0Logos0110yAhh. Much is explained. :) Well, hopefully this incident will serve to reinforce this particular tidbit and prevent you from having a repeat occurrance.
Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

"The first time around" for the OPer is the OP, from which it is absent and in which you identify the problem as incomplete attempts.

2Logos0110yI am not jkaufman. So I don't know that I follow what you're trying to say here. This means that either you or I are confused. In either case, no successful communication is currently occurring. Could you please clarify what it is you're trying to say?
Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

So why not just say "to clarify, I believe that we do not have enough knowledge of C. elegans' neuroanatomy to build new models at this time. We need to devote more work to studying that before we can build newer models"? That's a perfectly valid objection, but it contradicts your original post, which states that C. elegans is well understood neurologically.

If you believe that we cannot build effective models "without [additional] direct observation", then you have done two things: you've objected to the consensus that C. elegans is well understood and provided a criterion (and effective upload model of its neuroanatomy) for judging how well we understand.

0Logos0110yMy original post stated, "without additional effort to more finely emulate the real-time biochemical actions of neurons, it seems that emulating what we already know won't lead us to deeper insights as to what we don't." Your assertion (in-line quoted, this comment) is false. I said what I meant the first time 'round: we don't know enough about how neurons work yet and without that understanding any models we build now won't yield us any new insights into how they do. This, furthermore, has nothing to do with C. elegans in specific. Since the goal of these models is to emulate the behavior of C. elegans, and the models do not yet do this, it is clear that one of two things is true: either we do not understand C. elegans or we do not understand neurobiology sufficiently to achieve this goal. I have made my assertion as to which this is, I have done so quite explicitly, and I have been consistent and clear in this from my first post in this thread. So where's the confusion?
Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

I think the problem here is that you think that each instance of a simulation is actually an "attempt". A simulation is a model of some behavior; unlike climbing Everest (which I did in 2003), taming Pegasus (in -642) or repelling the Golden Horde (1257 - 1324, when I was called away on urgent business in Stockholm), each run of a model is a trial, not an attempt. Each iteration of the model is an attempt, as is each new model.

We need more attempts. We learn something different from each one.

0Logos0110yNo, the problem here is more that I don't believe that it is any longer feasible to run a simulation and attempt to extract new information without direct observation of the simulated subject-matter. Yes, absolutely. But I don't believe we can do anything other than repeat the past by building models based on modeled output without direct observation at this time.
Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

Everything that fails does for a reason and in a way. In engineering, mere bugs aside, everything fails at the frontier of our knowledge and our failures carry information about the shape of that frontier back to us. We learn what problems need to be overcome and can, with many failures, generalize what the overall frontier is like, connect its problems and create concepts which solve many at once.

0Logos0110yOh, absolutely. But if they keep failing for the same reason and in the same way, re-running the simulations doesn't get you any unique or novel information. It only reinforces what you already know. I acknowledged this as I said, "Emulations are certainly a vital part of that process, however: without them we cannot properly guage how close we are to 'knowing enough for government work'."
Why would we think artists perform better on drugs ?

There is a severe methodological problem here. The appropriate point of comparison is not between artists and the general population, but between artists and others whose social standing is not negatively impacted by drug use. The latter group, which includes much of the poor but also plenty of upper-middle class people in California, seem to have much higher rates of drug use than American Average Person.

That would likely explain the entire problem. As to historically significant alcoholics, my impression has been that drinking problems were more severe (much more) in the past.

Whole Brain Emulation: Looking At Progress On C. elgans

This depends on whether the problem is the basic complexity of modeling a neural network or learning how to do it. If the former, then we may be looking at a long time. But if it's the latter, then we really just need more attempts, successful or not, to learn from and a framework which allows a leap in understanding could arrive.

1Logos0110yI don't know that repeatedly doing the wrong thing will help inform us how to do the right thing. This seems counterfactual to me. Certainly it informs us what the wrong thing is, but... without additional effort to more finely emulate the real-time biochemical actions of neurons, it seems that emulating what we already know won't lead us to deeper insights as to what we don't. The question becomes: how do we discern that missing information? Emulations are certainly a vital part of that process, however: without them we cannot properly guage how close we are to 'knowing enough for government work'.
Is math subjective?

Subjective worlds must be causally closed; they cannot transmit information to other worlds since that would break the principle that each world is subjective. As such, there can be no subjective reality: if subjective reality were true, causal closure would demand that your observations about the world are semantically equivalent to a world in which you are alone as an observer.

For example, imagine that we lived in Minecraft, which has a procedurally generated world. We use a seed (say "404") to kick off the algorithm. But say instead that we us... (read more)

[LINK] Non-Conformists Better At Working Toward Common Good

From the "relevant link":

"Participants' conformity was measured by how much they wished to conform to social expectations and be seen in a positive light, known as 'social desirability'. They completed a standardised measure and were also asked about their attitude towards paying tax. People who score highly on social desirability are more likely to conform, for example by paying tax, and agree with others. The researchers expected that they would be more likely to co-operate as well."

Properly, they are not measuring conformity. What th... (read more)

Subjective and Objective Reality: My Essay

The opening is really bad and the essay is poorly organized. Do you have an outline of where you want this to go?

[LINK] Loss of local knowledge affecting intellectual trends

Phlogiston was a substance hypothesized to explain fire, my comment supposes an architecture of pre-existing mechanisms which appear just as plausible as what the OP proposes.

You've aggressively chopped from my comment relevant details, for example, the qualifier "prima facie", which negates your objections.

You're overly presumptive about memes, presuming that we need to personally observe a complete trajectory from baby to success. This is not so; it is sufficient that we observe highly skilled people which are financial successes and ask about their trajectory.

2lessdazed10yI agree. I'm going to make an aggressive assertion beyond what is relevant in this context to increase the chances for me to be wrong. "Prima facie" isn't a statement that ever saves a person from privileging the hypothesis, rather, recognized stupidity avoided plus "prima facie" is a hallmark of privileging the hypothesis, and one has only literally, technically saved one's argument from succumbing to reversed stupidity if one is physically writing about a random thing with the justification it is better than the stupid thing, but one has not saved ones self from it because the time spent on it remains spent.. The most well-established case in the world showing one car, chosen at random, is going north on the freeway at time t does not enable one to say anything important about the average direction of traffic on all freeways at time t. Group selection is real, mathematically real, and present in all selection among sexually reproducing creatures. Its effect is not observable because that effect is swamped by the countless other paradigms that humans aren't programmed to (over) attribute. That's what is meant by "group selection is not real", that it is never a predominant explanation of any phenomenon. The blog post is a random story crafted to appeal to humans and not be logically false. It can be defended by saying that all that is meant is logical truth of its stories being factors, but by Gricean implication, if one writes a blog post about an effect being real, one is claiming that this could be used to make a prediction and has more of an effect than the influence of Pluto's gravity on mating patterns of the Buffy-Tufted Marmoset.
Insulin Signaling and Autism

I'm glad someone else has taken up the cause of telling people to take it easy.

Things you are supposed to like

I will submit two things first: (1) Jackson Pollock paintings are excellent, that you don't like them just demonstrates you're not in their audience; (2) the normal way for Burning Man to change someone's life completely is through drug use.

Over the course of my art history degree, not once did anyone insist I had to like any work. I had to recognize its importance--either as inspiration others drew on or as an exemplar of some type--but never actually be attached to any of the work. I think this tendency to demand others like a work is unserious. But this... (read more)

[LINK] Loss of local knowledge affecting intellectual trends

Consider a separate possibility: competition and opportunity abounds in urban areas, placing additional value on intelligence and skill acquisition. Since there is nothing which can be done about intelligence, really, focusing on skill acquisition is a better strategy. Parents who believe very thoroughly in the nurture argument may be much more willing to invest heavily in their child's education, expecting far greater benefits than are actually possible. Because the perceived value of success is higher it succeeds more often in the face of discounting.

In ... (read more)

-2lessdazed10yI agree. The problem is that this is one out of uncountable equally plausible stories that, if true, explains a tiny effect on a meme's spread that varies in direction depending on the story. The effect of offspring's eventual financial success on this sort of child-raising meme's spread is negligible. Isolating it and finding the direction doesn't tell me about the important factors behind such memes. I'm going to say there are four general problems with that, giving me one chance to be right and many to be wrong.Privileging the hypothesis [http://lesswrong.com/lw/19m/privileging_the_hypothesis/], reversed stupidity is not intelligence [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lw/reversed_stupidity_is_not_intelligence/], cultish countercultishness [http://lesswrong.com/lw/md/cultish_countercultishness/], the tragedy of group selectionism [http://lesswrong.com/lw/kw/the_tragedy_of_group_selectionism/]. I'm not sure what it is that is (or is not) being explained. Phlogiston had fire, for example. There needs to be an unexplained phenomenon, or one has a fake fake explanation.
[link] SMBC on utilitarianism and vegatarianism.

Are you talking about objections or disgust? I can, through emotional manipulation, make you "object" to many things, but these don't occupy the same space as considered argument.

[link] SMBC on utilitarianism and vegatarianism.

This is perfectly well true, but I'm not interested in addressing this because I have never known this to be anyone's sufficient objection to eating meat.

Would you eat a well-treated chicken? How about a deer instantly killed by a Predator drone equipped to vaporize its brain faster than neurons react?

2Swimmy10yI know this comment has already been objected to, but I'll pile on anyway. Torture is my objection to eating dairy and eggs. Stop the torture, and I will switch back to vegetarianism over veganism. I am currently willing to buy dairy, at least, from "humanely raised" farms (though I never see it in stores, it does exist).
6datadataeverywhere10yTorture (not murder) is my stated [http://lesswrong.com/lw/3g8/vegetarianism/38dx] objection to eating meat.
4Unnamed10yI'd guess that the poor treatment of animals is the main reason why people switch to vegetarianism. Most don't make the fine distinctions that would allow them to continue to eat the rare well-treated animals (although some do [http://ethicalwerewolf.blogspot.com/2004/07/enter-meatrix.html]), but if food animals typically had pleasant lives and painless deaths then I expect that there would be far fewer vegetarians.
5Raemon10yI'm a vegetarian who is fine with deer hunting and chickens/cows that are raised humanely, able to live their lives doing more or less what cows and chickens would normally spend their lives doing.
7Nisan10yA number of people are motivated to be vegan or vegetarian by the conditions under which factory-farm animals live. For example, Julia Galef in this [http://www.rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs31-vegetarianism.html] podcast.
4rwallace10yThose are both moral improvements on typical chicken. Another example is mutton: sheep are commonly kept on rocky hillsides which would otherwise go to waste, and commonly have a life that's about as good as it can get for a sheep, being mostly left alone to live as they would in the wild, except protected from predators and parasites.
[link] SMBC on utilitarianism and vegatarianism.

First, see my thing on irrelevant critiques and context agreement.

Second, your question suggests an answer which we would generally find repugnant. We could likewsie ask whether it matters so much if, for example, they are doomed to die when a small bomb planted in their brain at birth goes off without which their birth would have not occurred.

[link] SMBC on utilitarianism and vegatarianism.

I think the ethics of farming is another place where problems in utilitarianism crop up.

There's a Parfitian argument that, since none of these animals would have existed otherwise, then killing them for food is no problem. But this would also apply to farming people, whether for food or chattel slavery, which we find repugnant. Obviously, though, this world is just as utility maximizing as Hanson's Malthusian em soup universe, neither of which seem particularly "good" (in fact, it is the em soup, just with fleshy people).

I don't have a "solution" to this, I think it just demonstrates one of the edges of utility theory's map.

2Peter Wildeford10yThere's a Parfitian argument that, since you would have not existed otherwise unless your parents gave you birth, then your parents should be allowed to kill you for food.

One problem with this argument is that to eat chicken or pork, you have to be okay not only with killing animals, but with torturing them as well - there's no better word for the conditions in which chickens and pigs are typically kept.

6DanielLC10yOnly if their lives are worth living. You're willing to create people who are doomed to die of old age. Does it really matter how you die?
[SEQ RERUN] Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

(1) It is a bad idea for everyone to go to college, at least as college is currently (4 years, etc.). College is foremost a technology for learning; it has advantages and disadvantages. If you need the advantages of this model, then go. However, it's a well-known fact, at least in the arts, that it is not ideal; that field also contains "schools" and "institutes" with differing educational models and environments.

The problem with Huffman is he has decided here to break with the plain meaning of my statement within the context of the de... (read more)

-1jhuffman10yThis is a good explanation but I think your comments on college were extraneous to begin with - that itself is reason enough not to respond to them but I don't really agree we had clear context for the discussion. If you want to talk about whats wrong with the expectations that individuals and businesses have of college its odd to start by singling out classes of people that "shouldn't go to college" in a hypothetical world where it didn't have the present instrumental value.
[SEQ RERUN] Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

Because you've drilled as far as you can before making a determination.

Don't call yourself a rationalist.

I always call you all "LessWrongians" or "the people at LessWrong" sometimes also using the word "dudes".

6atorm10yI think we should call people at Less Wrong the Illuminati. There's no way that could have any negative connotations, right?

A somehow arbitrary name is good, because it allows better compartmentalization.

Just like "Mensa" is better than "people more intelligent than you", or "Toastmasters" is better than "people who can speak better than you", also "LessWrongians" is better than "people who are more rational than you".

Of course we usually don't say "people who are more rational than you"; we say "rationalists" instead... but saying it differently does not prevent the audience from decoding the (real... (read more)

6Eliezer Yudkowsky10yI tend to think of y'all as the Lessiath (no relation) or LessWrongenath but it doesn't work as well in verbal conversation.
[SEQ RERUN] Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

Downvoted for motivating an aggressive sort of skepticism: you've denied context agreement and therefore sent us straight to the pyrrhonic depths.

3Emile10yI don't understand 1) What your position is the value on going to college in the top comment (and from lessdazed's comment, I'm not the only one) 2) Whether you disagree with jhuffman 3) Why you downvoted (context agreement? aggressive skepticism? pyrrhonic dephts? what?) Either you're overestimating how much other people understand what you wanted to say, or I'm particularly stupid.
[SEQ RERUN] Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

Not confdent about which part? Skeptics or college-as-seminary?

3Emile10yI don't think I understand either (illusion of transparency and all that). You seem to be saying that people from elite schools say not everybody should attend college, whereas in fact, you shouldn't attend college unless you want to become a professor. (That after reading it five times I'm still not sure of what you meant is not a good sign) Less clever analogies, more clarity please!
[SEQ RERUN] Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

Individual IQ differences are, in general "not okay"; racial IQ differences are downright verboten. I won't discuss either in certain company for fear of attracting any number of labels, with the exception of the effect of lead on IQ, which is a soapbox I mount often.

As ArisKastaris points out, those labels should adhere to you more often than not. I tend to think that this is because the rest of us have never developed a decent realm of discussion which includes IQ. I get the same feeling with the "not everybody should attend college" ... (read more)

-1jhuffman10yCollege is a good idea if you'll have more job opportunities and get paid more for having gone. In other words, before you can convince me that I don't need a college degree you'll need to convince a few million hiring managers in my field of the same thing. The fact that their opinion may be poorly supported by evidence doesn't change anything for me.
1CronoDAS10yIf you want to be an engineer, or have any other career that requires technical education, going to college is generally a pretty good idea.
2lessdazed10yI'm not confident I understand what you are saying.
0wedrifid10yWhich would seem to make the entire metric either worthless or 'bad'. :P
Mike Darwin on Kurzweil, Techno-Optimism, and Delusional Stances on Cryonics

I feel like I have a fairly good shot at living forever without cryonics. I wouldn't give it 93%, but still.

-1Multiheaded10ySame here.
Mike Darwin on Steve Jobs's hypocritical stance towards death

I've been observing my parents' rollover to 50 the last two years. As it happens, I'm also visiting them at this moment, so this is a salient dynamic to me. My stepfather has gone from hard ass to laid back from 50 to 52. My mother, looking at 50 is rearranging her priorities extensively. They've sold houses, left jobs, planned extensive vacations and so on. Priorities have shifted massively as have more general perceptions of life and success; both emphasize their age more and seem to use it as a social enabler to actually take on the early retirement the... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
6Oscar_Cunningham10yYou didn't answer my question.
Mike Darwin on Steve Jobs's hypocritical stance towards death

He would have been 50 that year, right? Isn't that usually a psychologically important age for most people which definitively separates the young and old?

Did you know that the speech was only 6 years ago when you made your original comment?

Mike Darwin on Steve Jobs's hypocritical stance towards death

Unless, you know, as Jobs got older and became less of a youth-obsessed person, his "utility of death" view was abandoned.

Gosh, he must have grown up a lot in those 6 years since his 2005 commencement speech.

.

I usually assume certain situations happen under "Crocker's or silence"; for example, I think most productive enterprise should be carried out in this fashion, Crocker's in discussion and silence in generation.

Peter Thiel warns of upcoming (and current) stagnation

I think I agree with you about Daniel Boone in space, that if the (personal) resource costs were more tolerable we'd start seeing it. What I'm missing originally is the number of people willing to pay even millions of dollars to simply skim the surface of our atmosphere, a healthy portion of which don't seem primarily motivated by status. So yes, you're coorect that we'd probably have had a lunar colony if it were feasible to deliver people at fairly low cost; in fact, if the cost is low enough, I can see this as highly likely both for Daniel Boones and hi... (read more)

Peter Thiel warns of upcoming (and current) stagnation

This seems like an interesting idea but it exaggerates things. First of all, I think that everyone thought that there was a large amount of overlap between research being done in the both the US and the USSR (look at the space programs for example). Second, the USSR did do a lot of very good research on their own (look for example how many Nobel and Fields medal they won as a very rough metric).

A quick and dirty estimation: the US shows 331 Nobel Prizes, France shows 58, Germany shows 102; Russia shows 27. Russia is also notably larger than either Franc... (read more)

Note that the Nobel prizes are awarded from Sweden, and Russia has traditionally been Sweden's enemy.

2PhilGoetz10yOh, come on. Look at what's REALLY important: Chess champions and Olympic gold medals!
6JoshuaZ10yOk. Wow. I knew there was a discrepancy. I didn't realize that the differences were that massive, That's um... wow. Phrased that way I now have to wonder how more people didn't during the Cold War realize how much the USSR was being hobbled by its own problems. This undermines my claim quite a lot. This still seems to be a function of the resource level involved and how much technology is required. If playing Daniel Boone in space took only a few hundred thousand dollars I suspect that a lot of people would jump at it. As to Asimov, yes that's a valid point. He was writing far outside his field. He's not however the only example of this, merely the most prominent. Sagan was also in that hybrid zone of science and media but a bit closer (having actually worked on probes and aerospace ideas including a military proposal to detonate a nuke on the moon) and he made similar comments.But, you make a good point. It seems that the rank and file engineers were not nearly as optimistic. So the media point seems stronger than I stated.
Peter Thiel warns of upcoming (and current) stagnation

Actually, the more I read over Thiel's essay, the more I question our ideas about the future at mid century. For example:

--How many of those predictions were based on the erroneous belief that communist states were also valiantly leading the charge of progress? We now know that half the world essentially squandered five decades of human progress.

--To what extent were they underestimating the technical challenges involved?

--How many misplaced ideas about society were there? Many ideas, like interplanetary colonization, seemed to spring from a belief that p... (read more)

4JoshuaZ10yThis seems like an interesting idea but it exaggerates things. First of all, I think that everyone thought that there was a large amount of overlap between research being done in the both the US and the USSR (look at the space programs for example). Second, the USSR did do a lot of very good research on their own (look for example how many Nobel and Fields medal they won as a very rough metric). This seems to be the biggest issue. There seems to have been a massive underestimate of just how tough space travel and associated technologies are. People expected the expense to go down at a far faster rate than it did. On the other hand, some technologies that almost no one saw coming, such as personal computers and the internet have if anything become extremely ubiquitous. I think that this belief isn't misplaced. The cost and tech issues seem to be more relevant. Being Daniel Boone in space is really expensive. Answering this is probably going to be difficult. But I think that even the people who were scientists were extremely optimistic. I don't have the precise year but in I think either the late 1960s or early 1970s, Asimov wrote an essay for the World Book Encyclopedia in which he laid out what he thought was going to happen. There would be colonies on Mars and other planets, and humans engaging in missions to the upper atmosphere of Venus, and about nowish we were supposed to start preparing a generation ship. The optimism was not the fault of the media simply twisting the science. So, overall, I think for many of these technologies the main issues were not realizing how tough they were along with general unjustified optimism.
Private Manned Moonbase in the 1990s, Yet Another Planning Fallacy

I think this should be read in conjunction with Peter Thiel's essay about stagnating innovation, where he talks about how society views technological progress. What I think Thiel misses is just how much the sense of progress was driven by a misestimation of the engineering--not to mention social--challenges to the future envisioned at mid century. The Artemis Project seems like an example of this sort of thinking.

I've been accused, rather angrily, of being unimaginative, but I feel like overactive imagination killed people's love of progress and so I have a duty to offer plausible near futures and pour some cold water on overactive imaginings.

Peter Thiel warns of upcoming (and current) stagnation

Given that productivity growth was slow for most of human history, it seems more appropriate to ask why it was so fast for a while. I keep thinking it may have been that manufacturing precision reached a point where we could drink a couple centuries of scientific milkshake.

8pedanterrific10yIn the middle of that sentence I was expecting a "low-hanging fruit" analogy, then you blindsided me with a milkshake. That's not a good thing to be blindsided by.
Load More