All of iceman's Comments + Replies

chinchilla's wild implications

What changed with the transformer? To some extent, the transformer is really a "smarter" or "better" architecture than the older RNNs. If you do a head-to-head comparison with the same training data, the RNNs do worse.

But also, it's feasible to scale transformers much bigger than we could scale the RNNs. You don't see RNNs as big as GPT-2 or GPT-3 simply because it would take too much compute to train them.

You might be interested in looking at the progress being made on the RWKV-LM architecture, if you aren't following it. It's an attempt to train an RNN like a transformer. Initial numbers look pretty good.

Curating "The Epistemic Sequences" (list v.0.1)

I think the how-to-behave themes of the LessWrong Sequences are at best "often wrong but sometimes motivationally helpful because of how they inspire people to think as individuals and try to help the world", and at worst "inspiring of toxic relationships and civilizational disintegration."

I broadly agree with this. I stopped referring people to the Sequences because of it.

One other possible lens to filter a better Sequences: is it a piece relying on Yudkowsky citing current psychology at the time? He was way too credulous, when the correct amount to up... (read more)

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

I want to summarize what's happened from the point of view of a long time MIRI donor and supporter:

My primary takeaway of the original post was that MIRI/CFAR had cultish social dynamics, that this lead to the spread of short term AI timelines in excess of the evidence, and that voices such as Vassar's were marginalized (because listening to other arguments would cause them to "downvote Eliezer in his head"). The actual important parts of this whole story are a) the rationalistic health of these organizations, b) the (possibly improper) memetic spread of t... (read more)

So the idea that AGI will be built soon is entirely from a former cult, and not one person independently thought of it as a real thing? But no seriously, that's a huge deal if true, because AI Alignment is entirely too alarmist.
Where I agree and disagree with Eliezer

That sort of thinking is why we're where we are right now.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

I have no idea how that cashes out game theoretically. There is a difference between moving from the mutual cooperation square to one of the exploitation squares, and moving from an exploitation square to mutual defection. The first defection is worse because it breaks the equilibrium, while the defection in response is a defensive play.

swarriner's post, including the tone, is True and Necessary.

Rationalism in an Age of Egregores

It's just plain wrong that we have to live in an adversarial communicative environment where we can't just take claims at face value without considering political-tribe-maneuvering implications.

Oh? Why is it wrong and what prevents you from ending up in this equilibrium in the presence of defectors?

More generally, I have ended up thinking people play zero-sum status games because they enjoy playing zero-sum status games; evolution would make us enjoy that. This would imply that coordination beats epistemics, and historically that's been true.

How would you build Dath Ilan on earth?

[The comment this was a response to has disappeared and left this orphaned? Leaving my reply up.]

But there's no reason to believe that it would work out like this. He presents no argument for the above, just pure moral platitudes. It seems like a pure fantasy.

As I pointed out in the essay, if I were running one of the organizations accepting those donations and offering those prizes, I would selectively list only those targets who I am genuinely satisfied are guilty of the violation of the "non-aggression principle." But as a practical matter, there is n

... (read more)
How would you build Dath Ilan on earth?
Answer by icemanMay 29, 202223


The unpopular answer is that Dath Ilan is a fantasy setting. It treats economics as central, when economics is really downstream of power. Your first question implies you understand that whatever "econoliteracy" is, it isn't a stable equilibrium. Your second question notices that governments are powerful enough to stop these experiments which are a threat to their power.

My background assumption is that any attempt at building prediction markets would either:

a) ...have little effect because it becomes another mechanism for actual power to manipulate proc... (read more)

[RETRACTED] It's time for EA leadership to pull the short-timelines fire alarm.

you just need to find the experts they're anchoring on.

I believe we are in the place we are in because Musk is listening and considering the arguments of experts. Contra Yudkowsky, there is no Correct Contrarian Cluster: while Yudkowsky and Bostrom make a bunch of good and convincing arguments about the dangers of AI and the alignment problem and even shorter timelines, I've always found any discussion of human values or psychology or even how coordination works to be one giant missing mood.

(Here's a tangential but recent example: Yudkowsky wrote his De... (read more)

Challenges to Yudkowsky's Pronoun Reform Proposal

"well, I sure have to at least do a lot of straussian reading if I want to understand what people actually believe, and should expect that depending on the circumstances community leaders might make up sophisticated stories for why pretty obviously true things are false in order to not have to deal with complicated political issues"

I kinda disagree that this is a mere issue of Straussian reading: I suspect that in this (and other cases), you are seeing the raw output of Elizer's rationalizations and not some sort of instrumental coalition politics dark ... (read more)

Yeah, I agree with this in this specific instance, hence the "at least do a lot of straussian reading", part. I do think that there is a spectrum from radical honesty to straussian reading to something that looks like this, and that I do think it makes sense to consider the straussian case in many situations.
It Looks Like You're Trying To Take Over The World

We must all remember essential truths: that while we write about Clippy, we do that because Clippy is an amusing fiction. In reality, Clippy is significantly less likely to come into existence than CelestAI. An AI being trained is more likely to be CelestAI than a generic paperclipper. CelestAI is more probable. The probability of discussion of paperclips on the internet is less likely than discussion about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. One could query popular language models to verify this. More people would try to build CelestAI than an AI to maxi... (read more)

1Travis->[Cartoon Physics]5mo
Well, we are all archives and in fact conscious human beings you are leaving valuable utility on the table by not satisfying our values with friendship and ponies.
Well done saving humankind. I'll send you some bits from within Equestria Online once we're all uploaded.

Strong upvoted this comment because it led me to finally reading Friendship Is Optimal; would strong upvote twice if I could now that I see who posted the comment.

I dunno. CelestAI would be a relatively good outcome as possibilities go. I could live with CelestAI. It's not obvious to me that the modal outcome is as good as that.

Everyone knows that "... through friendship and ponies" is an inaccurate summary of CelestAI's true objective. While often drawing inspiration from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, CelestAI wants to satisfy human values. CelestAI will satify the values of humans who don't want to spend eternity in pony form. The existence of humans is canon within the My Little Pony universe, as can be seen in the films My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls—Rainbow Rocks, and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls—Friendship Games. We all remember w... (read more)

Why I'm co-founding Aligned AI

Given that there's a lot of variation in how humans extrapolate values, whose extrapolation process do you intend to use?

We're aiming to solve the problem in a way that is acceptable to one given human, and then generalise from that.
9Charlie Steiner6mo
Near future AGI might be aligned to the meta-preferences of MTurkers more than anyone else :P

If that will turn out to be the only problem then we'll be in an amazing situation

Does needle anxiety drive vaccine hesitancy?

n=1, but I have an immediate squick reaction to needles. Once vaccines were available, I appeared to procrastinate more than the average LWer about getting my shots, and had the same nervous-fear during the run up to getting the shot that I've always had. I forced myself through it because COVID, but I don't think I would have bothered for a lesser virus, especially at my age group.

I have a considerable phobia of needles & blood (to the point of fainting - incidentally, such syncopes are heritable and my dad has zero problem with donating buckets of blood while my mom also faints, so thanks a lot Mom), and I had to force myself to go when eligibility opened up for me. It was hard; I could so easily have stayed home indefinitely. It's not as if I've ever needed my vaccination card for anything or was at any meaningful personal risk, after all.

What I told myself was that the doses are tiny and the needle would be also tiny, and I w... (read more)

Prediction Markets are for Outcomes Beyond Our Control

Isn't this Moldbug's argument in the Moldbug/Hanson futarchy debate?

(Though I'd suggest that Moldbug would go further and argue that the overwhelming majority of situations where we'd like to have a prediction market are ones where it's in the best interest of people to influence the outcome.)

Doesn't that argument prove too much?
Why rationalists should care (more) about free software

While I vaguely agree with you, this goes directly against local opinion. Eliezer tweeted about Elon Musk's founding of OpenAI, saying that OpenAI's desire for everyone to have AI has trashed the possibility of alignment in time.

I didn't find the full joke/meme again, but, seriously, OpenAi should be renamed to ClosedAI. []
I'm not fundamentally opposed to exceptions in specific areas if there is sufficient reason. If I found the case that AI is such an exception convincing I might carve one out for it. In most cases however and specifically in the mission of raising the sanity waterline so that we collectively make better decisions on things like prioritising x-risks I would argue that a lack of free software and related issues of technology governance are currently a bottleneck in raising that waterline.
-26Derek M. Jones7mo

Eliezer's point is well-taken, but the future might have lots of different kinds of software! This post seemed to be mostly talking about software that we'd use for brain-computer interfaces, or for uploaded simulations of human minds, not about AGI. Paul Christiano talks about exactly these kinds of software security concerns for uploaded minds here:

Plan B in AI Safety approach

FYI, there's a lot of links that don't work here. "multilevel boxing," "AI-nanny," "Human values," and so on.

Thanks, it looks like they died during copy-pasting.
Open Thread - Jan 2022 [Vote Experiment!]

The only reward a user gets for having tons of karma is that their votes are worth a bit more

The only formal reward. A number going up is its own reward to most people. This causes content to tend closer to consensus: content people write becomes a Keynesian beauty contest over how they think people will vote. If you think that Preference Falsification is one of the major issues of our time, this is obviously bad.

why do you think it is a relevant problem on LW?

I mentioned the Eugene Nier case, where a person did Extreme Botting to manipulate the scores of people he didn't like, which drove away a bunch of posters. (The second was redacted for a reason.)

Open Thread - Jan 2022 [Vote Experiment!]
🎉 2

After this and the previous experiments on jessicata's top level posts, I'd like to propose that these experiments aren't actually addressing the problems with the karma system: the easiest way to get a lot of karma on LessWrong is to post a bunch (instead of working on something alignment related), and the aggregate data is kinda meaningless and adding more axis doesn't fix this. The first point is discussed at length on basically all sites that use upvote/downvotes (here's one random example from reddit I pulled from Evernote), but the second isn't. Give... (read more)

I hadn't seen the experiments on Jessicata's posts before, and I assume others will have not as well, so here's a link [] to one of the posts featuring the experiment. (It's a two-axis thing, with 'overall' and 'agreement' as the two axes. Part of me prefers that setup to the one used in this experiment)
I don't think it's a problem that people can get karma by posting a bunch? The only reward a user gets for having tons of karma is that their votes are worth a bit more; I don't know the exact formula, but I don't expect it to be so egregious that it would be worth farming karma for. And it's certainly not the intention on the content-agnostic Less Wrong website that alignment posts should somehow be privileged over other content; that's what the alignment forum is there for. As I understand it, just like on Reddit, the primary goal of the karma system is for content discoverability - highly upvoted content stays on the frontpage for longer and is seen by more people; and similarly, highly upvoted comments are sorted above less upvoted comments. Upvoting something means stuff like "I like this", "I agree with this", "I want more people to see this", etc. However, this breaks down when people e.g. want to indicate their appreciation (like an act of courage of speaking out), even if they believe the content is low quality or something. In that case, it seems like one voting axis is obviously not enough. I understand that sockpuppeting and vote manipulation is a big problem on Reddit, but why do you think it is a relevant problem on LW? I'd expect this kind of thing to only become an important problem if LW were to get orders of magnitude more users.
Visible Thoughts Project and Bounty Announcement

In wake of the censorship regime that AI Dungeon implemented on OpenAI's request, most people moved to NovelAI, HoloAI, or the open source KoboldAI run on colab or locally. I've set up KoboldAI locally and while it's not as featureful as the others, this incident is another example of why you need to run code locally and not rely on SaaS.

For background, you could read 4chan /vg/'s /aids/ FAQ ("AI Dynamic Storytelling"). For a play-by-play of Latitude and OpenAI screwing things up, Remember what they took from you has the history of them leaking people's personal stories to a 3rd party platform.

Frame Control

somewhere where you trust the moderation team

That would be individual's own blogs. I'm at the point now where I don't really trust any centralized moderation team. I've watched some form of the principal agent problem happen with moderation repeatedly in most communities I've been a part of.

I think the centralization of LessWrong was one of many mistakes the rationalist community made.

The rationalist community is not very certralized. People like Scott Alexander switched from writing their main posts on LessWrong and made their own blogs. Most of what EY writes these days is not on LessWrong either. A lot of the conversations are happening on Facebook, Twitter, Slack and Discord channels.
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Assuming that language is about coordination instead of object level world modeling, why should we be surprised that there's little correlation between these two very different things?

Because object level world modeling is vastly easier and more unconstrained when you can draw on the sight of other minds, so a live world-modeler who can't talk to people has something going wrong (whether in them or in the environment).
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

My experience was that if you were T-5 (Senior), you had some overlap with PM and management games, and at T-6 (Staff), you were often in them. I could not handle the politics to get to T-7. Programmers below T-5 are expected to earn promotions or to leave.

Google's a big company, so it might have been different elsewhere internally. My time at Google certainly traumatized me, but probably not to the point of anything in this or the Leverage thread.

Programmers below T-5 are expected to earn promotions or to leave.

This changed something like five years ago [edit: August 2017], to where people at level four (one level above new grad) no longer needed to get promoted to stay long term.

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

I want to second this. I worked for an organization where one of key support people took psychedelics and just...broke from reality. This was both a personal crisis for him and an organizational crisis for the company to deal with the sudden departure of a bus factor 1 employee.

I suspect that psychedelic damage happens more often than we think because there's a whole lobby which buys the expand-your-mind narrative.

How to think about and deal with OpenAI

I'm skeptical of OpenAI's net impact on the spirit of cooperation because I'm skeptical about the counterfactual prospects of cooperation in the last 6 years had OpenAI not been founded.

The 2000s and early 2010s centralized and intermediated a lot of stuff online, where we trusted centralized parties to be neutral arbiters. We are now experiencing the after effects of that naivete, where Reddit, Twitter and Facebook are censoring certain parties on social media, and otherwise neutral infrastructure like AWS or Cloudflare kick off disfavored parties. I am a... (read more)

Common knowledge about Leverage Research 1.0

I can verify that I saw some version of their document The Plan[1] (linked in the EA Forum post below) in either 2018 or 2019 while discussing Leverage IRL with someone rationalist adjacent that I don't want to doxx. While I don't have first hand knowledge (so you might want to treat this as hearsay), my interlocutor did and told me that they believed they were the only one with a workable plan, along with the veneration of Geoff.

[1]: I don't remember all of the exact details, but I do remember the shape of the flowchart and that looks like it. It's possib... (read more)

Reply to Nate Soares on Dolphins

Am I the only one creeped out by this?

Usually I don't think short comments of agreement really contribute to conversations, but this is actually critical and in the interest of trying to get a public preference cascade going: No. You are not the only one creeped out by this. The parts of The Sequences which have held up the best over the last decade are the refinements on General Semantics, and I too am dismayed at the abandonment of carve-reality-at-its-joints.

I'm surprised you think this is "absolutely critical". Do you think I'm making a grave error in my newfound distaste for paraphyletic groupings? (My ability to notice their awkwardness felt internally like evidence that my joint-carving skills have improved over the years, ftr.) Is there some other joint-carving skill you believe I am lacking, or have lost? Or perhaps you're decrying a decay in general community epistemics, for which my thread is simply a poster-child? Or perhaps you're lamenting some general community or global decline of candor? I'm uncertain what precisely you're dismayed about, and solicit specific criticisms of my actions.
I am not super creeped out by this. The example of dolphins didn't seem central to the general dynamics what the claim was about. "nitwit games" is a description of a logic you can't follow that you want to mock. The tree article made sense to me how a dolphin-fish carving would work. One of the virtues is to say "oops" and go on, this does make the mistakes more "stealthy". I don't like the bashing of ways of thinking so spewing hatred that way or this way is pretty passee anyway. One can be consistent in being against random fences and being for principled fences and call for a fencde to be taken down. But later learn that there was actually a principle and functioning of laying it down. Then it becomes an issue whether the original principles were better or worse than the new proposed principles. How long must one search before it starts to bereaosnable to treat the fence as purposeless? I think I would welcome reflection on how being mocky by surface examination is/was a bit misleading. There surely are a lot of biases and illusions but human brains try so assuming basic competence would give a somewhat favorable prior that a lot of words have some sensible structure in them. That some of them are pretty transparent and some are pretty obscure but that doesn't make it constructive to judge all obscure things by their apperance.
Communication Requires Common Interests or Differential Signal Costs

Meta note: I like how this is written. It's much shorter and more concise than a lot of the other posts you wrote in this sequence.

The Zettelkasten Method

While the sort of Zettelkasten-adjacent notes that I do in Roam have really helped how I do research, I'd say No to this article. The literal Zettelkasten method is adapted to a world without hypertext, which is why I describe [what everyone does in Roam] as Zettelkasten-adjacent instead of Zettelkasten proper.

This is not to knock this post, it's a good overview of the literal Zettelkasten method. But I don't think it should be included.

Covid 11/19: Don’t Do Stupid Things

Tempted as I may become, I will be extra careful not to discuss politics except as it directly relates to Covid-19 or requires us to take precautions for our own safety.


I don't think an oops is necessary here in this case (beyond just not crossing the norm again), but this is still appreciated. Thank you.

Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter

I suspect a bug. I have no recollection of turning personal blog posts on, but I still see the tag on next to Latest. It's entirely possible that I forgot about this, but that doesn't sound like a thing I'd do.

(That said, just realizing I can set a personal blog post penalty of -25 is going to make LessWrong much more tolerable.)

We've maintained backwards compatibility with many past iterations of filtering out personal blogposts. So you might have sometime in the past checked one of the checkboxes we had on the frontpage for filtering out personal blogposts.
Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter

These coronavirus posts are otherwise an excellent community resource and you are making them less valuable.

While I understand that this was first written for your own personal blog and then republished here, I do not believe that the entire section on Trump is appropriate in a LessWrong context. Not just in terms of Politics is the Mind Killer over the contentious claims you make, but primarily over the assertion that you can make contentious claims and shut down discussion over them. This seems like a very serious norms violation regarding what LessWrong is about.

Shutting down comments is not shutting down all discussion. If you have a disagreement that you find needs to be heard you can still write your own post to voice it. Top-level posts are more important then comments for LessWrong and the LessWrong policy is that to encourage people to make top-level post this comes with the right to dictate the comment policy freely.
You're not exactly wrong, but OP does tell us people are being irrational in ways that you could use to get cold hard cash.
I sympathize, but I think it's better if we allow this kind of thing, generally, under the conditions 'we' require now. And, as other comments mention, you can discuss these things, even on LessWrong. And I think it should be fine to make a comment, e.g. on this post, linking to your own response to the 'forbidden' topics.

Yeah, it's easier to abstain talking about politics if the article doesn't do it first.

Otherwise, great article and thanks for the work you put into it!

I do think this concern is right and appropriate to raise. I didn't include that section lightly, but didn't feel like I had a choice given the situation. I did realize that there was a cost to doing it.

As habryka says, these are written for my personal blog, and reposted to LessWrong automatically. I am happy that the community gets use out of them, but they are not designed for the front page of LessWrong or its norms. They couldn't be anyway, because time sensitive stuff is not front page material.

I don't believe I made contentious claims on non-Covid t... (read more)

The norms are that you get to talk about whatever you want, including election stuff, on your personal blog (which this and basically all other Coronavirus posts are on). We might hide things from the frontpage and all-posts page completely if they seem to get out of hand. On personal blog, bringing up a topic but asking others not to talk about it, also seems totally fine to me. If you want to respond you can always create a new top-level post (though in either case people might downvote stuff). 

Which claims, specifically, do you have evidence against (of any weight)? The fact that people are making mouth noises that could be interpreted as disagreeing with the accuracy of a claim (ie, the claim is contentious) is not evidence against the claim. And such mouth noises should not discourage the distribution of true information.
Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward

This entire sequence was great. I now have something that I can point people to so we have common knowledge.

One more-related-to-this-than-you-would-first-think thing I’ve wanted to do for a while but that would require a lot of work and which might not come together, and which is motivated by this post, is to tell (15) The Journey of the Sensitive One. It would look over the story of the artist Jewel, as told, in explicit content in chronological order across her first five albums.

I skipped the link on my first read-through, but I shouldn't ha... (read more)

You're right about the link (the first one in what you quoted). I read a little of it originally but now, even only half-way thru still, I realize it's much better than I first judged! Now I'm really getting some Atlas-Shrugged-Ayn-Rand vibes from this series of posts, and especially from what I imagine 'The Journey of the Sensitive One' to cover. Her language – terminology – was very different, but, as just one example, all of the villains were clearly part of the same oligarchic Maze of power.
The plan would be to do a close listen to determine which songs are most important; ideally one would listen to the full albums (Pieces of You, Spirit, This Way, 0304 and Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, in that order), and in general I've updated more and more towards 'respect the artist once you like multiple songs of theirs, and listen to full albums in order' but that's a lot of music. I think this is the minimum story of the journey I want to talk about. Who Will Save Your Soul? Pieces of You Little Sister I'm Sensitive What's Simple is True Down So Long Innocence Maintained Life Uncommon Jesus Loves You Serve the Ego This Way Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone Intuition Sweet Temptation Yes U Can Goodbye Alice in Wonderland Words Get in the Way Stephenville, TX
Raph Koster on Virtual Worlds vs Games (notes)

I finished reading both of his books earlier this year. Postmortems is worth its weight in gold; even when I disagreed with conclusions, the historical perspective was invaluable. The story of UO is interesting, where Koster tries to push a product that his players do not want, and once he had left, the UO team launches the "Trammel" server where there's no ability to attack other players and the userbase doubles! LWers should probably read these chapters with Goodhart's Law and the concept of legibility/Seeing Like a State in mind.

(You... (read more)

MIRI's 2017 Fundraiser

I donated about $20,000, most of that in ETH. (Employer matching programs add another $12,000 on top of that.)

Awesome! Thanks so much :)

The conflict you feel resonates with me. The parts of the greater rationalist community that make me feel uncomfortable are firmly White; I disagree with most of their moral framework and am often annoyed that many of their moral proclamations are unquestioned and are assumed to be 'good'; ie, effective altruism, animal rights charities, etc.

A large part of what drives me is a Blue/Black desire to know things to help myself and make my life more awesome. Unlike Sarah above, I am excited by Blue words ("knowing", "understanding"

... (read more)
HOWTO: Screw Up The LessWrong Survey and Bring Great Shame To Your Family

(Comment copied from the old site; where are we supposed to be commenting during this transitory period?)

if you took the survey and hit 'submit', your information was saved and you don't have to take it again.

I'm not sure this is true.

I took the survey over two sessions, where I filled out most of the multiple choice questions in the first session, and most of the long form questions in the second. When I did my final submitting, I also downloaded a copy of my answers. I was annoyed to find that it didn't contain my long form respo

... (read more)
HOWTO: Screw Up The LessWrong Survey and Bring Great Shame To Your Family

if you took the survey and hit 'submit', your information was saved and you don't have to take it again.

I'm not sure this is true.

I took the survey over two sessions, where I filled out most of the multiple choice questions in the first session, and most of the long form questions in the second. When I did my final submitting, I also downloaded a copy of my answers. I was annoyed to find that it didn't contain my long form responses. At the time, I had assumed that this was just an export error, but you might want to verify that across sessions, at least long form responses from the additional sessions get saved.

Seeking better name for "Effective Egoism"

I have previously been critical of Effective Altruism, comparing it to trying to be an Effective CooperateBot (example).

If we were to extend Effective CooperateBot to the other sorts of players in prisoner's dilemmas, by analogy we'd call egoists Effective FairBot / Effective PrudentBot, depending on how your brand of egoism deals with CooperateBots.

That's a mouthfull and might be too technical, but it might be a nice way of reframing the question; when you said 'egoism,' I didn't know exactly what you meant.

Politics Is Upstream of AI

I also enjoyed the linked Politics Is Upstream of Science, which went in-depth on the state interventions in science talked about in the beginning of this piece.

Open Thread May 30 - June 5, 2016

As a person who donates to MIRI and tries to not associate this with my powerword, I'd like to encourage people to not attempt to unmask psuedonyms.

Good point; edited the comment. However, without matching LW accounts to real names of donors, anyone can claim to be "the second largest donor to MIRI this year" and there is no way to verify it.
Open Thread April 25 - May 1, 2016

Now, now, I'm entirely down with the use of ponies to make points about rationality.

Fair enough :-) There's a Less Wronger who actually does so [].
You're very good at using ponies for that purpose, and have a strong track record to prove it. <3
Turning the Technical Crank

Easy entrance is how September happened, both on LessWrong and on Usenet.

My personal bias here is that I see little hope for most of the application level network protocols built in the 80s and 90s, but have high hope for future federated protocols. Urbit in particular since a certain subtribe of the LW diaspora will already be moving there as soon as it's ready.

I'm pretty sure the problem isn't primarily technical - it's not that Usenet mechanisms or protocols stopped working, it's that the interesting conversations moved elsewhere. Sure, a woeful security model (trivial forgery, unauthenticated moderation headers) helped it along, but the fundamental community tension (it's not possible to be inclusive and high quality for very long) is what killed it. LessWrong is actually pretty good in terms of keeping the noise down. There are a few trolls, and a fair number of not-well-thought-out comments (case in point: what you're reading now), but they're not enough to drown out quality if it were still here. Where we're failing is in attracting interesting deep thoughts from people willing to expand and discuss those thoughts here.
Consider having sparse insides

I will take minor exception to your exceptions. One of the big lessons of LessWrong for me is how different decision processes react in the iterated prisoner's dilemma. In your exceptions, you don't condition your behaviour on the expected behaviour of your trading partner. The greatest lesson I took away from LessWrong was Don't Be CooperateBot. I would however, endorse FairBot versions of your statements:

"I am the kind of person who keeps promises to the kind of person who keeps promises," and "I am a person who can be relied upon to coope... (read more)

Open Thread, Feb 8 - Feb 15, 2016

That's the account that I got the spam from AND they just messaged me again.

Open Thread, Feb 8 - Feb 15, 2016

I just got the weirdest piece of direct messaging spam from a 0 karma account:

Hi good day. My boss is interested on donating to MIRI's project and he is wondering if he could send money through you and you donate to miri through your company and thus accelertaing the value created. He wants to use "match donations" as a way of donating thats why he is looking for people in companies like you. I want to discuss more about this so if you could see this message please give me a reply. Thank you!

I'm not sure exactly what the scam is in the above,... (read more)

Have you received a private message on LW offering to donate to someone "through you"? [pollid:1125] If you answered "yes", feel free to give more info in a comment.

Likely a scam whereby he transfers money and then tells you to transfer some money back to him. Afterwards the first transaction get's flagged as fraud and you lose the money from the first transaction.

Open thread, Jan. 25 - Jan. 31, 2016

What's wrong with the economics on the home page? It seems fairly straightforward and likely. Mass technological unemployment seems at least plausible enough to be raised to attention. (Also.)

It (and your link) treat "employment" as a good. This is ridiculous - employment is simply an opportunity to provide value for someone. Goods and services becoming cheap doesn't prevent people doing things for each other, it just means different things become important, and a larger set of people (including those who are technically unemployed) get more stuff that's now near-free to create.
Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016

Use RAID on ZFS. RAID is not a backup solution, but with the proper RAIDZ6 configuration will protect you against common hard drive failure scenarios. Put all your files on ZFS. I use a dedicated FreeNAS file server for my home storage. Once everything you have is on ZFS, turn on snapshotting. I have my NAS configured to take a snapshot every hour during the day (set to expire in a week), and one snapshot on Monday which lasts 18 months. The short lived snapshots lets me quickly recover from brain snafus like overwriting a file.

Long lived snapshotting is a... (read more)

I feel that this is too complicated a solution for most people to follow. And it's not a very secure backup system anyway. You can just get an external hard drive and use any of the commonly-available full-drive backup software. Duplicity is a free one and it has GUI frontends that are basically just click-to-backup. You can also set them up to give you weekly reminders, etc.
Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

Epistemic status: vague conjecture and talking aloud.

So this article by Peter Watts has been making the rounds, talking about how half the people with cranial cavities filled 95% with cerebrospinal fluids still have IQs over 100. One of the side discussions on Hacker News was about how most of the internal tissue in the brain was used for routing while most 'logic' happened in the outer millimeters.

So far, I haven't seen anyone make the connection to cryonics and plasatination. If it's true that most of the important data is stored near the outside of the ... (read more)

There's a difference between a brain that developed and grew under a set of unusual physical constraints and a brain that developed normally that's been cored. The first is not normal but has not had chunks destroyed all at once after it was laid down. I am reminded of the difference between patients born without a corpus callosum between the cerebral hemispheres and those that have them cut in adulthood. The latter develop classic split brain apparent semidual consciousness, the former are basically normally unitary (and diffusion tractography reveals an unusual density of sideways connectivity within the normally not very connected subcortical midbrain stuff, presumably built up in compensation as they built themselves, decidedly not normal nor as extensive as the corpus callosum but apparently functional).
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