All of iDante's Comments + Replies

This is really great, thanks :D

Previously people recommended me Evpatoria Report based on my liking for Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You!, and World's End Girlfriend. Any more excellent post-rock I ought to hear?

Totally unrelated: I really like metal. Here (Album art NSFW) are some of my favorites. More?

Mogwai is an obvious recommend based off of that, and their new album is coming out soon: you can hear one track from it here [], but it's a little more electronic than their typical. Kashiwa Daisuke is pretty good, though about half the time it plays I can't be bothered and skip it and the other half I love it. I think Stella [] is their best. God is an Astronaut has some good songs somewhat similar to some Explosions in the Sky as it's more electronic than most post-rock. All is Violent, All is Bright [] is a highly approachable album of theirs. These guys got me into post rock but I don't listen to them that much these days. Maybe I should. And Mon has a number of good songs like this one []. And Sigur Ros has some great ones, like Hopipolla [] and Glosoli []. Really a charming band. Too bad their original music video for Hopipolla is no longer on youtube apparently as it was rather endearing. Some other bands that I haven't gotten into but that a friend keeps recommending are 65daysofstatic and Caspian. Sweek might also be worth a try. Well, that just about exhausts the sum total of my post-rock knowledge. I think it was your recommendation of World's End Girlfriend got me onto them, so thanks! Their best songs are among my absolute favorites now.

I've been reading this awesome web serial called Worm. Highly recommend if you want some action and suspense. There's a bit of rationality business in there as well, but it's spaced out and the story is long. I see it's been recommended previously on here as well.

I'm just starting arc 9, and am ready to give up. It's fun enough, but there doesn't seem to be any rationality here. I would buy an argument that the author is rationalist, but not any of the characters so far. (The backstory does suggest there the characters have done research and thought deep thoughts, be we see none of that.) If it suddenly improves please let me know -- I've heard enough good things from enough people that I kept going this far, and it'd be a pity to quit just before things get interesting. But I'm almost a third of the way through, and still nothing :-/

Caveat: Worm is really dark. The characters are clever, the protagonist makes the most out of a superpower that seems mediocre at first glance, and there are enough twists and turns that I would look at the clock and realize that I'd been reading for six hours. (Worm is really long, so if you're the sort of person who has to keep reading fiction be warned that it will eat a week or two.)

But, despite those positives, terrible things happen to everyone always. I found it similar to Game of Thrones in that it was engaging but depressing, and unlike GoT where ... (read more)

And also recommended by Eliezer:

Worm continues to be awesome (I’m up to Vol. 13). I didn’t even notice until I was halfway through what I’ve already read that all of the characters were using their superpowers intelligently, that none of the supposed geniuses were behaving like idiots, and that the flying bricks who would be the central Powers of other tales were properly taking second place to the real movers and shakers, namely anyone with any sort of informational, cognitive, or probability-based talent. Doing this so smoothly that I don’t even noti

... (read more)

If you like Haskell's type system I highly recommend learning category theory. This book does a good job. Category theory is pretty abstract, even for pure math. I love it.

A shot of an abandoned chess board with the king toppled (optional: and a robot hand shaking with a human).


A chess board with one grain of rice on the corner, two next to it, then four, (...) until the board and surrounding world is rice.

I'd go for chess or similar since people already associate chess with "computers are better than humans at this game of smarts." Still, it's cliched so maybe you want something less so. As for the examples, 1 will look really campy, 2 is uninteresting, 3 is okay, and 4 is good.

Just to confirm, it's undergraduate CSE honors? Have you taken an AI course?

My initial impression is that you'll have trouble doing something specifically related to FAI, but it depends on your background.

I haven't heard the term CSE before (computer science & engineering?), but I'm doing a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Mathematics. I am taking an AI course at the moment (actually, its a combined AI/data mining course, and it's a bit shallower than I would like, but it covers the basics).

External motivation is a huge part. Part of it is just the fact that my entire job right now is to learn physics and impress professors. Much of my learning happens in class, but much of it also happens in the labs that I work and from the grad students that I bother. Another overlooked advantage is the enormous group of peers who are learning the exact same material as me at the same time as me. Physics forums doesn't even come close to this utility. (edit edit: ##physics on freenode is pretty good source too)

This all combined is well worth the price tag ... (read more)

Exactly. The peer pressure. It's not the same if those peers are merely online; and sometimes you don't even have that. Perhaps one day we will have something analogical to coworking... colearning. I could imagine colearning "schools" where people come to learn from online materials, and then discuss with their peers. But there would have to be many people doing this in the same area, so that you could always find people learning the same thing as you do.

I took intro physics and math courses 2 years ago and intro CSE 1 year ago at a large American public school.

The physics classes are easy. I mean, really easy. You don't need instructor interaction or TA help to perfect every test in intro physics courses. It's the same for intro calculus, with the caveat that you need to be good at algebra or quick with a TI-89 to perfect calc. I had a lot of fun in physics, and I had a great professor who effectively used clickers by passing around a sheet with big numbers printed on it. He'd ask us a multiple-choice qu... (read more)

I've learned more about physics from school than I would have learned on my own, and I think your comment is pessimistic. University has advantages over the internet, even if your goal is simply to learn material.

Why did you learn more about physics from school than you would have on your own? Was it because of the external motivation? Or was it because the quality of instruction was better than if you had made use of whichever textbook got the best reviews on Amazon, and then asked questions on Physics Forums []?

How to Read a Book has a large section on reading nonfiction.

I read physics textbooks all the time, as well as some math. Right now I'm working through Group Theory and Physics. The best advice I have to give is to pick the right textbooks. I have it easy since I can just ask professors what books to read. I tend to read them very slowly (3-4 months for a good sized book) but I'm a busy person. I take notes by hand.

The first is head recursive. If it were written in opposite order (in NY, on the street, at the house, the car ...) it would be tail recursive and would be very easy to parse. Once we've found NY we can forget that we're there and reuse our stack space to find the street, etc. I think this is why it's so much easier than the second, which is neither head nor tail recursive and so requires a stack frame for each level.

I learned about Egan's Law, and I'm pretty sure it's a less-precise restatement of the correspondence principle. Anyone have any thoughts on that similarity?

I suppose some minor difference is that this "law" is also applicable to meta-ethics, not just to physics. It's probably worth adding a link to the standard terminology to the LW wiki page.

The term is also used more generally, to represent the idea that a new theory should reproduce the results of older well-established theories in those domains where the old theories work.

Sounds good to me, although that's not what I would have guessed from a name like 'correspondence principle'.

Agreed. Uvf fhcrecbjref tebj nybat jvgu uvf gvgyrf.

Gung'f jul uvf wbo yngryl unf cerggl zhpu orra uvtu-cbjrerq qvcybzng. Gubhtu vg jnf whfg fvyyl va "Fahss".

At which point, Polly decided that she knew enough of the truth to be going on with. The enemy wasn't men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin' stupid people, who came in all varieties. And no one had the right to be stupid.

  • Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment
That's an surprisingly forgiving thing to say. She lives in a place where eating legs to prevent starvation is a venerable military tradition, and a non-zero number of people end up in the Girls' Working School.
However, to set yourself against all the stupidity in the world is an insurmountable task.

Read the City Watch series and I highly recommend.

I’ve seen people here repeatedly mention the city watch books, but I’m surprised the witches books are almost never mentioned. Seriously, am I the only one who thought Granny Weatherwax and her team are basically the most useful people on the disc?
I love these, but only up through Thud! After that V gubhtug Ivzrf jnf birecbjrerq sbe gur ceboyrzf ur snprq

To the layman, the philosopher, or the classical physicist, a statement of the form "this particle doesn't have a well-defined position" (or momentum, or x-component of spin angular momentum, or whatever) sounds vague, incompetent, or (worst of all) profound. It is none of these. But its precise meaning is, I think, almost impossible to convey to anyone who has not studied quantum mechanics in some depth.

I haven't studied quantum mechanics in any depth at all. The meaning I, as a layman, derive from this statement is: in the formal QM system a particle has no property labelled "position". There is perhaps an emergent property called position, but it is not fundamental and is not always well defined, just like there are no ice-cream atoms. Is this wrong?
On a global scale, the demographic transition means most nations don't care about population caps much. On a local scale, individuals won't find it cheaper to raise children in colonies; in fact the cost of life will be much higher than on Earth at first. Of course if you're a population ethicist, then you want to increase the population and space colonization looks good.

No, it doesn't. While the current structure of mathematics curricula might not be ideal, the solution won't be found by the means outlined in this post.

It is clear that spaced repetition makes learning material much easier. Start there.

I am not sure, whether we actually have a disagreement here. Spaced repetition is a special facet of the idea that I outline in this article and I am currently experimenting with it exactly for the reason to test my "theory" above.

There will be AI long before there are quantum computers.

So, DanielILC has pointed out that there are already quantum computers. A charitable interpretation of your statement might be that there will be AI long before there are general quantum computers powerful enough to do practical computations. Is this what you meant? If so, can you explain what leads to this conclusion?

There are already quantum computers. Just really small quantum computers.

So that's what I've been doing wrong!

You're the second person to recommend me them so I finally listened to their music and yep. It's good.


I've been on a post-rock binge. My favorite bands along this line are Godspeed You! Black Emperor, World's End Girlfriend, and, of course, Explosions in the Sky. I don't expect this music appeals to everyone though.

Good suggestions - I hadn't heard of World's End Girlfriend before and quite enjoy it. For other post-rock suggestions: literally every song by the Evpatoria Report is worth listening to, IMO. The standouts being Eighteen Robins Road [], Naptalan [] and it's immediate sequel Vokshod Project [], and Taijin Kyofoshu [].

We must test our own ideas and arguments. Just because we don't know how to do so doesn't make our ideas any better, but it can make them seem better to the careless.

It's part of why I don't post very often on this site. Even though I know more QM than most people here, I know I don't know enough to argue the validity of the sequence.

An aside for those curious about the Gauss Law argument. The law in its integral form states that the flux of the gravitational field inward through any closed surface encompassing the Sun is proportional to the Sun's mass.

As long as the mass distribution is spherically symmetric the gravity outside of the sun is the same as if the mass was all located at the center. It's the same for electrostatic force since that goes like 1/r^2 too :D.

Oh, that's what the gravity from a hollow sphere all adds/multiplies out to? Uniform zero (net) gravity inside, normal outside the sphere? Neat.


Sorry for the terse comment, it's finals week soon so things are busy around sweet apple acres.

Essentially what you've done is take the mysterious problem of intelligence and shoved it under a new ill-defined name (living). Pretty much any programmer can write a self-replicating program, or a program that modifies its own source code, or other such things. But putting it as simply as that doesn't actually bring you any closer to actually making AI. You have to explain exactly how the program should modify itself in order to make progress.

Mysterious answers... (read more)

Try reading the sequences all the way through. You'll find that you make a lot of common assumptions and mistakes that make the argument weaker than you'd like.

I like Qiaochu's answer better, because yours sounds like "read the Bible!"

Thanks for the pointers - this post is still more at the "random idea" stage, not the "well-constructed argument stage", so I do appreciate feedback on where I might have gone astray. I've read some of the Sequences, but they're quite long. What particular articles did you mean?

The lady who runs this is quite literally, nuts.

I do not think this means what you think it means, but thanks for the funny image anyway.


Hey I can input! I'm also a physics undergrad. Math textbooks are always tough. Go talk to a math professor and see if they recommend one for you. This is good because they know about where your knowledge level is and can suggest an appropriate book, plus you can come to them with questions. I do the same for physics textbooks too.

Do all the exercises, it should take a long time. I've done ~3/4 of the exercises in Griffiths E&M in the last four months, and that's a reasonable pace.

Let us, then, avoid the philosophical minefields of belief and truth, and pay attention to what we really need, which is predictive ability.

From a great book

Hm... I'm sure the author means well by that statement, but I don't know if you can really talk about predictions for long without using the vocabulary of belief and truth.

This book has done a lot to help astronomy out, but much of the field is still lost in bad statistics. I ran some papers by a statistician and he agreed with me, the authors had no idea what they were doing and neither did their referees.

But it's getting better.

Of course! That could make things a lot easier.

I spent a long time trying to come up with some explanation that would come up with sin(w)s. There was even gonna be a pun (it's a sin to have such convoluted desires).

But I failed.

Imaginary wants?

You mean, you want it,

but you're neutral to wanting it,

and you definitely don't want to want to want it,

and you're neutral towards wanting not to want to want it,

and you're glad you're neutral towards wanting not to want to want it,


Seems like someone who likes something but is pretty glad they're not obsessive about it. Could happen with a moderate user of alcohol, or a fan of something that gathers obsessive fans...

I don't think there is one. At least not mathematically, which is where I do all these checks anyway. Solving PDEs ho!

Check boundary cases. Check extreme cases. Check trivial cases.

And check the inverse case as well! Like "Hadn't I missed that plane, would there still be a midair collision? Maybe not."
What's the difference between a boundary case and an extreme case?
I wonder how this works with dating?

Previously on Battlestar Galactica. I found out that everyone else in the galaxy cluster biz was doing linear regression all wrong, so I had to write up how to do it correctly and then apply my method to some new data. I wrote the paper and it'll be submitted soon. In other news, JAGS is really neat.

Now I'm applying for summer research gigs.

Yep yep. It's just not quite as strong as a blind study, but that's fine for these purposes.

This reads like really bad armchair philosophy. You make a bunch of statements about infinities and infinitesimals without any regards for what this actually means, experience wise. Then you bring up Zeno's paradox, which may have been intriguing in the 5th century BCE but was solved nicely by classical physics. You blindly thrash about in math land with no regard for rigor, then conclude with a statement that again has no relation to actual experience.

I'm bad at expressing myself through writing, but this post is really bad.

I downvoted common_law's post, because of some clear-cut math errors, which I pointed out. I'm downvoting your comment because it's not saying anything constructive. There's nothing wrong with what common_law was trying to do here, which is to show that infinite sets shouldn't be part of our ontology. Experience can't be the sole arbiter of which model of reality is best; there is also parsimony. Whether infinite quantities are actually real, is no less worthy of discussion than whether MWI is actually real, or merely a computational convenience. I only agree with you that the math lacked rigor. This is discussion, so I don't see a problem with posting things that need to be corrected, but I had to downvote the post because it might have confused someone who didn't notice the errors.

Oh. That one is so close to 1 that there's no use even discussing it anymore.

If that's how you feel... then when would you say that confidence in atomic theory /got/ close enough to 1 that there was no more use in discussing it?

I'm a little confused by this question. In my experience, atomic theory always refers to atoms. I think you're really asking whether quarks and such are divisible. I'm confident that there is no substructure to elementary particles, but I won't give a number.

I did, indeed, phrase the question poorly. Yes, I'm asking about the atomic theory referring to atoms (whatever they themselves may be made of).

What's the point of randomization if you can easily tell the difference between a bright bulb and a dim one?

Randomization still eliminates some confounding factors even without blinding. For example, you might be more likely to decide to turn on your bright lights when you're already feeling alert.

Of course you can tell the difference. That just means that your self-experiment is not blinded (if you'll pardon the pun).


For what its worth, I'm a physics/cs major and I wish I'd seen this article two years ago so I wouldn't have wasted my credits on two philosophy classes.

Don't be deterred from learning philosophy -- just think carefully about to do it. A decent AI class, for example, will almost certainly cover a lot of what Luke mentioned in his ideal curriculum.

No, because the claim on the front page is backed up by evidence. It's not just pulled out of one person's limited experiences. It IS offensive to negatively stereotype a group of people without evidence.

The author's great "problems" of science are the same way. A broad generalization is made from limited experience, then no actual investigation is performed. Bold assertions are provided in place of careful statistics. The conclusion, "the biggest problem in science is management," is utterly unconvincing.

I should have said "That's offensive and untrue, and the rest of the post comes off similarly."

I'm a human, my parents are humans, my best friends are humans, my teachers, my sister, my uncle, aunt, and cousins are humans. Now, should I feel offended? Or should I learn about my biases and try to become stronger?

That's offensive, and the rest of the post comes off similarly.

Whether something is offensive or not should be distinguished from whether or not it is true (or even whether or not it is relevant).

The author hasn't posed any scientific problems. Instead, they have made sweeping generalizations based off of their bad experiences in one field.

This referee cannot recommend the article for publication.

Can't tell if serious or ironically humorous. But the author's experience includes years of work in each of these fields: linguistics, biology, cryptanalysis, air traffic management, artificial intelligence, and animation. And the author described five specific problems with science. If you don't understand that the point of the article is that those five problems are the important scientific problems facing us now, then you missed the point entirely. If you're complaining that you want "scientific problems" instead of problems with how science is done, well, that's not my job here. I'm identifying the problem, not writing a grant proposal.

It covers very similar material as the first two parts of Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, since for a long time there was little distinction between philosophy and natural philosophy. I've only read parts of Russell's book but Lindberg does a better job.

We also read Mott Greene's Natural Knowledge in Preclassical Antiquity, which was also excellent but much more specialized. I found its discussion of Hesiod's volcanos fascinating.

The rest of the books focused on later stuffsies.

I read The Beginnings of Western Science for a class. It's excellent and I recommend it to anyone interested in the history of science.

What other history of science books does it compare favorably to?
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