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The EMH Aten't Dead

Here's a thought experiment: Suppose that a market is perfectly efficient, except that every 50 years or so there's a crash, which sufficiently smart people can predict a month in advance. Would you say that this market is efficient? Technically it isn't, because smart people have a systematic advantage over the market. But practically, no trader systematically beats the market, because no trader lives long enough!

I suppose you can create a long-living institution, a "black swan fund", that very rarely makes bets on predictable crashes, and over a few centuries can prove it has higher returns. But I guess not enough people care about returns over these timescales.

March Coronavirus Open Thread

What's the best way to convince skeptics of the severity of COVID? I keep seeing people saying it's just a slightly worse flu, or that car accidents kill a lot more people, and so on. I want some short text or image that illustrates just how serious this is.

I found this heartbreaking testimony from an Italian ICU doctor:

But I guess skeptics will want a more authoritative source.

The First World Takeover

"Or the first replicator to catch on, if there were failed alternatives lost to history - but this seems unlikely, given the Fermi Paradox; a replicator should be more improbable than that, or the stars would teem with life already."

So do you thing that the vast majority of The Big Filter is concentrated on the creation of a first replicator? What's the justification for that?

Dark Side Epistemology

-You can't prove I'm wrong!

-Well, I'm an optimist.

-Millions of people believe it, how can they all be wrong?

-You're relying too much on cold rationality.

-How can you possibly reduce all the beauty in the world to a bunch of equations?

On Doing the Impossible

Eliezer, I remember an earlier post of yours, when you said something like: "If I would never do impossible things, how could I ever become stronger?" That was a very inspirational message for me, much more than any other similar sayings I heard, and this post is full of such insights.

Anyway, on the subject of human augmentation, well, what about them? If you are talking about a timescale of decades, than intelligence augmentation does seems like a worthy avenue of investment (it doesn't has to be full scale neural rewiring, it could be just smarter nootropics).

Beyond the Reach of God

...Can someone explain why?

Many people believe in an afterlife... why sign up for cryonics when you're going to go to Heaven when you die?

That's probably not the explanation, since there are many millions of atheists who heard about cryonics and/or extinction risks. I figure the actual explanation is a combination of conformity, the bystander effect, the tendency to focus on short term problems, and the Silliness Factor.

You Provably Can't Trust Yourself

Eliezer, I have an objection to your metaethics and I don't think it's because I mixed levels:

If I understood your metaethics correctly, then you claim that human morality consists of two parts: a list of things that we value(like love, friendship, fairness etc), and what we can call "intuitions" that govern how our terminal values change when we face moral arguments. So we have a kind of strange loop (in the Hofstadterian sense); our values judge if a moral argument is valid or not, and the valid moral arguments change our terminal values. I think I accept this. It explains quite nicely a lot of questions, like where does moral progress comes from. What I am skeptic about is the claim that if a person hears enough moral arguments, their values will always converge to a single set of values, so you could say that his morality approximates some ideal morality that can be found if you look deep enough into his brain. I think it's plausible that the initial set of moral arguments that the person hears will change considerably his list of values, so that his morality will diverge rather than converge, and there won't be any "ideal morality" that he is approximating.

Note that I am talking about a single human that hears different sets of moral arguments, and not about the convergence of moralities across all humans (which is a different matter altogether)

Also note that this is a purely empirical objection; I am asking for empirical evidence that supports your metaethics

Sorting Pebbles Into Correct Heaps
why isn't the moral of this fable that pursuing subjective intuitions about correctness a wild goose chase?

Bacause those subjective intuitions are all we got. Sure, in an absolute sense, human intuitions on correctness are just as arbitrary as the pebblesorter's intuitions(and vastly more complex), but we don't judge intuitions in an absolute way, we judge them with are own intuitons. You can't unwind past your own intuitions. That was the point of Eliezer's series of posts.

Humans in Funny Suits
The gap between autistic humans and neurotypical humans may be bigger than the gap between male and female humans. I would list autism as an exception to the psychological unity of humankind.

I remember reading "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" and thinking: "This guy is more alien than most aliens I saw in Sci-fi".

The Meaning of Right

P.S : My great "Aha!" moment from reading this post is the realisation that morality is not just a utility function that maps states of the world to real numbers, but also a set of intuitions for changing that utility function.

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