Jacob Falkovich

Writes Putanumonit.com and helps run the New York LW meetup. @yashkaf on Twitter.

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Money Stuff

I should've written "capitulated to consumerism" but "capitulate to capital" just sounds really cool if you say it out loud.

Jacob's Twit, errr, Shortform

"Bitcoin" comes from the old Hebrew "Beit Cohen", meaning "house of the priest" or "temple". Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem by driving out the money lenders. The implications of this on Bitcoin vis a vis interchangeable fiat currencies are obvious and need no elaboration.

The full text of John 2 proves this connection beyond any doubt. "๐˜๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ'๐˜ด ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด" (John 2:15) refers to overthrowing the database tables of the centralized ledger and "scattering" the record of transactions among decentralized nodes on the blockchain.

"๐˜”๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜บ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ธ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ. ๐˜‰๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜‘๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ." (John 2:23-24) couldn't be any clearer as to the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto.

And finally, "๐˜๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ, ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฉ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ." (John 2:25) explains that there's no need for the testimony of any trusted counterparty when you can see what's in each person's submitted block of Bitcoin transactions.

And if you think of shorting Bitcoin, remember John 2:19: "๐˜‘๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ, '๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜บ๐˜ด.'"

I Really Don't Understand Eliezer Yudkowsky's Position on Consciousness

The ordering is based on measures of neuro-correlates of the level of consciousness like neural entropy or perturbational complexity, not on how groovy it subjectively feels.

I Really Don't Understand Eliezer Yudkowsky's Position on Consciousness

Copying from my Twitter response to Eliezer

Anil Seth usefully breaks down consciousness into 3 main components: 
1. level of consciousness (anesthesia < deep sleep < awake < psychedelic)
2. contents of consciousness (qualia โ€” external, interoceptive, and mental)
3. consciousness of the self, which can further be broken down into components like feeling ownership of a body, narrative self, and a 1st person perspective. 

He shows how each of these can be quite independent. For example, the selfhood of body-ownership can be fucked with using rubber arms and mirrors, narrative-self breaks with amnesia, 1st person perspective breaks in out-of-body experiences which can be induced in VR, even the core feeling of the reality of self can be meditated away. 

Qualia such as pain are also very contextual, the same physical sensation can be interpreted positively in the gym or a BDSM dungeon and as acute suffering if it's unexpected and believed to be caused by injury. Being a self, or thinking about yourself, is also just another perception โ€” a product of your brain's generative model of reality โ€” like color or pain are. I believe enlightened monks who say they experience selfless bliss, and I think it's equally likely that chickens experience selfless pain.

Eliezer seems to believe that self-reflection or some other component of selfhood is necessary for the existence of the qualia of pain or suffering. A lot of people believe this simply because they use the word "consciousness" to refer to both (and 40 other things besides). I don't know if Eliezer is making such a basic mistake, but I'm not sure why else he would believe that selfhood is necessary for suffering.

The LessWrong Team is now Lightcone Infrastructure, come work with us!

The "generalist" description is basically my dream job right until 

>The team is in Berkeley, California, and team members must be here full-time.

Just yesterday I was talking to a friend who wants to leave his finance job to work on AI safety and one of his main hesitations is that whichever organization he joins will require him to move to the Bay. It's one thing to leave a job, it's another to leave a city and a community (and a working partner, and a house, and a family...)

This also seems somewhat inefficient in terms of hiring. There are many qualified AI safety researchers and Lightcone-aligned generalists in the Bay, but there are surely even more outside it. So all the Bay-based orgs are competing for the same people, all complaining about being talent-constrained above anything else. At the same time, NYC, Austin, Seattle, London, etc. are full of qualified people with nowhere to apply.

I'm actually not suggesting you should open this particular job to non-Berkeley people. I want to suggest something even more ambitious. NYC and other cities are crying out for a salary-paying organization that will do mission-aligned work and would allow people to change careers into this area without uprooting their entire lives, potentially moving on to other EA organizations later. Given that a big part of Lightcone's mission is community building, having someone start a non-Bay office could be a huge contribution that will benefit the entire EA/Rationality ecosystem by channeling a lot of qualified people into it. 

And if you decide to go that route you'll probably need a generalist who knows people...

Sex-Positivity is Countercultural

I'm not sure what's wrong, it works for me. Maybe change the https to http?
https://quillette.com/2021/05/13/the-sex-negative-society/

Googling "sex negative society quillette" should bring it up in any case.

A review of Steven Pinker's new book on rationality

rationality is not merely a matter of divorcing yourself from mythology. Of course, doing so is necessary if we want to seek truth...

I think there's a deep error here, one that's also present in the sequences. Namely, the idea that "mythology mindset" is something one should or can just get rid of, a vestige of silly stories told by pre-enlightenment tribes in a mysterious world.

I think the human brain does "mythological thinking" all the time, and it serves an important individual function of infusing the world with value and meaning alongside the social function of binding a tribe together. Thinking that you can excise mythological thinking from your brain only blinds you to it. The paperclip maximizer is a mythos, and the work it does in your mind of giving shape and color to complex ideas about AGI is no different from the work Biblical stories do for religious people. "Let us for the purpose of thought experiment assume that in the land of Uz lived a man whose name was Job and he was righteous and upright..."

The key to rationality is recognizing this type of thinking in yourself and others as distinct from Bayesian thinking. It's the latter that's a rare skill that can be learned by some people in specialized dojos like LessWrong. When you really need to get the right answer to a reality-based question you can keep the mythological thinking from polluting the Bayesian calculation โ€” if you're trained at recognizing it and haven't told yourself "I don't believe in myths".

Are PS5 scalpers actually bad?

PS5 scalpers redistribute consoles away from those willing to burn time to those willing to spend money. Normally this would be a positive โ€” time burned is just lost, whereas the money is just transferred from Sony to the scalpers who wrote the quickest bot. However, you can argue that gaming consoles in particular are more valuable to people with a lot of spare time to burn than to people with day jobs and money!

Disclosure: I'm pretty libertarian and have a full-time job but because there weren't any good exclusives in the early months I decided to ignore the scalpers. I followed https://twitter.com/PS5StockAlerts and got my console at base price in April just in time for Returnal. Returnal is excellent and worth getting the PS5 for even if costs you a couple of hours or an extra $100.

MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion

Empire State of Mind

I want to second Daniel and Zvi's recommendation of New York culture as an advantage for Peekskill. An hour away from NYC is not so different from being in NYC โ€” I'm in a pretty central part of Brooklyn and regularly commute an hour to visit friends uptown or further east in BK and Queens. An hour in traffic sucks, an hour on the train is pleasant. And being in NYC is great. 

A lot of the Rationalist-adjacent friends I made online in 2020 have either moved to NYC in the last couple of months or are thinking about it, as rents have dropped up to 20% in some neighborhoods and everyone is eager to rekindle their social life. New York is also a vastly better dating market for male nerds given a slightly female-majority sex ratio and thousands of the smartest and coolest women on the planet as compared to the male-skewed and smaller Bay Area.  

Peekskill is also 2 hours from Philly and 3 from Boston, which is not too much for a weekend trip. That could make it the Schelling point for East Coast megameetups/conferences/workshops since it's as easy to get to as NYC and a lot cheaper to rent a giant AirBnB in.

Won't Someone Think of the Children

I love living in Brooklyn, but the one thing that could make us move in the next year or two is a community of my tribe that are willing to help each other with childcare, from casual babysitting to homeschooling pods. I'm keenly following the news of where Rationalist groups are settling, especially those who plan to (like us) or already have kids. A critical mass of Rationalist parents in Peekskill may be enticing enough for us to move there, since we could have the combined benefits of living space, proximity to NYC, and the community support we would love.

Monastery and Throne

I don't think that nudgers are consequentialists who also try to accurately account for public psychology. I think 99% of the time they are doing something for non-consequentialist reasons, and using public psychology as a rationalization. Ezra Klein pretty explicitly cares about advancing various political factions above mere policy outcomes, IIRC on a recent 80,000 Hours podcast Rob was trying to talk about outcomes and Klein ignored him to say that it's bad politics.

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