All of Jake_NB's Comments + Replies

I know I'm way behind for this comment, but still: this point of view makes sense on a level, that saving additional people is always(?) virtuous and you don't hit a ceiling of utility. But, and this is a big one, this is mostly a very simplistic model of virtue calculous, and the things it neglected turn out to have a huge and dangerous impact.

Whoever knowingly chooses to save one life, when they could have saved two - to say nothing of a thousand lives, or a world - they have damned themselves as thoroughly as any murderer.

First case in point: can a ... (read more)

Actually Brennan's idea is common knowledge in physics - energy is derived as the generator of time translation, both in GR and in QFT, so there is nothing new here.

Great observation. One inaccuracy is that velocity in special relativity isn't quite the same as acceleration in GR - since we can actually locally measure acceleration, and therefore know if we're accelerating or the rest of the universe is. This is unless you also count spacetime itself in the rest of the universe, in which case it's best to specify it or avoid the issue more decisively. The actual equivalence is accelerating vs. staying in constant velocity/still in a gravitational field.

Another interesting point is that this chain of "character of law"... (read more)

Cool story, great insights, but I gotta say, huge planning fallacy on Jeffreyssai's part. Giving rigid deadlines on breakthroughs without actual experience with them or careful consideration of their internal mechanisms, and when the past examples are few and very diverse.

I do agree that speed is important, but maybe let's show some humility about things that humans are apparently hard-wired to be bad at.

If there were something else there instead of quantum mechanics, then the world would look strange and unusual.

If there were something else instead of quantum mechanics, it would still be what there is and would still add up to normality.

About a few of the violations of the collapse postulate: this wouldn't be the only phenomenon with a preferred reference frame of simultaneity - the CMB also has that. Maybe a little less fundamental, but nonetheless a seemingly general property of our universe. This next part I'm less sure about, but locality implies that Nature also has a preferred basis for wavefunctions, i.e. the position basis (as opposed to, say, momentum). Acausal - since nothing here states that the future affects the past, I assume it's a rehash of the special relativity violation... (read more)

Just one quick note: this formulation of Bayes' theorem implicitly assumes that the A_j are not only mutually exclusive, but cover the entire theory space we consider - their joint probability is assigned a value of 1.

I know I'm really late with this, but what do you consider as "studying science"? Making a career of it? Does being an engineer count (I guess it does)? Or is getting (an amount of knowledge equivalent to) a B.Sc. enough too? Maybe even less than that, learning cool nuggets of science as a hobby? I think this should be better defined. If it's just a career that counts, I'm afraid that the main inhibitor is not interest, but fear for career prospects. Most often when I head people's reasons not to pursue a career in science, it's because they don't think t... (read more)

Then "Gomboc righting itself when on a flat surface" will have an inherent 100% probability. This doesn't refute the example.

Three things bother me here, and they're all about which questions are being asked.

  1. The "tree falling in a forest" questions isn't, as far as I've encountered it outside of this blog, about the definition of sound. Rather, it's about whether or not reality behaves the same when you do not observe it, an issue that you casually dismissed, without any proof, evidence, or even argument. There are ways to settle this dispute partially, though they are not entirely empirical due to the nature of the conundrum.

  2. Ignoring the question of free will, ill defined

... (read more)

There's a clarification to be made here, in the bottom line - you were right to say that you shouldn't be expected to believe that the big, elaborate argument violates known laws of physics if no specific step had been shown to do it, but this doesn't mean that no such step exists. It may be that the arguer (and anyone else, for that matter) doesn't understand a subtlety that allows the mechanism to coexist with the laws of Nature. This has happened with the proposition of the ERP experiment, when it was initially thought to violate causality, but it was l... (read more)

No. 6 - I go again to logic and formal math, where you can never define any term by extensions because sensory perceptions aren't reliable enough to give the needed certainty of Truths. Then you will have to start from some undefined elementary terms and work up from there. Other than this, though, this rule of thumb seems quite trustworthy.

No. 29 - that's just inaccurate. As you said, there are more and less typical examples of a cluster. Hinduism is a typical example, so we stop there. But if a case is a borderline member of a cluster, you will need to r... (read more)

I feel the need to address the python vs. modern art thing too - if you just compare the extensional list of art against the intensional definition, you'll see that modern arts pass as arts (at least sometimes) while python definitely doesn't. Modern arts involve some work, are intended to inspire aesthetic emotions, and often do in some people experiencing them. Python, while being an elegant tool, was not (probably) designed with the primary intention of producing emotions, but rather with the intention of being a convenient tool to code.

Also, there is a... (read more)

Well, I think that if you are to be true to the message here, you should go even if the students and professors themselves are not above the norm, since the culture of addressing the original purpose directly would have merit in its own right. Unless you believe this expenditure of time isn't worth the while without the bundled social benefits of having a degree.

As for the PhD level, I think that after that the teaching part is nearly gone, and the service the institution can provide is mostly providing a productive environment and tools to conduct research.

On a different note, calling a ball a spheroid isn't really tabooing it, it's just a synonym.

While the general argument is valid, I'm not sure how these accusations of socially-derived rules making up traditional rationality. There were many mathematicians and scientists before Bayes was born, and they derived their beliefs from logic and evidence, not social norms. Take Galileo as an extreme and famous example. Is there any evidence behind these unflattering descriptions of traditional rationalists?

This "if" embodies the decrease of risk from being part of a crowd. In a protest of 5000, 20 may be pulled in, but the leader is much more likely to be one of them than any one person in the crowd.

I agree with the benefits of narrowness, but let's not forget there is a (big) drawback here: science and math are, in their core, built around generalizations. If you only ever study the single apple, or any number of apples individually, and not take the step of generalizing to all apples, or maybe all apples in a given farm, at least, you have zero predictive power. The same goes for Rationality, by the way. What good is talking about biases and Bayesianism, If I can only apply it to Frank from down the street?

I'm arrogantly confident you agree with me ... (read more)

Eliezer also mentions it here, saying that if you're willing to lie to someone, you should be willing to slash their tires or lobotomize them. But I want to point out the Fallacy of Gray here - there are different degrees of lying, of its implications, and of the implications. I may hide the truth from my teacher about my friend cheating on a test (trying to stop the friend is a different discussion, but I would), but I wouldn't go so far as to outright violence in order to protect the secret.

I think the vast majority of people will gladly slash your tyres or lobotomize you without a second thought if the alternative is to go to the effort of debating you for any length of time with a genuinely truth-seeking attitude. Only if they fear you may they attempt to fake the latter.

That would seem to make sense, but in practice you don't see too many people who set out to be liars and it didn't pan out. Unless we count criminals who received harsh punishment, but there's a whole other story there, one thing bring that they often end up imprisoned again. Overall, the percentage of ex-convicts among honest folk doesn't seem to be that high.

I think honest people usually start out as honest, since it's a culturally valued quality, and thereby don't get much experience at lying. People who lie regularly usually get more skilled (or constantly caught) at more benign lies, and don't raise the stakes to prison-order right off the bat.

I'm reserved as to the corollary that only winning against the strongest advocate of an idea holds ANY meaning to disprove the idea.

For one, there could be a better arguer. If there is a better advocate of the intelligence explosion than Eliezer, unlikely as they may seem, who just won't go public and keeps to private circles, would it do nothing to win against the former? Taken another step further, if it is likely there ever will be such a proponent, does that invalidate all present and past efforts?

For another, the quality of an arguer can only be made ... (read more)

I agree with this one. Without probabilities of 0 and 1, it's not merely that some proofs of theorems need to be revised, it's that probability theory simply doesn't work anymore, as its very axioms fall apart.

I can give a statement that is absolutely certain, e.g. "x is true given that x is true". It doesn't teach me much about real life experiences, but it is infinitely certain. Likewise with probability 0. Please note that the probability is assigned to the territory here, not the map.

The fact that I can't encounter these probabilities in real life has ... (read more)

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but even in Judaism the (widely accepted) lesson is to improve as an individual, even if the overall trend is a decline. In another phrasing - the individual should try to diminish the generational degradation of virtue as much as possible. And the penance comes inevitably because we will inevitably sin SOME, because we're imperfect humans. Even so, a very real danger remains of taking this penance as a goal in its own right, and forgetting that we primarily need to improve. All that said, I enthusiastically committed to "Tsuyoku Naritai", and to be as Science rather than as Torah :)

Never have I been so confused with anachronisms in methods of reasoning. The characters can't explain counting or equal quantities, but can explain the scientific method, fitness metrics, advanced demagogic methods, etc. Trial and error procedures can lead you down quite a few wrong paths if you don't understand statistics and causal relations, and it would be interesting to see how it would make the argument develop.

My conjecture is that the abillity for characters to explain counting, equal quantities, and causal relations has been deliberately removed to allow those latter processes (with particular emphasis on the scientific method) to be used, to illustrate the general foundation of empiricism without needing to resort to an actually difficult problem where there might be genuine ambiguity about the answers. The lack of a common ground about causal reasoning and reality allows the process to described from the ground up, instead of resting on previous vague intuitions about reality and beliefs.