All of james_edwards's Comments + Replies

Decision Theory FAQ

Typo at 11.4:

Ahmed and Price (2012) think it does not adequately address to the challenge

Algorithmic Progress in Six Domains

Also, should “A Science-Based Case for Large-Scale Simulation” be cited on page 4?

0alexvermeer8yIt is cited later on page 33, though citation added to the page 4 reference as well. Thanks!
Algorithmic Progress in Six Domains

Cool indeed!

Both uses of "regime" on page 3 look weird:

improving accuracy by a percentage point in the ninety-percent regime arguably makes translation software a lot more useful than improving accuracy by a point in the thirty-percent regime

"Region" seems better to me.

4Qiaochu_Yuan8yThis is common terminology in... I'm not sure exactly, but some parts of mathematics, computer science, and physics. Generally one speaks of the behavior of a problem in the regime where some parameters are large or small. Wikipedia [] has a related usage in the sciences.
2james_edwards8yAlso, should “A Science-Based Case for Large-Scale Simulation” be cited on page 4?
10-Step Anti-Procrastination Checklist

Do you have something to drink? Get yourself some tea, coffee, or water.

Also: Is your work area bright enough? Turn on your desk lamp.

Feels like a free concentration boost to me.

0MalcolmOcean6yAlso: is your work area too bright? Turn off a light. Hawthorne Effect []
Group rationality diary, 5/28/12

I have dramatically increased the speed at which I'm learning Mandarin by the simple expedient of removing the books from my bag and the music from my mp3 player. This has left me with two alternatives for my commute; be bored or leisten to a learn Mandarin audiobook. I am very slowly becoming less shit.


0Barry_Cotter9yStill can't read anything though. And the Great Firewall prevents me from reading your no doubt excellent post.
To like each other, sing and dance in synchrony

PS. I tried reading the article on smallish groups (my best social structure for learning), but it was unfortunately a paid article and I'm not currently enjoying free access to the publication. If you have a way of enlightening me that does not require 35$ for me upfront, I'll be more than willing to check it out.

Here's a free link for the small groups article

0SkyDK6yThank you!!! I know it's been almost three years, but I've just discovered LessWrong (and my account) and highly appreciate your help. I look forward to reading the article.
Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!
  • Reflex Rational (or Rational Reflex)
  • Praxis Rational
  • Accurate Agency
  • The Accuracy Agency
  • Change Agent
  • Improved Metrics
  • Practical Measures
  • Better Measures
  • Measure Mental
  • Calibration
  • Making Sense
  • Percept Action
  • Precision Living
Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!

How about "Groundswell"?

It refers to a kind of wave, as well as a change in people's views or behaviour (usually viewed positively). "Grounds" also has a relevant meaning as in "grounds to believe", without being a blatantly distasteful pun.

0adamisom9yYeah, that would be a great name, not /sarcasm I don't mean to pick only on this proposed name, but it sounds like most commenters are seeing the naming ideas from the perspective of insiders, or from the perspective irrationally in love with their proposal. There are probably dozens of names like Groundswell and Waterline that have clever connotations. Given humans' propensity to over-associate, this is hardly surprising. I do see a distinction, though, between the two: Waterline has a more immediate / clearer physical image, which is definitely a plus.
Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!
  • Lucidity
  • Reflexively Rational
  • Powergame Reality
  • Power Level Life
Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!

More ideas below. Incidentally, I am not really aiming to win the thread here. I just learned the cool technique of writing lists of 100 ideas, the idea being that quantity leads to quality. Apparently it's most effective to have some people generate ideas, and others critique them. By now I'm firmly in the first camp on this task.

The latest ideas:

  • Groundswell (as in logical grounds)
  • Enhance Mental
  • Inferential Iteration
  • Phronesis (or Fronesis)
  • Logical Operators
  • Mentat Mentors
  • Sharp Ratio (a pun on this)

Edit: Fixed links.

4hamnox10yTangent on the 100 idea list: I think this may be one of the most useful little tidbits I've ever come across. It's a perfectly natural complement to the -think about it for five minutes- and -hold off on proposing solutions- ideas, spectacular for solo problem solving. It's so obvious I feel dumb for not having tried it earlier. Why we're spending our time speculating on stuff like directed marijuana highs [] (Not that I don't like that post. I do.) when we've barely even got our basic katas [] down I'll never understand. Unless everyone here is secretly halfway to beisutsukai mastery already and I've been left out of the loop. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened.
0james_edwards10y* Lucidity * Reflexively Rational * Powergame Reality * Power Level Life
Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!

A worthy clarification! I considered making one comment per idea, but I'm not sure they are all up to that level of scrutiny.

Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!

A few more:

  • Good Reason
  • Sight and Mind
  • Tactical Reasoning
  • Wisdom Plus One

I'm on a phone, apologies for terse commenting.

1beoShaffer10yTaken [] but that unknown enough that something with Good Reason in it, but with a little more, ex. "The Good Reason Group" should work.
2atorm10y"Tactical Reasoning" sounds cool, but also slightly militaristic. Maybe not the best message to send. Maybe a really cool name for a book or group of rationality katas, though.
6Paul Crowley10yI quite like Good Reason
Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!

Wrote a list of 100 ideas, here are the highlights:

  • Insight Out
  • The Upsight Institute
  • Wisdom18
  • Level Up
  • Thinking Plus
  • Reason Out
  • Making Sense
0adamisom9yI love Level Up except for one thing, one kind of big thing. It may not be meaningful to the majority of people not familiar with gaming. That's the only thing I see as a potential downside, but...
3daenerys10yI also REALLY like Level Up. It solidified pretty quickly in my brain. The name expands pretty easily to "Level Up Enterprises" or somesuch, if preferred. And I can easily envision the second prong on the letter "U" being an up-arrow. I originally liked Insight Out, but when I reflected on it, I think I am being influenced by consistency bias, because I already threw my hat in with the word "Insight" earlier. I still think it's a really good one, I just like Level Up better!
5Nick_Roy10yI upvoted, but I'll clarify why, as this is a list: the only name I like on this list is Level Up, but I strongly like it.
7james_edwards10yA few more: * Good Reason * Sight and Mind * Tactical Reasoning * Wisdom Plus One I'm on a phone, apologies for terse commenting.
Urges vs. Goals: The analogy to anticipation and belief

Important and timely (the next Melbourne LW meetup will focus on setting good goals, an exercise which has always confounded me).

I find particularly interesting the "wedding gift todo" example, where imagined achievement of the goal stands-in for actually achieving the stated goal (giving a wedding gift). We want to have and act on "goals" rather than "urges". But setting goals is the kind of activity where "urges" can dominate. To me this looks like the analogue of belief-in-belief. We want our reasoning processes t... (read more)

Malice, Stupidity, or Egalité Irréfléchie?

More generally, it may be that your unusual choices benefit you, but impose costs on your friends and family. Unusual choices are less "safe" - they can move you farther from ordinary outcomes, and the results are harder to predict. Compare the stereotyped conflicts between parents and their teenaged kids:

Teenager (as seen by parents): "Later, olds! I'm going out with my poorly socialised friends to get wasted and hook up (maybe someone will get pregnant). Woo!"

Parents (as seen by teenager): "Stop there! Ve have ways of preventing your fun! You are never allowed to do anything that you enjoy, ever!"

Auckland meetup, Thrusday May 26th

I've already told Andrew I'm attending, hope to meet the rest of you there too :-)

Rationality & Criminal Law: Some Questions


How well do we think judges do in this respect?

How well do we think the French system does in this respect?

At least where they are allocating tasks among interested parties, Anglo-American trials seem relatively savvy about human nature.

7wedrifid11yToo much fictional evidence to really judge... but I say extremely well, all things considered. Overt bribes seem to be at least discouraged. That's a good start. Totally. "Advocate" rhetoric really gets on my nerves but there is no way I would trade it for fake neutrality. Where there is some low hanging fruit is in raising the bar on what rhetoric the advocates can get away with. That is, add logical fallacies and the most popular bullshit rhetorical gambits used in trials to the list of things that can be formally objected to. Many of these are objective enough to safely put in the hands of a judge.
Rationality & Criminal Law: Some Questions

Trial by Jury; Trial by Judge

Juries were originally taken to know something about the relevant events. The modern form of jury trials is a weird hybrid of inherited practices and contemporary political ideals. Like most legal phenomena :-)

That modern juries are inexperienced in criminal matters could be a positive feature. Judges may be jaded by constant exposure to narratives of crime. In wealthy countries, serious crimes are exceptional events. Jurors have reason to pay attention to narratives of such events.

Further, legal experts worry about naive ju... (read more)

2SilasBarta11yI disagree that it's a positive feature: when juries see each case with inexperienced eyes, they become wildly inconsistent in terms of how informative they regard the various pieces of evidence, and can much more easily be bullsh**ed by charismatic lawyers. Professional juries (so long as they kept a distant relationship from the judge and are composed of a different group of jurors each time) would gravitate towards a consistent -- and probably more rational, evidence-law-adhering -- standard for guilt, and for the relevance of the different types of evidence. This would make the results less capricious and more entangled with the defendants' actual guilt.
2magfrump11yI very much like the idea of giving jurors specific roles. I think telling people to hold off on proposing solutions would be very difficult to get to from current systems, for example the Knox case seemed to center entirely on the prosecution proposing a solution. If you stopped that, it would have a powerful but also partisan effect on cases where unlikely things did actually happen. ETA: another good juror role might be someone to make sure they only consider legitimate evidence. (i.e. that was presented but not dismissed)
Rationality & Criminal Law: Some Questions

I'm currently researching the rationality of criminal trials, though my focus is on evidence law. The current adversarial system does have some advantages:

  • An adversary system creates incentives to bring information before the court. Parties want to win. In particular, the defendant has a direct interest in avoiding punishment. Defendants can help themselves by pointing out flaws in the prosecution case. In general, an adversary system rewards parties who put arguments and evidence before the court.

  • However, this can include bad arguments and emotive but

... (read more)
6Sniffnoy11yIIRC, the reason the exclusionary rule came about in the first place was because the previous system of suing police officers who introduced improper evidence didn't work - it's hard to do that when you're imprisoned, and, as billswift pointed out, juries are reluctant to rule against police. In order to make this work you'd need much larger changes to the system to go along with it.
4billswift11yRiiight! Police who wrongfully kill are rarely even tried; do you really think there is any possibility that those conducting illegal searches or manufacturing evidence would be punished?
8110phil11yWhat if you allowed the convicted person to sue the investigators? That mitigates the reluctance to punish investigators -- or at least, the reluctance to begin proceedings against the investigators. The convict could sue to get X years deducted from his sentence, and the investigator would have to serve a percentage of X depending on the egregiousness of the breach.

Forensic investigations could be conducted by neutral groups.

Haha. Neutral groups. In a role that requires status, wields power and people have an enormous motivation to influence them. That is going to work.

What are our domains of expertise? A marketplace of insights and issues
  • What is your main domain of expertise? (Your profession, your area of study, or even a hobby!)

I have just finished degrees in law and philosophy, which I guess counts for some amount of expertise. I'm now studying both at graduate level. For the past three years or so, I've also been tutoring "traditional rationality" courses in philosophy. Before that, I was a high-school math tutor for about 8 years. Overall, I'd rate my teaching skills as somewhat higher-level than the areas I've studied formally.

I'm a bit of a generalist - I've also stud... (read more)

2MichaelVassar11yThis sounds like an extremely useful skill set. I think that we desperately need a better understanding of how people typically learn, learn to apply, and fail to apply traditional rationality if we are ever to expand this community beyond the thousands into the tens of thousands of participants without greatly diluting quality. I would GREATLY appreciate help on this topic. If interested, please email me.
0free_rip11yChch, NZ.
The Fundamental Question

What am I doing? Trying to write a few thousand words on legal reasoning about people's dispositions.

Why? To finish my dissertation, and graduate with an Honours degree in law.

Why am I doing that? To increase my status and career opportunities, but also due to inertia. I've almost finished this degree, and a few more weeks of work for this result seem worthwhile. Also, doing otherwise would make me look weird and potentially cut off valuable opportunities.

Why does that matter? Much intellectually interesting and well paid work seems to require signalling a... (read more)

The Last Days of the Singularity Challenge

$150 US to the General Fund. Hope that makes my good deed for the day count!

Welcome to Less Wrong!
  • Name: James Edwards
  • Handle: james_edwards
  • Location: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Education: BA (Philosophy, plus some Statistics and Chinese); will finish my law degree within a few months.
  • Occupation: Tutor for a stage one (freshman) Critical Thinking course - teaching old-school rationalism, focused on diagnosing and preventing fallacious arguments.

Came upon Eliezer's simple truth years ago, then happened upon a link to OB during a phase of reading econblogs. As a teenager I was appalled that many people believed the unsupported claims of homeopathy and othe... (read more)