Jameson Quinn

Jameson Quinn's Comments

Moloch Hasn’t Won

I think that I am probably inside the set you'd consider "target audience", though not a central member. To me, when you say "strong no" it sounds somewhat like "if somebody misunderstands me, it's their fault," which I'd think is a bad reaction.

I realize that what I'm asking for could be considered SJW virtue-signaling, and I understand that one possible reaction to such a request is "ew, no, that's not my tribe." However, I think there's reasons aside from signaling or counter-signaling to consider my request.

To me, one goal of a summary section like the one in question is to allow the reader to grasp the basic flavor of the argument in question without too much mental work. That might, in some cases, mean it's worth explicitly saying things that were implicit in the unabridged original, because the quicker read might leave such implicit ideas less obvious. In particular, to me, it's important that these "physical limitations" don't actually remove the badness of the equilibrium, they just moderate it slightly. That flows obviously to me when reading Scott's full original; with your summary, it's still obvious, but in a way that breaks the flow and requires me to stop and think "there's something left unsaid here". In a summary section, such a break in the flow seems better avoided.

Conclusion to the sequence on value learning

Hmm. I went back and reread you carefully, and I cannot find the part where you said the thing that I was "responding" to above. So I think I'm probably actually responding to my poor model of what you would say, not to what you actually did say. Sorry. I'll leave my above comment but strike out the parts where it refers to what "you" say.

Conclusion to the sequence on value learning

Seems as if there's some sleight-of-hand going on here Yes, we can show that any policy that is invulnerable to dutch-booking is equivalent to optimizing some utility function. But you've also shown earlier that "equivalent to optimizing some utility function" is a nearly-vacuous concept. There are plenty of un-dutch-bookable policies which still don't end up paving the universe in utilitronium, for ANY utility function.

Furthermore, I find it easy to imagine human-like value systems which are in fact dutch-bookable; e.g., "I like to play peekaboo with babies" is dutch-bookable between "eyes covered" and "eyes uncovered". So the generalization at the outset of this chapter seems over-broad.

Moloch Hasn’t Won

I strongly suggest you rewrite your summary of "physical limitations". The original was slightly problematic; your summary is, to me, a train-wreck.

Scott's original point was, I believe, "slavery itself may be an example of a bad collective equilibrium, but work-people-to-death antebellum southern slavery was even worse than that." He spent so much effort showing how the WPTD version was inefficient that he forgot to reiterate the obvious point that both versions are morally bad; and since he was contrasting the two, it would be possible to infer that he's actually saying that non-WPTD slavery is not so bad morally; but he clearly deserves the benefit of the doubt on that, and anybody who's read that far is likely to give it to him.

Your summary is shorter, so it's easier to misinterpret, and "people unlikely to give you the benefit of the doubt" are more likely to read it. Furthermore, using "you" to mean slavers makes it actually worse than Scott's version. I, for one, really don't want to be asked to put myself into slavers' shoes unless it's crucial to the point being made, and in this case it clearly isn't.

I suggest you remove the "you" phrasing, and also explicitly say that even non-WPTD slavery is bad; that this is an example of physical limitations slightly ameliorating a bad equilibrium, but not removing it altogether. You can, I believe, safely imply that that's what Scott believes too, even though he doesn't explicitly say it.

The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life

The expectation of X is "regressed towards the mean" when an extreme Y is used as a predictor, and vice versa. Thus, to my mind, this post's target phenomenon is a straightforward special case of RTM.

Research: Rescuers during the Holocaust

I think we should encourage posts which are well-delimited and research based; "here's a question I had, and how I answered it in a finite amount of time" rather than "here's something I've been thinking about for a long time, and here's where I've gotten with it".

Also, this is an engaging topic and well-written.

I feel the "final thoughts" section could be tightened up/shortened, as to me it's not the heart of the piece.

The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life

This phenomenon is closely related to "regression towards the mean". It is important, when discussing something like this, to include such jargon names, because there is a lot of existing writing and thought on the topic. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Other than that, it's a fine article.

Argument, intuition, and recursion

This is a nice, simple model for thinking. But I notice that both logic and empiricism sometimes have "shortcuts" — non-obvious ways to shorten, or otherwise substantially robustify, the chain of (logic/evidence). It's reasonable to imagine that intuition/rationality would also have various shortcuts; some that would correspond to logical/empirical shortcuts, and some that would be different. Communication is more difficult when two people are using chains of reasoning that differ substantially in what shortcuts they use. You could get two valid arguments on a question, and be able to recognize the validity of each, but be almost completely at a loss when trying to combine those two into an overall judgement.

Oops, I guess that was more of a comment than a review. At review-level, what I meant to say was: nice foundation, but it's clear this doesn't exhaust the question. Which is good.

Expressive Vocabulary

Basic politeness rules, explained well for people who don't find them obvious, yay!

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