LessWrong developer, rationalist since the Overcoming Bias days. Connoisseur of jargon.


Instrumental Convergence

I thought this might be an editing  artifact, but it looks like that fragment was there and dangling that way in the revision where it was first inserted, so I just took it out.

ML is now automating parts of chip R&D. How big a deal is this?

I think this is incorrect. You might imagine that CPU->GPU and GPU->TPU transitions were steps up a tall log-scale tech ladder, in the way that Moore's-law doublings were, with many more steps still possible in theory. But this is not the case, because the metric these transitions were improving on was "fraction of transistors which are dedicated to useful compute" (as opposed to extracting parallelism from a serial instruction stream, or computing unnecessary low-order bits on overly-wide floating point). This metric has a hard upper limit, at 100%, and I don't think there's even one order of magnitude left between current utilization and that limit.

How hard is it to disguise my gait?

Machine learning metrics are tricky; if you don't know what they mean, they tend to sound impressive, when they really aren't. 94% accuracy is actually terrible, to the point where I would call this a scam if it looked like it was being marketed B2B. Consider: If some company has a database with a million people in it, and this technology rules out 94% of possibilities, then this puts you in a group of 60,000 people. This is about the same accuracy is they'd get if they just measured your height, and ruled out everyone more than an inch shorter or taller than you. (In fact, I'd put pretty high odds on this being exactly what the "gait recognition" neural network is actually doing.) So it might work as a cross-check in combination with some other tracking technology (eg your phone's MAC address), but if that happens, it's the other tracking technology you should be focusing on.

Attributions, Karma and better discoverability for wiki/tag features

What actually happened here is that the Pomodoro Technique tag was created without a description, but the dashboard shows the text as of the latest version. The insertion of the text can be upvoted, as it's the next edit. This is confusing on the tagging dashboard page, but looks more reasonable on the tag's history page and on the All Posts page.

AllAmericanBreakfast's Shortform

In most cases I think the correct phrase would be "nearly unlimited". It unpacks to: the set of circumstances in which a limit would be reached, is nearly empty. 

Selection Has A Quality Ceiling

There's a wrinkle here that I think changes the model pretty drastically: people vary widely in how readily they pick up skills. The immediate implication is that selecting on skills is selecting on a mix of age, teachability, and alignment between their past studies and the skillset you're testing. Counterintuitively, this means that a test which is narrowly focused on the exact skillset you need will do worse at testing for teachability, so if most of what you need is ultimately going to come from future training and study, then the more broad the skillset tested, the better.

Power Outage Chances

In the Bay area, my power-outage planning has been less about heat (it never really gets cold enough to be dangerous), and more about making sure we can still run air filters in case a wildfire and a power outage happen at the same time. For that, I have a couple of 75Wh Li-Ion batteries with inverters. The air filters I have use 45W on a high setting (significantly less on low settings), so this isn't enough to run them on high continuously, but is enough to re-clear the air each time a door is opened and periodically deal with particulates that have leaked in. Lead-acid batteries would provide a lot more Wh/$, but they're also heavier and less compact.

My Journey to the Dark Side

I agree that I really need to write a post on this (and a half-dozen other nutrition-related things that I've become known for saying in person and in comments, but haven't written up properly).

For this specific point--about 2000 calories per day being a shortfall--it's fairly straightforward. There's a scientific-consensus answer to how many calories people typically need, the Harris-Benedict formula. (This has a few variations with slightly different constants, all of which trace back to linear-regressions on measured energy expenditure.) I typed in my own parameters, and those of a few other people, and observed that, within the demographics of people I know, ie mostly youngish male and with a height reflective of decent childhood nutrition, it was consistently well above 2000. I also traced the history of where the 2000 number used on nutrition facts panels came from, and found that it was never intended as any sort of recommendation, and seemed to have been misinterpreted as one by historical accident. I try to always include a link to the formula or a calculator for it, when I talk about calorie intakes, so that people can get the real number for themselves.

Jimrandomh's Shortform

I think Berkeley may, to little fanfare, have achieved herd immunity and elimination of COVID-19. The test positivity rate on this dashboard is 0.22%. I'm having a hard time pinning down exactly what the false-positive rate of COVID-19 PCR is, probably due to the variety of labs and test kits, but a lot of estimates I've seen have been higher than that.

I expect people closer to the Berkeley department of health would have better information one way or another. A little caution is warranted in telling people COVID is gone, since unvaccinated people dropping all precautions and emerging en masse would not necessarily be herd immune.

My Journey to the Dark Side

She also organized a rather poorly received protest of that group which has gained her some notoriety within the community.

This deserves some clarification. Here's what happened. Ziz and some friends went to the CFAR alumni reunion in 2019, before it started. They put on their Sith robes, and chained their vehicle across the entrance road to block it. The previous users of the venue, a class of fifth graders, were still there. Venue staff called the police. The police interpreted it as a school shooting situation, and decided they needed to search the venue for bombs. And so a hundred-ish people, including me, while we were in the middle of driving to the alumni reunion, got an email saying: Don't come. There is a police helicopter and they are searching the area for bombs.

That is the first impression we all got of Ziz's protest. I saw a copy of the pamphlet they had intended to hand out, some time later. It wasn't as bad as that, but it was still nonsense.

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