jmh

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Covid 9/17: It’s Worse

Are the figures for the past decade the total burned, the planned burn or just the wild burn?

I ask because I read something, not closely at all, sometime in the past week or so, that seemed to be saying for the past decade environmental policies and regulators have been preventing so much of the planned burn the west has a serious problem Based on that one might think that rather than some mild years coming up more of the same, and even more of that, might be more likely.

For those living there I just say "Hope that is wrong!"

Book Review: Working With Contracts

While I don't think this quite gets to where you are suggesting every contract I have ever seen includes some clause that pretty much talks about the independence of the sections and how they stand even if some other clause is invalidated. That seems to be a form or modular/scope structure.

Perhaps the question there is where the difference might be. For instance, when using the software metaphor I don't think it is really good to compare a simple application to the contract but more like a whole suite of applications. Don't compare Excel to the contract but Office365. In this setting, does contract seem to stand a bit more firmly than say the security around the inner working of the applications within Office?

Or is than not really a good comparison?

Comparative advantage and when to blow up your island

I think another point to keep in mind when thinking of comparative advantage is that it is clearly a necessary condition for trade (or at least seems obvious to me that it is) but not clearly a sufficient condition.

Even in this two good model it seems that one must accept there is an implied third good, everything else (leisure, sleep, something else?) so the analysis of the two goods is a partial equilibrium analysis. If the margins are getting changed there then the general equilibrium has now been disturbed. That will then feed back into the two good relationships.

I think one of the questions then is just what margins or constrains are being relaxed when looking to trade based on the comparative advantage.

For instance, lets assume that the two islands specialize in either coconuts or bananas and then trade at the 1:1 exchange. Production and consumption has not changed. Since they clearly had more minutes in the day to increase output on their own consuming 10 bananas and coconuts a week was optimal. If that level of consumption is not changed due to trade (generally assumed to be the case but lets ask) what happens with the time no longer needed for production?

If the additional available time is now just boredom I would think trade becomes a bit of an annoyance and trade is curtailed. If that is true on one side but on the other they other things they can do with the time a different form of friction emerges, perhaps one side claiming the other is dumping or protectionist.

The Case for Human Genetic Engineering

One aspect of such engineering is clearly what is the focus -- clearly the "improved super human" a la Star Trek is perhaps too ill defined so it will have to be about doing things in parts.

I would be curious about your thoughts on where the current state of knowledge and technology might be between targeting intelligence versus targeting longevity. If we could make good progress on the longevity front that then releases some constraints on the efforts towards intelligence. However, it that is the harder nut to crack then one could argue focusing on intelligence gains leads to a relaxed constraint on longevity research.

I suspect the two paths are not all that complementary to one another beyond some rather basic level so parallel tracks might not work as well (assuming bio-engineers with the sufficient skills are a binding constraint).

Somewhat related to the above, am I correct in thinking your focus is less on improving the currently living and more on upgrading the next generation with these efforts?

The Case for Human Genetic Engineering

Yes, you state that much better than I did.

The idea was that we have chromosome pairs, each will have the same set of genes, but the gene on each chromosome can vary but are still the same "gene". So the label as allele (or mutation -- not quite sure where one draws the line between mutation and allele) seems a bit more clear to me.

The Case for Human Genetic Engineering

Interesting and I look forward to reading the other posts in this effort.

One minor nit. I think the correct terms in the bit on recessive traits is not gene but allele (genes contain two alleles as I understand the claims).

Perhaps I misunderstood what I was reading but I thought senescence in cells was not about them dying out but rather them becomes zombie cells -- no more division or "life" but not really dead or disposed of. That resulted in them (often?) pumping out various proteins that were not well coordinated with the bodies needs. I also thought some of the newer research was suggesting a connection between the quantity of senescence cells and the onset of cancers. Particularly on this last bit you seem to be saying the reverse so I'm a bit confused.

Highlights from the Blackmail Debate (Robin Hanson vs Zvi Mowshowitz)

Seems the entire discussion boils down to what should or should not be allowed to be sold. In a standard market one assumption and prerequisite for selling something is a legitimate ownership right.

Did Hansen establish some ownership right the blackmailer enjoyed? Did anyone establish any ownership rights at all?

In the case of the NDA bit that seems like a completely difference class than the case of blackmail. There seems to be a serious asymmetry between the "pay me to keep my mouth shut about your information" and that of "I will share this information with you but you must not disclose -- and I will even provide some compensation to add the incentive for nondisclosure beyond the pure contractual obligation and stated remedy".

Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate?

I don't see why one thinks homicide is a good proxy for crime in general. I wonder if a different approach here might be simply focusing on homicide and incarceration to see if that sheds any light.

The Fusion Power Generator Scenario

Not sure if this is pure musing or a question. The, rather obvious, thought strikes me that this discussion could be held without any reference to AI at all. It is very clear that people with 150+ IQ are much more capable than those with 120 IQ and those with 120 are much more capable than those with sub 100 IQ.

For the most part we live in a market society driven my mass market demand, which seems like it will be dominated by a lower average IQ, which is designed and produced by the "smart" tail of the curve.

This has been the case (well perhaps not the market society claim) for most of human existence.

That suggests we might have evolutionary design patters that have been emerging to protect the masses of the human race from both their own (and perhaps misunderstood or even unknown) risky demand that are delivered by the smart minority of humans.

Is that line of thinking any part of the larger picture (AI alignment I suppose)?

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