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Article about LW: Faith, Hope, and Singularity: Entering the Matrix with New York’s Futurist Set

Someone in the future is going to read one of the social interaction scenes in a Charles Stross novel and marvel at the eerily accurate depiction...

Group rationality diary, 7/23/12

If you use org-mode, this is what made my emacs experience reach a whole new level (I literally have every aspect of my life in .org files now - I can tell you what I ate for lunch 7 months ago, which isn't especially useful but really fun to point out).

You don't seem like an emacs newbie though, so you might have already seen the above. Recently I came across this setup, which has an inspiring organization and some very cool ideas which might be useful to you. This guy also wrote org-drill, an awesome SRS implementation for emacs - it even supports incremental reading!

Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 3

I attempted this today but without an API (LW's fork of the reddit codebase looks pretty old) I don't think I can get very far.

Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 3

Is there a better way to read Less Wrong?

I know I can put the sequences on my kindle, but I would like to find a way to browse Discussion and Main in a more useable interface (or at least something that I can customize). I really like the threading organization of newsgroups, and I read all of my .rss feeds and mail through Gnus in emacs. I sometimes use the Less Wrong .rss feed in Gnus, but this doesn't allow me to read the comments. Any suggestions?

Also, if any other emacs users are interested, I would love to make a lesswrong-mode package. I'm not a very good lisp hacker, but I think it would be a fun project.

Links about naturalism

Being relatively young I get really excited when someone gives advice that they wish they realized earlier (as if I'm privy to some unique and incredibly useful information), but I've now realized the huge plethora of information that I wish I could share with the "me of 2 years ago". After years of reading reddit, hacker news, etc, I must have come across hundreds of similar advice threads, and yet even now I feel like there are just so many things I figured out way too late. Our brains have a horrible self satisfaction mechanism.

Not that this devalues your advice at all (I have similar problems, so I'm incredibly grateful for the link). Just an observation.

Morality open thread

I guess this would depend on (1) the extent to which unnecessary sympathy effects my daily life and (2) how the consideration of hypothetical events would effect the evolution of my moral system with respect to this new constraint.

The former is negligible to me, but the latter seems potentially dangerous. I don't know exactly how not being a psychopath effects my reasoning, so I don't think I would be comfortable taking the pill. Maybe if I could backup my mind...

Rationality Quotes July 2012

You could define equivalence relations on the set of religious people (RP) and the set of atheistic humanists (AH). In most cases, the people in the sets only interact with (or at least influenced by) other members of the same or similar sets. Turn these interactions into operations on members of the set (a,b in RP, a*b = "a makes b feel awkward/scared/unhappy around a" or maybe something based on social relationships between members). These operations would create new "people" whose characteristics are similar to that of the person who has been molded by the defined social interaction(s).

Starting from a certain subset of RP, these operations could possibly generate the entire set of members (i.e a*b = c in RP, where c has the equivalent disposition as someone who has interacted with b under some applicable equivalence relation). Do the same for AH (using the same equivalence relation), and compare the structures. Under different types of interactions between members, this could reveal some interesting group-theoretical properties. Maybe there is a generating set for RP and not for AH if we keep the equivalence relations from getting too specific.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the structural elements of a certain set of people could tell us something about the distribution that the set was pulled from, or even invalidate the need to look at the distribution at all. Maybe the structure is even more important; these sets could pull from the same distribution, but the ideologies that formed these sets could result in drastically different results from operations (social interactions or relationships) between members of the set. Or we could see if only the generating members of the set were pulled from the same distribution, but the social interactions between them created a set member not from the original distribution, resulting in the set having to pull from that distribution also.

Anyway, this is probably not coherent or useful at all, but if nothing else it did lead me to the work of Harrison White on mathematical sociology:

A good summary of White's sociological contributions is provided by his former student and collaborator, Ronald Breiger:

... ... (2) models based on equivalences of actors across networks of multiple types of social relation; (3) theorization of social mobility in systems of organizations; (4) a structural theory of social action that emphasizes control, agency, narrative, and identity ...

This was particularly interesting:

For instance, we are told almost daily how the average European or American feels about a topic. It allows social scientists and pundits to make inferences about cause and say “people are angry at the current administration because the economy is doing poorly.” This kind of generalization certainly makes sense, but it does not tell us anything about an individual. This leads to the idea of an idealized individual, something that is the bedrock of modern economics.[6] Most modern economic theories look at social formations, like organizations, as products of individuals all acting in their own best interest.[7]

Morality open thread

So the more people that enjoy hurting you (an increase in their utility causing a decrease in your utility), the more evil you become (since you hate a larger number of people)? Did I misinterpret this?

Morality open thread

Couldn't it be a primitive reflex that starts a chain of locally intentional actions leading to "browsing the internet"? For example, you don't know what to write next so you alt-tab to the web browser. In itself that isn't a complicated reflex - sometimes I find myself alt-tabbing and not remembering what I was alt-tabbing for. Once you get to your web browser, you start making these locally intentional actions - i.e within the scope of a web browser's functionality - and when you finally realize what you've done it feels like one big intentional action.

Welcome to Less Wrong!

Is this some kind of LW hazing, linking to academic papers in an introduction thread? (I joke, this looks super interesting).

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