All of Kingoftheinternet's Comments + Replies

How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3

And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one rim to the other it was round all about, and...a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about...

1 Kings 7:23

Idea: Self-Improving Task Management Software

I would use the heck out of this software if it existed, and for that reason I would very much like to assist in writing software like this.

Memetic Tribalism

I'm thinking it would best be described as "cultural". Some level of taboo against correcting others unless you're in a socially-approved position to do so (teacher, elder, etc.) is, to my understanding, fairly common among humans, even if it's weaker in our society and time. I brought up the common knowledge thing just because it seems to contradict the idea that a strong urge to correct others could have been particularly adaptive.

I think it's a selection effect on the kind of people who wind up on LW.
Not all beliefs would be direct common knowledge. People still had gods and group identities and fashions to disagree about. On the other hand, I actually can't see any quick reason it would be adaptive either.
Memetic Tribalism

For some reason "correcting" people's reasoning was important enough in the ancestral environment to be special-cased in motivation hardware.

It feels instinctual to you and many others alive today including myself, but I'm not sure that's evidence enough that it was common in the ancestral environment. Isn't "people are not supposed to disagree with each other on factual matters because anything worth knowing is common knowledge in the ancestral environment" also an ev-pysch proposition?

Do you mean that it could just be a learned thing from today's culture? Or that it is a side-effect of some other adaptation? Yes I suppose it is. Is this a proposed source of the frustration-with-unorthodoxy instinct? Whatever the cause is, "What matters is that this urge seems to be hardware, and it probably has nothing to do with actual truth or your strategic concerns."
Rationality Quotes February 2013

I think the quote's main function is to warn those who don't know anything about programming of a kind of person they're likely to encounter on their journey (people who know everything and think their preferences are very right), and to give them some confidence to resist these people. It also drives home the point that people who know how to program already won't get much out of the book. I quoted it because it addresses a common failure mode of very intelligent and skilled people.

Rationality Quotes February 2013

Concretely, Milton Friedman probably didn't have a workable plan for bringing about such an environment, though he may have thought he did; I'm not familiar enough with his thinking. One next-best option would be to try to convince other people that that's what part of a solution to bad government would look like, which under a charitable interpretation of his motives, is what he was doing with that statement he made.

Rationality Quotes February 2013

I think the spirit of the quote is that instead of counting on anyone to be a both benevolent and effective ruler, or counting on voters to recognize such things, design the political environment so that that will happen naturally, even when an office is occupied by a corrupt or ineffective person.

This idea is primarily why I'm skeptical of the effectiveness of institutions like the federal reserve (despite not being a subject matter expert). It seems pretty clear that in order to be effective the leadership has to be comprised of people that are not only exceptionally brilliant, but exceptionally benevolent as well.
Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013

I went the common route of fixing the "learning advanced subjects is hard" problem by studying computer engineering in college, if that's an option you're able to consider. Writing simple code is a just few steps away from writing complex code, and at that point you have something you'll likely be able to make a career out of. "Software is eating the world", as some people accurately quip.

Well, I am finishing up a bachelor degree in physics and thinking about switching to mathematics. Seeing as I like theoretical physics and it essentially is coding something similar to your suggestion should be possible.
Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013

The software world could probably scratch your itch pretty well. Have you tried/do you like programming?

I tried programming a couple of times but it never really 'clicked' in the sense that I am able to write (simple) code but never developed a fascination with it. I usually find consice solutions that perform reasonably well but I can not stick to learning a language beyond the basic standard exercises.
Rationality Quotes February 2013

If you are reading this book and flipping out at every third sentence because you feel I'm insulting your intelligence, then I have three points of advice for you:

  • Stop reading my book. I didn't write it for you. I wrote it for people who don't already know everything.

  • Empty before you fill. You will have a hard time learning from someone with more knowledge if you already know everything.

  • Go learn Lisp. I hear people who know everything really like Lisp.

For everyone else who's here to learn, just read everything as if I'm smiling and I have a misch

... (read more)
This quote was enough for me to take Learn Python The Hard Way off my reading list. I had previously heard good reports about it but this gives me the impression that the book is likely to be far too opinionated and dogmatic for my taste. Mind you I have reason to suspect the same of Python itself.
I'm not sure what this has to do with rationality quotes, but the extract basically convinces me to avoid the guy like the plague. The underlying premises seem to be something like: * The remaining choice when someone knows enough to feel a book is too simple for them is that they know everything. * They should discard all that they know - empty before you fill - so they can learn from someone with more knowledge than them. * Go learn lisp... -shrug- It seems incredibly bad advice to give to someone who thinks a lot of what's in a book's too simple for them to essentially yell at them to shut up and knuckle down. As compared to say, pointing them to a few things that are generally not covered that well in self-learning and direct them to a more advanced book.

If anyone feels even remotely inspired to click through and actually learn python, do it. Its been the most productive thing I've done on the internet.

I see the two are indeed related, but thank you for pointing me in the right direction (and in general for letting me know of something I definitely wasn't aware of).
The Hidden B.I.A.S.

Preserving that information makes it much more likely you'll be reproduced accurately and in a timely manner and in a situation you would be able to enjoy, rather than in twenty quintillion years because of quantum noise or some such. Part of the point of preserving your state until it can be transferred to a more durable artifact is that there's some chain of causal events between who you were when your state was recorded, and who "you" are when that state is hopefully resumed; many people seem to value that quite a bit. You should try to avoid death regardless of your beliefs about cryonics, identity, or just about anything else.

That's a helpful, honest answer, thanks. I have a lot of empathy, but basically no sympathy in my programming. Unfortunately this extends even to my regard for my future selves. I try to avoid death in the moment and the near future, I don't seem even to identify with my future self. So hearing something like "Well, most other people would want so and so, now you know," at least helps me understand humans.
The Hidden B.I.A.S.

You wrote this LessWrong post about cryonics being a good idea under the assumption that your readers would disagree with an argument from the core sequences which is usually used to support the "cryonics is a good idea" conclusion on LessWrong? To each his own.

Here are the real/hypothetical cases that mostly formed my answer to your last question:

  • If you were to replace every neuron in your brain with a robotic cell exactly simulating its function, one neuron at a time and timed such that your cognition is totally unaffected during the process,

... (read more)
Does this mean that I should not fear death, because since I can in principle be exactly reproduced, it is not fundamentally different from sleep? In a classical sense, it is this body that I actually care about preserving, not my pattern of consciousness--that's where the fear of death is coming from. And deeper, it is really my body that cares about preserving my body--not my consciousness pattern. So the problem that I am having trouble wrapping my head around is that statistics alone makes recreation of my pattern of consciousness likely; cryonics doesn't really add much more likelihood to it, in my opinion. At whatever point in the future that I am recreated by mere chance or simulation, that will be the next time "I" exist, whether it's a billion years from now, on another planet, or another universe. Neither does it stop me from dying, so what is the actual point of cryonics, since it seems to not satisfy either of its purposes?
The Hidden B.I.A.S.

"...Cryonics in some way preserves the original material, but your Speedy-dupe vaporizes it. The copy which emerges ten years later is not a direct continuation of the original physical material."

I would guess that many people here disagree with that assessment.

If the pattern is recreated precisely (or even well enough) at a temporal or spacial distance from the original, what is actually different between Speedy-dupe and Cryonics?

Not much. Both are processes that send a snapshot of the physical implementation of all the algorithms that a... (read more)

I had read that article, which this one was supposed to be a sort of follow-up to. Many people here may disagree with my example answers intellectually, but like the Zombie article points out, that doesn't stop the false intuition that it is so. Which brings me to the very subject that I hoped to discuss: Why would you or I care whether we get revived one hundred years from now? Reading on this forum, I feel like I should care, but for some reason I don't. Reproducing a similar version of my wavefunction from second to second takes considerably less effort and resources, and I think that's the process that we intuitively care about. That's an easy place for me to draw the line between what I consider "me" and "not-me". What are your personal feelings about identity?
Love at first sight. <3 Thanks for the rec, Kingoftheinternet!
The name of that alone makes it worth downloading.
I love it! I'm downloading the lot.
Gun Control: How would we know?

1) Almost zero, of course. How should that affect our interpretation of that fact?

I don't understand what you mean by the second question.

Gun Control: How would we know?

That could definitely apply to a lot of the examples they presented. I'm still mystified by Washington D.C.: they already had a higher murder rate than the US average, then handguns were banned in 1975, then their murder rate tripled while the national average stayed fairly flat, then their murder rate came back down to its mid-70s level in the late 2000s, then the handgun ban was struck down. My current favored conclusion from that is "gun control laws themselves just don't matter very much, and are dwarfed by other social and cultural forces."

Gun Control: How would we know?

They explain how they found that number here. I'm pretty impressed with their methodology, though I'm also sure you have a point about people exaggerating their chances of dying regardless of what clever study authors do.

Gun Control: How would we know?

My strategy in these cases is usually "look for lots of facts relevant to this issue and see what stands out". The things that jump out at me from just that page:

  • Many American cities/states (and the entire UK in one very interesting case) have instituted or repealed gun control laws long enough ago that we can look at what happens to violent crime before and after the law is changed. In every case that they showed me, at least, places that pass gun control laws see an increase or no real change in their violent crime rate relative to national
... (read more)
1) What fraction of people are visibly armed with a gun? 2) Does that simply result in concentrating the criminals onto the other 92%? EDITED TO EXPLAIN: I misread this as committed [i]against[/i] someone visibly armed. So this was extra-confusing. Of course, I should have noticed that and gone back and been more careful.
Obvious confounding to the last fact: How many of those "someone would have died" situations would somebody actually have died in? That seems a number strongly prone to overestimation. (Of course, it's a bigger number even if you put a 90% bullshit discount on, but it's something to keep in mind)
re: 4: I am skeptical that the fraction of reported self-defense situations in which "someone would have died" are actually situations in which someone would have died is 100%. I would ballpark it at 25%-50%, but I wouldn't be terribly shocked by any number in the range 10%-150%. Citation definitely needed on this one, especially as my "reasonable range" is wide enough to cover everything from net positive to net negative.
1st point: Regions experiencing a rise in violent crime are more likely to pass gun control laws, if the rate of rise stays approximately the same this would be evidence that gun control laws do not affect crime one way or the other. 2nd/4th point: DOJ reports approximately 20k gun deaths per year that aren't suicide. Of 8 separate studies on use of firearms by private citizens to prevent crime, the lowest number was 200k/year. This was from the study based only on police reports.
Wanted: Rationalist Pushback (link)

this partiular sequence of events seems to me highly implausible from a naturalistic perspective

You've noticed that too?

Science, Engineering, and Uncoolness; Here and Now, Then and There

My friends think science is cool. My guess for why some think science is uncool is they think people who like science are uncool, which (among other things) could be rooted in regularly being annoyed, confused, or humiliated by people smarter than themselves. Teaching the dumbest, most resentful portion of society to change their mind seems futile.

Also, is money the sole measure of status? Consider lottery winners, poetry professors, hipsters, oil rig workers, prostitutes...

New WBE implementation

Here's a collection of videos by the researchers on what exactly this thing does. I'm impressed, excited, and worried all at once.

[META] Retributive downvoting: Why?

Let it be known that I've upvoted all of your things to counteract whichever person downvoted all of your things, and nobody else should do that.

Well, here's to crossing fingers and hoping that the metasystem stabilizes, and I appreciate the gesture. ;) And let it further be known that if I feel like the process has swung too far in the other direction (i.e., giving me too MUCH karma), I promise to expend that karma responding to negative-karma posts in an attempt to explain how I feel they could adjust their posting behavior towards more rational discourse.
[META] Retributive downvoting: Why?

On individual comments and posts, the karma system is valuable for telling you if you're being stupid or not, and I appreciate it for that. The total karma score is (how long you've been on LW) (how often you post) (how much people like what you say); it says something like "how much you contribute to this site", which I find much less interesting, and I personally don't care if it's accurate.

I am, in fact, accusing people who downvote all posts by one person as using their time incorrectly; there are so many other things they could be doing t... (read more)

  1. I feel like correcting an abuse of a system by further abusing the system is a bad precedent to set

  2. If you feel this is a viable solution, you could have simply implemented it, rather than suggesting that I convince someone to implement.

[META] Retributive downvoting: Why?

Someone spending their precious time going through someone's history to decrease their near-meaningless number as much as they possibly can is already losing. I hear about this happening so infrequently, and it's so totally inconsequential, that I don't think it merits thinking up/making changes to anything.

The problem is that it isn't meaningless. I was in the middle of a rather interesting ethical discussion, and many of my posts that I had just made went from 0 to -1, potentially dropping off of the radar of other readers. All it takes is two users colluding (or one user with an additional sock account) to effectively shut down someone else's entire voice. If a post goes from 4 to 3, that isn't a big deal, but if it drops below the minimum display threshold before anyone gets a chance to read it, the entire flow of conversation gets disrupted.
The problem is that once you give humans a number they have some control over they will try to modify it and care about it. Even if they only care a little bit. This is to a large extent how MMOs work for example. Prior discussion of this issue on Less Wrong which I can't find at the moment resulted in the Kill Everyone Project [] being pointed out as an extreme real life example. And since for karma one only has partial control, this essentially amounts to randomized reinforcement, which is one of the most addictive forms of reinforcement.

All protestations to the opposite aside, I very much doubt that karma is generally viewed as "near-meaningless". It is the main avenue of feedback and affirmation in what is often viewed as a rather intimidating environment (by newcomers especially).

As for those spending time with retributive downvoting, how do you know that they do not gain more satisfaction out of that than, say, watching the new BSG webisodes, using their "precious time". From Will_Newsome to Wei_Dai, I've seen even some veterans explain the importance they ascribe ... (read more)

Struck with a belief in Alien presence

Beliefs don't exist outside of people (and other animals). If we want to talk about beliefs, we have to point inside at least one person's head.

Struck with a belief in Alien presence

In your original post, you just presented Youtube videos. People here have very low expectations for videos about aliens on Youtube. If you'd linked to just that Blue Book report first then I bet people would've been much more receptive to what you have to say.

Struck with a belief in Alien presence

You mean in the History channel documentary and other videos on Youtube, or something else? I don't usually like consuming knowledge in documentary form because it's 1. slower than reading and 2. much easier to make emotion-based/nonsensical arguments without your audience noticing. Perhaps you could provide us with a summary of what happened when people tested Giles' explanations? If there's good text-based discussion you can link to us then I'd also be interested in that.

Struck with a belief in Alien presence

If you want that to happen then you're going to need to do it yourself. Nobody else here is interested enough in this subject.

They already did it! You just say "whatever" to their effort.
Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity

This is an expected utility calculation that involves a small probability of a large payoff with large margins of error. Here's what I take as the essence of Holden's post: "an estimate with little enough estimate error can almost be taken literally, while an estimate with large enough estimate error ends ought to be almost ignored." I have very little confidence in both my and Academian's estimate of which candidates winning will actually turn out to be better overall, and what the monetary value of each winning over their alternatives would act... (read more)

The relevance is at best superficial as far as I can tell. Please don't turn Holden's point into a fully general counterargument against surprising expected utility calculations.

Things philosophers have debated

A trivialist would insist that "Trivialists argue ) is false" is true. Believing that you're arguing something isn't quite the same as arguing something, but I wanted to point out that under trivialism, trivialists think they're arguing for and against all propositions simultaneously.

Things philosophers have debated

Trivialists think "Trivialists think trivialism is false" is true.

Trivialists think "Trivialists think "Trivialists think ... is true" is false" is true.
But they weren't. Trivialists certainly do assert that ) is true, and so is
[Link] Nobel laureate challenges psychologists to clean up their act

The Internet is well-suited to this kind of question. (I assume you weren't just being snarky.)

I was being snarky, but not JUST snarky. I didn't know who he was when I read the post, but I did immediately google him. I wanted to point out that we don't all know who Kahneman, or pretty much anyone else, is. Context is good.
Debugging the Quantum Physics Sequence

It seems to me like the universe could be simulated on a quantum computer without quantum mechanics in the simulation, or even in a classical computer with quantum mechanics in the simulation (though it'd take a lot longer of course). The information processing itself is the important part, not the means of processing. This doesn't detract from your argument, which I agree with, I just wanted to point that out.

Right, I just wanted to underscore that no QM is required at any point (the point I mentioned before, but it never got any attention from EY).
Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology

the problem with state-machine materialism is not that it models the world in terms of causal interactions between things-with-states; the problem is that it can't go any deeper than that, yet apparently we can.

I may have missed the part where you explained why qualia can't fit into a state machine-model of the universe. Where does the incompatibility come from? I'm aware that it looks like no human-designed mathematical objects have experienced qualia yet, which is some level of evidence for it being impossible, but not so strong that I think you're justified in saying a materialist/mathematical platonist view of reality can never account for conscious experiences.

I think Mitchell's point is that we don't know whether state-machines have qualia, and the costs of making assumptions could be large.
Thoughts on a possible solution to Pascal's Mugging

There's a post from GIveWell along these lines that you'll find very informative.

[Retracted] Simpson's paradox strikes again: there is no great stagnation?

According to Thomas Bayes, the analysis isn't quite wrong. Comment reproduced for your convenience:

Based on the census tables that he cites, here’s what I see for 2005 (in 2005 dollars):

All men: $31,725

White men: $32,179

  • Soltas says $31,725, which is the median for all men.

White, not hispanic men: $35,345

Conard says $35,200 for white men, which is very close to the number for white, not hispanic. The number he uses for white women is $19,600. The Census data that Soltas cited shows $19,451.

Based on this quick comparison, I’m not sure that Soltas has d

... (read more)
Group rationality diary, 7/23/12

I, for one, applaud and admire wsean for basing his emotions on Bayes' theorem instead of bird organs.

I don't believe you; the gizzard this morning told me to be wary of things online.

Group rationality diary, 7/23/12

I used CBT to stop biting my fingernails; when I noticed the urge to bite my nails, I put my hand down and focused on the act of stopping. They became much longer than they've ever been in my conscious lifetime, but then I wanted them to be shorter, and I didn't have a nail file, so I bit them down to size. A nail file is on my shopping list.

maybe get one of these also [] .
I did the same, and I confirm : it works surprisingly well. Except that I bought a nail cutter before starting, planning in advance is good ! ;)
I wonder if buying the nail file first would make this even easier. Get your subconscious invested in the idea that you're going to need the nail file. Make the consistency principle work for you: in order to be consistent with your past actions, you have to stop biting your nails. Also, congrats!
What are you counting?

If you're not talking about addition, then why in the name of Odin's glorious beard did you use phrases like "+", "addition", and "counting" in reference to whatever this mathematical operation is? I hope you can imagine why that would be horribly confusing to us. You'd have to specify what this operation is before I contemplate the relation between its input units and output units.

I believe that was the point the article was attempting to get across. To my impression, OrphanWilde seems to be attempting to convey a concept he does not yet fully understand for which there have not yet been any formalizations and/or for which no words or accurate english/human-linguistic description exists. My own interpretation tends towards a "feeling" of the following being an approximate description of this operation: "model the first element, model the second element, model the joining of these two elements, model the two elements as a whole of 'firstandsecondelement'" To me, this seems clearly nonequal to "first element" + "second element", but I'd also agree that not mentioning this crucial distinction is confusing.
Reread my post. I didn't use them in reference to that mathematical operation, except in the end, where the problem domain would be different (and hence the operators could conceivably mean something different). I in fact said that "Which is not to say that one plus one does not equal two. It is, however, to say that one plus one may not be meaningful as a concept outside a very limited domain." I -did- do this in my response to you, because the confusion was in a sense important; you can't outright deny the existence of sheep interactions, you can only point out that this isn't addition. Which allowed me to make this point: "It's very close to addition... and may reflect reality better than addition." I'm not attempting to define this operation, only present its conceivable existence. There are two points to this post: First, that any defined subset of mathematics is not universal. (That is, mathematics is not in fact a universal language, any more than "Language" is a universal language.) Second, that any defined subset of mathematics is a nonideal representation of reality, and that it would frankly be surprising if an advanced intelligence chose to use the same mathematics we chose through our biased processes.
What are you counting?

This may just be my physical science education speaking, but adding two quantities of unit "sheep" and getting a quantity of unit "sheep" and a quantity of unit "sheep interaction" bothers me immensely. In every situation I've ever encountered where quantities were added, and I trusted whoever was doing the adding to have a very good understanding of when you get to describe something as "addition", the resulting quantity had strictly the same dimensions as the originals. Whatever's going on here, it's probably not best described as addition (as Bundle so wonderfully explained).

That's deliberate. It's not the abstract process of addition. It's an entirely different way of counting reality; the abstract processes are necessarily different. It's very close to addition, though, and may reflect reality better than addition. Could you work with a mathematical system in which new units come apparently out of nowhere?
What are you counting?

1 sheep in the field right now + 1 sheep in the field right now = 2 sheep in the field right now. If 1 + 1 != 2 then you're overloading the "+" symbol, or you lost track of your units, or some other similar problem. Most of your post is undoubtedly true, but I don't feel edified one bit.

I think the idea was that perhaps for some alien intelligence the "+" symbol could be useless or even meaningless, and something else would be in the place of "the most simple abstract computational operation". Then the aliens could naively expect that every intelligence in the universe must know this very basic operation.
In terms of units, 1 sheep + 1 sheep = 2 sheep + sheep interaction. The additional sheep adds more to the field than another quantitative sheep.
Rationality and Cancer

Robin Hanson has something to say on this issue, of course. For breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers, at the very least, screening seems to have no expected impact on your overall chances of dying.

Irrationality Game II

I want to know which things you've heard or seen that made you believe the United States government provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor. My best reason for doubting you is that I don't recall hearing anything like this before from academics nor interested amateur historians nor conspiracy theorists.

My guess is that the biasing effects of being funneled through a country's school system and subjected to its news are much weaker on those who would find LW interesting than the typical citizen.

I have never heard of the book Alejandro1 refers to, but I read a book from Togo Shigenori, the Japanese foreign minister during that time, and he makes a lot of good points how US diplomacy wasn't focused on securing peace, but on forcing Japan into a war that could only benefit the USA in the long run. From his perspective, the oil embargo left Japan with no other reasonable option than to try to conquer the British and Dutch oil reserves in South East Asia; and I see as little reason to believe that the U.S. government wasn't aware of this as he does. Togo was an outspoken opponent of the war against the USA who made efforts towards more diplomatical exchange, which met little interest on part of the U.S. government. He was the thriving force behind Japan's declaration it would uphold the Geneva Convention, which Japan did not sign. He was also the originator of a peace settlement with the USSR earlier. Lastly, he was also of Korean descent, originally having the surname Park. All this adds up to sufficient evidence for me to believe that he was not a nationalist warmonger, and therefore I take his analysis very serious. LW readers seem to be better at evaluating arguments from different sides, but not necessarily at acquiring these arguments in the first place unless they are already interested in the topic. Also, the lack of history-related threads in the discussion area leads me to believe that there is no significant correlation between being interested in LW and being interested in history in general or historical accuracy in particular.
For what it's worth, I came across the theory before, in a pretty respectable setting: a popularization book by a historian, where many conspiracy theories (along with "mysteries" like Easter Island) where examined, usually with skeptical conclusions. The Pearl Harbor one was one of the few with a "possible, but unproven" verdict.
Irrationality Game II

I don't have a lot of strong reasons to disbelieve you, but what evidence makes you think this is so?

Are you referring to my belief regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor, or to my belief regarding my rationality on this topic in relation to the LW average? Does that mean that you have some strong reasons to disbelieve me?
Real World Solutions to Prisoners' Dilemmas

Many uses of the word "rational" here were fine ("rational economic agent" is understandable), but others really bothered me ("It is distasteful and a little bit contradictory to the spirit of rationality to believe it should lose out so badly to simple emotion" -- why perpetuate the Spock myth? I want to show this to my friends!). I have no specific suggestion at hand, but circumlocuting around the word in some of the cases above would bring the article from excellent to perfection.

Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations

Mine made me learn where all the wacky symbols used in programming languages are, like {. If there's a key on your keyboard that you didn't learn when you first learned to touch type, but you now use, a blank keyboard will force you to learn to type it without looking at your keyboard.

The showing off is probably more important though.

Load More