Why did no LessWrong discourse on gain of function research develop in 2013/2014?

A related question is why the topic of GoF research still didn’t get much LW discussion in 2020

Taboo "Outside View"

Bravo, this is on the meta level a great example of applying epistemic rationality to replace a vague concept with better concepts. The post uses specific examples everywhere to be clearly understandable and easy to apply. It could be part of my specificity sequence, with a title like “The Power to Clarify Concepts”.

Taboo "Outside View"

The achievement of easiness is due to the use of specific examples everywhere.

Bad names make you open the box

"Bad names make you open the box" is in multiple ways a special case of the more general principle that "Good system architecture is low-context" or "Good system architecture has a sparse understanding-graph".

If we imagine a graph diagram where each node N representing a part of the system (e.g. a function in a codebase) has edges coming in from all other nodes that one must understand in order to understand N, then a good low-context architecture is one with the fewest possible edges per node.

The post talks about how a badly-named function causes there to be an understanding-edge from the code inside that function to that function. More generally, a badly-architected function requires understanding other parts of the system in order to understand what it does. E.g.:

  • If the function mutates a global state variable, then the reader must understand outside context about that variable's meaning in order to understand the function
  • If the function does a combination of work that only makes sense in the context of your program - rather than being a more program-independent reusable part - then its understanding-graph will have extra edges to various other parts of your program. Or in the best case, where your function is well-documented to avoid imposing those understanding-edges on the reader, you're still adding extra edge weight from the function to the now-longer-winded docstring.

The "sparse understanding-graph" is also applicable to org charts of people working together. You ideally want the sparsest possible cooperation-graph.

Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things

Ya I don’t know the details even though I use NodeJS almost every day :) Maybe it does run parallel requests in separate threads.

Finite Factored Sets

Agree with #3, presenting definitions with examples first.

Congrats on this research, feels like you’re onto something huge!

Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things

Re database normalization, it’s obviously good to do if you can afford the hit for speed and scalability. Unfortunately I believe the software industry currently has a big problem with a lack of capable databases to support elegant data denormalization patterns:

Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things

NodeJS is mostly cool because you can use the same language and the same development tools across your whole stack. When it launched I think another selling point was that it’s reasonably good at handling multiple requests in parallel.

Two Definitions of Generalization

Upvoted for teaching concepts well by using specific and concrete examples, even when the concepts are ironically "generalization" and "abstraction"

A Review and Summary of the Landmark Forum

I experienced Landmark Forum 13 years ago and this post is a good summary of it.

It seems like they’ve settled on a bunch of heuristic mental models to (1) push people to change their state to potentially break out of old patterns and make life changes and (2) perpetuate the organization.

They don’t provide good quality explanations and answers to questions. They don’t hold themselves to the standards of productive discourse. They offer a shell of pre-generated heuristics for you to “try on” (their phrase). They admit that that’s what they’re giving you, but I think for the LW crowd it wouldn’t be that hard to have a version of Landmark offering more robust concepts and tools.

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