All of lsanders's Comments + Replies

Jeff touched on this, but I want to underline the point more strongly:  How do the sharing platforms themselves (Reddit / YouTube / etc) exist without ads?  To be clear, I’m no fan of the audience-distorting incentives of ads… but the infrastructure for free content isn’t exactly free, either, and we need to pay for that somehow or else that otherwise-funded content doesn’t get distributed (and then the lack of distribution inherently prevents donation / patronage models from working).  I’m having trouble seeing another realistic way for tha... (read more)

1. YouTube lost money for a long time. It's questionable whether it was even bought for financial reasons rather than influence and data collection reasons. 2. Reddit made $100M in ad revenue in 2019, increasing to $500M in 2022. Their owners pushed for rapid growth for an IPO even if the revenue increase would be temporary. If they're losing money right now, they're overspending. 3. If public goods are supported by small donations despite platform fees, I think the government should get involved. I think the US government should run a YouTube, a Substack, a Patreon, and a Reddit.

As a foster-only parent in Massachusetts, I think I have much more interaction with DCF than most parents, albeit from a rather different angle.

In general, the parents’ concern here seems overblown to me — my perception is that DCF case workers will pretty much always start by talking to parents about their concerns if at all possible, and that they’re wildly unlikely to take any punitive action if a conversation about DCF’s expectations is enough to correct (from their perspective) the family’s behavior. If nothing else, the institutional incentives are ... (read more)

It’s not clear to me that putting effort into enforcing existing regulations is more feasible for many of the folks advocating assault rifle bans, nor is it clear to me that it’s a significantly higher impact approach.

Re: feasibility — Your examples of folks advocating additional legislation are federal and state politicians, while my impression is that most handgun enforcement actions in the U.S. traditionally rely on law enforcement agencies at more local levels.  Thus, it’s not clear that the folks pushing such policies are in as good a position to... (read more)

Fair enough.  Thanks for the conversation!

Okay, so you‘re defining the problem as groups transmitting too little information?  Then I think a natural first step when thinking about the problem is to determine an upper bound on how much information can be effectively transmitted.  My intuition is that the realistic answer for many recipients would turn out to be “not a lot more than is already being transmitted”.  If I’m right about that (which is a big “if”), then we might not need much thinking beyond that point to rule out this particular framing of the problem as intractable.

I think you're very very wrong about that.

For that distinction to be relevant, individuals need to be able to distinguish whether a particular conclusion of the group is groupthink or whether it’s principled.

If the information being propagated in both cases is primarily the judgment, how does the individual group member determine which judgments are based on real reasons vs not?  If the premise is that this very communication style is the problem, then how does one fix that without re-creating much of the original burden on the individual that our group-level coordination was trying to avoid?... (read more)

The broken group-level process doesn't solve anything, it's broken. I don't know how to fix it, but a first step would be thinking about the problem at all, rather than trying to ignore it or dismiss it as intractable before trying.

Do you disagree that “some degree of group-level weeding out of unworthy organizations seems like a transparently necessary step given the sheer number of organizations that exist”?  If not, how does that dynamic differ from “shun[ning] orgs based on groupthink rather than based on real reasons”?

Because groups can in theory compute real reasons. "Groups-level weeding out" sounds like an action that a group can take. One can in principle decide which actions to take based on reasons. Groupthink refers to making decisions based not on real reasons, but rather based on emergent processes that don't particularly track truth, but instead e.g. propagate social pressures or whatever. As an example:

I don’t have a clear opinion on the original proposal… but is it really possible to completely avoid groupthink that decides an org is bad?  (I assume that “bad” in this context means something like “not worth supporting”.)

I would say that some degree of group-level weeding out of unworthy organizations seems like a transparently necessary step given the sheer number of organizations that exist.  I would also agree with you that delegating all evaluation to the group level has obvious downsides.

If we accept both of those points, I think the quest... (read more)

I'm not saying don't use group-level reasoning. I'm saying that, based on how people are advocating behaving, it seems like people expect the group-level reasoning that we currently actually have, to be hopelessly deranged. If that expectation is accurate, then this is a far worse problem than almost anything else, and we should be focusing on that. No one seems to get what I'm saying though.

Maybe this is because of my vantage point (as your friend and someone who has deliberately distanced themself somewhat from EA as a whole), but I tend to think of you and Julia as relatively central figures in EA.  Like, I’m not sure if you’re among the very most centrally-connected circles of that community, but I’d also guess that you’re not really more than about one rung out from there.  In that case, I’m unsure how much you as an author would contribute to “de-centralizing” author representation?

That said, I do think that EA would absolutely... (read more)

Sorry, I primarily meant 'decentralizing' as in just more individuals. Right now EA's author representation is mostly one person (Will McAskill) or maybe two (Peter Singer) and while I like both of them I'd rather see a world where there were, say, ten authors with a range of perspectives, approaches, and audiences.

For example, say you're wanting to take the next right turn, and the lane becomes a combined bus lane + right turn lane not very far ahead of you. If you don't see a bus and you pull into the lane a bit early you have an extremely good chance of making it to the combined section before a bus comes.

This type of scenario potentially pairs badly with only enforcing the last car in the queue when the bus arrives. As soon as the car at the end of the line switches to the bus lane, everyone in the queue ahead of them is suddenly incentivized to abruptly jump... (read more)

I agree that this is a risk, and it's possible that it's enough that this is a bad idea. I'm especially worried about very long stretches where you can see that a car is coming along, and so have plenty of time to pull out in front of it. But I see two main mitigations: * Cutting other drivers off would still be a traffic violation and people don't want to cause accidents, so I don't think we get the worst behavior of sudden lane switching. * People might only use these lanes close enough to when they know that they are going to be getting out of them that they won't people vulnerable to other people getting in front of them.

I didn’t say anything about ever requiring anyone to wear a mask, and yet that’s the only topic that you addressed in your reply.

I think there are a lot more options than a simplistic binary between collectively forcing people to wear masks and individually forcing people to accept all responsibility for their own infection outcomes.  Those two positions aren’t even really points on a single dimension, because not all responsibility is enforced responsibility.  Indeed, the OP spends a fair number of words trying to discern their current unenforce... (read more)

I suspect we mostly agree about this, and the apparent disagreement was caused by a misunderstanding. So, let me clarify: what I tried to say is that as long as individuals can protect themselves, there is no compelling reason for society to force others to protect individuals or for others to voluntarily protect individuals in those situations in which individuals can protect themselves (I probably should have been more explicit about this to avoid any confusion). For instance, if you need a root canal, you obviously can't protect yourself by wearing a respirator (and assuming that vaccines weren't effective), and dental staff should wear respirators and perhaps also increase ventilation. In the case of flying, individuals can protect themselves by using a respirator, and there would be no point in having anyone else mask up. Earlier in the pandemic, having everyone mask in most situations was a good policy at the societal and individual level, but now it's not for the reasons I've already mentioned.

I don’t see how that’s particularly responsive to anything that I said in my comment?

You seemed to be talking about mask mandates versus individual responsibility, and that's what I replied about. If you think my reply didn't address your comment, can you rephrase it or point out why you think my comment wasn't responsive?

Hmm.  If we’re in a world of completely individualized responsibility for avoiding illness by masking (or not, and dealing with the consequences), then it’s completely unacceptable for society at large to ever force an individual to mask or not (e.g. TSA checkpoints are an obviously relevant sticking point for flying).  Can’t have it both ways.

If there were no reasonable ways (e.g., lack of respirators and/or vaccines) for an individual to protect themselves against covid, society could force everyone to protect individuals. The only reason why mask mandates (and associated NPIs) were ever a thing was that there were no other reasonable ways of protecting against covid. Now, there are other reasonable ways of protecting against covid, and that's why mask mandates aren't a thing anymore.

I dunno about the e-mail/web hosting analogy, at least for the purposes of thinking about possible anti-spam approaches.  As I understand it, the current state of Mastodon hosting is much more like the WordPress hosting example than the e-mail hosting example, in that each customer gets their own isolated instance of the software for their domain.  I think a lot of the ability to achieve larger scale spam filters and etc on email hosts comes from the fact that the actual infrastructure is shared.  E.g. my impression has generally been that s... (read more)

the entire spam problem comes from the underlying desire to see content you didn't have to explicitly find and request.  e-mail spam is because you WANT to receive e-mail from some strangers, and it's hard to distinguish that from strangers you'd rather not hear from.  Twitter/social spam is because you WANT to see some posts from people you didn't explicitly follow, by tags or by topic. I think I mostly don't understand the lines of federation within Mastodon.  Is it intended that the server is the unit of community, with cross-server DMs and following, but only by individual, not by topic or thread?

Thanks for continuing to write about this.  That said, I feel like a lot of the links in reasoning are left implicit here, and I’d rather not be making assumptions about your rationale.  What, specifically, do you think changed to make the situation more similar to typical flu season?  How much of that change is rooted in factors that affect society at large, versus being rooted in your own house’s success at reducing your risks for particularly severe outcomes (less immunocompromised; newborn is now older), versus being rooted in your incre... (read more)

A very large portion of the population now has exposure to covid, either directly or via vaccination. It's not enough to keep people from getting it (or variants) again, but it is strongly protective against death. The high death rate of covid in an immunonaive population was what got us to take it seriously and lock down in the first place. My comment at the end of my post about flu season maybe didn't belong in a post under this title; I was thinking there much more about how it made sense for people in general to behave than our household in particular. So almost all the first one, via people's immune systems. My model here is something like, everyone who does not take serious precautions is very likely to be exposed enough to Omicron that they will get it if that is something their immune system will let happen right now?
I think he's conditioning heavily on being fully vaxxed and boosted when making the comparison to the flu. Which makes sense to me. I also suspect long Covid-19 risk is much lower if you're vaxxed & boosted, based on the theory that Long Covid is caused by an inflammatory cascade that won't shut off (there's a lot of debate about what biomarkers to use but many long Covid patients have elevated markers of inflammation months later). If your symptoms are mild, you won't have that inflammatory cascade. Here's Zvi on one of the latest Long Covid papers : "To the extent that Long Covid is a non-placebo Actual Thing, this seems to strongly suggest that it will indeed scale with the severity of infection, so vaccinations and booster shots will help a lot..." 

I’m curious to see if this actually does reduce opposition to construction in practice, or if folks are simply opposed to density (in which case they’ll find another excuse to object).  I’ve seen some folks get noisy about how building denser projects with more units and less parking would effectively take away their street parking in Porter Square — but most of those folks were probably rationalizing the idea that density is bad, since suggesting this no-street-parking policy prompted several folks to quickly object that allowing such projects would be unfair to those people who do need a car.

Also, all of these numbers are presenting efficacy in preventing the particular strains that were circulating in the times and places of the corresponding studies.  I’d personally discount transmission prevention a bit further due to uncertainty about whether these numbers fully reflect the virus strains that are circulating in my local community — our only data for when new strains spread to more communities are lagging indicators, and the effectiveness numbers for some newer strains are lower or less certain than the numbers we’re using in this discussion.  (But then I’m also quite far to the cautious end of the spectrum.)

This is interesting, because people whose jobs revolve around meeting participation (e.g. corporate executives) would probably still want some sort of scheduling conventions to help them maximize their time available for meetings. If event organizers in different locations were still inclined to choose standard-length meetings, and you still have people who where to maximize the number of meetings in their day, then you have pressure for some sort of non-local scheduling alignment standard (but not necessarily timezones).

As it happens, I was on a call Sunday morning with 3 folks who work in different local (Boston-area) hospitals. All three said that, while not all institutions were behaving the same way, their particular institutions were already abandoning standard protocols in order to deeply conserve their stock of equipment like masks. One said, verbatim, “we’re acting as if we won’t get any more supply” of masks and gowns until a vaccine is developed.

That said, I think your two week threshold is not unreasonable. These folks are not goi... (read more)