lsparrish's Comments

A question about the rules

If you still want to ban politics, whatever, your actions are law, but be transparent and say what you are doing.

Is there a reason to do that? Nobody said that a rule was violated, and the explanation given makes sense to me as it stands. What is the problem with just deleting the (not necessarily rule violating) post and explaining that we usually avoid stuff like articles with Trump in the title?

Open thread, Jul. 11 - Jul. 17, 2016

Found this great youtube channel by a guy named Isaac Arthur, covering a variety of space topics. Has videos on Dyson Spheres, colonizing the Moon, and even concepts for very long term survival of civilizations and people past the heat death of the universe. Very rational and comprehensive.

Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

My long hiatus started a couple years ago, so my perspective might be different from yours.

I think the main issue for me it was more that it wasn't very fun any more. The people who made it fun (EY, Yvain, etc) were mostly posting elsewhere. The majority of posts were starting to be boring things like meetup announcements. Some of the new posts were interesting, but had more technical content and less humor.

Part of it could be that the commenters became more politically (in the sense of national politics) motivated, but that's not something I noticed at the time... I think that's perhaps a more recent thing, assuming that is indeed happening.

Another thing that might have been a factor is that I started using a smartphone more. So apps like twitter and facebook that can be easily checked there had more appeal. (This website still sucks for mobile.)

Crazy Ideas Thread

It depends on the scale you are working at. A large body with no internal heat source can be kept cold over time at a lower cost because only the outside needs to be insulated. If cryonics were at the scale of a large cryogenic warehouse, it might be much less expensive.

Crazy Ideas Thread

Orbiting landing tracks.

Payloads would be launched from earth with just enough fuel to loft them above the atmosphere and keep them hovering for a few minutes. Then they would electromagnetically couple to a long horizontal structure in low orbit, picking up velocity (or "losing" it, depending on the frame of reference) until they are orbiting at the same rate.

Electrically driven thrusters (e.g. vertical electrodynamic tethers which push against the earth's magnetic field) would be used to replenish the lost momentum. At any given time, the payload would be a fraction of the total track mass, but since it could be new track material this would permit (fairly rapid) bootstrapping.

Meme: Valuable Vulnerability

One possible reason is that it facilitates trust-building. Say you are stuck in a cell with another prisoner, and every day you have the chance to cooperate or defect on a small task (for example, sharing food equally vs trying to steal an unequal share). Later, you are asked to testify against each other and get a slightly reduced sentence in exchange for the other person having a drastically increased sentence. A history of the other person cooperating gives some evidence that they will cooperate in this new situation as well.

Another analogy to this would be the process of building credit. If you take out lots of loans and pay them back scrupulously, you build a history of credit worthiness. The banks are more willing to be vulnerable based on past behavior of not defaulting.

Why space stopped captivating minds ?

A quick process like that is pretty much insignificant compared to a month or two, let alone 15 years. Unless there are tens of thousands of other steps in the chain of comparable length, it doesn't come close to explaining it.

As I see it, there are roughly four steps:

  1. Excavating.
  2. Refining.
  3. Power collecting.
  4. Manufacturing.

The ones towards the end seem to be the biggest time sinks. However, power collection should not raise it by more than a factor of two or so. I don't think it takes many months to mine enough coal to pay for the energy costs of coal mining equipment, for example.

Why space stopped captivating minds ?

Exactly. Self-Replicating robotics on Earth is a global instant victory condition. Completion of one would result in machines that could double their production exponentially, leading to practically infinite production capability within no time.

Per Robin Hanson, a machine shop can put out its own mass in equipment in roughly a month or two. And yet, the economy doesn't double every month, or even every year. Why not?

There seems to be a fair chance the reasons are mostly rooted in cognitive biases, cumulative coordination mistakes, economic rent-seeking, and so on -- not anything technological.

A well planned lunar or orbital mission might well be free of these issues. Space conditions are mechanically simpler in some respects, so there's a stronger case for pre-planning everything rather than requiring a market economy to make it work. Supporting structures are less needed, transit is less two dimensional, and solar energy can be harvested at scale with low costs in equipment density. There is also instant access to ultra-high vacuum conditions which are useful for refining. And in addition to the endless cheap sunlight, there's no anti-nuclear lobby which can claim it's in their back yard.

Suggesting self-replicating robotics is akin to saying we should just solve this whole not being post-scarcity problem.

Maybe we should solve this whole not being post-scarcity problem...

General-Purpose Questions Thread

Good question. I am not sure where I originally found the idea that shorter commutes make you happier, but I suspect it might have been an earlier version of this from 80000hours, which cites a couple of studies. Googling for pre-2013 media articles shows a lot of mentions of the idea as well.

The idea about a well optimized train or bus ride that Dr_Manhattan brought up also makes sense, if you live in an area with decent public transportation. It's the car drives that are a big time-killer, since you can't really turn your brain off while navigating through traffic, and traffic is usually more stressful at times you need to get to work.

There are a few productive things you can do during long drives though. For example, you can practice speeches, elevator pitches, songs, comedy bits, and so on without anyone hearing. That may not be quite as effective as interacting with another person on a bus/train, but the lack of an audience/consequences can make it easier to try out new things. Also, there's the option of consuming audio content (which you could also do with headphones on the bus or train).

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