All of lsparrish's Comments + Replies

Setting a recurring alarm at 9:30pm and taking melatonin right away. Got me in the habit of getting tired and going to bed more consistently.

IIRC getting up at the same time each morning (including weekends!) is more important than going to bed at a consistent time. Though doing both is best of all. In particular, if you go to bed late, don't change your waking-up alarm. You'll be a bit tireder the next day, but will probably correct for it automatically by falling asleep faster and sleeping deeper the next night.

Good points, and I think we mostly agree. If I understand correctly, the idea would rely on building a city from the ground up elsewhere rather than modifying existing cities.

In principle, pods anywhere between shipping container size and coffin size could be warehoused somewhat like cargo, although obviously more safety considerations apply, and you'd need things like supply and air conditioning lines. I wouldn't want to put up with a small pod unless the VR experience was very good, and it was easy to get out of.

The moving company analogy is interesting

... (read more)

I really like this kind of speculation (clearly marked as low probability, but not without effort to develop something that works in principle). I do think it's a near-miss in terms of being an optimal path for cities though, as there are several alternatives with higher likelihood that honestly seem like they would create more value per amount of infrastructure/cost than easily-moved suburban-style homes.

First, apartments can be made better than they usually are. It's just that usually when you move to get a job in the city, being cash constrained, you se

... (read more)

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?

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.

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 th... (read more)

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.

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 paylo... (read more)

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 woul... (read more)

So like a policy of giving, emotionally? Ceding some control to and participating in the experience of a person near you? Which could be a bit like the Cooperate action.

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.

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,... (read more)

If we switch the example to an excavator which outputs its own mass in an hour or two, does the answer to your question become clearer?

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 throu... (read more)

It seems like the advice would be better adapted to: With a second line:
I'm betting on Bitcoin partially because lots of competent, high value people are willing to build out the core functionality and infrastructure for free just because they are excited about it. So owning bitcoins is partially owning a stake in all that labor. Altcoins don't really have this.
Do not buy altcoins. It will not end well.
Prediction: This investment strategy won't end well. Edit: Wanted to delete this comment since it adds nothing to the discussion without the reasons as to why I am predicting so, but all i can do is retract it.
I see that [] lists 483 (as of this moment) digital currencies, of which, as it happens, Emoticoin is not one, despite one of those Emoticoin pages purporting to link to its listing there []. How would one assess which of those currencies, if any, has a future? Or whether one should instead invent a 484th? What will it take for a digital currency to succeed, where others fail?

Here's a recent idea I had: A tattoo that responds to blood alcohol content over a certain level (e.g. causing an itchy sensation in the skin, or releasing a small amount of something that causes nausea), making it difficult / anti-habit-forming to get drunk. I'm thinking this could solve the alcoholism problem, comprehensively, without discouraging moderate drinking or relying on willpower.

Another variant would rely on social pressure. Although that is less reliable, it could be safer or easier to implement than one that creates a physiological reaction... (read more)

Reminds me an episode of radiolab you could be interested in : from what I remember, they talked about a pill that was implanted into the patient and would dissolve and release its content in presence of alcohol in the blood. The chemical reaction would cause incredibly bad pain. The patients were given a foretest of the reaction pill and were told that the real reaction with the entire pill would be X times more painful and they might not survive. can't find the episode, but found an article which talks about it. Didn't read it but it mentions the episode
Blood alcohol content, heck — how about blood sugar, or stress and fatigue hormones? "You are too stressed to drive safely; it says so right on your wrist."

If you're trying to prevent information-theoretic death by preserving the brain it's critical that the information that makes you be "you" actually be preserved.

Look at it from the other side: In order to achieve information-theoretic death, it is critical that the information that makes you be "you" actually be lost.

By "lost" we mean it has to be scrambled at least enough that superintelligent computronium dyson spheres aren't going to be able to (reasonably) crack the code.

So let's say you dissolve the brain in acid. That... (read more)

But we don't have the details, do we? Suppose cryonics preserves the graph of neural connections; we can look back in 10000 years and know exactly how many neurons you had, and exactly which were connected to which others. Is that enough information to revive you, or someone who's 90% identical to you? Who knows? We really have no idea. Your point about redundancy is, I think, looking at it from the wrong angle. I would expect brain redundancy to handle random errors like "lost 2% of neurons", but the idea that we would have multiple fundamentally different mechanisms for encoding memories seems evolutionarily implausible. If we simply haven't preserved anything about, say, the thicknesses of the glial cells, or we know which synapses are present but it turns out they have different sized gaps and that's important and we can't recover that information, or any one of thousands of other pieces of brain biology that might turn out to be vital for encoding memory, then cryonics won't work.
That's not the mainstream position of actual scientists who study these things, at least not for the kind of procedures that cryocompanies use.
2Paul Crowley9y
The phrase neural archaeology [] evokes the right kind of thinking here. Or Eliezer's reference to secure deletion [].

This is good argument capable of convincing me into pro-cryonics position, if and only if someone can follow this claim by an evidence pointing to high probability estimate that preservation and restoration will become possible during a resonable time period.

At some point, you will have to specialize in cryobiology and neuroscience (with some information science in there too) in order to process the data. I can understand wanting to see the data for yourself, but expecting everyone to process it rationally and in depth before they get on board isn't nec... (read more)

If you're worried about the effects of cracking, you can pay for ITS. LN2 is only used because it is cheap and relatively low-tech to maintain.

If you ask me it's a silly concern if we're assuming nanorepair or uploading. Cracking is just a surface discontinuity, and it forms at a point in time where the tissue is already in a glassy state where there can't be much mixing of molecules. The microcracks that form in frozen tissue is a much greater concern (but not the only concern with freezing). The fact that vitrified tissue forms large, loud cracks is related to the fact that it does such a good job holding things in place.

What's "ITS"? (Google 'only' hits for "it's") How much more expensive is it? Is it offer by Alcor and CI?

It feels to me like the general pro-cryo advocacy here would be a bit of a double standard, at least when compared to general memes of effective altruism, shutting up and multiplying, and saving the world. If I value my life equally to the lives of others, it seems pretty obvious that there's no way by which the money spent on cryonics would be a better investment than spending it on general do-gooding.

I think the scale on which it is done is the main thing here. Currently, cryonics is performed so infrequently that there isn't much infrastructure for i... (read more)

This is good argument capable of convincing me into pro-cryonics position, if and only if someone can follow this claim by an evidence pointing to high probability estimate that preservation and restoration will become possible during a resonable time period. If it so happens, that cryopreservation fails to prevent information-theoretic death then value of your cryo-magazines filled with with corpses will amount to exactly 0$ (unless you also preserve the organs for transplants).

Sorry, I didn't notice my wording. Fixed.

Max More just put out a response to Michio Kaku's video on the topic of cryonics. Seems to be getting some coverage (KurzweilAI, io9,

"The topic" being cryonics.

This is speculative, but I think cryonics could be useful to fix the biological body as well. Cryogenic conditions are easier for certain types of things, for example some types of molecular nanotech might not work well under warm conditions but should work fine if kept cold. Also, more finely detailed printing could be possible under cryogenic conditions. It might turn out to be the most reliable way to replace the body when it gets old -- vitrify, cut out the brain, then print everything else around it. When printing in a cold state to begin with, there would be less concern of overexposure to cryoprotectants or achieving perfusion (you could use less toxic, harder to perfuse cryoprotectants such as trehalose).

If cryonics works in the here and now, we could in principle (with adequate PR, policies, and so forth) replace all funerals with cryonics and save almost everyone from dying today. I would expect regenerative therapies to finally get out of clinical trials after 50 years or so, even if we were to get them working right away. This represents a very large amount of expected utility (2.5 billion deaths worth, at 50 million per year) with that amount of time.

That said, it is not such a good comparison to hold current cryonics tech up against future advances a... (read more)

The efficient charity essay contest had a bottom line, it just wasn't something anyone would be likely to dispute (and which had been previously argued for on Less Wrong). Qualified entries were supposed to explain, in less jargonistic terms, that you should optimize for utilions rather than fuzzies. The idea in that case was to put the existing ideas in more layman-friendly terms.

If the bottom line we're discussing is just "some utilitarians in some situations support cryonics", my thinking is that it shouldn't be controversial, since that's pre... (read more)

Is the clock running? Loans are rarely made at zero interest rate, as the time goes by does my total obligation increase?

It could be zero interest, if the primary purpose for holding onto it is to remind the person of their obligation and produce good feelings when they return the favor.

Also, what is my incentive to make any payments?

If you hold onto a debt, it shows on your credit report. Paying it off could improve your credit. But apart from that, there's the matter that it is functionally identical to donating to effective charity.

How is this

... (read more)
Having debt without being in default improves your credit score. So my incentives to pay off the debt are exactly the same as my incentives to donate to some charity that I didn't pick?
Yes, thank you very much!

So maybe hold onto the debt indefinitely and offer to forward any repayments to charity? That might work, but it seems like if their income increases later, it might not be as advantageous to forgive it then for tax reasons. Also, there might be a goodwill factor associated with debt-forgiveness that isn't there with repayment. The person may even feel the debt was unjustly accrued (e.g. medical bills for botched procedures) and feel repayment is a bad thing overall.

Is the clock running? Loans are rarely made at zero interest rate, as the time goes by does my total obligation increase? Also, what is my incentive to make any payments? How is this relevant to anything?

I wonder if one could focus on something that often goes untapped like innate programming ability. Have the person take a test that sees if they can learn to program, and if they can, forgive their debt and enroll them in a program to train them and get them employed.

I don't understand why forgiving someone's debts is necessary for giving a test for programming ability and enrolling him into a training program.

Yes, but having the forgiveness happen in a low-income year would result in less taxes. So perhaps the charity could forgive debt in a way that is conditional on later income being donated to effective causes.

In the United States, marginal tax rates at the poverty line can, due to welfare or tax deductible cutoffs, be pretty punishing or even negative [] . Worse, because this income does not go through conventional channels, it can cause someone's annual tax return to suddenly switch from a rebate to a payment -- a payment that is difficult to delay and near-impossible to escape through bankruptcy, and that can only be challenged in the IRS's very own home courts. The rate is likely to go so blatantly negative in countries that lack phaseouts or means-tested welfare, but even those exceptions will still have that surprise tax bill. It's not a fatal problem, and there may be ways to limit or negate it -- although any serious attempt will face serious and unfriendly tax scrutiny -- but it's a very significant problem.
Lots of U.S. government benefits for poor people are tied to income and wealth.

That's correct. However I will move the deadline out by a few days if anyone asks. If that happens, you will be able to use the time to edit and polish your submission further if you like.

Would anyone like more time to complete an essay?

I'd like some time, please.
I am working on one under the impression that the deadline was tomorrow? (Nov 13th at 7:55pm)

What bottom line are you suggesting this contest has written into it? That cryonics is something that some utilitarians would support under some circumstances? Why is supporting cryonics more controversial than running someone over with a trolley car all of a sudden?

The only filter I'm putting up is a small chunk of prize money, and the only filter is to stay on topic with regards to a specific set of implicitly pro-cryonics issues that I am interested in. Anyone who wants to attack cryonics in a well-written essay is free to do so -- I'm simply under no obligation to pay them for it.

I think the problem that people are having is that it's generally considered an exercise in rhetoric (AKA "dark arts" on LW) to mentally compose an argument with the conclusion already in mind (as opposed to impartially settling upon whatever conclusion the logic leads to) unless you're attempting to steel-man a position you disagree with. Presumably, doing so will enhance confirmation bias. This is the reason that contrarians [] and devil's-advocate-lovers are common among intellectual circles Yes, I think that's it. "Bottom line" refers to the conclusion that you must eventually arrive at in order for your essay to qualify. By army1987's usage of "bottom line", an essay contest without a bottom line asks a question, but does not presuppose an answer. An essay contest with a bottom line specifies a conclusion, and asks participants to think of the most clever way to arrive at that conclusion. Disclaimer: I myself do not think that existence of essay contests with "bottom lines" is necessarily bad practice, although I'm not willing to give an unqualified yay / boo because I haven't thought about it sufficiently. Edit:: I suspect that it's okay if the writer and audience is aware of the potentially bias-inducing nature of the format, and wish to use the format explore the space of arguments for a certain position. You might even change your mind this way (In a "really? That's the best argument for this?) sort of way.

That is not what I'm trying to do. I put up the prize with the intent of exploring a certain class of positions that I already know exist in concept-space (utilitarian frameworks friendly to cryonics). If there are weaknesses, I expect them to be highlighted better once explicated. That isn't the same as rejecting a fully different class of positions (utilitarian frameworks unfriendly to cryonics), although I feel no particular obligation to fund the latter.

Feel free to make edits.

Do people have the impression that signing up for cryonics makes reversible vitrification much more likely?

I certainly assign it high probability (although not necessarily that it is the best way to accomplish this specific goal). The only scientists that I'm aware of pursuing the goal of whole organ vitrification are Greg Fahy and Brian Wowk of 21st Century Medicine, who are also cryonicists and whose main source of funding seems to be cryonics. Chana and Aschwin de Wolf are also cryonicists, and do neural cryobiology experimen... (read more)

I've made some edits. There's a more general point I want to make about how if you think there are lots of potential small benefits to cryonics you probably do better altruistically to pick the one you think is most important (xrisk reduction, medical benefits of vitrification tech, convincing wealthy people to donate to the AMF) and just work on that, but I'm not happy with my phrasing yet,

The question is, how much does your signing up do to improve these? Even then, I would expect you could get these same benefits more efficiently through an organization that advocated people sign up for cryonics.

This aspect needs to be given more focus, I think, as it shows how a person might possibly attempt to achieve cryonics-related goals more efficiently by abstaining from signing up and instead donating to a charity which advertises cryonics.

for it to be more cost effective than giving to the AMF you would need to think it's at least 10% likely

... (read more)
Makes sense. I should like to expand that some. Do people have the impression that signing up for cryonics makes reversible vitrification much more likely? My understanding was that the current vitrification process as used for cryonics is extremely toxic, but that's fine because the most likely revival process would be scanning. I would expect future brain preservation research to be focused on issues like getting the cryoprotectant through the whole brain as quickly as possible, test scans of cryogenically preserved brains to see what level of detail is being kept currently, and alternative methods like plastination. While reversible vitrification would clearly be valuable for both cryonics and medicine in general, I think if you want more research into it you would need to explicitly fund it and you're not going to get much of it as a spillover from signing up for the current version. It's not just "is the effect positive" but "is the effect in the same range as the current best options". If you think it's 1/100th as much good for your money as donating to the best charity then you could count 1% of the spending as altruistic and the rest as self-spending, but I think you need to get up to at least 1/10th before this bookkeeping becomes worth it. This effect is roughly proportional to the number of people signed up, and you could probably convince multiple people to sign up with $80k worth of promotion. Even then, I'm not sure the x-risk reduction benefits here are large, especially compared with simply going around explaining the idea of x-risk. If you're going to spend your time networking with wealthy people trying to get them to donate to better causes, is the pool of cryonics subscribers atypically good? How much time do you get to spend with other cryonics enthusiasts? How open to suggestions are they about donations? I would be surprised if this worked well. What kind of utility are you thinking about? I was writing for someone with a vaguely hedonist

So this contest is essentially a cryonics propaganda competition?

Tongue in cheek answer: Sure, I'll admit to that. I'd never have lasted long in Slytherin anyway.


Serious answer: I'm just trying to avoid an awkward situation by not appearing willing to actively fund a position I don't agree with at a core level. An honorary submission would be welcomed, and in fact I think I've read and recommended Thrasymachus work in the past on this very topic. It's based on pro-natalism, if I remember right. So it is on topic in the sense that it would pr... (read more)

You should clarify this in your original post.

Some meta notes:

  • This is an essay contest because my previous attempt (in 2011) was for a video contest, and nobody entered. (The bitcoins were later stolen from the online wallet that was hosting them and half returned. The remaining 5.5 coins are in a more secure wallet valued at around $2000, which I plan to use for cryonics charity later, no sooner than next April.)
  • I consider essays to be Lesswrong's strong point. Further, utilitarians (of various kinds) and cryonicists (of various kinds) are common here as are ideas for how the two can/should overla
... (read more)

(Edit) An essay simply detailing considerations as to why cryonics has net negative effects if successful would not qualify. However, if you were to answer one of the questions directly (they aren't yes/no, but scenario based) you could still feature your argument prominently.

Example: Some particular kind of utilitarians think cryonics has net disutility for certain reasons (your argument), but in the event that they find that cryonicists are easy to work with (plausible scenario), they would cooperate to accomplish some particular instrumental goal despit... (read more)

\cough cough cough** []
So this contest is essentially a cryonics propaganda competition? Awesome.

I find it harder to engage in System 2 when there are images around. Heck, even math glyphs usually trip me up. That's not to say graphics can't do more good than harm (for example, charts and diagrams can help cross inferential distance quickly, and may serve as useful intuition pumps) but I imagine that more images would mean more reliance on intuition and less on logic, hence less capacity for taking things to analytical extremes. So it could be harmful (given the nature of the site) to introduce more images.

Is that a per-person maximum, or are you only accepting up to that much worth of bets?

Edit: I have contacted gwern via IRC and invested 1 BTC.

That was a per-person limit; I may close it down soon, though (฿3 plus my own bitcoin and recent appreciation, should enough to impress people, and beyond that, I think there's diminishing returns).

What I meant is that those properties are specific to the secret part of login information used for online services, as distinct from secret information used to encrypt something directly.

I am certain that that it was a negative contribution to this site.

Well, that's harsh. My main intent with the links was to show that the system for picking the words must be unpredictable, and that password reuse is harmful. I can see now that 8-word passphrases are useless if the key is too short or there's some other vulnerability, so that choice probably gives us little more than a false sense of security.

in the particular application of bitcoin, quantum computers break it thoroughly.

This is news to me. However, I had heard that there are only 122 bits due to the use of RIPEMD-160 as part of the address generation mechanism.

According to the Diceware FAQ, large organizations might be able to crack passphrases 7 words or less in 2030. Of course that's different from passwords (where you have salted hashes and usually a limit on the number of tries), but I think when it comes to establishing habits / placing go-stones against large organizations deciding to invest in snooping to begin with, it is worthwhile. Also, eight words isn't that much harder than four words (two sets of four).

One specific use I have in mind where this level of security is relevant is bitcoin brainwallets ... (read more)

I don't understand what you mean by this. How are salting and limits properties of passwords (but not passphrases)?
Yes, there are some uses. I'm not convinced that you have any understanding of the links in your first comment and I am certain that that it was a negative contribution to this site. If you really are doing this for such long term plans, you should be concerned about quantum computers and double your key length. That's why NSA doesn't use 128 bits. Added: but in the particular application of bitcoin, quantum computers break it thoroughly.

You can generate a very strong passphrase with Diceware. Physical dice are more secure than almost any electronic device, and dictionary words let you memorize the randomness very efficiently.

This can then be used with KeePass or some other password manager. Also useful for brainwallets and other kinds of data where offline attacks are likely.

I recently memorized an 8-word passphrase generated by Diceware.

Given recent advances in password cracking, it may be a good time to start updating your accounts around the net with strong, prescriptively-generated passphrases.

Added: 8-word passphrases are overkill for most applications. 4-word passphrases are fairly secure under most circumstances, and the circumstances where in which they are not may not be helped by longer passphrases. The important thing is avoiding password reuse and predictable generation mechanisms.

I find it much easier to use random-character passwords. Memorize a few, then cycle them. You'll pretty much never have to update them. If you can't memorize them all, use software for that.

I wonder if the degree of technological progress envisioned by transhumanists will eventually make the ethical problems posed by this particular sexual orientation a moot point. Just as we will eventually cure aging, and more easily switch genders, we ought to be able to alter development, for example. An adult-aged person could easily assume a childlike body, while retaining the ability to consent in every ethically relevant sense.

On the other hand, we should eventually know enough about neuroscience to make alterations to aspects of attraction and identi... (read more)

Arguably, the opposite of straight is asexual. At least, not wanting sex with anyone is more clearly opposed to wanting sex with members of the opposite sex than wanting sex with members of the same sex (which is what I assume you meant) is. One person can do both of the latter, but not both of the former. Anyway, as far as meta-preferences go, by the time all of these parameters can be fiddled with at will my preference is that we be primarily concerned with something else, such that your question feels roughly equivalent to "should we prefer to peacefully coexist with people who mix stripes and plaids, and whatever other combination comes up, or should we settle on something boring like all-leaopard-print or all-sequined?"

I've been doing small bitcoin transactions by hand using bitcoind raw transactions, and storing the information in leveldb (which is dead simple, and apparently scales well). My near-term goal is to create a colored coin client that tracks inputs/outputs to make sure they have a common origin, so they can be distinguished from regular bitcoins and acquire additional value. I've been using python and getting promising results for interacting with leveldb and bitcoind. The same API can apparently be used with electrum servers, so the client does not need to ... (read more)

Who would want to sell those coins/where would they come from?
Load More