All of lsusr's Comments + Replies

[Letter] Advice for High School

I recommend Hy because it's what I personally use and I can therefore vouch for it. I have heard nothing but good things about Clojure. I even attend a Clojure user group. The Clojure programmers I meet tend to be smart which is a good sign.

[Letter] Advice for High School

The recommendation to lift weights applies to boys and girls. If you are a woman, lifting weights won't make you bulky. It will make you hot.


To build off of your comment here, the idea that "anger can feel good" is a phrase where the meaning of individual words depends heavily on one's direct experience, personal background and cultural context.


Emotional machinery is universal. Emotional ontologies can be culture-specific. I do differ on a lot of cultural assumptions relative to community here on Less Wrong such as on the flexibility of abstract concepts, civilization-specific ontologies, the essence of goodness and stuff that isn't even on the Western map.

Are there good classes (or just articles) on blog writing?

If you want feedback on your blog then there are four options:

  1. You can review the work yourself.
  2. You can publish it online and read the comments.
  3. You can join a group where writers share drafts with each other.
  4. You can hire someone to read your work.

#1 only works if you can figure out what is wrong, which you can't. Besides, you already have published 50 posts on your blog (and written who-knows-how-many drafts) over many years without making progress. #2 tells you useful information but not how to structure a post. #3 might or might not fix your proble... (read more)

3korin432dThanks for the in-depth feedback! Your points make sense to me, and I think you're right that I probably need to join a workshopping group or hire someone. Publishing and reading comments would probably work (seems like the way most people do it) but the feedback loop is just too long. Something I'm realizing from your comments is that I need to decide what type of article I'm writing and then structure it based on that. I think I've avoided the "list of n things" because it feels Buzzfeed-y, but I should probably embrace it when that's the kind of article I'm writing. I think I'll try going over these articles again and probably contact you via DM to see about hiring you to give me pre-publishing feedback in the future.

I had intended to drop[1] the case for anger entirely.

  1. "Dropping", a debate context, refers to ignoring an argument without attempting to refute it. ↩︎


When I watch the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr, I am inspired by his total absence of anger. Perhaps he is a saint, in which case I endeavor to follow his example.


Yes. Suppressing anger is counterproductive.


I agree that aggressive motivation can be useful in the weightroom, on the dais and elsewhere. I consider anger to tautologically require a desire to inflict suffering upon a conscious being. If we define anger more broadly to include a zealous zen master or a deadlifter then anger can be a good thing.

Could anthropomorphizing cancer and then getting angry at it help advance science? Maybe. I do not personally derive utility from this mindset but others might.


This may be a disagreement about words. For me, hate comes from disgust and aversion whereas anger comes from a desire for comeuppance and redress. It sounds to me like your definition of hate is similar to my definition of anger. If my definition of anger equals your anger of hate then we are in agreement about reality.

5Gunnar_Zarncke2dWe seem to mutually misidentify anger and hate. That is surprising. Emotions are usually assumed to be universal []. Could be cultural. I looked it up and there found this research question: Human Emotions: Universal or Culture‐Specific? (PDF) [ ] Anna Wierzbicka has made an effort to decompose this into fundamental building blocks: Emotions Across Languages and Cultures: Diversity and Universals [] I have not yet fully read it but this seems like a program worthy to communicate wider.
6GuySrinivasan2dAnecdote: I thought I didn't get angry. My wife identified a spectrum of emotions, the upper end of which she said was anger, such that I found it obvious I had the middle often enough and the upper sometimes. I did not previously identify the upper as "angry" but on reflection I noted that many others definitely seem to. The lower end of this spectrum looks more like "frustration" than anything else.
Rising rents and appropriate responses

Your friend's argument is basically the opposite of Georgian economics. It is a set of policies that maximizes land speculation at the expense of capital investment and even rent seeking. If you want to maximize value for incumbents then restrict construction without establishing rent controls. If you want to keep rents accessible to an influx of poor people then allow construction. You cannot provide housing for an influx of residents while restricting construction. There won't be enough living space to go around. The only way to provide sufficient housin... (read more)

You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and People Would Like You

Thank you for the note about the thousand-to-one comment ratio. This platform doesn't provide view count analytics and I haven't installed such software on my blog so I have no idea what the actual ratios are.

By the way, I found this post on your blog (but I found your blog here) but chose to comment here because I prefer Less Wrong's commenting system to Wordpress's.

Why has nuclear power been a flop?

What an excellent article, all around. I subscribed to Linear No Threshold before reading this. Thank you for the update.

Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places

Note to readers: justinpombrio's parent comment was written when this post was titled "Place-Based Programming", before I changed the title to "Place-Based Programming - Part 1".

I think the disagreement here comes from me communicating different things to different people. I showed SatvikBeri a more complete system of which this post is just a tiny part. If all you see is this post (without the "Part 1") then justinpombrio's comment makes sense. If you see the entire project then SatvikBeri's comment makes sense.

justinpombrio's particular example can be ... (read more)

Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places

Note to readers: skybrian's parent comment was written when this post was titled "Place-Based Programming", before I changed the title to "Place-Based Programming - Part 1".

Your are correct that the code here in Part 1 breaks when you use variables with nonlocal scope. I begin to solve this problem in Part 2.

It's also essentially the same kind of caching that's commonly done by build systems.

Yes. I often think about this project as "writing a compiler". Some of the techniques I use come from Makefiles.

Training the YouTube Algorithm

I do this too. Then, after opening it in cognito, I press "Don't recommend channel".

Training the YouTube Algorithm

Do you use a particular CSS editor plugin?

3Lambda5dStylebot for chrome. Perhaps there's better now — the ui can be a bit wonky — but I've used it for almost a decade, so
Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places

You can go from hash to source code by saving the source code too in addition to saving the value. You can go from place to source code by treating source code as a value. Otherwise, hashing is a trapdoor function.

Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places

Thanks. I have changed "simple caching system" to "persistent memoization system".

Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places

This is accurate. Places are analogous to pointers.

lsusr's Shortform

An aircraft carrier costs $13 billion. An anti-ship cruise missile costs $2 million. Few surface warships survived the first day of the Singularity War.

A cruise missile is a complex machine, guided by sensitive electronics. Semiconductor fabricators are even more complex machines. Few semiconductor factories survived the nuclear retaliation.

A B-52 Stratofortress is a simpler machine.

Robert (Bob) Manchester's bomber flew west from Boeing Field. The crew disassembled their landing gear and dropped it in the Pacific Ocean. The staticy voice of Mark Campbell, ... (read more)

lsusr's Shortform

I don't mind jumping through a few extra hoops in order to access a website idiosyncratically. But sometimes the process feels overly sectarian.

I was trying out the Tencent cloud without using Tor when I got a CAPTCHA. Sure, whatever. They verified my email. That's normal. Then they wanted to verify my phone number. Okay. (Using phone numbers to verify accounts is standard practice for Chinese companies.) Then they required me to verify my credit card with a nominal $1 charge. I can understand their wanting to take extra care when it comes to processing in... (read more)

2ChristianKl8dI think it's worst when you have edge cases like the Google Captcha that shows 16 tiles and you have to choose which tiles contain the item they are looking for and some of the tails contain it only a little bit on the edge.
A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering

What an informative, well-researched, well-written post. I am curious about the Iterated Embryo Selection. If you use two parents then would it result in inbreeding? Would you need more than two parents to avoid inbreeding? If the latter then that could reduce the rate of adoption.

You also mention that "that optimizing for any objective X will eventually impact another objective Y if one pushes hard enough". This is true. I wonder how much of it can be avoided by both optimizing for a positive trait X while simultaneously optimizing against the traits of people with negative life outcomes.

4GeneSmith10dThanks! I spent an embarrassingly long time writing it. 1. Your question about iterated embryo selection is an interesting one. I suspect that performing this procedure multiple times without adding genetic material WOULD result in higher defect rates, though I'm not positive. If one is already selecting against the types of negative traits that inbreeding increases, would we still expect to see higher rates of health conditions even after selection, or would inbreeding simply decrease our the average quality of embryos due to a higher percent having health issues? Part of my problem is not understanding exactly why inbreeding is bad. I'm familiar with the standard answer that "inbreeding increases the chance that offspring inherit recessive diseases", but why exactly is that? One answer is Muller's ratchet [], which says that environmental damage leads to a constant increase in deleterious mutations to the germline, and the only feasible way to decrease mutational load is through sex. Under this model, sex is kind of like a simple error correction mechanism: a single mutation is unlikely to occur in both organisms, so given the production of enough offspring, one of them is likely to have reduced mutational load. So under this model, inbreeding is bad because it correlates genetic mutations. If two organisms share a larger portion of their DNA, they are likely to inherit many of the same mutations, preventing their descendants from shedding mutational load through lucky recombination. But if that analysis is correct and inability to shed mutational load is the main reason for increased health problems among inbred offspring, then perhaps it wouldn't be such a big deal for iterated embryo selection after all, since there is very little time between generations for the embryos to accrue deleterious mutations. In the end though, one almost certainly would want to introduce genetic material from other parents sim

Escape is farther from home row.

I Trained a Neural Network to Play Helltaker

The laptop is from 2013. It doesn't even have an Nvidia-compatible GPU. I actually did train on low resolution footage. The model takes a 64x64 pixel image as input.

3NicholasKross12dAh, yeah 64x64 is pretty good there. (Now I wonder how much you could lower the framerate...)

Keyboard shortcuts are faster than the mouse. Keys accessible from homerow are faster than distant keys like the arrow keys. Keyboard shortcuts you can combine are more powerful than standalone keyboard shortcuts. As gianlucatruda mentioned, the important thing is Vim keybindings, not the editor itself. You can get a similar speed boost by installing Vim keybindings on your favorite editor.

I learned Vim very early in my programming career because I knew the upfront investment would pay itself over many times—and it has. Vim has paid my initial investment b... (read more)


In addition, some old Unix utilities like less use a subset of Vim keybindings by default.

1gianlucatruda13dYes! Even many websites and web apps implement some Vim standards. Particularly \ for search.

I'm in the same boat. I do most of my text editing in Spacemacs with Vim keybindings. Please let me know if you figure out a good in-browser text entry solution.

2gilch13dI have an AutoHotKey script that copies any highlighted text, pops up a gVim window with that text, and then I can save it back into the clipboard with :wq. I works on any plain text field in any app that respects the C-c copy-selection shortcut. I'm sure someone with your skills could put together something similar. I think I had a variant that would also C-a to select all and then C-v after I closed gVim. I also have a more involved AHK script that does a subset of vim commands in any normal text field while I hold down the tab button. Getting the f command to work was a bit of a trick. I kind of stopped using it once I got a Lenovo with a TrackPoint, but if anyone is interested I could try to dig it up and put in on GitHub or something.
March 2021 newsletter

Stavrova and Ehlebracht (2019) observed that individuals perceived that highly cynical people have greater cognitive ability despite finding a consistently negative relationship when directly measuring these characteristics.

―Quote from Can You Ever Be Too Smart for Your Own Good?, from the PSYCHOLOGY/BIOLOGY links.

The above quote could be interpreted one of two ways. It could mean people believe that cynical people (in general) have greater cognitive ability or it could mean that people, when they observe cynicism, treat it as a sign of greater cognitiv... (read more)

Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation

Of course, this only has a chance of working if the inputs and labels come from a continuous stream, as they would if the input were the output of another network.

Predictive processing is thus well-suited for BNNs because the real-time sensory data of a living organism, including sensory data preprocessed by another network, is a continuous stream.

Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation

Due to the need to iterate the vs until convergence, the predictive coding network had roughly a 100x greater computational cost than the backprop network.

The paper claims that predictive coding takes more compute. I agree that predictive coding ought to be more parallelizable. If you are using a GPU then backpropagation is already sufficiently parallelizable. However, it may be that neuromorphic hardware could parallelize better than a GPU, thus producing an increase in compute power that outstrips the 100x greater computational cost of the algorithm itself.

1samshap16dKind of. Neuromorphics don't buy you too much benefit for generic feedforward networks, but they dramatically reduce the expenses of convergence. Since the 100x in this paper derives from iterating until the network converges, a neuromorphics implementation (say on Loihi) would directly eliminate that cost.
Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation

Good point. Transfer learning is allowed but it still counts towards the total training data where "training data" is now everything a human can process over a lifetime.

1Noah Walton9dOnce you add this condition, are current state-of-the-art Starcraft-learning ANNs still getting more training data than humans?
4samshap18dRight side of equation 2. Also the v update step in algorithm 1 should have a negative sign (the text version earlier on the same page has it right).
Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation

Daniel Kokotajlo was the person who originally pointed me to this article. Thank you!

There is no question that human brains have tons of instincts built-in. But there is a hard limit on how much information a single species' instincts can contain. It is implausible that human beings' cognitive instincts contain significantly more information than the human genome (750 megabytes). I expect our instincts contain much less.

Human brains definitely have special architectures too, like the hippocampus. The critical question is how important these special archite... (read more)

1TekhneMakre14dOur instincts contain pointers to learning from other humans, which contain lots of cognitive info. The pointer is small, but that doesn't mean the resulting organism is algorithmically that simple.
7Daniel Kokotajlo18dIf the ANN can't use transfer learning, that's pretty unfair, since the human can. (It's not like a baby can play Starcraft straight out of the womb; humans can learn Starcraft but only after years of pre-training on diverse data in diverse environments)
Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation

The black circles represent neurons. The red triangles represent activations (action potentials). Action potentials' information content is shared between presynaptic neurons and postsynaptic neurons because activations are transmitted from the presynaptic neuron to the postsynaptic neuron.

The black arrows in the bottom diagram denote the physical creation of action potentials. The red arrows denote intra-neuron calculation of the gradient. Keep in mind that each neuron knows both the action potential it generates itself and the action potentials sent ... (read more)

6Chris_Leong17dOh that makes a lot more sense. Is delta v1 hat the change of v1 rather than a infintesimal? (Asking because if it was then it'd be easier to understand how it is calculated).
Covid 4/1: Vaccine Passports

This is fascinating. I expect many readers of Less Wrong would be interested in top-level posts about what the world looks like from the perspective of a state government civil servant.

3tkpwaeub18dThanks. That means a lot to me. I feel like a lot of things depend on "who's in the room" when decisions are made, and all too often it's the people who are stuck with implementing things that are left out.
Covid 4/1: Vaccine Passports

In the specific case of Taiwan, the only sane strategy (which they are doing) is to require all newcomers to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Incoming visitors have a strong incentive to avoid quarantine. It is difficult for the Taiwanese government to confirm whether someone from the United States or another country has been vaccinated. Allowing visitors who claim to have been vaccinated enter the country without quarantine guarantees a COVID outbreak. Taiwan has COVID under control. Taiwan has few citizens vaccinated. A COVID outbreak in Taiwan would be a n... (read more)

Why We Launched LessWrong.SubStack

Future posts will be viewable on the NFT blockchain. You can alternatively wait for the price of Bitcoin to go down.

Why We Launched LessWrong.SubStack

I could not comment on Substack itself. It presents me with a CAPTCHA where I have to prove I am human by demonstrating qualia. As a philosophical zombie, I believe this is discriminatory but must acknowledge that no one of ethical consequence is being harmed. Rather than fight this non-injustice, I am simply posting on the obsolete Less Wrong 2.0 instead.

Here are my thoughts on the new posts.

  • HPMOR: The Epilogue was surprising yet inevitable. It is hard to say more without spoiling it.
  • My favorite part of all the new posts is Scott Alexander's prescient
... (read more)
9Ben Pace20dThank you. I would greatly enjoy more people sharing their takeaways from reading the posts.
Open & Welcome Thread – March 2021

Is is possible to embed YouTube videos in Less Wrong posts? If so, is it possible to do so via the Markdown editor?

4Raemon22dYou should be able to paste youtube links into the default editor and it'll automatically work. I'm not sure about the markdown editor.
[Book Review] Destiny Disrupted

China: A History by John Keay provides an equivalent insider's view of China. It is written in accessible, plain English. I too looked for Russian and Indian books of the same vein but could not find any.

Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots

The even more interesting question here is, if these guidelines do get issued, how do people react more broadly? Do they think ‘oh the six foot thing was all a lie?’ Do all elites memory hole that we ever said six feet and start saying three feet, and how much whiplash does that cause? If the one central rule goes out the window does everyone start treating all of it as one big joke?

Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots by Zvi

This is neither a new nor a novel phenomenon. The safe distance is three feet. The safe distance has always been three... (read more)


I'm interested. We can continue this conversation via PM.


Invites are plentiful. PM me if you need one. [Update: My borrowed iPhone doesn't have a SIM card and invites are sent via SMS. If anyone else has an iPhone and extra invites they're willing to share, please leave a comment here.]

3Azatris1moI can happily send out up to 4 invites. PM me if you need one. (Was directed here from Slack too.)
Kelly Betting Discussion

To disambiguate, this is 12 pm Pacific Time.

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