All of lythrum's Comments + Replies

Yes, I'm aware it's not universal. I can't really explain why it's so bothersome - it's similar to occasional words being in a bright colour, or someone poking me every so often while I'm trying to read. It's probably a pity because, combined with my laziness, it just means that I avoid reading writing with lots of italics. If I'm feeling particularly motivated I'll modify the text to remove all the italics before reading it.

Presumably it would be easy enough to strip out of everything (online) with a tiny bit of css voodoo.

I strongly agree. I find Eliezer's italics so off-putting that I avoid reading his writing in formatted text. I don't know why, and I'm sure not everyone has the same reaction, but excess italics just make me twitch.

I don't find it off-putting, but it does make me feel I'm reading Lewis Carrol.
Well, I can affirm that I, at least, don't have the same reaction. Also I use italics similarly myself. I treat it as a mark of emphasis by the authorial voice. I don't mind having a textual marker to show me where the emphasis is, preventing me from having to intuit it, any more than I mind hearing people's emphasis when they talk, rather than having to intuit it as I would if they were using a voice synthesizer. The idea of finding it offputting is weird to me.
Interesting. I usually find they break up the monotony of a large block of text, and help me identify how the passage should flow.

I am not from Mudd, but I went to a talk by Maria Klawe on this very topic. I feel suddenly potentially useful. Warning: this is all only from memory. I thought I had the slides somewhere, but cannot find them. I'll email Maria, and if I hear back from her, I'll pass it on.

First off, here's the abstract for her talk:

Begin abstract

In 2006, much like at many other institutions, about 10% of HMC’s CS majors were female. At that time only a third of HMC’s students were female, but CS was an aberration. About 20% of the Physics majors and close to 30% of... (read more)

Hm, thank you! The article mentions breaking the intro to programming class into programming for science, programming for beginners, and programming for people with previous experience, and I can imagine that separating a class of arrogant hackers from freshmen who are interested in learning about computers, but changing the admissions process seems like it could easily divert female students from other schools, which is the sort of thing that I was worried about really.

As an academicish person, I suggest a few questions that bothered me at first: Why aren't more artificial intelligence research groups at universities working on FAI? Why doesn't the Singularity Institute publish all of its literature reviews and other work?

"Are there refereed publications on FAI in mainstream academic Ai research venues? Why not?"
Singularity/AI is a reasonable (if you agree with a number of assumption and extrapolations SI/EY are fond of) but an ultimately untestable concept (until it is too late, anyway), so govt funding would be hard to come by. Add to this the expected time frame of at least a few decades, and good luck getting a grant application approved for this research.

I'm curious: if you're a person interested in "benevolence training", why do you want to have more benevolence or empathy for others? I generally want to be less empathetic, and I'd love to be convinced that I'm wrong.

If you had lots of end states, and lots of non-end states, and we want to assume the game ends when someone's won, and that a player only moves into an end state if he's won (neither of these last two are necessarily true even in nice pretty games), then you could treat it like a classification problem. In that case, you could throw your favourite classifier learning algorithm at it. I can't think of any publications on someone machine learning a winning condition, but that doesn't mean it's not out there.

Dr. David Silver used temporal difference lea... (read more)

Your first paragraph rings true to me: the complaints I've heard are basically those you mentioned.

My friends are mostly fairly contrarian late-twenties male engineering, computing science and math people. I think that apart from not enjoying Methods, they're pretty much the usual LW demographic. That's part of the reason I was surprised when they didn't like Methods. There are lots of possible reasons for this (to me) surprising result. Maybe they thought I didn't like it, and wanted to mirror that back. Maybe they're a group already biased agains... (read more)

There are people on Less Wrong who dislike Methods. But I suspect Eliezer's other book will do a decent job of attracting those that don't like cock!Harry.

I've had mostly negative reactions to Methods of Rationality from 20-something males (and a few females) who are nerdy and geeky and mostly already like GEB, so I agree that this community needs other methods of marketing.

Reaction to Methods seems highly polarized: almost every review of it I've seen either falls over itself to gush or sees it as pretentious and self-indulgent. Age and gender seem to matter less, by that stage, than contrarian tendencies and tolerance for what tvtropes calls an author tract, but the demographics of fanfiction readers are weighted heavily towards people in their teens and twenties already, so samples of older readers are small. The particular characteristics of Methods do probably push it towards the older end of the scale. Since that's more or less the demographic that LW attracts already, I'd say that Methods, and the rational fic meme more generally, are effective as advertising but ineffective in broadening the site's appeal.