All of Mqrius's Comments + Replies

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

Does that take into account, for example, Arbital seeming less promising to people / getting less engagement, because all the users have just sunk energy into trying to get by on a revived LW?

There's an intuition pump I could make that I haven't fully fleshed out yet, that goes something like, If both Arbital and Lesswrong get worked on, then whichever seems more promising or better to use will gain more traction and end out on top in a very natural way, without having to go through an explicit failure of the other one.

There's caveats/responses to that as well of course — it just doesn't seem 100% clear cut to me.

CFAR’s new focus, and AI Safety

Brainstormy words in that corner of concept-space:

  • Raising the sanity waterline
  • Downstream effects
  • Giving someone a footstool so that they can see for themselves, instead of you telling them what's on the other side of the wall
  • C̶r̶i̶t̶i̶c̶a̶l̶ ̶m̶a̶s̶s h̶i̶v̶e̶m̶i̶n̶d Compounding thinktank intelligence
  • Doing thinks better

[switches framing]
Signal boosting means sending more signal so that you it arrives better on the other side. There's more ways of doing so though;

  • Noise reduction
  • (The entire big field of) error correction methods
  • Spe
... (read more)
Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity

The maximum total energy from PUFA has been a discussion point with DIY Soylent makers as well. The final consensus was that it should definitely be below 10%, and possibly below 4%. The 4% figure comes from The perfect health diet, which uses this as a source:

Angela Liou Y, Innis SM. Dietary linoleic acid has no effect on arachidonic acid, but increases n-6 eicosadienoic acid, and lowers dihomo-gamma-linolenic and eicosapentaenoic acid in plasma of adult men. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 2009 Apr;80(4):201–6, (read more)

Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity

My university has access to the paper. I've got it hosted on my server, but you're only allowed to download it if you have legal access through your university as well. If you have legal access, feel free to click this link:

Meetup : Utrecht

Haha, bluf! (Or in English: I dare you!)

Meetup : Utrecht

Dang, another one that doesn't sit well with my planning. I'll attend at some point, really!

3skizo7yI will just have to keep organizing meetups until you attend!
Meetup : First Meetup in Cologne (Köln)

Now that the scheduling issues are out of the way;

Coming Sunday, we'll have wallowinmaya, EGI and girlfriend, SimonF, Falstofe, and my girlfriend and me, if I'm not mistaken. That would be a nice turnout!

Meetup : First Meetup in Cologne (Köln)

Me and my girlfriend will most likely be there! We've been thinking of starting something ourselves :)

2EGI8yMe and probably my girlfriend too. Awesome somone finally did it. I wanted to start a meetup too, but kept procrastinating about it.
1David Althaus8yThat's great, at least there are three of us then :)
Effective Altruist Job Board?

My current effective altruism strategy is:

  • Make a lot of money
  • Give it away

Pretty straightforward, but it means I don't need to have a job specifically related to effective altruism.

The question might be if you're more useful by making money and giving that away, or by working directly with the cause or meta-cause you support. I think for me it's the former.

Open thread, July 16-22, 2013

To get a permanent URL, the workaround was that you could schedule a hangout very far in the future. Are you saying that you can't run a specified application on that?

0Error8yA qualified "yes, exactly": I haven't found a way to do it, which is different from saying a way doesn't exist.
The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality

Besides being very interesting in the topics covered, this post has shifted my inclination to try drugs (to the trying drugs side).

Up to now, I didn't feel like trying anything serious. I saw no clear benefit, and I was afraid that it would mess with my core reasoning. I depend on my "reasoning core" to operate in stressful, inebriated, or otherwise compromised situations. Messing with that seemed like a Bad Idea.

Thinking about it now, though, I recognize that my core reasoning is not an isolated crystal anyway, being influenced by emotions and s... (read more)

Let There Be Light

Do you still hold these ideas? Have you managed to work them out in detail in the meantime?

Programming the LW Study Hall

For the record: A number of programmers have applied and, as far as I know, will be discussing with Shannon and beeminder people to discuss actually programming the required parts.

I, meanwhile, am just hobbying a bit to see if OpenMeetings can be turned into something useful. But indeed, I'm often in the room when I do that :)

Programming the LW Study Hall

Login form: Gutted
Video resolution: Capped
Chat area height: Increased

Webcam selection: Eh. The devs changed it, it's a bit better, but not quite there yet. Maybe they'll work on it more after the weekend. Edit: It's fixed! :)
Chat notifications: Haven't looked into it yet. Edit: Have looked into it, but haven't figured it out yet.

I'll have it running most of the time. Feel free to look around!

For the programmers, patches are available here:

2Michelle_Z8ySo it's now 3/22... is this idea dead or still going? And where are people doing this now?
Programming the LW Study Hall

Since I fixed this, it seems OpenMeetings is stable. It has been running for at least 10 hours, with at some point 8 people in there, all streaming video. There have been a few notes in the chat which I'll address publically:

I'm not sure if it's a good idea to redirect people here if tinychat is still better until this gets done correctly

Agreed. The redirection today was only for stresstesting it. If it's not stable, putting further effort in it is useless. It turns out it's stable though, so I'll hack some more at it, and see what I can make of it.


... (read more)
6Mqrius8yLogin form: Gutted Video resolution: Capped Chat area height: Increased Webcam selection: Eh. The devs changed it, it's a bit better, but not quite there yet. Maybe they'll work on it more after the weekend. Edit: It's fixed []! :) Chat notifications: Haven't looked into it yet. Edit: Have looked into it, but haven't figured it out [] yet. I'll have it running most of the time. Feel free to look around! For the programmers, patches are available here: []
-2BerryPick68yAn upvote isn't quite what I'm looking for here. Why is there no "this post is the best" button?
Programming the LW Study Hall

It's working quite well. It's been going all morning without any issues.

Programming the LW Study Hall

We tried out mqrius' server and encountered a few difficulties, but I have no idea what was causing them, so it could just be that OM is a bit shaky.

I poked around a bit more.
Basically, I got "java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space", so I figured it was a lack of allocated memory and increased the allocated heap space (Xmx and Xms). However, I did some further googling, and apparently the PermGen space is separate from the heap space. If it goes out of memory, it might be caused by either a normal process, or by a memory leak. It might be ... (read more)

1Mqrius8yIt's working quite well. It's been going all morning without any issues.
Programming the LW Study Hall

Maybe a common room where people can initially talk about what they intend to work on. (Eliezer says: This needs either strong group norms or built-in limits on talk time to avoid becoming a social chat timesink.)

I discussed this a bit with tsakinis, and I think that we can indeed create group norms that do the following:

  • Suggest people that are having a (long) discussion to do so in a private room
  • Welcome new people, find out what they're working on, and then go off together to do a pomodoro in one of the study rooms

This will mean that someone who... (read more)

1Error8yA potential alternative: No lobby, but have people note what they're working on when they enter the room, and display it next to their name. Then establish a norm of discussing what's shown during the breaks. It doesn't cover "just having a look", but does cover "introducing your work" and "no tempting timesink." And the prospect of being expected to talk about what you said you were working on may help keep participants on task.
Programming the LW Study Hall

For programmers who are curious about OpenMeeting, I've set up a mockup server on my PC. It's is not entirely stock install, I've changed a few configurations to make it more like what we want. No source code changing yet though. You can have a look at it here:
Go there, wait for a few seconds for it to load, make an account (no verification or anything required), and then you can join the public room. You'll get a popup for video settings: it shows a black screen initially, even though your cam does work... (read more)

2blob8yRearranging the internal video canvas layout seems to be not supported [!msg/google-plus-developers/C08eg6uenwo/nx4Ffc4SdtYJ] .
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

Screensharing is indeed very effective in a 1-on-1 session, but I think the webcam view is quite valuable for different reasons: It provides the sense of actual people whom you're working with on the other side. Part of the reason why the study room works is because of the community feeling you get. When the community starts a pomodoro, you join.

Of course, google hangouts support switching between screensharing and webcam on the fly, so this isn't an argument against hangouts: I just wanted to mention the value of the webcams.


I'm trying to imagine screen... (read more)

0Tenoke8yI actually imagine this to be less of a problem when you have more people as you don't need to think about checking the others' screens at all a la the bystander effect. And even if people check other people's screens really rarely, just knowing that there are multiple lesswrongers who can actually catch you procrastinating should be good enough in most cases. Also a quick glance at the hangout can quickly tell you if someone is procrastinating in a really obvious way such as being on facebook, youtube etc. In addition I actually speculate that if the chat is big enough there is a reasonable chance that some people will spend a large fraction of their time in the hangout just monitoring other people. This action will not be productive at all for the observer but at least it will be beneficial for the room as a whole. (I am in no way saying that we need such observers, just that they might show up on their own). I am not sure if it will actually work in the way that I imagine it to work and you might be right that it will be too distracting but a group chat involving screen sharing is definitely worth a try at this point.
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

If people can turn off sounds and notifications, we probably don't have to worry about bothering others by chatting outside of a break.

I would think so too, but at least 1 person has requested chats that chats be at a minimum, even if he turned off the sound and notifications.

Besides that, a lobby has the advantage that you can hang out without working. Here's the failure mode I'm anticipating and trying to avoid: Let's say this becomes big, and there's plenty of people in the study room. Some will just hang out, and not specifically be working at that time. This creates an environment in which it feels "okay" to just hang out and not work when you're there.

3latanius8yThe problem with no notifications is that because you're still in a room where interesting stuff is going on, of course you'll check the chat history and/or join the people already chatting. (Unless you use up willpower not to, but the whole point is using less of that.) Having a 25 min work + 5 min chat cycle seems to be a good thing though; start working because everyone else went silent is so much easier as going back to the "library" while everyone else is still talking in the lobby. If you're working, don't go there, that's it.
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

I valued the bit of chatting we did a lot. It creates a community feeling , and helps with actually getting me to work :)

But indeed, some people are distracted by the chatting. Having a "lobby" would work. Then the study room could be quiet most of the time, except when the joint hour-synced Pomodoro finishes. If you want to hang out but aren't working, you remove yourself from the study room.
These would be simple but effective guidelines, I think.

0Viliam_Bur8yIf people can turn off sounds and notifications, we probably don't have to worry about bothering others by chatting outside of a break. So we could just have a recommendation that you are allowed to chat anytime, but chatting at times HH:25 -- HH:29 and HH:55 -- HH:59 is a Shelling point. We can encourage this norm by saying "break" and "break over" at the specified time.
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

It was my understanding that Main is intended for polished final products, and that drafts, polls, and, well, discussions, belong to Discussion.

That's a reasonable distinction. But imagine this: A post which is a central place for organizing working together. Such a post is a very valuable final product in instrumental rationality, but it will inherently have continuous activity and discussion.

This post is not fully polished yet, but it's the best one we have of the sort, and having it as a main post right now increases the chances of this becoming the ... (read more)

Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

I disagree. Instrumental rationality is at least as important as epistemic rationality, akrasia is both one of the largest blocks and one of the most common blocks in daily life, and the survey has shown that co-working is the best tool we have to combat akrasia. Assuming we can make this the nexus of co-working efforts, its place in Main is justified.

3JamesM4238yIt was my understanding that Main is intended for polished final products, and that drafts, polls, and, well, discussions, belong to Discussion. And for me a "nexus of co-working efforts" is a discussion. Its main value is in the discussion process rather than in the article. To put it in another way, most posts in Main (with the notable exception of meetup announcements) will not lose much of their value with time, while this post will be of very little value once people stop regularly coming here to coordinate social productivity experiments.
0Zian8yYes, it is.
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

Alright, so there seems to be enthusiasm for this. The next step is figuring out the practical details.

How do we create a group study room? The first things that come to mind are a Skype group chat, Google hangouts, and the newly developed browser-to-browser video chat. The latter seems undersupported to me, although I haven't researched it specifically. Skype group chats require at least 1 person to have a premium account, and I'm not sure if you can make a permanent "room".

That leaves Google hangouts. Some searching shows that it used to be pos... (read more)

Optimizing Sleep

My sleep schedule tended to drift further into the night as well. I installed f.lux s little over a week ago, and just realized a day ago that I find myself going to bed around midnight consistently! The amount of sleep has also decreased, to about 7.5 hours. sleep quality seems similar. (I'm using ElectricSleep for tracking movement)

Capitalizing on this, I've ordered orange-tinted blue-blocking glasses, and have attempted to find something like f.lux for Android. There are custom ROMs that can do it, and there's apps like Lux that only change brightness.... (read more)

Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

It's an interesting idea, for sure.

For me, though, I really need the coordination part. A global study room where you can come and go wouldn't work as well for me: it lacks the precommitment I get from agreeing with an individual to work alongside eachother at a specific time and date. I can make the agreement in far mode, and then near mode sticks to it, only if I made the agreement with someone else than myself.

Another thing that popped into my mind when reading this is that you're trying to create a large joint effort, where everyone involved tends to p... (read more)

2Viliam_Bur8yYes, there are different failure modes. One of them is "never starting". Another is "starting... and then abandoning the original goal and doing something else (e.g. browsing a web)". My idea could work for the second one, but not for the first one.
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

I think money might complicate things: You might want to get paid more for stuff you don't find that interesting. With trading just time, it feels different. You'd just give the other person X hours of your time, and you get X hours back. It doesn't matter to you what you do in the X hours you gave away. Perhaps getting money for it also makes it seem like work, instead of a fun, social thing. Then again, maybe it's a distinction that's only in my head, so if you can make it work, sure, go for it!

Buying food indeed seems less formal.

4Zian8yDan Ariely's research found that paying money will destroy social relationships, giving stuff does a little damage, and just doing stuff for 'free' is best. So, if you're trying to keep the social bits, just go straight to 'free.'

Also, paying money to your friends is probably bad, psychologically. There is a "social mode" with family and friends, and a "business mode" when dealing with money. They use different rules. For example the business mode is based on principle that everything can be replaced and traded; but the family and friends are supposed to be special. Trying to calculate whether the X hours I gave to my friend really have the same value as the X hours my friend gave to me seems like a certain way to ruin our friendship.

(I am not sure how much this is culture-depended.)

Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia

Here’s a slightly different idea I’ve been toying with: Trading time

The gist of it is this: You make a plan to get together with a friend, and agree to work for 3 hours on whatever project he wants.You also plan a later date and time at which he comes to you and you work together on anything you want. This could be a hobby project, a difficult study topic you can’t quite grasp, or something simple like painting a wall.

The idea is that nearly everything is easier if you do it with someone else, especially for people that tend to procrastinate. Some things a... (read more)

2Error8yBoth the idea expressed in the original post and the one expressed here fascinate me. I know I work better when I have someone else involved, counting on me, or waiting on me. I do wonder if it would work via Skype as well as in person, though. (I know few people locally with similar interests and skills to my own) If it does work online, I wonder if a beeminder-esque matching service for the purpose might be doable. Tangentially, the thought kind of reminds me of hackerspaces/makerspaces.
Reversed Stupidity Is Not Intelligence

... he shouted down, soaring through the sky.

My Algorithm for Beating Procrastination

Now I can see if a strategy makes a difference and whether I can maintain it for long term.

It's been nearly a year since this post. I'm curious what your results are, if any.

4laakeus8yWell, I didn't exactly state any particular experiments in the above post, but I did get some results. First, the system of measuring my time worked just fine. RescueTime and similar software products do this as well and I encourage anyone considering doing experiments on yourself to get one or arrange a system like I did and then just start measuring. You'll get a nice baseline to compare to. It's surprisingly difficult to notice a significant difference and if you don't have a quantitative approach and historical data, it might be impossible to say if some experiment made any difference. You might think that improving your productivity with some method will feel somehow different, but it won't. The only way you can say for sure is to have some kind of measuring system. The measurement system and subsequent noticing that I wasn't nearly as productive as I'd like to be didn't make much of a difference. I could clearly see how I spend my time and what kind of events hindered my productivity, but this alone didn't improve my overall efficiency. The experiment I did on myself was to start using the Pomodoro method. On average, I got roughly 20-25% more real work done per workday. (Say the baseline was 4 hours which improved to approx. 5 hours a day.) It sounds somewhat pathetic, but I could sustain this over long term. (Since then I've switched jobs and I have different kind of desktop setup and I don't have a similar measurement anymore.) I didn't become a productivity monster over-night and I do have difficulty motivating myself some days. Pomodoro doesn't help when I just don't have the motivation. But now I know that I can improve my efficiency when I am on the groove. I think the difference is that the normal way of chunking the workday drains some mental resource faster and sometimes that will result in the disability to re-focus after a longer pause. So, all in all, I recommend setting up a system of measuring what you really do during your computer time.
Cards Against Rationality

underscores act weird for some reason.

Escape them with backslashes, \_like so\_.

Outside the Laboratory

Ah, but that's not what it means to run until significance -- in my interpretation in any case. A significant result would mean that you run until you have either p < 0.005 that your hypothesis is correct, or p < 0.005 that it's incorrect. Doing the experiment in this way would actually validate it for "proof" in conventional Science.

Since he mentions "running until you're bored", his interpretation may be closer to yours though.

Outside the Laboratory

Upvoted for actually testing the theory :)

Obviously, if what you're actually doing is running a set number of trials in one case and running trials until you reach significance or give up in the second case, you will come up with different results.

I don't believe this is true. Every individual trial is individual Bayesian evidence, unrelated to the rest of the trials except in the fact that your priors are different. If you run until significance you will have updated to a certain probability, and if you run until you're bored you'll also have updated ... (read more)

3faul_sname8yYou have to be very careful you're actually asking the same question in both cases. In the case I tested above, I was asking exactly the same question (my intuition said very strongly that I wasn't, but that's because I was thinking of the very similar but subtly different question below). The "fairly obvious in retrospect" refers to that particular phrasing of the problem (I would have immediately understood that the probabilities had to be equal if I had phrased it that way, but since I didn't, that insight was a little harder-earned). The question I was actually thinking of is as follows. Scenario A: You run 12 trials, then check whether your odds ratio reaches significance and report your results. Scenario B: You run trials until either your odds ratio reaches significance or you hit 12 trials, then report your results. I think scenario A is different from scenario B, and that's the one I was thinking of (it's the "run subjects until you hit significance or run out of funding" model). A new program confirms my intuition about the question I had been thinking of when I decided to test it. I agree with Eliezer that it shouldn't matter whether the researcher goes to a certain number of trials or a certain number of positive results, but I disagree with the implication that the same dataset always gives you the same information. The program is here [], you can fiddle with the parameters if you want to look at the result yourself. I did. It didn't indent properly. I tried again, and it still doesn't.
Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

On Lesswrong there's no real objection against reviving old posts, which I think is a good thing.

Your second point surprises me. As a rational vegan, the animal suffering is the direct reason I don't eat meat or eggs, via Alicorn's expected animal suffering hypothesis:

You will save an expected number of animals equal to the number of animals you don't eat that you would otherwise have eaten.

You seem to disagree about that, and after writing and deleting a full post, I think I understood where our differences came from, and wrote the new reply above.


... (read more)
Causality and Moral Responsibility

Am I responsible for my moral choices?

Is John in front of the burning orphanage responsible for his moral choices?
Also yes.

But can I be angry at John-1 if he runs away?
I find that I can't. Not when my anti-Correspondence bias-heuristics kick in, when I envision his situation, when I realize he is the product of a specific set of understandable environmental factors and psychological factors, which are the product of a specific combination of nature and nurture. Yes, some babies dying is John-1's fault. But John-1 is the "fault" of his upbring... (read more)

Learn A New Language!

As a Dutch person with a German girlfriend, I'm in both countries quite often. It's common knowledge in both countries that the Dutch are good at English, and it's common knowledge in Germany that the Germans are not very good at English. Apart from that, fully English courses, or just English lecture slides, are common in our exact sciences university. In Germany apparently not so much, although I don't have first hand experience.

Looking up actual numbers, this seems to be somewhat true. The English Language in Europe wikipedia page has a nice bar graph a... (read more)

Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

So your argument, if I understand it correctly, is this:

  1. Cheap meat comes from farms that treat their animals badly.
  2. More expensive meat comes from farms that treat their animals better.

Your conclusion is then that we shouldn't force farms into financial trouble, because then the second type turns into the first type due to needing to cut costs.

Here is my view of things:

  1. Farms that treat their animals badly are large, cost-efficiënt farms, solely focused on profit. The only reason their meat is cheap is because that's the optimal sales/price ratio.
  2. Far
... (read more)
0Morendil8yI'm going to tap out at this point. First, this subthread revives a conversation that died eighteen months ago. Second, I don't hold out much hope of its generating new insight. Last but not least, I started it [] out of curiosity, in order to obtain answers to specific questions about vegetarians' decision procedures; that's what I'm still interested in learning about, vs. defending my own (at the risk of coming up with weak rationalizations).
Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

Oh nice, I had never considered that! Thanks for this new conclusion that flows naturally from two of my beliefs: Brain size differences between species don't correlate strongly with intelligence differences*, and suffering is bad.

*It's mostly brain-to-body mass ratio that seems to correlate.
Within 1 species, there seems to be correlation.

Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

Possibly 1000 people swearing off pork would instead have the effect of driving that same farm to a ruthless cost-cutting program

Quite frankly, I don't think this argument makes sense. Meat factories are already ruthless cost-cutting programs, and hogs "complaints" are already not taken into account.

What you seem to be implying here is that if meat farming is bad, we should better give them money so they don't make it even worse.

1Morendil8yNot so far off the mark, I guess. You might call that a "fair trade meat" argument. I prefer to buy my meat at a local butcher's, where it's slightly more expensive but is sourced from a smallish factory 125km away; when I buy it at supermarket chain, my assumption is that the meat has traveled more miles and comes from a larger factory which treats animals worse. (The butcher advertises where the meat comes from, the supermarket doesn't.)
Feeling Rational

Whenever I notice myself thing "I knew that all along," it reminds me to check for hindsight bias. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

It's one of the easier biases to catch, once you have that cached pattern set up.

Cached Thoughts

Indeed, I was wondering about that. For more clarity: it's a reply to bw's collapsed comment. It's not nested since this article was moved from overcomingbias to here, and overcomingbias didn't have nested comments. You'll see that a lot in the sequences.

The Blue-Minimizing Robot

I've got pretty bad akrasia. I want to do things, but then I do other things. Intuitively, I feel like I'm me, and I'm in control.

Rationally, not so much. Rationally speaking the answer to "Am I in control?" depends a lot on how broad you define "I". Is my rational mind in control? No way. Is my brain as a whole in control? Yeah, mostly.

Do excuses automatically pop up when I avoid work? Definitely. "I wanted to relax." "I got distracted." "I hate working." Having some rationality allows me to see through th... (read more)

How to avoid dying in a car crash

I do the same thing. Ever since I did überman for a few months years ago, I've been able to powernap anywhere quite easily.

Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts

Eliezer Yudkowsky is worth more than one paperclip.

...even to a paper clip maximizer

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

Not quite the same scenario, but close: often when I'm considering donating to some charity, there's a reminder in the back of my head that if I were to truly support this charity I would donate a much larger amount. This isn't a happy thought, it generates conflict: there's another part of me that doesn't like spending large amounts of money. Thus, I often donate nothing at all.

I'm still working on this conflict.

The Implicit Association Test

I type colemak, but for the test I temporarily swapped back. The E and I are conveniently spaced out in QWERTY, and you only have to locate them once, as Nebu pointed out.