nancyhua

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Apptimize -- rationalist startup hiring engineers

you'd be a good contributor to our debates on company values

[Link] Inside the Cold, Calculating Mind of LessWrong?

People desire to quickly jump to the conclusion that the person they're talking to is not worth talking to

I think I especially have this problem on the internet. For me part of it is I can't see the person and my mental model for "random internet person" is a jerky male idiot so I assume this is who's talking if I disagree with the remark (if I agree, then my mental model shows a smart, nice person). This mental model has not been accurate so I've been trying to imagine these internet personalities as more normal humans so I don't end up saying something I wouldn't say in real life. Not to imply that I am always super charming in real life!

I think I generally got along well with nerds or artsy people but when I entered my teens and got increasingly judgmental I also became awkward and shy with people whose virtues weren't immediately obvious to me. If I thought you were smart or talented, we'd be friends right away, but if I thought you weren't, then I just had nothing to say. The set of people I judged to be worthy decreased to single digits for a few years- others seemed subhuman to me, which is ridiculous considering I was just a kid and didn't know anything about almost all the people I judged. Also, ignoring me was a sign of idiocy bc it should be obvious to intelligent people that I was awesome; thus it could be tricky to be judged positively by me.

I became a lot better adjusted as a result of nerd camps, gifted programs, and selective art classes, I think partly because I got used to assuming everyone around me was a real human being worth talking to. I'm getting better adjusted all the time, but I'm still judgmental. So, unlike Harry, I wasn't an alien to many people because I was smarter than them; I was an alien to many people because I was judgmental and egotistical. In fiction, judgmental people fear being judged themselves and have some gaping insecurity, which is more reason for me to try to not be that way.

If you're doing group projects, that sounds like you're not super alienated. In past group projects, sometimes one part of the group would say I was a great collaborator while the other part would say I had trouble communicating. I think this was because I highly favored the opinions of people I deemed cool, which was probably not someone less successful than me (normalizing somewhat for individual situations), and almost certainly not some random I'd never even met. Why try to win over people who "don't matter"? Is trying to have mass appeal being Slytherin, or is it just being more compassionate and empathetic, relating better with your fellow humans? Either way, I only recently decided to make an effort to be more like my one friend who absolutely everyone loves and respects. Everyone wants to work with him and likes him, whereas mainly nerds want to work with me. For a time, I thought that was what I wanted, but often you have to cooperate with people you wouldn't normally choose for your team (and vice versa), so even from a purely pragmatic perspective I am trying to not be alienated from anyone.

Instead of judging someone's perspective as boring, I'm trying to use my imagination to think about things from their perspective more, and also communicate my perspective more effectively even if I think it could be a waste of time. I also remind myself that many people more talented than me are still friends with me, so I should try to learn from them. I think my most effective form of communication is writing, which is suboptimal because most strangers don't want to read my lengthy musings, so I am trying to practice to communicate more effectively with all types of people in person. I should probably also practice writing with less words...

[Link] Inside the Cold, Calculating Mind of LessWrong?

Thanks for your reply, it makes me feel much better and I'm glad and impressed we're not annoyed at each other, especially considering I can also be easily annoyed. I think a lot of people can understand being alienated but I don't know what the rationalist solution is. For me, it was one of those things that was a feedback loop and thus really hard to get out of. That's part of why I like HPMOR- Harry is like an alien trying to make a single friend. In his case, he's alone because he's superior to everyone and thus can't rely on anyone else, which may be some cold comfort, but that wasn't exactly my situation...

[Link] Inside the Cold, Calculating Mind of LessWrong?

I had read the article extract included in the OP, didn't look at the link. The article itself says that lesswrongers were part of the data set but I didn't take this to mean this was about lesswrong in general.

What are the reasoning skills you identified as lacking in my comments? I clicked on all the links, certainly. The WSJ refers to the yourmorals and I had clicked on that but didn't think it was lesswrong because it's offsite and seems inaccessible. My information on the plurality being liberal/socialist is from a 2011 lesswrong census I read on this site, although I may be misremembering.

Is the point you're disagreeing with that calling libertarians "cold and calculating" does not equal calling lesswrongers this? I agree that it's calling a subset of lesswrongers "cold and calculating"- the libertarian subset.

I think to a certain audience I would describe myself as libertarian, although not to the lesswrong audience. My impression is that in general liberals are stereotyped as emotional, educated hippies whereas conservatives are stereotyped as selfish, stupid traditionalists. I had less idea what libertarians were stereotyped as, probably since there are less of them so people don't really bother.

I want to know if I'm being irrational, that's the whole point of this. But I'm unsure how to interpret your words or your tone. Is it a language thing, like you're saying specific libertarian lesswrongers were called cold and calculating but I'm saying lesswrong as a community is not called this? Maybe it's common for people to say things like this to each other, and I appreciate if you're trying to help me, but that's not how I'm left feeling after this interaction- maybe it'd be more helpful if you were more specific, just my impression- please don't interpret this as a plea for you to sink time into educating me or something, I guess unless you want to of your own volition.

Sorry if I somehow offended you in the first place. Maybe you're annoyed I didn't get your child/rapist example? I think I understood your point about people fearing the rapist more, but I don't see how it relates to the "cold and calculating" topic, unless you're suggesting the kid would not be called this. It can be hard to communicate tone via the internet and I'm new to all internet forums as of a few months ago so I'm not desensitized yet or accustomed to internet culture. I've already realized people often come off very differently online vs offline.

[Link] Inside the Cold, Calculating Mind of LessWrong?

I hadn't realized LessWrongers were being called cold and calculating. Despite Hanson writing some libertarian things, my impression was the plurality of lesswrongers subscribed to socialism or liberalism. Is this erroneous?

Does the description imply that the person thinks they are superior to or separate from other people? If I were worried about being described as cold and calculating, I think I'd try to show I cared about and could relate to normal people, despite being, in some ways, atypical. So if a libertarian, or anyone, were worried about being described this way, maybe they should think of ways to show they're not indifferent to the masses.

I think I agree with your remarks in general, although I'm not sure I understand what the kid/rapist example is saying. I'm getting the impression that "cold and calculating" means inhuman/monstrous, but also not like the animals, so maybe an impassive, evil robot monster.

[Link] Inside the Cold, Calculating Mind of LessWrong?

I agree, it's not a positive description. But looking on the upside...? Plus I was wondering if people realized or agreed that they were suggesting libertarians were smarter.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

The role model doesn't NEED to be anything, theoretically. In practice I think most people relate to others who are similar to them in some obvious way. It could also be a subtle thing, like I read about one saying people found anonymous strangers more likable after being told they shared a birthday. But this type of information is not as obvious as gender.

There exist people who defy all expectations to become whatever they were going to become and you feel it wouldn't've mattered if they'd been born in a hut in Siberia or a brownstone in NYC. But many people are not like this and conform to whatever expectations they feel like they should be living up (or down) to. Expectation is complicated and comes from many factors, a source of which is media and topics at the forefront of the popular psyche.

Race/gender are just some of the most immediate ways of identifying and stereotyping a person. A person might also identify more with someone from the same town, country, religion, etc.

For me, gender was probably a principle factor of who I befriended as a kid. This is much less true now that I've been surrounded by men for the past decade. In terms of role models, my impression is that many kids are more likely to aspire to be like a famous person who seems like them in some obvious way. Like part of why I chose to the play the piano and violin was because I saw those Chinese prodigies playing those instruments and my brain absorbed that as what I (as an aspiring awesome Chinese kid) was expected to do. Honestly playing the tuba or drums or flute didn't even cross my mind. Someone might argue I am naturally disinterested in non-violin/piano instruments, but I don't think that's true- I just chose an instrument to try it and it happened to be whatever I saw that small Chinese girl holding on the cover of that CD my mom had.

To clarify: I think there are a lot more arguments against affirmative action than for.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

I'm Nancy Hua. I was MIT 2007 and worked in NYC and Chicago in automated trading for 5 years after graduating with BS's in Math with CS (18C) and in Writing (21W).

Currently I am working on a startup in the technology space. We have funding and I am considering hiring someone.

I started reading Eliezer's posts on Overcoming Bias. In 2011, I met Eliezer, Robin Hanson, and a bunch of the NYC Lesswrongers. After years of passive consumption, very recently I started posting on lesswrong after meeting some lesswrongers at the 2012 Singularity Summit and events leading up to it, and after reading HPMOR and wanting to talk about it. I tried getting my normal friends to read it but found that making new friends who have already read it is more efficient.

Many of the writings regarding overcoming our biases and asking more questions appeal to me because I see many places where we could make better decisions. It's amazing how far we've come without being all that intelligent or deliberate, but I wonder how much more slack we have before our bad decisions prevent us from reaching the stars. I want to make more optimal decisions in my own life because I need every edge I can get to achieve some of my goals! Plus I believe understanding and accepting reality is important to our success, as individuals and as a species.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

If Ada Lovelace is the best example of a notable woman in computing 50 years from now, I will eat my hat.

It's obvious there are more notable men in STEM history than women. Thus a question that arises is if the notable women who do exist in STEM history are there because they're better than the men, having overcome despite discrimination, or if they're being retroactively singled out, a desperate lowering of the bar to identify SOME example.

However, this question of retroactive affirmative action is not the issue recognizing Ada Lovelace is trying to address. I don't know enough history to know if Lovelace is a worthy example, but I think it is important for people in general to identify with successful people similar to themselves so that they can imagine being like those people someday. Personally, I don't particularly need to look at someone's gender to identify with and be inspired by them. When an impoverished immigrant Jew like Einstein overcomes Nazis and scornful teachers and whatever else, I, despite being a Chinese woman from Pittsburgh, identify with his struggles and don't let people thinking I'm stupid because I'm smiley or shy or a woman or whatever deter me. However, many people do need role models to help them realize nascent interests in STEM subjects, especially if the peer group they identify with are not typically interested in those topics. For most, it's easier and more enjoyable to hang out with your friends doing girl things than go off on your own to explore programming or science in a room full of boys who ignore you.

Regardless of innate or learned differences in men and women, by far the first factor in this result for past populations is the number of men in STEM vs women historically, which is why the present is such an exciting time for women in STEM- there are a lot more females in STEM now! There may well be more notable women in STEM in our lifetimes than have ever existed. This idea inspires and motivates me to become one of them!

Do some men find posts singling out notable women offensive/ annoying because they think elevating a perhaps undeserving woman is unfair to all the deserving men? The suggestion of discrimination and affirmative action towards one set often upsets people in the complement of that set because humans have a strong instinct for fairness and hate injustice. Affirmative action is unfair to people who had nothing to do with past injustices, even if they're benefiting from them, so I sympathize with the negative comments, although I don't know whether two wrongs make a right in practice. My hope that we will soon have a bevy of women undeniably worthy of recognition and honor in STEM history.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

I'd like to see the GPA, LSAT, and SAT citations. Would the suggestion that the GPA thing, if accurate, might be due to young girls being more conscientious and mature than young boys offend men?

I agree with many of the things you're saying about affirmative action, about it hurting its recipients more than helping them, on average. The main argument that I can think of in support of affirmative action is that I do think it's common for young children to need role models to have an imagination about what their interests and potential futures might be. For example, I bet Obama's fame will inspire more black people to become lawyers or politicians. Some children do not need role models to want to do something- they see a machine or a performance and are immediately fascinated- but most people are not like this and do whatever they see the people they identify with are doing.

Fame (especially in science and technology) often has as much to do with eccentric personality and unique personal story than intelligence and achievement. In Curie's case the fact that she got radiation poisoning probably contributed to her fame today. This is a separate issue from if she was being affirmative-actioned up.

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