All of Nectanebo's Comments + Replies

Stupid Questions (10/27/2014)

Thanks for the detailed response. The link was very good, too.

Stupid Questions (10/27/2014)

Index funds have been recommended on LW before. I have a hard time understanding how it would work investing in one, though. Do you actually own the separate stocks on the index of the index fund, or do you technically own something else? Where does the dividend money go?

Anyone know how much this is applicable to the UK?

There are two typical ways to invest in an index fund, plus one way that isn't.

  1. Buy a mutual fund that mimics the index you want to buy. You technically own shares in the mutual fund, which is an undivided right to a tiny percent of the whole pool. To get your money out, you have to redeem your shares, which happens at the fair market value. (It used to be that redemptions happened at fair market value at market closing price; I don't know if that is still true.) To fund redemptions, the fund has to keep some cash on hand, so some small percent of your mo

... (read more)

(I'd be remiss if I didn't link this Mr. Money Mustache post on index funds that explains why they are a good idea)

To buy an index fund, you buy shares of a mutual fund. That mutual fund invests in every stock in the chosen index, balanced based on whatever criteria they choose. Each share of the mutual fund is worth a portion of the underlying investment. At no point do you own separate stocks - you own shares of the fund, instead.

Toy example: You have an index fund that invests in every stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The fund invests in... (read more)

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Took the survey. I always feel like I did the last one only recently.

Open thread, September 8-14, 2014

One of the better AMAs I've read.

Peter is an interesting guy. Is his book worth reading?

I read/scanned the predecessor of that book, the transcripts [] of his Stanford classes where he taught one course. They were quite interesting and worth reading.
Open thread, September 8-14, 2014

If their ideas of friendliness are incompatible with each other, perhaps a conflict? Superintelligent war? It may be the case that one will be 'stronger' than the other, and that there will be a winner-take-all(-of-the-universe?) resolution?

If there is some compatibility, perhaps a merge, a la Three Worlds Collide?

Or maybe they co-operate, try not to interfere with each other? This would be more unlikely if they are in competition for something or other (matter?), but more likely if they have difficulties assessing risks to not co-operating, or if there is... (read more)

Oh, sure, it's much more of a flight-of-fantasy question than a realistic one. An invitation to consider the tactical benefits of bombarding galaxies with black holes accelerated to a high fraction of c, maybe X-D But the original impetus was the curiosity about the status of intelligent aliens for a FAI mathematically proven to be friendly to humans.
Another type of intelligence explosion

Isn't this kind of thing a subset of the design space of minds post? Like, we don't know exactly what kind of intelligence could end up exploding and there are lots of different possible variations?

Open thread, 11-17 August 2014

Apart from the fact that they wouldn't say anything (because generally animals can't speak our languages ;)), nature can be pretty bloody brutal. There are plenty of situations in which our species' existence has made the lives of other animals much better than they would otherwise be. I'm thinking of veterinary clinics that often perform work on wild animals, pets that don't have to be worried about predation, that kind of thing. Also I think there are probably a lot of species that have done alright for themselves since humans showed up, animals like cro... (read more)

Never thought of it this way. Guess in the long term it makes sense. So far, though...
Six Plausible Meta-Ethical Alternatives

Yeah, I was thinking of Goertzel as well.

So you don't think MIRI's work is all that useful? What probability would you assign to hard-takeoff happening of the speed they're worried about?

Indistinguishable from zero, at least with current levels of technology. The mind is an immensely complex machine capable of processing information orders of magnitude faster than the largest HPC clusters. Why should we expect an early dumb intelligence running on mediocre hardware to recursively self-improve so quickly? The burden of proof rests with MIRI, I believe. (And I'm still waiting.)
Six Plausible Meta-Ethical Alternatives

So is this is roughly one aspect of why MIRI's position on AI safety concerns are different to similar parties? - that they're generally more sympathetic to possibilities futher away from 1 than their peers? I don't really know, but that's what the pebblesorters/value-is-fragile strain of thinking seems to suggest for me.

That's one reason. As an example, Goertzel seems to fall somewhat in (1) with his cosmist manifesto. But more importantly I think are issues of hard takeoff timeline and AGI design. The mainstream opinion, I think, is that a hard-takeoff would take years at the minimum, and there would be both sufficient time to recognize what is going on and to stop the experiment. Also MIRI seems for some reason to threat-model its AGI's as some sort of perfectly rational alien utility-maximizer, whereas real AGIs are implemented with all sorts of heuristic tricks that actually do a better job of emulating the quirky way humans think. Combined with the slow takeoff, projects like OpenCog intend to teach robot children in a preschool like environment, thereby value-loading them in the same way that we value-load our children.
January 2014 Media Thread

All the more reason to try to only consume finished works.

I agree with the sentiment because it's frustrating not being able to complete something right away, but with AnH I really did enjoy following it month by month. I think that some pieces of entertainment are suited to that style of consumption and are fun to follow, even if they don't turn out to be very good in the end and aren't worth it for those who would go back and consume it all at once.

August 2014 Media Thread

I really liked it. I think it's one of the best pieces of fiction I've ever read, I genuinely feel that strongly about it.

Can't wait for whatever you write next.

August 2014 Media Thread

The Metropolitan Man is finally complete. If you still haven't read it and you're on this site, I recommend you do. You likely won't regret it.

This story was recommended in the last two media threads:



I was impressed by the characterizations, especially Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman, but did Lex ever consider the possibility that trying to kill Superman might increase the risk of Superman becoming inimical to the human race?
Thanks for the recommendation - those always make me happy. :)
I second this recommendation.
Will AGI surprise the world?

policy-makers and research funders will begin to respond to the AGI safety challenge, just like they began to respond to... synbio developments in the 2010s.

What are we referring to here? As in, what synbio developments and how did they respond to it?

Strawman Yourself

I'm going to need some more examples, this sounds like it could be something but I'm not seeing how I could actually apply the concept to a situation.

As I read it this is an instance of or very closely related to taking the outside view though not by reflecting on how a neutral observer would see your thoughts but by ridiculing yourself.

For example I extended stereotypes about behaviour to myself: Of course you only need to use big words if your whole argument is to confuse the partner. Which made me realise that I use big words too much in everyday speech. Obviously the quality of an argument is independent of its presentation yet still the presentation matters.

Another example is when I wanted to chang... (read more)

May 2014 Media Thread

I watched Shiki recently. I have no idea what I was doing to miss it back when it was airing in 2010, but I'm glad I eventually got to it. The quality of writing is unusually good for an anime, and I think it touches on a bunch of lw-relevant themes which is why I'm mentioning it here. I would hate to spoil anything for anyone so I won't go into any details, but I definitely recommend a watch.

Some things you might be glad to be forewarned of before starting: a common complaint appears to be that this show has a slow start, so being aware of this might help... (read more)

It's worth mentioning that this show is quite violent. In particular there's the brutal onscreen killing of a tied-up woman by a mostly-sympathetic male character, which some people I know took issue with. (I enjoyed the show and would also recommend it but figure this aspect is worth mentioning)
The Extended Living-Forever Strategy-Space

I thought this was a wonderful post. Funny, made a bunch of lw-relevant points, and was informative in a summatory way on a particular topic. The story wasn't that great, but I guess the post as a whole worked, so maybe I'm not giving it enough credit as an important set-up piece.

It's a shame, but none of the extended strategies appeal to me very much, including for many reasons other than how dubiously viable they sounded. Then again, I'm not yet signed up for cryonics either, so that suggests I'm not as into revival strategies so much as a whole. I did ... (read more)

Open thread, 21-27 April 2014

What would you consider the "very basics"?

there are a lot of misconceptions in this regard.

What are some of the most blatant? Sorry to ask a question so similar to Squark's.

Irrationality Game III

That is not my understanding.

Vote up if you think they are either overconfident or underconfident in their belief: any disagreement is valid disagreement.

Irrationality Game III

I upvoted, mostly because of how low the estimate of the second claim was. I'm a bit more confident than that. The other factor was the "human-enough-way" phrasing.

It was a little difficult to choose how to vote because you put two fairly distinct claims in one post.

My understanding is that if your probability estimate is higher than the one given, you're supposed to downvote.
AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything

Many believe that the anime is a poor adaptation of the manga, or at the very least that the manga is the best medium the story is told in. What do you think about the subject?

I don't generally get on with manga as a medium. I tried to read this particular one and gave up after about three chapters. So depending on your perspective either I can't compare the two, or I found the anime to be much, much better.
We need new humans, please help

Instead of having children as a pseudo-solution to aging and death, wouldn't it make a lot more sense to work on solving those problems much more directly via research or earning-to-give to organizations doing research? From this perspective, having children is actually explicitly wasteful due to this clear opportunity cost of valuable time, money and effort, not to mention also very defeatist.

If you expect anti-aging technology to be so near that no more new humans at all are necessary for civilization to continue, then yes.
[LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist

Let's play the money as dead children game for a bit. Now, when the article was written you could plausibly save 1life for about $1000, but these days I think the number is a bit higher. Let's say $10000 just to be safe.

Essentially, you're saying that you would sacrifice the lives of 100 people in order to avoid a brief homosexual experience, using basic consequentialism. Perhaps you won't change your mind even when thinking about the proposition from this perspective, but I know personally it would be too difficult ethically for me to refuse.

It doesn't ... (read more)

I think he's questioning your claim about "most people", not whether that claim applies to himself, which I think he has already admitted.
January 2014 Media Thread

I began reading the manga on the recommendation of a friend before the first episode of the anime adaptation aired but after the promising PV for it dropped. I keenly remember not enjoying the plot at all to begin with, and the art is initially horrible, probably even worse than the rotoscoping in the anime.

I persevered with it, however, since this particular friend is yet to supply me with a poor rec, and gradually, the art has become quite pretty, and the story has also developed into an entertaining rollercoaster of events and emotion. I think it impro... (read more)

All the more reason to try to only consume finished works. In-progress recommendations are treacherous.
2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I took the survey, and look forward to the results.

Open Thread, November 15-22, 2013

I have the same problem, although I don't think it's ever returned anything for me.

Less Wrong’s political bias

And humans, even lesswrong readers, are all varying degrees of irrational. Therefore understanding the distribution of political affiliation of people that use the site is a significant step towards understanding the site's bias.

It may be evidence, but it still leaves as an open question whether political affilitations are slanted as a result of greater rationality or a political bias. Without some sort of controlled experiment this would be hard to tell. If they aren't slanted, it either means that what we discuss is not related to politics (implausible) or that Lesswrong doesn't have an impact on such matters.
Less Wrong’s political bias

Well, there's a Lesswrong census every year, and that includes questions on political affiliation.

link to 2012 results

Other than that, I'm not sure how you would measure political bias.

I'm not sure how to measure it, either-- hence my pledge of karma for whoever figures it out. :)
Bias is something different than having a political affiliation. Bias means that you make are irrational in some way.
Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013

Personally, I haven't really thought of it. Might be an angle worth looking at the product from, you're right.

I haven't really been following their progress or anything, so I don't know, but it's possible they've touched on it at some point before. You could dig around on the soylent forum or even start the topic yourself if you really felt like it. I think the creators of the product are reasonably active on there.

Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013

Rice Protein, it seems.

Relevant blog posts:

Previously the only factor preventing Soylent from being vegan was the use of whey protein. Whey is attractive due to its high absorption rate and complete amino acid profile, granting it a perfect PDCAAS score of 1.0. However, it is an animal product, some whey proteins can trigger allergic responses, and concerns were raised over the potential presence of lactose.

To allay these issues we have switched to a rice protein isolate / pea protein isolate blend. Rice protein is mostly complete except for a lack of L

... (read more)
Thanks for the info. While I suppose this is an improvement, I wonder about the scalability of this approach and the impact on the environment. Rice doesn't exactly produce that much protein per acre of land. I'll have to look at the numbers though. I also wonder where they're sourcing Lysine from.
Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013

It doesn't use whey for protein any more. Apparently the only issue for veganism (and vegetarianism) at the moment is fish oil for Omega 3s.

I didn't know that. What does it use instead of whey?
Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013

I was thinking recently that if soylent kicks something off and 'food replacement' -type things become a big deal, it could have a massive side effect of putting a lot of people onto diets with heavily reduced animal and animal product content. Its possible success could inadvertently be a huge boon for animals and animal activists.

Personally, I'm somewhat sympathetic towards veganism for ethical reasons, but the combination of trivial inconvenience and lack of effect I can have as an individual has prevented me from pursuing such a diet. Soylent would al... (read more)

Have you/they thought about other environmental implications? Processing everything down to simple nutrients to make the drink doesn't sound very energy efficient. Might compete with eating meat, but definately not with veganism. I like my meat, btw.
I anticipate artificial meat having a much bigger impact than meal-replacement products. I anticipate that demand for soylent-like meal replacement products among the technophile cluster will peak within the next three years, and will wager $75 to someone's $100 that this is the case if someone can come up with a well-defined metric for checking this.
One of the primary ingredients of soylent is whey protein, which is produced from cow's milk. It is not a vegan product. Whey is a byproduct of cheesemaking, which is why it is currently relatively inexpensive. If people started consuming whey protein en masse, it would shift the economics of whey production and dairy cow breeding in potentially highly unfavorable directions for both the cows and the soylent enthusiasts (because it would become more expensive). Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any viable alternative to whey at this point (if there was, they'd use that, but there isn't).
Note that the individual impact you can have by being a vegetarian is actually pretty big [] . Sure, it's small in terms of _percentage_of the problem, but that's the wrong way to measure effect. If you saw a kid tied to railroad tracks, you wouldn't leave them there on account of all the children killed by other causes every day.
Rationality Quotes October 2013

I read that whole quote twice through and even thought about it for a few minutes as well, but I have no idea what I'm supposed to get out of it. Could anyone help me out?

"Clear communication is good"?
Writing for the general public is hard. Intrinsic motivation matters.
October 2013 Media Thread

I read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley the other day. It was pretty good, better than most 'classics' I've read. I probably liked it better than Nineteen Eighty-four as well, which it's often compared to.

I found out later that Nick Bostrom explicitly used it as an example in some of his Existential Risk related writings, like this one, specifically, to illustrate what the 'singleton' or stable oppressive world government kind of existential risk may look like. If you aren't too worried that you might generalize from fictional evidence, I'd say it's worth ... (read more)

I've previously pointed out that the BNW scenario is similar to many "eutopia" descriptions I've seen proposed by LWers.
Writing quality aside, I wouldn't say Brave New World is more or less accurate than 1984. The former is an accurate first-world dystopia, the latter is an accurate second-world dystopia. (While Huxley was living in Hollywood, Orwell was fighting in the Spanish civil war for the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification.) It's a nice coincidence that both are set in London.
Rationality Quotes September 2013

Ideally, it would be nice if the world can move towards caring about the full outcome over factors like the satisfication of baseline levels of effort in more and more situations, not just exceptional ones.

Why aren't there more forum-blogs like LW?

Nor does it have good moderation.

I don't think this is accurate as a blanket statement, since moderation quality and policy differs between subreddit to subreddit, with significant variation.

More "Stupid" Questions

I've also been having a few very similar worries. In relation to them, I've come up with plenty of half-formed ideas for solutions or potential ways around it, like the possible need to downgrade to current levels of intelligence temporarily to be able to enjoy current-era stories.

Here's the thing though: will there be much point in engaging in such activities? Perhaps we go through some kind of massive intelligence boost, and our current modes of fiction suddenly seem so outdated, simplistic and as you say, banal. Perhaps they will only seem that way com... (read more)

Mortal: A Transponyist Fanfiction

I started reading and realised I didn't understand a lot of the things that were going on so I went back and finished season 3 which I had stopped following about midway through. I now realise that that probably wasn't necessary, and I could have read it with just the context of knowing that Twilight go turned into an alicorn, since all the other references were mostly events made up by the author or from season 1 and 2.

The comments were predictably deathist when lesswrongers get taken out of the picture, although it does appear that fiction like this wor... (read more)

Demographics. Fans of LW and fans of MLP both tend to be males ages 18-35 who spend a lot of time on the internet.
[SEQ RERUN] The Baby-Eating Aliens (1/8)

I really enjoyed reading Three Worlds Collide back when I was first exposed to LessWrong, it's still one of those pieces of writing I often end up recommending to people. It tends to be received fairly well.

Me too, but the part with legal rape doesn't always go over so well.
2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Took the survey. Feels like I only very recently took the last one.

Good transhumanist fiction?

This conversation sounds a little bit to me like the conversation in disputing definitions.

Taboo transhumanism or something, perhaps? I think that these superheroes count as significant positive change at least, one of the things NancyLebovitz described in the title post.

Sure. I think we just have different definitions of the term. Not much to be gained here.
Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable

Just realise that the overwhelming majority of people who go to gods or saints with diseases like this don't get cured in this manner; what about them? What does that say about the effectiveness of miracles?

There are plenty of situations that could have resulted in her getting better. Something to do with the travel, or perhaps the treatments started working, or perhaps for reasons current medicine doesn't know. Apparently, according to wikipedia we don't even know what the cause of lymphadema is. It could have been something she ate, who cares? People see... (read more)

r/HPMOR on heroic responsibility

A lot of the comments take a very consequentialist point of view, and they explain themselves fairly well, which is good.

Perhaps it is because I've seen many really bad reddit comments before (even in subreddits relating to fields usually sympathetic to rationalist ideals) and what I'm seeing here is of a different standard, but I find myself hoping to some extent that some of the people commenting here were idiots before reading HPMOR, and that somehow they became more insightful and eloquent as a result of being exposed to the fic and related content.

I think I might recommend the fic to some more people...

Thinking back, I'm almost certain that the way I was introduced to Less Wrong was through HPMOR. The long gaps between updates encouraged me to start reading the sequences, even. It's probably the most effective recruiting tool for rationality in the world as of now.
At least for myself , I first heard of Eliezer via the HPMOR TV Tropes page. There's a good chance I would have read the sequences sooner or later even if I hadn't (my brother found them independently and recommended them), but it definitely helped. And I wouldn't say I was an idiot before, but twenty minutes of conversation with myself from a couple years ago might change my mind. And of course it's hard to tell how much of the difference is LW's influence and how much is just a matter of being older and wiser.
I think many of them are secretly (not secretly) LW readers :P
Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences)

The post you replied to is helpful advice for doing just that.

Above all, don't ask what to believe—ask what to anticipate.

When what you specifically anticipate doesn't line up with what happens, that's discovering a possible erroneuos belief.

Singularity Institute - mainstream media exposure in Australia

I think it's possible that some of the comments have come from people already interested in the singularity coming to the article having been linked to it from various places, as you have done.

But it's good to see some more people thinking it's possible, in any case.

Challenge: change someone's mind

Beware of other optimising was a sequence article that this post reminded me of.

In cases like this, focusing on yourself first is a good idea. If you're a rational person and you're also a very successful person in all of your endeavours, as well as a supernice guy, people will be much more likely to swayed by what you say, moreso than cool arguments or whatever. At least they may tie the idea of rationality and success in life together in their heads.

For what it's worth though, my advice is not to force any of it. After speaking with me on the topic, a f... (read more) A "landing page" for scientific naturalism

The rest of the video made me kind of uncomfortable, though, because ... you keep saying "worldview naturalism" where anyone else would have said "the naturalistic worldview" or just "naturalism".

Seconded, that felt unnatural and kinda irked me.

Links about naturalism

I think that having a site on this topic could be a good idea. We know the sanity waterline is low, so it might be very useful to have somewhere to direct people who might be interested in naturalistic points of view.

However, will that be its only use? Facing the Singularity took some work, is that getting much traffic? I'm just wondering, after creating this and putting the work in, will it get used? Who is the site targeting?

I'll try to think of some links also.

Edit: it might be way too specific as a topic to go on the site, but when it comes to death I really feel like you can't go past the Fable of the Dragon Tyrant.

Have you changed your mind lately? On what?

The kinds of writing produced based on 'praxeology', by people like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, I have changed my mind to think as being not very reliable. I don't think that the arguments put forth by these Austrian Economists trying to justify when they reject empiricism and make weird assumptions are very good. This actually hurts a sizable amount of writing by these people, most of which I haven't read but any that I did end up having believed I now place very little trust in. The wikipedia synopsis of one of Mises' works should give you a fa... (read more)

Austrian-minded people definitely have some pretty crazy methods, but their economic conclusions seem pretty sound to me. The problem arises when they apply their crazy methods to areas other than economics (see any libertarian theory of ethics. Crazy stuff)
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