All of Nymogenous's Comments + Replies

[LINK] Antidepressants: Bad Drugs... Or Bad Patients?

This is especially true for antidepressants because some are only effective on more severe cases (eg Zoloft); self-selection will yield a body of faux-depressed and mildly depressed people on whom the drug has no result.

EDIT: Apparently I was thinking of a different drug.

0calamondin10yZoloft has [] actually been [] found to be one of the better drugs for cases of mild chronic depression ("dysthymia").
[LINK] Antidepressants: Bad Drugs... Or Bad Patients?

This is especially true for antidepressants because some are only effective on more severe cases (eg Zoloft); self-selection will yield a body of faux-depressed and mildly depressed people on whom the drug has no result.

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The bias shield

I feel like it may have even obscured the point...I spent more time wading through the math than I did thinking about the bias shield effect. Since it didn't really clarify anything, it came across as some kind of signalling...not sure if that's what it was, but it's certainly what it looks like.

Oh, I don't think it's signalling, I just think Phil really likes math :-)

Details of lab-made bird flu won't be revealed [link]

That must be why underinformed nuclear programs require so little testing to develop a functional warhead. Oh, wait...

[Link] Correlation Graphs Reveal Shocking Information

LW needs a (Funny) tag like Slashdot. I'm saving this for future use in dispelling the correlation/causation fallacy.

Details of lab-made bird flu won't be revealed [link]

This seems like a sensible decision to me, comparable to the practice of withholding certain details about the technology used to make nuclear weaponry. No sense making it easy to duplicate hazardous research!

-4[anonymous]10y80% of a secret is knowing that it exists. []
Just another day in utopia

Well no, but an AI could figure things out and then not tell the physicists. Same thing as when you let a kid take apart a toaster to find out how it works instead of just telling them...or was that only my parents that did that?

8Armok_GoB10yI got the impression that was what happened to the fields that WEREN'T left for humans, and that the humans wanted to genuinely be the first to know X rather than just having the experience of discovering it, or believe so falsely.
Just another day in utopia

Excellent story! I second the idea that this belongs in Main.

Also, I particularly liked your idea of physics being left to humans so as not to spoil the fun. It's both an unusual idea and one of my personal requirements for a utopia...spoilers are so boring.

Unfortunately, the physics can't be left to humans - it is too important. I am not sure if it's too difficult also, but it is surely too important.

The Magician: A Reductionist's Allegory

A lot of of events, like lightning and the origin of species, were once mysterious magic tricks, but now have been fully explained by naturalism.

Minor nitpick, but neither of those phenomena is fully explainable by naturalism yet. Last I checked there was still a good deal of debate about the rate at which evolution occurs and how gradual it is, and no physicist I've talked to is sure why lightning generates antimatter

Perhaps a better example would be something better-understood, like rain or magnetism.

EDIT: I found an unrelated, but nonetheless cool ar... (read more)

Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

Ron Paul has stated opposition to the act in the past, but I've been unable to find any evidence of recent activity on his part, so I classed him as a non-active opponent of the bill. I seem to remember there being a whopping ten representatives signing an anti-SOPA pledge a while back, which is probably a decent estimate of how many representatives oppose the bill (certainly it would indicate a supermajority in favor of the bill).

Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

I'm under the impression that both support and opposition to SOPA come from people on both the left and the right

At my last count, there were five representatives actively opposing SOPA (Representatives Issa, Polis, Chaffetz, Lofgren, and Jackson, with roughly equal representation from both parties). Also worthy of note: Congresspersons have repeatedly (and sometimes proudly) admitted to knowing nothing about the internet, and yet refuse to allow experts to come in and speak.

1RobertLumley10yReally? I'm kind of surprised Paul hasn't taken up this banner. Maybe he's busy with that whole "presidential campaign" business. I hear it's time consuming.
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

Most likely because last time a takedown case went to them, they ruled that it was a violation of the First Amendment to take down some unrelated content (stuff on the same IP block if I recall) while shutting down a child pornography website. People hate pedophiles even more than media pirates, as a rule, so I'd guess they'd rule in favor of free speech here as well.

2Multiheaded10yThis. Also, a court is competitive, with evidence for both sides etc, while there's no such thing as "counter-lobbying" in the Congress.
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

Block Freenet servers? AFAIK Freenet doesn't have servers to block, and the authorities have (to date) had serious problems tracking its use.

Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

If one person knows about it they can tell anyone else who's interested. Tools like Freenet are reportedly very popular in China, since people just pass them to their friends and they're easy to use; I believe there are already Firefox extensions that allow the easy use of an alternate/extended DNS list, so those will likely be passed around in the same way.

1Bugmaster10yYes, and then what ? Freenet servers can (and, AFAIK, routinely are) be blocked by IP. Protocol analysis tools can (and again, AFAIK, already are) used to block undesirable packets regardless of IP. Perhaps more importantly, any person who is using a tool like Tor or Freenet is exposing himself to a serious risk of prosecution, incarceration, or, in extreme cases, execution. This is a risk that most people simply wouldn't be willing to take.
7DanArmak10yThe homepages of those Firefox extensions will be killed using SOPA. The main Firefox extension site hosted by Mozilla will be forced via SOPA threats to delist the extensions. Individual developers, if known, will be prosecuted with nuisance lawsuits. Even putting all that aside, distributing a list of "patches" to DNS begs the question of who can update those patches and how do we know to trust them, resolution of competing lists, spam, etc. But more importantly than all that - most takedown requests may not target small sites with their own DNS names at all, but rather be targeted at huge sites like youtube and facebook, threatening SOPA action to force them to remove individual pages and content. Like a super-DMCA. No alternate DNS patchlist or Freenet-like tool will solve that because the content will be actually gone. And Freenet (I2P, Tor, etc etc) are not answers because this is mostly about removing media rich content or content that is accessed by many people, and those services can't effectively host something that requires a lot of bandwidth.
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

I don't. It'll probably pop up in another nation in response to being censored by the US.

EDIT: Or did you think I was referring to the RIAA putting up an alternate DNS network? Because they're not, they're going to be censoring the globally-used one.

2Bugmaster10yOk, and how will users here in the US learn about this network, and gain reliable access to it ? There will always exist some tech-savvy and reckless people who will find a way to communicate freely no matter what -- they exist even in China and Iran, today -- but I fully expect them to be a negligible minority.
Ritual Report: NYC Less Wrong Solstice Celebration

Okay, I know it's a low-status signal to appear to be celebrating religious holidays on LW, but just admit it was a holiday party for LWers. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you recognize that the pagan holidays are founded on incorrect ideas.The verbal gymnastics in your first paragraph are seriously painful to read.

2Raemon10yI honestly wasn't trying to hide the fact that it was a holiday party - but one of my strongest motivations was that many people don't understand that a "real" holiday party (where you actual sing carols and stuff) is something that real people actually do, and which is awesome. There is genuinely less information in the phrase "The NYC Less Wrong group had a holiday party," than: "Approximately twenty of us gathered for dinner and a night of ritual. We sang songs, told stories, and recited litanies. The night celebrated ancient astronomers, and the work that humanity has done for the past 5000 years. It paid tribute to the harshness of the universe, respecting it as worthy opponent. We explored Lovecraftian mythology, which intersects with our beliefs in interesting ways." That said, the awkward phrasing of "well it wasn't really Solstice so it was Solstice 6Eve" is pretty bad. I'll just scrap that because it's not actually important. If you have other specific advice on how to rephrase some things, let me know.
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

What about international effects? To my knowledge all the main DNS servers are located in the US, meaning that SOPA will apply to internet users in all countries...seems like other governments might take exception to that.

8Bugmaster10yThey might, but I predict that they won't. After all, the Swedish government was perfectly willing to take orders directly from the MPAA [] once; why wouldn't they do it again ? In addition, there are several trade agreements in place, such as ACTA [], between the US and other nations; these agreements were crafted by the entertainment industry just as SOPA was, and work along the same lines. Even the relatively liberal Canada has implemented copyright policies that are similar to ours. All in all, I fully expect the international community to follow the US leadership on this subject.
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

Ah, thanks, I'll update my post accordingly. Not having done a lot of work with online things, how essential is DNSSEC to day-to-day internet use?

6DanArmak10yNot really, but giving up on it will make a lot of people very sad. It provides (or can one day provide) a lot of security of various kinds that we don't have right now. That said, the kinds of threats DNSSEC is designed to mitigate may not be all that much worse than SOPA.
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

Ah, I hadn't seen that article. I'll edit my post accordingly. Thanks for the correction!

Visual Map of US LW-ers

Even better would be to have the option to attach a zipcode to your account, so that people can check where you live, and so that you can manage your information easily if you change locations (or want to obfuscate your location by repeatedly altering it, since I know some people will want to do that). Additionally this would allow implementation of location-specific actions (eg, you get an email if a nearby meetup is announced), which could be very convenient.

1Dorikka10yUnder 'Preferences', you can enter a location on your profile, so you could put your zipcode there (I just did). The downside is that this isn't searchable, so it'd be hard to compile location-specific e-mail lists from that. Another option is to create a Wiki page with the usernames and zipcodes of anyone who'd like to disclose them -- that way, you'd just need to PM the relevant people to get e-mail addresses to start an e-mail group.
0daenerys10yThis is a great idea! But I am wary of anything that involves too much work changing the LW website. Mainly because, as far as I can tell, except for minor fixes, no one's really bothered getting the LW interface to a decent standard. People are happy to suggest changes, but very few are willing or able to implement them. In reality, though, IMO It really needs a complete overhaul, but I doubt anyone is going to take on the responsibility. (If anyone DOES want to, let me know. My graduate studies were in interface design and usability, and I'd be happy to help with the layout and navigation. I just can't do the actual work of coding and developing and all the useful stuff) In other words, great idea, but I doubt it will ever get done. (But I;m upvoting the idea anyways, because I hope it does!)
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

Fair point, I should have been more specific. Maybe "An alternate DNS server that's unlikely to block things without at least a court order"

9DanArmak10yYou can't use an alternate DNS server (that actually returns replies different from the official server) without breaking DNSSEC [].
[SEQ RERUN] Absolute Authority

Yeah, it does tend to lend sort of a cultish feel to the whole thing...I think Eliezer knows this, but underestimates how strongly people react to it. Remember, the general population is composed of the kind of people who think that dinosaurs and humans coexisted and don't know what a year is (or at least the general population in the US, I haven't seen similar studies from other areas). Don't expect them to be able to detect irony (if they even know that irony isn't an adjective relating to iron).

Presents for impoving rationality or reducing superstition?

If you're not afraid of the possibility of offending someone, I'd suggest giving them a cheap gift (in addition to an actual thoughtful one) that gently mocks their favorite superstition. For instance, one year I got my Korean friend a cheap electric fan with no turn-off timer on it (a reference to the popular Korean belief in fan death). She was annoyed but somewhat amused, and has since discarded that particular belief.

EDIT: A personal favorite is The [blank] of [blank] by means of natural [blank] or the [blank] of favoured [blank] in the struggle for li... (read more)

Visual Map of US LW-ers

Or a permanent link somewhere, some kind of "where are we?" button.

3daenerys10yIf this was turned into a permanent link, I think it might be worthwhile to start over with a poll that leaves the option of putting your LW name attached to your location. Even better, if you could hover over/click on a plot point, and have their name pop up. For example, instead of just knowing that there are 2 people located within driving distance, you could know that Person A and Person B were within driving distance.
Visual Map of US LW-ers

I know of several programs that can query a database in real time (eg, Tableau), but am not aware of any free versions. Given a database of US zipcodes and their coordinates and a database of LW poll responses, I'm sure it would be trivial for me to write a program that makes a list of occupied zipcodes, their locations, and how many people are at each one. Presumably then it would be possible to draw a map or feed the data to Google Maps...I'm not much of a hand at web stuff so I'm not sure about that.

1novalis10yYou can make feed Google Maps a set of latitude/longitude points trivially using KML []. Just type the URL of your KML file into the search field on google maps, and it'll show up. To geocode zip codes (convert them to lat/lon pairs), you can hit []
Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it?

So I know we're not supposed to get into this on LW (politics, minds, death, etc), but I figure opposing the censorship of the internet is alright to do.

Is it possible to project likely consequences of this legislation's being passed? What are those consequences?

Based on the entertainment industry's typical behavior (eg, issuing a takedown notice to YouTube over a song supporting piracy that they did not own the rights to), I'd expect mass takedowns of all sorts of things as soon as the legislation passes. Possibly a full shutdown of YouTube, megaUploa... (read more)

I'd expect mass takedowns of all sorts of things as soon as the legislation passes. Possibly a full shutdown of YouTube, megaUpload, and other sites deemed to be "encouraging piracy", but I wouldn't offer strong odds on that.

SOPA will become US law and either Youtube or Megaupload will be shutdown.

Additionally, you can expect other nations to get sick of random things being pulled from the DNS registries (basically huge lookup tables that tell your computer what to do with things like ""; changing these to a "

... (read more)
3Bugmaster10yI find it unlikely that any kind of an alternative DNS network will be allowed to exist for very long, unless such network fully conforms to US laws (and maybe not even then). There's no such network in China, for example; why do you think we'll have one here in the US ?
6khafra10yThe guy who runs OpenDNS says he won't [] fight SOPA.
1thomblake10yI already use an alternate DNS server since my service provider (AT&T Uverse) seems to be messing with the results.
Q&A with Michael Littman on risks from AI

Does anyone know what the largest amount of money wagered on this question is?

EDIT: I'm aware of a few bets on specific claimed proofs, but have not been able to find any bets on the general question that exceed a few hundred dollars (unless you count the million-dollar prizes various institutes are offering).

7XiXiDu10yDon't know, but Scott Aaronson once bet $200,000 [] on a proof being wrong. He wrote:
Q&A with Michael Littman on risks from AI

No, I don't think it's possible. I mean, seriously, humans aren't even provably friendly to us and we have thousands of years of practice negotiating with them.

Not sure this is a fair comparison for 2 reasons: 1) We don't have the complete source code to human consciousness yet, so we can't do a good analysis of it, and 2) If anything primates are provably unfriendly to each other (at least outside their tribal group).

EDIT: Yes, I realize that a human genome is sort of a source code to our behavior, but having it without a complete theory of physics is rather like being given the source code to an AI in an unknown format.

5JoshuaZ10yHaving the exact laws of physics here probably doesn't matter as much as simply having a better understanding of human development. The genome isn't all that matters. What proteins are in the egg at the start matter a lot, and there are things like epigenetics. And the computational level involved in trying to model anything in the human body reliably is immense. The fundamental laws of physics probably don't matter much for human behavior.
Q&A with Michael Littman on risks from AI

I wouldn't take Moravec's paradox too seriously; all it seems to indicate is that we're better at programming a system we've spent thousands of years formalizing (eg, math) than a system that's built into our brains so that we never really think about it...hardly surprising to me.

I think Moravec's paradox is more than a selection effect. Face recognition requires more computing power than multiplying two 32-bit numbers, and it's not just because we've learned to formalize one but not the other. We will never get so good at programming computers that our face-recognition programs get faster than our number-multiplication programs.

The Controls are Lying: A Note on the Memetic Hazards of Video Games [Link]

This makes a lot of sense; not many people make games that accurately model reality (with a few notable exceptions) because, quite frankly, video games are supposed to be escapist. Most gamers spend quite enough time dealing with reality without dealing with it during relaxation/fantasy time too, especially if it makes the game a lot harder to play.

Besides, having your game accurately model reality tends to make you look uncreative (and usually like a bad game designer, as mentioned above), which cuts into sales. Games are a business, after all!

A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid'

That I could see...the figures I can find say 400,000 copies sold. Assuming half of those are to mathematicians and computer scientists, that's 200,000 sales to our reference class, which would be reasonable once we take into account people borrowing/downloading the book.

[SEQ RERUN] Absolute Authority

Has it occurred to anyone else that referring to quantitative scientific thought as "the Quantitative way" or capital-s "Science" may be reinforcing this type of misconception? In my experience many of the non-science crowd are slow to spot some types of humor (or satire, whatever this is properly classified as), and would take this as actual cult behavior.

Just my 2 cents on this kind of humor.

0Gust10yI agree. Actually I think that applies to the whole "Zen speaking" [] Eliezer often uses.
[link] Admitting errors (in meteorology)

My mistake, I thought you were referring to overfitting with the connotation of a deliberate choice, like the manager who thinks he should fit a 9th-degree polynomial to some essentially linear data because "the line gets closer".

The models used for economic or climate data are usually based on theory, giving them a sensible number of degrees of freedom that may or may not match up with how much calibration data; I would not class this as overfitting in the common use of the term, as all the degrees of freedom do have legitimate reason to be there.

[link] Admitting errors (in meteorology)

Overfitting is one of the types of error that can crop up with this, but the error type that article refers to is the kind you get when you run a linear regression on a data set containing one point; there are infinitely many optimally-fit solutions that model the data.

1Vaniver10yEr, I'm not sure what you mean the distinction to be here. Overfitting is the superclass of that, not the subclass, as overfitting still describes this problem even when you can't perfectly describe your data (but there are many ways to do it optimally).
[link] Admitting errors (in meteorology)

This reminds me of an article I read recently (and cannot find for the life of me) about the calibration of this type of model. Essentially, the author was pointing out that the curves fitted to past data to "train" these models frequently have more degrees of freedom than there are data points in the training set. For those of you who aren't familiar with curve-fitting, this means there is literally an infinite number of curves that can be fit to the data, giving a small probability of your algorithm finding one that models the future with an ac... (read more)

4Lapsed_Lurker10y'Overfitting []', yes? I think I may have learned about that from Nate Silver []
Allen & Wallach on Friendly AI

The problem there is twofold; firstly, a lot of aspects would not necessarily scale up to a smarter system, and it's sometimes hard to tell what generalizes and what doesn't. Secondly, it's very very hard to pinpoint the "intelligence" of a program without running it; if we make one too smart it may be smart/nasty enough to feed us misleading data so that our final AI will not share moral values with humans. It's what I'd do if some aliens tried to dissect my mind to force their morality on humanity.

0Jordan10yI agree, but certainly trying to solve the problem without any hands on knowledge is more difficulty. I agree, there is a risk that the first AGI we build will be intelligent enough to skillfully manipulate us. I think the chances are quite small. I find it difficult to image skipping dog level intelligence and human level intelligence and jumping straight to superhuman intelligence, but it is certainly possible.
Question about timeless physics

I was referring to the set of all experiences that identify as being XiXiDu as "you" for simplicity's sake; the sampling is the selection of a particular timeslice to experience (ie, XiXiDu was presumably experiencing t=N when he wrote this).

Maybe it would make more sense to frame this differently; the laws of physics dictate that XiXiDu will experience conscious thought at times t=a, a+1...b (assuming consciousness is non-magical and is a result of physics), so those timeslices contain conscious experiences by an entity self-identifying as XiXiD... (read more)

A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid'

Nope, you've got the right idea about his example. It occurs early on in the book, while he's trying to explain simple concepts to readers through non-technical analogy; sort of the way he explained complement spaces to readers by first asking which word contains the sequence "ADAC" in order (headache), and then asked what word contains the sequence "HEHE" in order; nothing particularly special about that either, but it teaches the reader a useful trick without presenting it mathematically.

Question about timeless physics

Why do I find myself at N rather than 10 or N+1?

Well, t=10 is probably a time at which the universe was still quark soup, so you're rather unlikely to show up as a conscious being then.

As for appearing at t=N vs t=N+1, the explanation I remember hearing has two parts: Firstly, if you check out your physical state at any given time, it will necessarily not contain memories of the future; memory formation generates a lot of entropy, and time tends to progress from low-entropy to high-entropy states. So regardless of what time you find yourself at, you'll ... (read more)

0pragmatist10yThis seems to repeat the confusion in the original post. In what sense are "you" sampling different times? What is this "you" doing the sampling? Is there some sort of disembodied consciousness flitting randomly from time slice to time slice?
A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid'

It's not that hard to do (somewhat harder if you want to keep your Bach-style harmonies intact), and I don't think anyone claimed it was that hard, simply that it induces an interesting self-referential cycle. There's something rather amusing (at least to me) about a piece of music that can be played an infinite number of times without repeating a musical phrase more than the few times it occurs in a single cycle.

As for the quick rise out of the human range of hearing, it's just a small side effect that prevents musicians from getting caught in an infinite loop.

3DanArmak10ySo GEB's entire point here is that some infinite sequences of similar-but-different objects have self-referential formulations? Just like these are equivalent: a(n+1)=a(n)+2; a(0)=0 vs: a(n)=2n for all n Each element has the structure of "an even integer", but the first form is self referential while the second one isn't. I fail to see a deep meaning in this, or any similarity with consciousness. Can someone enlighten me? Did I merely take the book's example out of context?
A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid'

If I recall correctly, he focuses on the fact that the piece may be played in a cyclical fashion, allowing an infinite loop of sorts.

2DanArmak10yWhat's special or interesting about a musical piece that can be played cyclically? Such a piece is easy to compose by editing the two ends to align, even without reference to whatever is in the middle of the piece. In the Bach example, if you go up an octave on every loop, you can't play forever anyway (within human hearing).
A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid'

Or just pick a random scientist and ask ver what vis favorite book is, and 1 out of 5 will say: "Gödel, Escher, Bach"

Is there a citation on this statistic? Almost none of the scientists I know have even heard of GEB, let alone read it; ~10% know of it, and less than half of them have read it. (Granted I hang out with a lot of atomic physicists, so my sample may be biased).

3orthonormal10yIt would have been more accurate to limit the sample to mathematicians and computer scientists, which I think was lukeprog's (subconscious) reference class.
Building case-studies of akrasia

INSTANCE I was supposed to have things done ahead of time for a roleplaying game I was GMing (the GM is the guy who makes up the scenarios, for those who don't know). Frequently this did not happen due to me finding anything else to do during the times I had scheduled myself to work on it. Ended up winging my sessions very frequently, and it showed.


-Remove distractions; this failed miserably. I am apparently capable of distracting myself for hours on end by thinking about physics if the need arises.

-Don't schedule time to work, just do i... (read more)

1Mercurial10yI understand that this is called an extinction burst [].