Oligopsony

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Could a digital intelligence be bad at math?

If it's digitally embedded, even if the "base" module was bad at math in the same way we are, it would be trivial to cybernetically link it to a calculator program, just as us physical humans are cyborgs when we use physical calculators (albeit with a greater delay than a digital being would have to deal with.)

What are "the really good ideas" that Peter Thiel says are too dangerous to mention?

Thiel enjoys the spotlight, he's his own boss and could spend all day rolling around in giant piles of money if he wanted to, he's said plenty of things publicly that are way more NRx-y than the monopoly thing and he's obviously fine.

How has lesswrong changed your life?

I give more to charity and use spaced repetition systems heavily.

Precisely Bound Demons and their Behavior

If the demons understand harm and are very clever in figuring out what will lead to it, what happens when we ask them minimize harm, or maximize utility, or do the opposite of what it would want to do otherwise, or {rigidly specified version of something like this}?

Can we force demons to tell us (for instance) how they'd rank various policy packages in government, what personal choices they'd prefer I make, &c., so we can back-engineer what not to do? They're not infinitely clever, but how clever are they?

Why humans suck: Ratings of personality conditioned on looks, profile, and reported match

The issue isn't whether looks are objective (clearly they aren't,) but whether judgments of looks are more correlated among the userbase than those of personality.

(Actually, the degree to which personality is correlated is probably the more interesting question here (granting that interestingness isn't particularly objective either.) Robin Hanson has pointed to some studies that suggest that "compatibility" isn't really a thing and some people are just easier to get along with than others - the study in question IIRC didn't take selection effects into account, but it remains an interesting hypothesis.)

Failed Utopia #4-2

It was a garbled version of Angkorism, sorry.

The Benefits of Closed-Mindedness

If your point is that Openness is probably not a thing-in-the-world, I would be inclined to agree, actually.

The Benefits of Closed-Mindedness

Big Five Openness correlates with political liberalism, so cet par it would be weak Bayesian evidence for open-mindedness, even if it is not an example of it.

The Cold War divided Science

I am completely uninformed on the technical particulars here, so this is idle speculation. But it isn't totally implausible that ideological factors were at play here. By this I don't mean that there were arguments being deployed as soldiers - nothing political, as far as I'm aware, rides upon the two theories - but that worldviews may have primed scientists (acting in entirely good faith) to think of, and see as more reasonable, certain hypotheses. Dialectical materialism, for instance, tends to emphasize (or, by default, think in terms of) qualitative transformations that arise from historically specific tensions between different forces that eventually gets resolved (in said qualitative transformations.) If I understand you correctly that the difference between the two theories was that the American one isolated a process (1) explicable by the properties of a single substance and (2) acting at all times in Earth's history, while the Soviet one isolated a process (1) explicable in terms of the interaction of forces and (2) only active until it the conditions for it (stores of primordial methane) were resolved, then it's easy to construct a just-so story about how a scientist thinking in the categories privileged by diamat might find the second more intuitive than the first. Likewise, if, as a stereotypical reductive mechanist, you tend to think of individual objects rather than relationships, and eternal laws rather than historically specific ones, the former might be more intuitive than the latter. Further, it seems at least facially plausible that if you had a scientific community with Aristotelian or German idealist frameworks, you'd have different dominant theories still - even with researchers acting in good faith, with lots of data, and material incentives to produce a theory that derived correct predictions. (Such frameworks bear some similarities to, but are more vague and general than, Kuhnian paradigms.)

Of course, I could totally misunderstand the nature of the two theories at play, and I don't know anything about the geological communities of the two superpowers specifically, so the just-so stories here are probably complete bullshit. But your concerns are more general than the specific examples as well, so consider their purpose to be illustrative rather than explanatory.

Useful Personality Tests

And that willingness to invest such time might correlate with certain factors.

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