All of passive_fist's Comments + Replies

Open Thread, Aug. 22 - 28, 2016

And Lumifer's dismissal of it is probably the most low-effort way of responding. Students of rationality, take note.

4Gurkenglas5yYou sound like you're trying to win at werewolf! Gleb at least appears honest.
1Lumifer5yThe most low-effort way is to just ignore it.
Open Thread, Aug. 22 - 28, 2016

Anyone can easily deny that they are biased. That takes no effort. So, again, why is it a 'godawful clickbait piece-of-crap'?

-5Lumifer5y
8delton1375yIts funny because 90+% of articles on Salon.com are 'godawful clickbait' in my opinion -- with this one being one of the exceptions.
Open Thread, Aug. 22 - 28, 2016

On the contrary, being able to identify your own biases and being able to express what kind of information would change your mind is at the heart of rationality.

You're a libertarian. We all know that. But regardless of whether you ideologically agree with the conclusions of the article or not, you should be able to give a more convincing counter-argument than 'godawful clickbait piece-of-crap.'

0ChristianKl5yI'm for basic income but I agree with Lumifer's sentiment (even when I would use different words). The issue with the article isn't the conclusions. The fact that Gleb posted the article directly after people told him that they want him to stop taking up as much mindshare on EA affiliated venues is also problematic.
-2Gurkenglas5yI think that non sequitur-ad hominem got you those downvotes.
1Lumifer5yI'm not talking about content at all. It seems to be that Gleb now likes the idea of basic income -- and I neither have strong opinions about basic income, nor care much about what Gleb believes. This would have been a godawful clickbait piece-of-crap even if it argued that free markets are the best thing evah.
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

What you're saying doesn't sound to me like a disagreement that there must be some higher authority. It just sounds like you're saying that the final authority gets decided at run-time, based on whoever happens to have the most financial power. So then the question becomes: Why do you think this is preferable to a system where authority is agreed upon beforehand by a majority of the people?

And just to make the discussion clearer, let's make it even more specific and talk about the issue of disputes over ownership of objects or property.

The comparison to re... (read more)

0Crux5yThat's just one of the many possibilities. Democracy inevitably becomes a grandiose popularity contest where the population votes based on social-signaling considerations which have little if nothing to do with putting into place an institution which will lead to sustainably benevolent results for the society. There are all sorts of oddities, such as systematic redistribution of resources from the productive members of the economy to the unproductive, shortsighted policy enactment because the real problems of society usually can't be solved without initial pain which the politician would be blamed for, and so forth. The court system is an absolute wreck, no matter how "carefully designed" the designers believe it to be. Imagine a pre-industrial world with two villages on either side of a large forest. The people need to get back and forth between these villages every few days or weeks. The first person through his own self-interest simply looks for the easiest path, breaking several branches on his way. The next person does the same, probably going on a completely different route, not thinking anything of the previous person. After quite a few iterations of this, some of the people will end up going on routes that were previously made a bit easier by previous hikers. After tens of thousands of iterations of this, there will be convenient trails going through the woods in an efficient way, with all the obstacles neutralized. If a foreigner chanced upon this creation, they would surely think to themselves, "What a great trail system! I'm glad the people of this area were kind enough to make a trail for all to use!" They would immediately jump to the idea that the trail, looking like it was created for a purpose, must have been designed by a committee of individuals or commissioned by a wise member of one of the villages. But no such thing happened; each person acted upon their own self-interest, and the byproduct was a trail system that looks like it was designed
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

In each possible situation, it's useful to have an authority available who has final say over disputes. But it's not necessarily for every process in society to depend on the same authority.

Then who gets to decide who that authority is for every particular situation?

0Crux5yThis is a predictable response from someone who's skeptical of libertarian economics. Just as it's natural to observe the order in the world and therefore assume that there must be a designer (God), it feels reasonable to the human mind to witness the structure inherent in society and thus expect that there must be in each instance a particular person who made a conscious decision to put the institution into place. There are many facets to human society, so giving a comprehensive answer would require a book-length treatment. But to give an example, investors [https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=678866.0] tend to have a large amount of power in many cases. Collectively they use their expertise in predicting future states in the economy in order to choose which companies are kept in the market and which are pushed out. Companies have internal power structures, where the final say could be an individual or a panel or individuals. Therefore, the "proximate final say" in this situation may be a certain person or group of people, where the "ultimate final say" may be based on the collective support or non-support of investors. See here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0_Jd_MzGCw] for how law and order could fit into a decentralized market system as well.
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

I don't know what "an unusually high preference for liberty/freedom" means. Every single political philosophy claims that it is pro-freedom. Even totalitarian regimes claim to be pro-freedom. Without reference to specific policy positions, claiming to be 'pro-freedom' seems meaningless to me.

So that reduces your definition of libertarianism to 'far-off-the-center position on the individualism vs collectivism axis'.

For a stable society to exist, at some level everyone has to agree upon some central authority with final say over disputes and superlative enforcement ability. Do you agree with this or not?

0Crux5yI'm not completely sure what you mean, but my guess is that I don't agree with you. In each possible situation, it's useful to have an authority available who has final say over disputes. But it's not necessarily for every process in society to depend on the same authority.
-1Lumifer6yYou work hard to not understand me, so I'll save you the effort. Tap.
0TheAncientGeek6yLibertarian freedom is usually cashed out in terms of a strong adherence to negative rights combined with a disdain for positive rights.
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

I've tried before to steelman it and failed because the arguments constantly shift around and are hard to pin down. Tailoring arguments to every single person's interpretation gets tiring after a while. But if you can provide an explanation or link to what you believe then I'd read and try to steelman it to see if I understand your position correctly.

Here, though, I'm arguing on a more meta level - even assuming that it comprised a coherent set of beliefs, and assuming you had a well-defined utility function you wanted to maximize, how would you possibly... (read more)

0Lumifer6yThat's not an argument against libertarianism, that's an argument that people with a fairly diverse set of views call themselves libertarians. I think that happens to be true. On a sufficiently high level of abstraction I'd probably say that the two main features of libertarianism are (1) an unusually high preference for liberty/freedom; and (2) a far-off-the-center position on the individualism vs collectivism axis. Point (1) directly leads to a strong suspicion of power structures such as the state. I don't quite understand the question. If you have a "well-defined utility function", well, you just try to maximize it to the best of your ability. You seem to be thinking of a scenario where you're a god-king who gets to arrange the society (and individual values) as he sees fit. That is obviously incompatible with libertarianism at a basic level. And then you are talking about capitalism and socialism as if they were "working procedure[s] for governing people", but they are not. Economic systems are not power structures.
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

What surprises me is that you would even ask that question... what rational justification is there for libertarianism?

1Crux6yTo me libertarianism is more a community than a specific set of doctrines. There are certainly core values and epistemological underpinnings which define the ideological innovators and leaders in the libertarian community, and contrast them with those of opposing movements. But your discovery [http://lesswrong.com/lw/np2/revitalising_less_wrong_is_not_a_lost_purpose/dcz4] that the arguments for libertarianism "constantly shift around and are hard to pin down" is simply expected for an evolving community. In terms of epistemological underpinnings, I'd say what best defines the libertarianism movement is a peculiar recognition of the nature of partial knowledge in thought and action. Hayek [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Hayek] went to great lengths over the course of his career to explain why individuals who find enjoyment and skill in mathematics, physics, and so forth tend to react with skepticism to the arguments of libertarianism and free-market economics. To delve into the full depth of his thesis, begin with this book [http://bookzz.org/book/691207/79f56d] . For a quick summary, see the first few minutes of this video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnMd40dqBlQ]. You say that libertarianism is obviously irrational. When we look at libertarianism as a community rather than a specific set of doctrines, your claim seems to boil down to the following: "The people in the libertarian community are clearly irrational." I assume that means they're incompetent and misguided? That they're unlikely to put into effect real, useful, and sustainable change in the world's economic and social systems? I have a related question: What do you think about Bitcoin?
0Lumifer6yInteresting. So you truly believe that libertarianism has no possible rational justification, so much nope you can't even steelman it?
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

Neoreaction, libertarianism, and related ideologies.

-2Crux6yLibertarianism is an irrational, politically extremist position?
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

I don't see why I should fear retaliation as I've already left this site, for all intents and purposes.

The only issue is that I don't want to give the impression of having left over some petty argument and being bitter over it. The reality is the opposite. The reality is that there were never any heated disagreements. It was just me observing a very clear irrational, politically extremist bias in many people's comments, especially the ones most frequently in the 'top 30 contributors' panel (which shows that their beliefs in general match up with the overal... (read more)

2Crux6yWhat irrational, politically extremist positions have you recently seen a lot of on LW?
Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

I somewhat agree. Sometimes communities dissolve through a publicized schism. Other times they just decay without any visible drama. It's not realistic to expect every single person who gets fed up and leaves to post a detailed criticism of the site and why they are leaving. A lot of people would rather just leave quietly and not waste their time with that kind of thing.

Still, it seems like the decline definitely accelerated over the past couple of years.

Revitalising Less Wrong is not a lost purpose

The LW community is in rapid decline and people have been leaving in large numbers for years. LW is probably in the terminal stage of decline now, not in the initial or even middle stage. If you think this isn't true you are in denial - all the poll data and post/comment data shows this to be true.

I used to be an active member of this group. This is my first comment in months. I don't know why other people left; I can only speculate and offer the reasons why I left. The reason I left was because I perceived (maybe incorrectly, I don't know) that discourse ... (read more)

2lsparrish6yMy long hiatus started a couple years ago, so my perspective might be different from yours. I think the main issue for me it was more that it wasn't very fun any more. The people who made it fun (EY, Yvain, etc) were mostly posting elsewhere. The majority of posts were starting to be boring things like meetup announcements. Some of the new posts were interesting, but had more technical content and less humor. Part of it could be that the commenters became more politically (in the sense of national politics) motivated, but that's not something I noticed at the time... I think that's perhaps a more recent thing, assuming that is indeed happening. Another thing that might have been a factor is that I started using a smartphone more. So apps like twitter and facebook that can be easily checked there had more appeal. (This website still sucks for mobile.)
0scarcegreengrass6yWhile lesswrong.com has a low population, the private blogs and diaspora communities are growing very rapidly.
-2Lumifer6yLW adopted extreme sociopolitical views? Methinks your bias is showing.
2gjm6yOut of curiosity: Which individuals and which views? (If you fear retaliation, feel free to answer by PM rather than here.)
0Vaniver6yWhich time period do you have in mind, here? Because "quickly" seems inaccurate. LW is old, and the decline has taken a long time. If anything, the interesting thing with LW's decline is how slow it was, and how much attention the site continues to receive despite the lack of content. There was no major crisis that split things apart; it just got more and more stale, mostly as people graduated to more impressive and important things without replacements growing up here in the same way.
Open Thread, January 11-17, 2016

It's not obvious that use of a pesticide would substantially harm bees, as pesticides have been in use for a very long time, and many organophosphate pesticides are fairly non-toxic to bees. Neonicotinoids, however, are extremely toxic to bees. The use of neonicotinoids is fairly recent; large-scale use only started in the late 90's, and very soon after that beekeepers started filing petitions to the EPA. They were ignored. I'd say this is more a case of systemic and deliberate ignorance/politics rather than a 'mistake'.

Open Thread, January 11-17, 2016

I wouldn't put too much faith in the 1/2000 figure for chance of HIV transmission. There is no known way to calculate that with any reasonable confidence. Estimates vary from something like 1/500 to 1/2500 (this is for vaginal sex; anal sex has much higher transmission risk).

Are we failing the ideological Turing test in the case of ISIS? (a crazy ideas thread)

Well then if there is no information relevant to ISIS, then why make it a discussion about ISIS?

Are we failing the ideological Turing test in the case of ISIS? (a crazy ideas thread)

It seems to me that a pre-requisite of talking about ISIS' motivations would be actually visiting the region and being involved with them first-hand, or else basing your opinion on information gathered from direct, reputable sources.

Right now most of the discussion on the internet - especially including this post - fail to meet this criterion. They are simply opinions based on opinions repeated by other uninformed persons which also repeat opinions from other uninformed persons. If I am wrong, then provide links to your sources.

In fact you could argue that... (read more)

8Val6yIndeed, this is why I named it a crazy ideas suggestion thread. I agree with you completely and was never even trying to hide the fact that I invited only guessing and speculation, just like a lot of topics in the other "crazy ideas" threads are.
Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016

Statistically, withdrawal is just as effective as condoms at preventing pregnancy; STDs are a bigger concern but the risk can be minimized with a checkup. However, condoms are not effective at preventing transmission of many types of STDs either.

Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016

I feel that this is too complicated a solution for most people to follow. And it's not a very secure backup system anyway.

You can just get an external hard drive and use any of the commonly-available full-drive backup software. Duplicity is a free one and it has GUI frontends that are basically just click-to-backup. You can also set them up to give you weekly reminders, etc.

Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

Then there are generally impressive things like having a Ph.D, a high-paying job, or being really skilled in some area which are high status in many groups.

For Ph.D., what kind of groups are you thinking about? (aside from university circles obviously)

Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

I might or might not be an example of someone who has done that. I learned to play guitar from scratch at 28 years old. However, I had previously learned to play the piano when I was a teenager, so that might have made it easier. However the two are very different instruments. YMMV.

A lot of the difficulty in picking up a new instrument may just be lack of time. When I was a teenager I was spending 5+ hours a day playing the piano. I am not exaggerating in the least. As an adult it is very hard to find 30 minutes a day of time. It took me about 3 years to b... (read more)

Global catastrophic risks connected with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy

I realize that it's a map of risks, I'm just saying the possibilities don't even remotely fall into comparable levels of risk. "Death from nuclear ICBM" is quite imaginable and possible. Not only that, there was a time when it almost seemed imminent and inevitable. And it could easily become that way again. Whereas "death from cold fusion" is essentially of zero meaningful concern.

Maybe it would be useful if you could attach some kind of crude probabilities to your estimates. I can fill a pdf with items like "death from massive leprechaun attack" but it wouldn't be a very useful guide.

0turchin6yWhile I do not appreciate your wording "death from cold fusion" when we speak about risks of proliferation connected with new technologies, I already added some kind of probability estimation to the map and painted boxes in one of three colors. But instead of probability I used "Importance of risks", which more clearly connected with what we should do to prevent them. "Importance (or urgency) of risks is subjectively estimated based on their probability, timing, magnitude of expected effect and scientific basis for the risk. Importance here means how much attention and efforts we should put to control the risk. Green – just keep it in mind, do nothing Yellow – pay attention, do reasonable efforts to prevent Red – pay immediate attention to prevent" The pdf is here: http://immortality-roadmap.com/nukerisk2.pdf [http://immortality-roadmap.com/nukerisk2.pdf] In it only two risks are red: nuclear war and nuclear-biological war. The risks of large scale proliferation connected with new technologies is yellow. and the risk of Jupiter detonation is green.
Global catastrophic risks connected with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy
  1. Strictly speaking, the only major barrier to development of fission weapons (once the possibility of prompt criticality was realized) was enrichment. Even a simple gun-type bomb design suffices if you want to build a fission weapon, but you have to get the nuclear material first, and that's where the bulk of the scientific and technological effort in the Manhattan project was focused. Even today, enrichment is still only the major barrier to aspiring nuclear states/groups. Once it was identified that this was the problem that needed to be solved, the scie

... (read more)
0turchin6y1. This is a map of possible risks, not a map of claims. All it says is that if pure fusion (or other simple nukes) will be created it will make situation with proliferation much more difficult. For example laser enrichment is much simpler than traditional and it was recognised as proliferation risk. We can't say how, but tech progress is making nukes cheaper and simpler and it is a problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_isotopes_by_laser_excitation [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_isotopes_by_laser_excitation] 2. It can kill anyone, but not everyone. The world have around 5 million villages and small towns, and you need at least one bomb for each one to kill. On the peak of cold war the world had less than 100 000 bombs. If you really want to kill everyone, you should try something special like artificial nuclear winter or summer.
Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

Again, why does MrMind have that 'role'?

I think the fact that you say Clarity is 'farming for karma' - without any evidence for this claim - may give away what the real problem is.

Anyway, if the issue is just time zones, I'd be fine with, say, agreeing on UT 00:00 Monday for starting an open thread. Or maybe it would just be simpler to have a bot start the thread.

-7ChristianKl6y
Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

As far as I remember, the only thing that seemed to be 'agreed on' was that the open threads should be weekly, starting on Mondays, and anyone could open one if it hadn't been opened by Monday. I don't see how Clarity has broken that norm. I don't see how this is anything other than an attack on Clarity for being a newcomer, and anyone who downvoted this thread should really take a step back and consider what kind of community their downvote is promoting.

-2ChristianKl6yI remember another person asking whether he can overtake posting the open thread. A community where people don't try to farm karma by overtaking the roles of other people without asking that person beforehand.
Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

So only MrMind is allowed to create open threads? Who gave him this sole authority? When was this decided by the community?

Why does it even matter who creates an open thread?

Just to clarify, nobody appointed me of anything. It's just that I was the only one to take the time to do it regularly, and happened to do it before anyone else because of my geographical position. It became sort of a custom, just that. I do not object however if someone else wants to do it and beats me earlier, although I would prefer two threads not to overlap.

-8ChristianKl6y
Global catastrophic risks connected with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy
  1. I see what you are talking about now. Flux-compression driven fusion is most likely not going to work (which explains why there has been no serious effort to pursue it). It's useful to compare it to the Sandia capacitor-powered Z-machine. To achieve fusion you need (a) a lot of energy, delivered in (b) a short amount of time (preferably nanoseconds as the fuel will tear itself apart at timescales much longer than that), in (c) a very small space. The best EPFCG so far has achieved about 100 MJ and 256 MA, but the killer is the time scale, which is on the

... (read more)
0turchin6y1. The only way to really prove that pure fusion weapons are possible would be demonstrate them.... But I will answer more generally. We known that tech progress exist and it tends to make things more effective, cheap and widespread. It do it in many domains. In the middle of 20 century we saw quick progress in nuclear weapons. Could we assume that no any progress is possible in this domain? I think we can't take it for granted. The quote from DOE can't prove that pure weapons are impossible, as I would expect that would say the same if they find the way to create them but want to keep in secret. This claim was made the same year - 1998 - as was published an article which describes 3 ton pure bomb (upgradable to 10 t neutron bomb with U-238 blanket) http://scienceandglobalsecurity.org/archive/sgs07jones.pdf [http://scienceandglobalsecurity.org/archive/sgs07jones.pdf] It was almost 20 years ago and we don't know if any progress was made on the topic. Personally I think that pure weapons may be created by some unexpected combination, like cold fusion device compressed by Z-pinch. 2. MAD doctrine kills only two superpowers, but nuclear blackmail kills all human population of the world as collateral damage. The difference is human extinction.
Global catastrophic risks connected with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy
  1. Fission weapons with arbitrarily small yields are possible, it's just that you have to sacrifice efficiency. Before the CTBT, tests of < 1 ton yield were routinely carried out as part of hydrodynamic bomb testing. The smallest critical mass for plutonium (assuming an advanced weapon design) seems to be about 2-3 kg, giving a minimum yield of 5-6 kt without losing efficiency (and thus provides a minimum cost bound for a fission weapon). The 10 MJ figure I gave was assuming the smallest possible primary, and a staged design. I think at this point we hav

... (read more)
0turchin6y1. Ups, it was a typo in my last comment "it was shown that small pure fission (read fusion) weapons are possible, but their yield is like 5 tons" . it is in wiki:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_fusion_weapon [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_fusion_weapon]. No plutonium. I think that we can't exclude possibility that such device may be upgraded (for example, using U-238 blanket) and many other tricks. I have some more links in the map and if one is interested he may follow, but I hope that the best results in pure fusion are kept tightly in secret. 2. Ok. 3. Yes, one probably may get more dangerous isotopes using U-238 blanket, if we consider chemistry of isotopes and their ability to accumulate in human body. Strontium, plutonium, Iodine and cesium may result from U-238 fission and all on them could accumulate in human body because of their similarity to calcium or other elements. Internal radiation is also much more dangerous. But the main idea of salted bomb is not about which type of blanket to use - it is very technical question which require large calculations, and it may be found that some kind of blanket is even more effective in killing all humanity than either cobalt or U-238 (think about C-14, polonium, tritium, combinations etc). The main idea of salted bomb is that it is specially design to produce long term atmospheric contamination and that it is very large and stationary. And it is defence or blackmail weapon, not offensive. By large I mean like 20 000 tons dry weight. And 10-100 gigaton of explosive power. It is much more than all ICBM nukes combined. And most of them do not use U-238 blanket as they try to make them more clean. By the way one may use ICBM to create something like U-238 salted gigabomb, if he use them to attack existing nuclear power stations. I heard that it was a fear North Korea may attack Japan's nuclear power stations with their nukes. I can't and don't want make exac
Global catastrophic risks connected with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy

I understood your justifications and that's what I was responding to.

  1. There are significant technological barriers to pure fusion weapons and fission implosion triggers would always probably be the cheaper option. Laser-initiated fusion is known to be unworkable; experiments have indicated that at least 10 MJ of laser energy - and probably 2 or 3 times that - is required for reliable fusion ignition; this is far beyond the capabilities of current laser technology to produce in a compact way (the NIF is a huge installation and only produces 1.8 MJ of laser

... (read more)
0turchin6y1. The main idea about pure fusion weapons is that we don't know how to make it now, but if we know, it would change a lot in the world. At least 10 different approaches have been studied, and it was shown that small pure fission weapons are possible, but their yield is like 5 tons, so they are not practical now. But if they find the way to combine different approaches it could result in higher yields. For example for laser fusion it was suggested that staged approach may work, where laser fusion of smaller pellet start fusion in higher pellet (http://ufn.ru/ru/articles/1998/11/f/ [http://ufn.ru/ru/articles/1998/11/f/] - article is in russian). It is not proved that pure fusion weapons are possible, but still need to be concerned about them until we will prove that they are impossible. 2. Lowell Wood in his article ( http://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.20.316 [http://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.20.316], I have pdf) about fusion detonation in planar atmospheres showed minimal conditions for such reaction. It mostly depends of concentration of deuteriem (it should be 20 times more than in oceans, and it is small margin as deutherium and lithium could naturally concentrate in some places) and of the size of primary bomb, which should be as I remember around 300 meters - it is almost impossible to create such device on earth without use of self-replicating nanobots. And on Earth it will be overkill itself. One may be surprised to learn that humanity already sent nuclear device with weapon grade plutonium inside Jupiter, so it is not as remote possibility in the future (I mean drowning of spacecraft Galileo with nuclear batteries in the Jupiter). While Galileo was not able to initiate nuclear detonation of Jupiter, in near future one may create self-replicating nanobots which will be able to build large enough nuke to start detonation
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

A major weakness of the standard Bayesian inference method is that it assumes a problem only has two possible solutions.

This is not true at all.

-2[anonymous]6yA large chunk of academics would say that it is. For example, from the paper [http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/philosophy.pdf] I was referencing in my post:
Global catastrophic risks connected with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy

I'd say that the possibility of 'home made nukes' is essentially zero unless fissile isotopes become widely available and cheap, and even if all current controls on nuclear materials and technology were lifted, that would still be far from plausible. The US government pays about $1mil to $10mil worth of plutonium-238 for a single nuclear weapon; this is even though the current industrial process for producing plutonium is highly optimized and efficient (the first nuclear test required $1bn worth of fissile material).

'Home made nuke' is in the same category... (read more)

0turchin6yIt looks like you did not look into details provided inside each of the topic. This proves for me that the idea of interactive pdf was wrong. (( 1. "Home made nukes" are not about plutonium but about pure fusion weapons. Several ways to create them has been suggested, all listed in the document. 2. Natural fusion ignition is not about the Earth but about enriched layers of deuterium in Jupiter. The idea is highly speculative, any way. 3. Salted bomb could create much large contamination as it is specially designed to do so. Most fusion bombs are relatively clean now. Salted bomb may create not only cobalt-60 but other isotopes. Russia in 2015 publish (accidentally) a plan to use 100 MT cobalt bomb torpedos to contaminate US ports. But the main difference is that cobalt doomsday bomb is very large bomb, probably stationary with yields of gigatons, and most of its energy is used to create dangerous isotopes. In this case it could create enough cobalt-60 to contaminate Earth's surface. It was calculated by Szillard in 1950s and while the exact calculations are secret, I tend to believe him. No known stationary doomsday devices has been created until now ( or we don't know about them.)
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

You could just have a two-dishwasher system where the dishwasher takes the place of the cupboard.

It seems like a robot that automated the task of moving clean dishes into a cupboard would be an idea where the potential benefits, if any, are too small to currently justify the major development effort that would be required. Maybe in the future when AI becomes far more widespread and 'easy' to develop.

1ChristianKl6yI think that there are people who don't like to deal with washing dishes even through they have a dishwasher. I don't think the task is trival in a sense that people wouldn't be willing to invest money into a device that fixes the issue. Apart from that a redesigned device that builds on smart sensors and nanotech filters could also operate with a lot less water. GE's design of a kitchen of the future [http://www.gizmag.com/ge-future-home-2025/29282/pictures#8] with a smart sink that can automatically wash dishes is also interesting. If I look into my kitchen the most recent invention is the microwave. A few health conscious people I know have nanotech water filters for the water in their sink but apart from that the kitchen is mostly didn't change. I think that it would be possible to build something better by investing the kind of money that went into Tesla and SpaceX. I would expect that in a decade we see a lot more sensors in the average kitchen then today. The orbital-systems shower [http://www.gizmag.com/orbital-systems-water-saving-shower/29820/] is a good example how nanotech plus sensors can produce a shower that performs better than the old shower.
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

During the 80's and 90's a number of firms sprouted up around buying and selling penny stocks via strategies like cold calling.

0ChristianKl6yI'm not sure that hiring a bunch of people to do annoying phone calls is what Lumifer has in mind when he talks about trading opportunities in illiquid niches of the financial markets.
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

You are correct in that surveys of IQ and other intelligence scores consistently show physicists having some of the highest. But mathematics, statistics, computer science, and engineering are the same, and most studies I've seen generally see very little, if any, significant difference in intelligence scores between these fields.

'Rationalist' isn't a field or specialization, it's defined more along the lines of refining and improving rational thinking. Based on the lesswrong survey, fields like mathematics and computer science are heavily represented here.... (read more)

3ChristianKl6yWhile 4.3% of LW people are physicists the reverse isn't true.
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

It could be that the attitude/belief that theoretical physicists are far smarter than anyone else (and therefore, by implication, do not need to listen to anyone else) is part of the problem I'm outlining.

2IlyaShpitser6yIt could be, but I think theoretical physicists actually are very intelligent. Do you disagree? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- edit: But let's leave them aside, and talk about me, since I am actually here. I am not in the same league as Ed Witten, not even close. Do you (generic sense) have something sensible to communicate to me about how I go about my business?
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

Last week was a gathering of physicists in Oxford to discuss string theory and the philosophy of science.

From the article:

Nowadays, as several philosophers at the workshop said, Popperian falsificationism has been supplanted by Bayesian confirmation theory, or Bayesianism...

Gross concurred, saying that, upon learning about Bayesian confirmation theory from Dawid’s book, he felt “somewhat like the Molière character who said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been talking prose all my life!’”

That the Bayesian view is news to so many physicists is itself news to me, and i... (read more)

The character from Molière learns a fancy name ("speaking in prose") for the way he already communicates. David Gross isn't saying that he is unfamiliar with the Bayesian view, he's saying that "Bayesian confirmation theory" is a fancy name for his existing epistemic practice.

-2[anonymous]6yI tried to get a discussion going on this exact subject in my post this week, but there seemed to be little interest. A major weakness of the standard Bayesian inference method is that it assumes a problem only has two possible solutions. Many problems involve many possible solutions, and many times the number of possible solutions is unknown, and in many cases the correct solution hasn't been thought of yet. In such instances, confirmation through inductive inference may not be the best way of looking at the problem.
0Luke_A_Somers6yWhat gets me more is the guy who was complaining that the atomic theory is left in the same framework with 1-epsilon probability. No, this is not a problem.
6IlyaShpitser6yRationalist community needs to learn a little humility. Do you realize the disparity in intellectual firepower between "you guys" and theoretical physicists?
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Did they provide their own food

Indeed they did. This is mentioned in the report.

In fact cash-grant villages were more likely to grow their own food than control villages. A large part of the cash grants were spent on procuring better seeds and upgrading their livestock. Cash-grant villages were also more likely to undertake productive economic activity like starting businesses.

They did undertake trade with other villages, if they wanted to.

However all this is, basically, injection of a bit of capital into a very very poor village and it does not tell

... (read more)
0Lumifer6yIt's not clear that that the villagers were "more likely" to grow food for their own consumption rather than growing cash crops to sell. But if you want to dive into that level of detail, I would like to see the original report with all the data. I don't particulary trust this UNICEF report which looks a bit biased to me. I'm not saying that UBI is a bad idea. I'm not saying it's a good idea, either. At this point I don't know -- I can see both good points and bad points and it's not clear to me how they will balance out in real life. I suspect the details of implementation will make a lot of difference. Those "pilots" that you mention are much too limited to draw any conclusions. And please go easy on straw, no one claimed that UBI would lead to mass starvation. A full-blown scheme of no property, no money, etc. is likely to and that's what the "will starve" claim referred to.
LessWrong 2.0

At some point, yes. Kindergarten is actually a great metaphor. If you're five, and you run out of the kindergarten, you hit a bus and die.

You can either talk about politics in the way people currently do it - a way completely removed from any sort of disciplined, rational type of thinking - or not talk about it at all. It seems that a community dedicated to refining the art of human rationality should strive not to jump head-first into the current but to refine rationality to the point where our brains are capable of discussing politics rationally.

We are far from that point.

0Lumifer6yI'm not five. Why is this strange binary choice? All or nothing is rarely a good way to approach things. Besides, most of conversation on LW will not satisfy your criteria of "objective, rigorous, and grounded in experimental observation". Yes, yes, this essay [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gw/politics_is_the_mindkiller/] is quite well-known, you do not need to repeat its point over and over.
LessWrong 2.0

which is usually argued about in much more sophisticated terms than "Yay magenta, boo teal".

It's not the sophistication of the arguments that is the problem. The problem is making arguments objective, rigorous, and grounded in experimental observation. I would not mind 'yay magenta, boo teal' as long as it were followed by a rational and rigorous justification. Unfortunately, making rational arguments in politics is extremely difficult. However, because of the mind-killing effect, the people making such arguments usually don't see it that way ... (read more)

2Lumifer6yWell, yes, we all know that politics is the mind-killer, so what else is new? I don't think that this is a particularly valid reason to run like hell when politics show up. It reminds me too much of the streetlight principle [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetlight_effect] and at some point you need to get out of the kindergarten and start dealing with the real world.
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Sigh. Let me quote myself from upthread:

It works for small communities which mooch off larger societies

Not at all. It's clear that you didn't even look at the examples. A lot of those examples were largely self-contained. For instance, the one in Madhya Pradesh was done on a set of villages that provided their own food and necessities.

0Lumifer6yDid they provide their own food, no trade with the outside world? I think you're mistaken. The experiment in Madhya Pradesh provided a small unconditional cash payment to everyone in a set of villages. The outcome was entirely unsurprising -- people in those villages became a bit richer and spent that money to improve their lives. There was some positive effect on the productivity of people in these villages -- I quote the UNICEF report: which is fine and is a legitimate advance. However all this is, basically, injection of a bit of capital into a very very poor village and it does not tell us much about what would happen in a more advanced society with the basic income that is, presumably, sufficient to live on. Keep in mind that basic income is redistribution -- you need to create the wealth to start with.
Modal Chicken

I had never heard of the 'chicken' game before. It seems the punishment of 'losing social status' would apply to real-world prisoner's dilemma-like games as well: The cheater gets called a 'rat' and suffers from loss of social status.

6Gram_Stone6yThe only thing we're really interested in are the payoff matrices, and the fact remains that where P is the punishment payoff, S is the sucker's payoff, R is the reward payoff, and T is the temptation payoff, Chicken is the canonical game for games with a payoff ordering of P < S < R < T, and the Prisoner's Dilemma is the canonical game for games with a payoff ordering of S < P < R < T.
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

The assertion that an AI would make everything hunky-dory is not falsifiable.

Huh? Of course it's falsifiable. The entire premise of MIRI and CFAR is that this assertion is going to be falsified unless we take action.

0RichardKennaway6yThe entire premise of Xyrik's scenario is that everything will be hunky-dory. Xyrik is just making a wish [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ld/the_hidden_complexity_of_wishes/], and not thinking about how anything will actually work. He might as well call it elven magic as an AGI or "everyone decides to do the right thing". There are no moving parts in his conception. It is like trying to solve a problem by suggesting that one should solve the problem. I tried to ask him about mechanism here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/n2n/estimate_the_cost_of_immortality/czbn], but the only response so far has been a downvote.
-1Lumifer6yDemonstrate, please.
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Basically, without money you'd get too many DJs and too few plumbers. Money fixes that balance problem.

Money itself doesn't fix that balance problem. It's the allocation of money. I don't disagree with the idea that some type of work is unpleasant and necessary for society so there has to be some system of incentives to make people do that type of work. I disagree with the notion that the 'communist paradise' necessarily reduces such incentives to the point that society starves and dies.

As I said, I think Xyrik's scenario (evenly dividing wealth among e... (read more)

1Lumifer6yWhat actually happens is, of course, a bit different. If you take money out of the picture (as e.g. the USSR, Communist China, etc. did), another currency becomes dominant. That currency is power and the society becomes reliant on just force to make things happen. Recall that being unemployed was a criminal offense in the USSR. Sigh. Let me quote myself from upthread:
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

aspired =/= achieved.

Your comment seemed to be equating Xyrik's scenario with the Soviet system, implying that for that reason it's not desirable. I'm pointing out that the two systems cannot be equated.

1Lumifer6yMy point is that the Soviet system wanted to be like Xyrik's scenario and tried to get as close to it as it could. The assertion that an AI would make everything hunky-dory is not falsifiable. It's just a different term for elven magic.
LessWrong 2.0

I'd prefer not for politics to spill into LW, no matter if it's left-wing or right-wing politics.

1Lumifer6yWe've discussed this before, multiple times. The usual reply to your concerns is that LW very rarely discusses politics, instead what occasionally comes up is political philosophy which is usually argued about in much more sophisticated terms than "Yay magenta, boo teal".
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

The problem with that viewpoint is that you assume that the only reason - or, even, the most important reason - that people work is to make money.

But our understanding of human behavior tells us that other factors like status games, feelings of personal achievement or 'having a purpose in life', and so on are equally as important, if not more important, than the money-making aspect of work. Further, something that someone considers 'work' could be considered enjoyment by someone else.

Believe it or not, many people farm or tend gardens or animals simply bec... (read more)

1Lumifer6yNo, I do not. You're wrong. I assume that the work that people do for money is important for the society and that a lot of it wouldn't get done if people worked just for pleasure. Basically, without money you'd get too many DJs and too few plumbers. Money fixes that balance problem. Of course, so what? Small-scale agriculture is remarkably inefficient. Specifically, it cannot feed the current population. Not always. But too few people will choose mucking in the dirt and without money I'm not sure how are you going to persuade a sufficient number of people to go and do what they don't like. Do tell me about that experience. I'm curious.
0entirelyuseless6yWhat experience are you talking about in relation to a system of universal basic income?
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

I had no idea that the communist party was a flawless AGI...

0Lumifer6yThe flawless AGI under the name of Gosplan [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gosplan] was the limit to which the Soviet Union aspired.
LessWrong 2.0

Disclaimer: politics is the mind-killer.

LW used to be politically neutral; I'm not sure it is so anymore. A large part of the user base is American, and the current presidential election season is spilling into LW far more than previous seasons ever did. And the current wave of populist, nationalistic, libertarian/individualist ideology which seems to be very popular in the USA is being represented in the general atmosphere of LW.

It would be great if a temporary ban on political subjects could be set and enforced until at least the current election season is over.

7satt6yI reckon LW's more politically neutral (in kilobug's apparent sense) now than it was in 2014, but that that's mainly attributable to the fall in traffic. (I'd guess LW's less politically-neutral-in-the-apparent-kilobug-sense than I felt it was [http://lesswrong.com/lw/hpc/can_we_dodge_the_mindkiller/964w] in 2013.) (I also think that as I understand the term "politically neutral", LW was never politically neutral, because the idea of a politically neutral institution is probably incoherent in the first place. I upvoted kilobug anyway because I think they mean something else by "politically neutral", and in any case I agree with the rest of their comment.) LW's always had a big, big libertarian/individualist streak. In the first survey [http://lesswrong.com/lw/fk/survey_results/] back in '09, a plurality (45%) called themselves libertarians. That's actually been diluted over the years as more conventional left-wingers have drifted in.
4ChristianKl6yI think karma voting works better than articulating a fixed rule. If you come about a political discussion that you think shouldn't be on LW, downvote it. Omnilibrium seems to be a valid place for political discussions and I'm in favor of moving most of the political discussions happening on LW to Omnilibrium. As a result I think it's okay to have an Omnilibrium summary post in the LW open thread from time to time.
1Viliam6yThis would probably be better with links to examples, because I have no idea what are you writing about. Here is how my memory recalls it; I am not insisting that this is correct, just showing how I perceive it completely differently: Phase 1 -- no talking about politics (EY is obviously libertarian-ish, but he wants to avoid the object level of politics) Phase 2 -- different people bring their favorite topics here, including PUAs, HBD, feminists, neoreaction... there are lively debates first, people enthusiastically argue for their sides... then Eugine starts mass-downvoting everyone who disagrees with him, which turns the debates sour because now every political debate quickly turns into a meta-debate about downvoting... Phase 3 -- people mostly avoid debating politics again... once in a while someone makes a "hey, let's talk about politics here" thread, but except for neoreactionaries no one bothers to argue anymore... Phase 4 -- no talking about politics EDIT: After reading other threads, I guess you had this [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/n3n/open_thread_dec_21_dec_27_2015/czgm] in mind.
1Lumifer6yI haven't noticed that. I don't recall any exteneded discussion that involved Hillary or Trump, for example. What's wrong with that? Just that you'd prefer a different wave?
The Art of Lawfare and Litigation strategy

I was shocked by what appeared to be gross violations of cultural norms around the blaming of victims.

What? How is it a violation of 'cultural norms' to say that smoking or other factors contribute to cancer?

3Val6yThis windmill fight against blaming the victims seems to go out of hand. I agree that sometimes we have to take care not to blame the victim, but let's just not fall to the other extreme. The topic where this comes up the most often is rape, so let's take an example about rape: * When a woman is raped and the reaction of someone is that she deserved it, why didn't she take better care, or that it could only have happened if she also wanted it... now that's a clear case of blaming the victim, and we should fight against it. * On the other hand, when someone honestly gives an advice about how to reduce the risks of being raped, for example, avoiding a notoriously bad area of town during the night when alone, or that in an area there is a "secret" dress code how prostitutes show potential customers who they are and we should tell young women not to accidentally dress like that... now when people are offended and try to censor this information by claiming that it's blaming the victims, it starts to get ridiculous.
0ChristianKl6yI think his point is that the people who smoke get blamed instead of the companies who produce tabacco getting blamed.
Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

Investigative journalism costs money.

We aren't talking about journalism here. We are explicitly talking about propaganda. Or counter-propaganda, if you prefer.

The Young Turks aren't doing genuine news. They comment on what various other people report and do little research into the subjects they cover.

Much like the rest of the media. And, again, geniune news is off-topic. Although they do tend to bring into focus some subjects that the rest of the media is hesitant to cover.

Pay local bloggers with regime critical views to write stories

No use if... (read more)

3ChristianKl6yNot really. Alex Jones is speaking critically about the US system but the factual background of what he says is poor. While he do has a relatively large audience he doesn't strongly affect the political system. To do effective propaganda you need to actually engage with the reality on the ground. Michael Hastings couldn't have written an article that forces Stanley McChrystal into resignantion without doing investigative reporting. Quite a lot of mainstream reporters do pick up the phone to call people to research a story. The Young Turks just seem to pick up news story and then have a few people sit together to speak about what they think about that story.
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