All of rlpowell's Comments + Replies

I Want To Live In A Baugruppe

I'm interested in theory, but in practice I am attached to living in SF proper that may be hard to overcome.

I'll mention that in South Bay there are housing complexes that have multiple nearly-adjacent units in shared space, and it might work well to just pick such a complex and progressively have like-minded people take over more and more of it. Noticeably less awesome, but also noticeably easier.

8Vaniver5yI believe this is what happened with Godric's Hollow--a four unit building turned, one by one, into a four unit rationalist building.
Gun Control: How would we know?

I'm still reeling from http://lesswrong.com/lw/g0y/gun_control_how_would_we_know/84ky?context=1#comments ; I'm noticing how in other contexts "Why are we still talking about this we have better things to do?" is obvious, but it tends not to be for me in mind-killer contexts. Unfortunately, the impact of that point on my mind is such that I'm maybe not giving this thread the attention that all of your very well-thought out answers deserve, because I've suddenly stopped caring very much.

Regardless, though, y'all certainly have lived up to my expectations as polite, reasonable, rational debaters. Well done.

Gun Control: How would we know?

Answering the question before reading on: I have believe in the past that more guns in the hands of ordinary, well-meaning means less violent crime, and less violent deaths, due to deterrence; "an armed society is a polite society".

Gun Control: How would we know?

Heh. It was shorthand for "this is my pre-cached, non-rational response". I didn't really intend, or want, people to respond to that part, although the responses have been interesting.

Gun Control: How would we know?

Oh, I like this. I like this a lot. The underlying attitude, I mean. I'm going see if I can't extrapolate a general policy from this, actually. Something like:

"In a world where there still exist children that live (or, more likely, die) on garbage heaps, the fact that we're still arguing about [whatever issue] implies to me that it's not a low hanging fruit, and we should just go work on those instead."

Gun Control: How would we know?

You're absolutely right; this isn't the low hanging fruit for human deaths.

Gun Control: How would we know?

I don't have clear lines of retreat for the simple reason that to answer what I would do in each of those cases requires also knowing what sorts of actions make things better in each case. I mean, I can say something generic like "increase or decrease the availability of guns in linear proportion to how much they help", but what actually decreases availability of guns, without having terrible side effects? Like, does gun control as we currently understand it lead to only crazy/criminal/insane people owning guns?, because that seems suboptimal.

H... (read more)

Gun Control: How would we know?

In my limited-ish experience, some Canadian border towns (Niagra Falls, in particular) get pretty close, but you'll get lots of people on both sides that concentrate on their national identity.

Gun Control: How would we know?

Those are both really good points, thanks.

While a school shooting is what got me thinking about this, I didn't mean to limit to that specifically; my pre-cached thought on mass murders is "if people in the crowd had been armed, the shooter would have been stopped quickly". I phrase it that way to emphasize that I have no real evidence there.

Spending time training people to help those around them, in general, as a possible solution, though ... I admit that I'd honestly never thought of that. It doesn't just apply to teachers, either; one can ima... (read more)

Gun Control: How would we know?

What I was going for is the difference between wanting a particular person dead (i.e. one's wife, one's boss, etc), in which case I'd assume that access to particular weapons is irrelevant because you'll find a way, vs. wanting to kill lots of people, or to kill lots of people in a particular category (i.e. school shooting mass murders, which as I implied is how I got on this topic). It seems at least possible that weapon limitations could help limit the latter, whereas if person X really wants person Y, specifically, dead, weapon limitations seem unlikely to be relevant.

0TimS9yAs I understand it, research suggests that most desires to kill are temporary - moral philosophers might say that they aren't reflexively stable, behavioral psychologists might say that people are easily put off by trivial inconveniences [http://lesswrong.com/lw/f1/beware_trivial_inconveniences/]. Regardless of the causal mechanism, the evidence is pretty good that unavailability of highly effective weapons prevents both random and unrandom murders. Thus, weapons limitations are likely to be relevant to all kinds of murders. Even if that isn't true, random murders are so uncommon that designing interventions specific to them is very similar to focusing medical research on curing the injuries people suffer only when struck by lighting. In short, probably a waste of attention in terms of marginal improvements.
Gun Control: How would we know?

I don't know why Konkvistador posted so much of Yvain's article, or highlighted the particular parts of it that ey did, but the article itself goes into the research on this topic in some detail, which certainly hepls.

-Robin

3prase9yYvain's article is great (which is usual for his articles), but its topic is political debate about gun control rather than gun control per se. The reason why I am asking is that I recall Konkvistador asking people not to post about politics around the time of the last US elections, so in my model of Konkvistador it would make sense if he asked people not to post about gun control around the time of the last US school shooting. On the other hand, his comment isn't exactly what would be expected if that was really his intention, so I am a bit confused.
Gun Control: How would we know?

"No one else has tried this." -- I have, actually, which is why this post is here. :D

Thanks for the great link, that's the sort of thing I was wanting to see.

-Robin

Gun Control: How would we know?

Good lord. I thought I had set LW to tell me when someone replied; having not received any email I assumed this post had been ignored. 0__o

-Robin

Empirical Sleep Time

That's exactly the sort of thing I had in mind, thank you! I'll try it.

-Robin

Empirical Sleep Time

If only I had that option. :) If you know how to explain this to my 8 month olds, please do let me know. :)

I appreciate the info about the ideal there; I'm going to keep it in mind. But it's simply not reasonable for me right now.

My focus and attention are much better late at night, so I tend to stay up as late as I can stand, to get more done. Unfortunately, with babies around, both when I wake up in the morning and when in the evening I can start focusing on the things I want to work on are entirely random. Hence wanting to get as much effective ti... (read more)

Empirical Sleep Time

If you mean I should have put it in the "main" tab rather than the "discussion" tab: I thought that was, essentially, for coherent essays, rather than Q-and-A. If that's not what you meant, please explain?

-Robin

0Oscar_Cunningham10yThere exists a monthly Discussion thread [http://lesswrong.com/lw/d3h/open_thread_june_1630_2012/] to which people can post as comments various things which aren't worth a whole post.
7wedrifid10yEach month there is a post in the discussion section called "Open thread for May 2012" (or equivalent). He means you could put it as a comment there. I have no problem with this as a discussion post myself.
Empirical Sleep Time

Unless I'm misunderstanding, a lot of what the Zeo does is select a wake time that matches one's sleep cycle. I have twin infants; the time(s) at which I am awoken are entirely out of my control. :D Also, I don't use an alarm, and haven't in many years; as such I awake at what I assume is the right point of my sleep cycle (when allowed to wake naturally, which doesn't much happen anymore).

If I'm misunderstanding, feel free to elaborate; the copy on Amazon at least is pretty inspecific.

Generally speaking, though, I don't have a serious problem with sleep... (read more)

Empirical Sleep Time

Given external evidence that my performance is reduced, I don't think getting myself to go to sleep will be a significant problem. My issue is usually the belief that I'm still getting useful stuff done, and actively resisting sleep on that basis; evidence to the contrary is something I think I would treat as real data.

What deserves cryocide?

Of course, but I can help preserve the memories I choose by remembering them, reinforcing the connections. I dunno about Alzheimer's, but with, say, CJD, anything could disappear at any time, reinforced or not. It's not the same, to me.

-Robin

What deserves cryocide?

FWIW, I have a lot of what you've described in terms of non-vivid sensory memories; the primary difference is that my factual memories ("I once did X", without sensory context) are very important to me, and I don't have the pain response.

Having said all of that, it may help you to know that my access to childhood memories has improved significantly after therapy, and this was not a therapy goal at all. If you are in the SF bay area, I would be ecstatic to recommend my therapist: http://mylesdownes.com/ (site looks much more newage then he ever behaved with me).

0NancyLebovitz10yI live in Philadelphia, and it doesn't seem likely that Myles Downes does phone sessions. It doesn't surprise me a bit that your access to childhood memories has improved.
What deserves cryocide?

That's great stuff; thank you.

I think you're right that case-by-case analysis is almost certainly necessary, which I suppose isn't surprising once I think about it.

Also, prion diseases are creepy. -_-

What deserves cryocide?

I'm 35, and I'm worst-casing this, and as I said Alzheimer's is, I presume, only one such thing to be worried about.

What deserves cryocide?

I'm noticing that no-one has actually tried to answer half of the question: besides Alzheimer's, what sorts of degenerative brain awfulness is out there?

4JenniferRM10ySorry to neglect your question. I intended to write something initially and then didn't get around to it. I can think of two brain diseases off the top of my head that spare various brain structures that might be thought to implement and store "the self". This suggests that you at least need to do a case by case analysis? A probably self-sparing disease is Encephalitis_lethargica [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encephalitis_lethargica] which causes (or caused?) physical catatonia (probably by damaging some components of the brain that use or produce dopamine) while seeming to spare other things for long periods of time, such that they can be temporarily "mentally recovered" by the administration of L-DOPA even decades after the onset of catatonia. This was done experimentally in the 1960's and is reasonably accurately documented in vivid form by "Awakenings", a doctor's memoir [http://www.amazon.com/Awakenings-Oliver-Sacks/dp/0375704051] turned into a Williams/DeNiro film [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awakenings]). The symptoms are similar to Parkinson's [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_Disease] which, from what I understand, can also sometimes be temporarily treated to "bring the person back for a while" using things like stem cell treatments. The second thing I can think of that potentially "spares the person's soul" is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis]. This is what Hal Finney and Stephen Hawking. Hal Finney has been signed up with Alcor for decades and announced being diagnosed with the disease here on LW in 2009, in his essay Dying Outside [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ab/dying_outside/]. In contrast, trying to think of a disease off the top of my head that probably doesn't spare the soul, I would expect CJD [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creutzfeldt%E2%80%93Jakob_disease] to take out everything. My understanding is that it basically involved exponentially progressing conversion of "nearly all
What deserves cryocide?

I will keep the whole "don't get it banned for other people" thing in mind should this ever actually come up, but as I can't predict ultimate outcomes I can't make any promises.

Choosing not to eat or drink doesn't seem likely to provoke that response, especially if I only explain it as "I don't want to live through [whatever]".

I would make such a choice long before I was considered legally incompetent; the Russian roulette of "any day a fond memory could disappear" is to horrible for me; unlike other people in this thread, I consider my memories a central part of who I am.

9GLaDOS10yYou do realize this is true to a surprisingly large degree even for perfectly healthy human brains right?
What deserves cryocide?

If you think that morphine solves that, you have had the very good fortune to never experience severe pain. I've watched my father bellow in pain for hours while he was on several times the maximum recommended dose of every pain medication a hospital could provide.

We are very bad at controlling severe pain; any belief to the contrary is simply mythology believed by people who have never been there (I have as well, and I can assure you this is true).

My father was in severe pain, every day, for the last decade or so of his life. It happens to be the case t... (read more)

3NancyLebovitz10yI've seen claims that doctors know how to control pain, and no evidence that it's true in general. (One of my friends has severe neuropathy from no known cause, and heavy duty meds, electrical stimulation, and I forgot what other medical methods have been tried leave her barely able to walk.) I would like to have a method of recognizing it when someone makes a comforting generalization ("it will get done soon" is a small scale example) to check for evidence. There's a temptation to accept the comfort too fast. Another angle on doctors and pain control is that you don't always know where to find competent help. A friend who had a major cancer and was picky about being able to think clearly didn't get decent pain control until he was in a hospice. Some people find that having access to suicide makes a hard life easier to endure.
What deserves cryocide?

That is, indeed, huge. With two babies and a full time job and some moonlighting, I don't think it's feasible for me to read it, but I appreciate the link none the less.

What deserves cryocide?

Thanks, good stuff, that's how I found the alcor article I link below.

What deserves cryocide?

WRT the actual method of cryocide, "lie down in a tub full of ice water" seems the obvious choice, but has important legal complications, so I'll point people to http://www.alcor.org/magazine/2011/01/14/options-for-brain-threatening-disorders/ , which provides a legal alternative.

Goddamn! "Dying of thirst to avoid laws on suicide that'll screw with your body" is something our grandchildren might well think to be made up if someone told them; who'd believe our society could really be that insane?

What deserves cryocide?

It says: 14.2 out of 100 men of European ethnicity who share Robin Powell's genotype will develop Alzheimer's Disease between the ages of 50 and 79.

Apparently, according to 23andMe, the normal incidence in european men in that age range is 7.2%, so it's "only" twice as likely.

4JoshuaZ10yIn that case, your current age matters a lot. If you are substantially below that age then there's a high likelyhood that before you hit that age range we will have some effective treatments for Alzheimer's (although I think people are generally overly optimistic about a lot of the current treatment suggestions).
4gwern10ySo your 14% is for a range that overlaps with a 19% range... Might want to investigate your risk a little more carefully, eg. what's your total lifetime risk with that info compared with the base-rate lifetime risk for people with your life expectancy?
What deserves cryocide?

As a side comment, part of the reason I asked is that 23andMe says my chance of Alzheimer's is 14+%. So it's something I really need to factor into my plans.

-Robin

6gwern10yWhat age is that 14+% for? Looking at Wikipedia I see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alzheimer%27s#Epidemiology [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alzheimer%27s#Epidemiology] So depending on what age that is for, 14% might actually be great news...
Epistemic Viciousness

I wish there was a Krav Maga place within sensible distance of me. -_-

I'm actually thinking of going with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, AKA MMA training school, simply because it's close and at my current level of training (zero) anything is an improvement.

-Robin

The human problem

The problem here is that, as evidenced by SL4 list posts, Phil is serious.

So basically, there is some super-morality or super-goal or something that is "better" by some standard than what humans have. Let's call it woogah. Phil is worried because we're going to make FAI that can't possibly learn/reach/achieve/understand woogah because it's based on human values.

As far as I can see, there are three options here:

  1. Phil values woogah, which means it's included in the space of human values, which means there's no problem.

  2. Phil does not value wooga

... (read more)
0Andrew Vlahos1yThere is a fourth option: the "safe" set of values can be misaligned with humans' actual values. Some values that humans have are either not listed in the "safe" set of values, or something in the safe set of values would not quite align with what it was trying to represent. As a specific example, consider how a human might have defined values a few centuries ago."Hmm, what value system should we build our society on? Aha! The seven heavenly virtues! Every utopian society must encourage chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility!". Then, later, someone tries to put happiness somewhere in the list. However, since this was not put into the constrained optimization function it becomes a challenge to optimize for it. This is NOT something that would only happen in the past. If an AI based it's values today on what the majority agrees is a good idea, things like marijuana would be banned and survival would be replaced by "security" or something else slightly wrong.
That Magical Click

That's a really good point.

I think if the only reason you're staying alive is to stop other people from being sad, you've got a psychological bug WRT valuing yourself for your own sake that you really need to work on, but that is (obviously) a personal value judgment. If that is the only reason, though, you're right, suicide is bad and cryo is as bad or worse.

I imagine that such a person will have a really shitty life whenever people close to them leave or die; sounds really depressing. I can only hope, for their sake, that such a person dies before their significant other(s).

-Robin

Epistemic Viciousness

(way after the fact)

You know what? You are absolutely right that I'm spouting an untested theory. I have since stopped.

The problem is that I see no way to test either side; either what I said or the converse, which you seem to be asserting, which is that whatever comes out of MMA is basically optimal fighting technique.

The only test I can think of is to load up fighters that assert opposite sides of this, and are both highly trained in their respective arts and so on, on lots of PCP, and see who lives.

There are ... some practical and ethical problems the... (read more)

5Desrtopa10yThis is also quite a while after the fact, but I will note that we do have access to some relevant information on this issue, coming in large part from military martial arts research. Active militaries have significant exposure to data on what sort of techniques are useful in self defense, and they use this as their metric for success. How closely does MMA resemble military based martial arts? I think the quote from one of the instructors in the Krav Maga episode of Human Weapon, to the host Jason Chambers, pretty much sums it up.

which you seem to be asserting, which is that whatever comes out of MMA is basically optimal fighting technique.

If that is the claim you are rejecting then I must agree. I have no reason to expect optimal fighting technique to come out of MMA, indeed, it would indicate a failure of optimisation in MMA competitors. As you go on to indicate you are measuring fighting technique as it serves to facilitate survival in one on one fights to the death. The social and physical payoffs in MMA training, competition and sparring are different. Optimising for one in... (read more)

Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction

It's on my list, actually; several friends have recommended it.

And now it is actually on the list. :)

-Robin

Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction

Torture doesn't actually bother me much at all. -_- The more I talk about this the more I think it's just me being weird.

I remember the Eaters in Consider Phlebas, but my only reaction to that episode was "why is this in this novel at all?" It served no purpose and could, and I think should, have been cut without leaving a gap.

That is exactly why it bothered me: it seemed to exist for the sole purpose of grossing me out, with no actual connection to the plot. I can deal with just about anything as long as it advances the plot.

-Robin

Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction

What you mentioned there sounds perfectly fine and reasonable. I enjoy Terry Goodkind and Neal Asher, I'm hardly a lightweight in this respect normally. Perhaps I just have more issues with cannibalism and/or disgusting food than other people (the "disgusting food" part seems likely, actually).

I will take a look at them. Thanks.

-Robin

0Normal_Anomaly11yI'm glad I was able to help and I hope you enjoy. Your page of recommendations is a great resource.
Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction

Yaaaaay! That's it. I had it in my Fictionwise account, it turns out. -_-

I think the reason I remember reading it online is that the Hugo nominee stories are distributed that way these days.

-Robin

Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction

I don't read Banks (see explanation at the page I linked to at the bottom of the post, if you care).

I'm pretty sure I'd remember if it was Vinge or Stross, but:

It's not anything at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Stross#Short_fiction , and I've never read either of his collections.

Looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernor_Vinge#Uncollected_short_fiction ,there's a tiny chance it could be A Dry Martini, as I was at ConJose, but I would expect that to be food themed. It's not Cookie Monster. I've not read any of the other collections except True ... (read more)

0RichardKennaway11yYou'll want to avoid his recent Surface Detail then. A major plot component is virtual hells built from the religious specifications of multiple civilisations (according to the story, but it looked to me more like Bosch and Brueghel brought to virtual life), in which billions of people are tortured forever. Substantial parts are set within them, described in detail. I remember the Eaters in Consider Phlebas, but my only reaction to that episode was "why is this in this novel at all?" It served no purpose and could, and I think should, have been cut without leaving a gap.
0Risto_Saarelma11yI'm fighting a terrible temptation here to try to convince you that The Wasp Factory actually turns out to be singularity-themed SF two thirds in. (Vg qbrfa'g.)
1Normal_Anomaly11yHuh. I read Consider Phlebas, and have no memory of the eaters... or of much else from that book [looks it up] okay, yeah, that was disgusting, just not enough to remember it. I wasn't that into Consider Phlebas anyway. I loved The Player of Games and Excession. Please give them a chance; they are head and shoulders above the others. On the other hand, I may just have a low ick threshold: looking back, there are one or two things in each of those that might be disturbing. Possible gross concepts, rot'13d (description is not graphic): Rkprffvba unf n fcrpvrf jvgu na hacyrnfnag phygher: uvtu yriryf bs zvfbtlal naq qbtsvtugvat/tynqvngbe svtugvat. Gur Cynlre bs Tnzrf unf bar bss-fperra pnfgengvba naq bar gbegher fprar va abg zhpu qrgnvy. Basically nothing as bad as the eaters and nothing significantly worse than what ancient cultures did in real life.
Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction

\o/

Thank you so much! It's fantastic that it's by the MoPI dude.

-Robin

That Magical Click

(Edit: after having written this entire giant thing, I notice you saying that this was just a "why are some people not interested in cryo" comment, whereas I very much am trying to change your mind. I don't like trying to change people's minds without warning (I thought we were having that sort of discussion, but apparently we aren't), so here's warning.)

But it seems that natural death seems like a good point to say "enough is enough." In other words, letting what's been given be enough.

You're aware that your life expectancy is abo... (read more)

6Oligopsony11yAn important reason for not dying at the moment is that it would make the people you most care about very distraught. Dying by suicide would make them even more distraught. Signing up for cryonics would not make them less distraught and would lead to social disapproval. Not committing suicide doesn't require that one place a great deal of intrinsic value in one's own continued existence.

Careful with life-expectancy figures from earlier eras. There was a great chance of dying as a baby, and a great chance for women to die of childbirth. Excluding the first -- that is, just counting those that made it to, say, 5 years old, and the life-expectancy greatly shoots up, though obviously not as high as now.

0Paul Crowley12yWhen it comes to our values, there is no "reality", but we can hope to adjust them to be coherent and consistent under reflection. I think your paragraph "As a sort-of aside" is an example of exactly that kind of moral thinking.
0DanielVarga12yThis statement is simply not true in this form. My survival instincts prevent me from committing suicide, but they don't tell me anything about cryonics. On another thread, VijayKrishnan explained this quite clearly: One can try to construct a low-complexity formalized approximation to our survival instincts. ("This is how you would feel about it if you were smarter.") I have two issues with this. First, these will not actually be instincts (unless we rewire our brain to make them so). Second, I'm not sure that such a formalization will logically imply cryonics. Here is a sort of counterexample: On a more abstract level, the important thing about "having a clone in the future" aka survival is that you have the means to influence the future. So in a contrived thought experiment you may objectively prefer choosing "heroic, legendary death that inspires billions" to "long, dull existence", as the former influences the future more. And this formalization/reinterpretation of survival is, of course, in line with what writers and poets like to tell us.
6Vladimir_Nesov12yThis is the Reversal test [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Reversal_test].
That Magical Click

In some piece of fiction (I think it was Orion's Arm, but the closest I can find is http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45b3daabb2329 and the reference to "the Herimann-Glauer-Yudkowski relation of inclusive retrospective obviousness") I saw the idea that one could order qualitatively-smarter things on the basis of what you're calling "clicks". Specifically, that if humans are level 1, then the next level above that is the level where if you handed the being the data on which our science is built, all the results would click immediately/... (read more)

The Unfinished Mystery of the Shangri-La Diet

Other people have suggested similar things, but I'll take it a step farther: the issue may simply be fidelity of sensory input neurons, i.e. different things count as "having taste" for different people. I assure you, you could give me olive oil so lite that it glowed, and it would still have a very distinctive and strong taste to me.

This, I guess, is where the noseclip suggestion came from.

I have an (I think) better idea: "drink" the stuff by putting it in a (clean!) turkey baster, stick the turkey baster in the back of your throat, a... (read more)

6Eliezer Yudkowsky13yWhen extra light olive oil didn't work, I tried taking oil in the form of swallowed flax oil caplets. Swallowing twenty of those wasn't much fun, but it still didn't work.
Epistemic Viciousness

This is sort-of true, but with one really, really big caveat that people seem to forget: any form of fighting that is controlled basically screws large portions of many styles.

If you go into an MMA tournament and deliberately break someone's arm, you aren't going to be asked back. Let alone if you break their neck. Furthermore, non-crazy martial artists don't even want to: there's too much respect for that. There are styles that are centered around causing maximum damage as quickly as possible, and they are entirely useless in MMA fights. You're never going to see a hard-style master being competitive in an MMA tournament, because 90% of what they know is irrelevant.

-Robin

rlpowell, you are incorrect. You are spouting an untested theory that is repeated as fact by those with a vested interest in avoiding the harsh light of truth.

In actual fact, there is no problem with breaking someone's arm in an MMA fight (see Mir vs. Sylvia in the UFC, for example). It's also close to impossible to break someone's neck (deliberately), despite what you may see in movies.

The "we're too dangerous to fight" is an easy meme to propagate. But let me just ask you this: let's just say, hypothetically, that your theory ("maximum ... (read more)