Preschool: Much Less Than You Wanted To Know

Alex has not skipped a grade or put in an some secret fast-track program for kids who went to preschool, because this does not exist.

Even more confounding: my kids have been skipping kindergarten in part because they *didn't* go to preschool. My wife works from home, and has spent a lot of time teaching them things and double-checking things they teach themselves.

Preschools don't do tracking any more than grade schools, so even if in theory they might provide better instruction than the average overworked parent(s), the output will be 100% totally-ready-for-kindergarten (who will be stuck as you describe), which in the long term won't look as good as a mix of 95% not-quite-as-ready-for-kindergarten (who will catch up as you describe) and 5% ready-for-first-grade (who will permanently be a year ahead).

Dissolving the Fermi Paradox, and what reflection it provides

Gah, of course you're correct. I can't imagine how I got so confused but thank you for the correction.

Dissolving the Fermi Paradox, and what reflection it provides

You don't need any correlation between and to have . Suppose both variables are 1 with probability .5 and 2 with probability .5; then their mean is 1.5, but the mean of their products is 2.25.

Dissolving the Fermi Paradox, and what reflection it provides

Not quite. Expected value is linear but doesn't commute with multiplication. Since the Drake equation is pure multiplication then you could use point estimates of the means in log space and sum those to get the mean in log space of the result, but even then you'd *only* have the mean of the result, whereas what would really be a "paradox" is if turned out to be tiny.

Expressive Vocabulary

the thing you know perfectly well people meanwhen they say "chemicals"

I honestly don't understand what that thing is, actually.

To use an example from a Facebook post I saw this week:

Is P-Menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) a chemical? What about oil from the lemon eucalyptus tree? Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is typically refined until it's 70% PMD instead of 2%; does that turn it into a chemical? What if we were to refine it all the way to 100%? What if, now that we've got 100% PMD, we just start using PMD synthesized at a chemical plant instead?

I do like the idea from another comment here that

the motte is "technically, everything is a chemical," and the bailey is "No need to worry about the content of the food you buy."

But even that can be inverted. People buy "no nitrites added" bacon to try to avoid a dangerous chemical, and they end up getting the result of (all natural! organic!) celery-juice and celery-powder processes. At best, the nitrates in the celery still end up getting converted to nitrites during curing, except that now there's another loose variable in the production so a balance between "cardiac/cancer risk from high nitrite levels" versus "botulism risk from low nitrite levels" is even harder to achieve. At worst, the consumer falsely believes they've no further need to worry about the content of the food they buy, and so they don't moderate consumption of it they way they would have moderated consumption of "chemicals".

The different types (not sizes!) of infinity

So, does 1+ω make sense? It does, for the ordinals and hyperreals only.

It make sense for cardinals (the size of "a set of some infinite cardinality" unioned with "a set of cardinality 1" is "a set with the same infinite cardinality as the first set") and in real analysis (if lim f(x) = infinity, then lim f(x)+1 = infinity) too.

What about -1+ω? That only makes sense for the hyperreals.

And for cardinals (the size of the set difference between "a set of some infinite cardinality" and "a subset of one element" is the same infinite cardinality) and in real analysis (if lim f(x) = infinity, then lim -1+f(x) = infinity) too.

Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm

I believe the answer to your second question is probably technically "yes"; if there's *any* way in which AZ mispredicts relative to a human, then there's some Ensemble Learning classifier that weights AZ move choices with human move choices and performs better than AZ alone. And because Go has so many possible states and moves at each state, humans would have to be much, much, much worse at play overall for us to conclude that humans were worse along every dimension.

However, I'd bet the answer is practically "no". If AlphaZero vs the top humans is now an Elo difference of 1200, that gives a predicted human victory rate of about 1/1000. We'd never be able to play enough games to get enough systematic data to *identify* a dimension along which humans chose better moves. And even if we did, it's entirely possible that the best response to that identification would be "give AlphaZero more training time on those cases", not "give AlphaZero a human partner in those cases". And even if we did decide to give AlphaZero a human partner, how often would the partner's input end up overriding the move AlphaZero alone would have chosen? Would the human even be able to uselessly pay attention for game after game, just so they could be ready to contribute to a winning move on game 100?

LDL 2: Nonconvex Optimization

Oh, well in that case the point isn't subtlely lacking, it's just easily disproven. Given any function from I^N to R, I can take the tensor product with cos(k pi x) and get a new function from I^{N+1} to R which has k times as many non-globally-optimal local optima. Pick a decent k and iterate, and you can see the number growing exponentially with higher dimension, not approaching 0.

Perhaps there's something special about the functions we try to optimize in deep learning, a property that rules out such cases? That could be. But you've said nothing special about (or even defined) a particular class of deep learning problems, rather you've made a claim about all higher dimensional optimization problems, a claim which has an infinite number of counterexamples.

Moloch's Toolbox (1/2)

a Leviathan could try to transcend/straddle these fruits/niches and force them upward into a more Pareto optimal condition, maybe even into the non-Nash E. states if we're extra lucky.

Remember that old Yudkowsky post about Occam's Razor, wherein he points out how "a witch did it" sounds super-simple, but the word "witch" hides a ton of hidden complexity? I'm pretty sure you're doing the same thing here with the word "could". Instead of trying to picture what an imaginary all-powerful leader *could* do, imagine what a typical leader *would* do. You've just given a speech to Hillary Clinton about why it's imperative to decimate the university system for economic reasons, or to Donald Trump about how protectionism is always Pareto-suboptimal. Do they react the way you wish them to act? Does their reaction make you want to give them more forceful power, or less?

For that matter, you don't have to imagine any speeches - every politician and their staff have access to the same internet you do, and can learn everything about coordination problems and their solutions that you can, and even without totalitarian official power they still have enough of a "bully pulpit" and enough credibility, seriousness, and so on to push the world out of at least the shallowest non-globally-optimal local optima. How many of them are doing so? By contrast, how many of them are deliberately setting up *more* barriers to such changes?

And changes in precipitation patterns (I've seen evidence that reducing solar incidence is going to reduce ocean evaporation, independent of temperature).

There's also the "double catastrophe" problem to worry about. Even if the median expected outcome of a geoengineering process is decent, the downside variance becomes much worse.

I still suspect MCB is our least bad near- to medium-term option, and even in the long term the possibility of

targetedgeoengineering to improve local climates is awfully tempting, but it's not a panacea.As an unrelated aside, that CCC link rates "Methane Reduction Portfolio" as "Poor"; I'd have marked it "Counterproductive" for the moment. The biggest long-term global warming problem is CO2 (thanks to the short half-life of methane), and the biggest obstacle to CO2 emissions reduction is voters who think global warming is oversold. Let the problem get bigger until it can't be ignored, and

thenpick the single-use-only low hanging fruit.