All of ryan_b's Comments + Replies

I am beginning to think that histories of mathematical struggle and failure are my favorite kind. One that is similarly a tale of challenging and repeated failures on an unintuitive subject is thermodynamics, and an amazing book on this subject is The Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics, 1822–1854 by Clifford Truesdell, himself a mathematical physicist most famous for continuum mechanics.

Alternative frame: I've been poking at the idea of quantum resource theories periodically, literally on the strength of a certain word-similarity between quantum stuff and alignment stuff.

The root inspiration for this comes from Scott Aaronson's Quantum Computing Since Democritus, specifically two things: one, the "certain generalization of probability" lens pretty directly liberates me to throw QM ideas at just about anything, the same way I might with regular probability; two, the introduction of negative probability and through that "cancelling out" pos... (read more)

2the gears to ascenscion18d
quantum probability is a very specific thing; I agree that it's an incredibly interesting metaphor, and I also think there's something to be had there, but I'd caution against applying it too literally without care. the kinds of interference patterns at quantum scale are in fact qualitatively different from the ones at larger spatial scales under most conditions. neural networks are not usually complex valued, for starters. and not because it hasn't been tried.

Yes. The dominant ones are:

  • Military experience: I was in the infantry for 5 years, and deployed twice. I gained an extremely high appreciation for several important things: the amount of human effort that goes into moving huge amounts of people and stuff from A to B; growth and decay in the coordination and commitment of a team; the mindblowingly-enormous gap between how a strategy looks from on high to how it looks on the ground (which mostly means looking at failure a lot).
  • Jayne's macroscopic prediction paper: I am extremely libertine in how I apply thes
... (read more)
4johnswentworth1mo
Yup, exactly.
Answer by ryan_bJan 05, 202342

The Human Case:

A lot of coordination work. I have a theory that humans prefer mutual information (radical, I know) so a surprising-to-other-people amount of work goes into things like implementing global holidays, a global standard educational curriculum, ensuring people get to see direct representatives of the World-Emperor during their lives at least a few times, etc. This is because shared experiences generate the most mutual information.

I feel like in order for this to succeed it has to be happening during the takeover already. I cannot give any creden... (read more)

4johnswentworth1mo
Follow-up question: do you know where your models/intuitions on this came from? If so, where? (I ask because this answer comes closest so far to what I picture, and I'm curious whether you trace the source to the same place I do.)

I watched that talk on youtube. My first impression was strongly that he was using hyperbole for driving the point to the audience; the talk was littered with the pithiest versions his positions. Compare with the series of talks he gave after Zero to One was released for the more general way he expresses similar ideas, and you can also compare with some of the talks that he gives to political groups. On a spectrum between a Zero to One talk and a Republican Convention talk, this was closer to the latter.

That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if he was sk... (read more)

Would it be correct to consider things like proof by contradiction and proof by refutation as falling on the generation side, as they both rely on successfully generating a counterexample?

Completely separately, I want to make an analogy to notation in the form of the pi vs tau debate. Short background for those who don't want to wade through the link (though I recommend it, it is good fun): pi, the circle constant, is defined as the ratio between the diameter of a circle and its circumference; tau is defined as the ratio between the radius of a circle and ... (read more)

Separately from gwern's argument, I say that maintaining the gap is still of vital national interest. As an example, one of the arguments in favor of nuclear testing bans is that it unilaterally favors American nuclear supremacy, because only the US has the computational resources to conduct simulations good enough to be used in engineering new weapons.

That logic was applied to Russia, but the same logic applies to China: advanced simulations are useful for almost every dimension of military competition. If they let advanced compute go, that means that the... (read more)

On the strategy engine paired with NLP: I wonder how far we could get if the strategic engine was actually just a constructed series of murphyjitsu prompts for the NLP to complete, and then it tries to make decisions as dissimilar to the completed prompts as possible.

My guess is that murphyjitsu about other players would be simpler than situations on the game map in terms of beating humans, but that "solving Diplomacy" would probably begin with situations on the game map because that is clearly quantifiable and quantification of the player version would route through situations anyway.

portraying Sam Bankman-Fried as the Luke Skywalker to CZ’s Darth Vader? Presumably that will change a bit.

I feel like Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt is the new Star Wars narrative, because it looks like SBF is going to owe some people.

Although I would also entertain just moving SBF to Lando for a sympathetic portrayal, in the name of making the Robot Chicken version real.

I agree the gradient-of-physical-systems isn't the most natural way to think about it; I note that it didn't occur to me until this very conversation despite acausal trade being old hat here.

What I am thinking now is that a more natural way to think about it is overlapping abstraction space. My claim is that in order to acausally coordinate, at least one of the conditions is that all parties need to have access to the same chunk of abstraction space, somewhere in their timeline. This seems to cover the similar physical systems intuition we were talking abo... (read more)

I agree two ants in an anthill are not doing acausal coordination; they are following the pheromone trails laid down by each other. This is the ant version of explicit coordination.

But I think the crux between us is this:

It seems to stretch the original meaning

I agree, it does seem to stretch the original meaning. I think this is because the original meaning was surprising and weird; it seemed to be counterintuitive and I had to put quite a few cycles in to work through the examples of AIs negotiating without coexisting.

But consider for a moment we had beg... (read more)

3Elias Schmied3mo
Ah, I see what you mean! Interesting perspective. The one thing I disagree with is that a "gradient" doesn't seem like the most natural way to see it. It seems like it's more of a binary, "Is there (accurate) modelling of the counterfactual of your choice being different going on that actually impacted the choice? If yes, it's acausal. If not, it's not". This intuitively feels pretty binary to me.

I am happy with longer explanations, if you have the time. To be more specific about the kind of things I'm interested in:

  • Do you think Ukrainian forces are able to launch a campaign into Crimea?
  • Do you think Russian forces are able to respond in time?
  • If Russian forces do respond in time, do you think they will provide effective resistance?

In my model these kinds of questions tend to have a much bigger impact on diplomatic decisions than rhetorical or propaganda ones, and the recent history of the war has generated a lot more uncertainty about them through Russia's surprising underperformance.

3ChristianKl3mo
I don't think that I have strong insight into the on-the-ground military battle. That said, Crimea isn't an island but a peninsula, which means there is a landbridge. As such I would expect that it depends on the number of weapons and other support that the West provides whether or not Ukraine will be able to launch a campaign into Crimea. If anyone has read any analysis that suggests otherwise, I would be happy to see it, and given that my own assessment rests on little information there's a good chance that it might change my mind. 

The voting example is one of those interesting cases where I disagree with the reasoning but come to a similar conclusion anyway.

I claim the population of people who justify voting on any formal reasoning basis is at best a rounding error in the general population, and probably is indistinguishable from zero. Instead, the population in general believes one of three things:

  1. There is an election, so I vote because I'm a voter.
  2. Voting is meaningless anyway, so I don't.
  3. Election? What? Who cares?

But it looks to me this is still coordination without sharing any ex... (read more)

2Elias Schmied3mo
I don't think the "zero-computation" case should count. Are two ants in an anthill doing acausal coordination? No, they're just two similar physical systems. It seems to stretch the original meaning , it's in no sense "acausal".

What are your thoughts about the object level of the conflict in Ukraine and Russia, and what bearing do you think they have on the Crimea question?

2ChristianKl3mo
I do think there's a lot that could be said about the object level of the conflict in Ukraine and Russia.  In general, I feel like the desire to have short condensed answers to big conflicts like that does not help with actually understanding what's going on at a deeper level.  If you want something short, it's something like: "War is a zero-sum game that destroys a lot of utility, therefore it's good to end the war as soon as possible."

Thinking about ways in which this safety margin could break; is it possible to have a thin mapping layer on top of your Physics simulator that somehow subverts or obfuscates it

I suppose that a mapping task might fall under the heading of a mesa-optimizer, where what it is doing is optimizing for fidelity between between the outputs of the language layer and the inputs of the physics layer. This would be in addition to the mesa-optimization going on just in the physics simulator. Working title:

CAIS: The Case For Maximum Mesa Optimizers

I don't think so, no - the way I understand it, any kind of separation into separate systems falls into the CAIS sphere of thought. This is because we are measuring things from the capability side, rather than the generation-of-capability side: for example, I think it is still CAIS even if we take the exact same ML architecture and train copies of it into different specializations which then use each other as services.

There are a couple of things worth distinguishing, though:

  1. That a sufficiently integrated CAIS is indistinguishable from a single general age
... (read more)
3Paul Tiplady4mo
  Fleshing this point out, I think one can probably make conditional statistical arguments about safety here, to define what I think you are getting at with "sufficiently integrated". If your model is N parameters and integrates a bunch of Services, and we've established that a SOTA physics model requires N*100 parameters (the OP paper suggests that OOM difference), then it is likely safe to say that the model has not "re-learned" physics in some way that would render it illegible. (I've been thinking of this configuration as "thin model, fat modules", maybe "thin model, fat services" fits better with the CAIS terminology). However another model at N*1000 would be able to embed a physics simulator, and therefore would be able to effectively re-implement it in an illegible/deceptive way. Thinking about ways in which this safety margin could break; is it possible to have a thin mapping layer on top of your Physics simulator that somehow subverts or obfuscates it without having to fully re-implement it? For example, running two simple problems in the simulator, then merging/inverting them in the model layer? Intuitively I suspect it's hard to achieve much with this attack, but it's probably not possible to rule out in general.

That doesn't appear to be explained specifically, but what I think they are giving is the larger model size equivalence. That is to say, the 350M parameter language model with Mind's Eye is about as good as a 2.5B parameter language model, and so on.

2Hjalmar_Wijk4mo
I might be missing something but are they not just giving the number of parameters (in millions of parameters) on a log10 scale? Scaling laws are usually by log-parameters, and I suppose they felt that it was cleaner to subtract the constant log(10^6) from all the results (e.g. taking log(1300) instead of log(1.3B)). The B they put at the end is a bit weird though.

Yeah, I shoulda linked that. Fixing shortly, thanks to niplav in the meantime!

Because the way they went about it was to give the language model access to a separate physics simulator (MuJoCo, owned by DeepMind) rather than something like the language model learning the rules of physics through a physics textbook or landing on some encoding of English tokens that happens to represent physics.

I interpreted having to go to a different engine to get better inputs for the language model as counting for multiple interacting services.

3Gerald Monroe4mo
Would it satisfy your objections if the physics engine were a separate system, but that system was using only neural networks or other ML hypotheses capable of learning from feedback? So no hardcoded physics code, just a ML system that regresses between some input representation of the world and future predictions. And then we develop the representation with autoencoders so no human bias there either.

This sentence refers to interest groups, not to politicians or officials. It refers to unions, who want bargaining power, and union members, who want stable jobs and good pay. Or to businesses with a captive market, like American shipbuilders and dredge operators.

These groups think they are getting a payoff from status quo, and it is one they want to keep. The solution is therefore to match the payoff under the new proposal, or persuade them (of the truth that) they are not actually getting the payoff they think.

All of these examples seem like different variations of how to account for problem information.

I am reminded of a blog post about algorithms in scientific computing. Boo-hiss, I know, but - the claim of the blog post is that algorithmic efficiency is about problem information, and the more information the algorithm can capture about the problem the more efficient it can be. The example in support of the claim is the solving of linear systems of equations, and I establish relevance in this way: linear systems of equations are used in linear programming, whi... (read more)

In light of central explanations one and two, I feel like this fairly cries out for a reasoned rule in the Kahneman sense.

Short recap: this is the idea that you consult the best available experts to determine what the 6-8 most important dimensions of the problem are, and then give each of these a score, like cells in a spreadsheet. The default approach is to weight all these equally. The story goes this routinely meets expert performance even in fields where there are good experts, and tends to exceed it in fields where there isn't anything like real exper... (read more)

I can't resolve the disconnect about NATO completely, but: I find it works a lot better if we do not focus on NATO per se, but rather consider NATO to be the heading under which Putin's government talks about the basic geopolitical problems between Russia and Western Europe. For example, the Dugin school of thought views the European side of the security problem as being a fundamental one dictated by geography. For people in Russian leadership who subscribe to this notion, I expect the significance of NATO to them is as the current incarnation of a permanent problem.

-3CraigMichael4mo
I can't say for certain, but my hunch is that you're dead on here.

My reaction is "Ha!" and/or "Ew."

This should also be transformed into a horror movie in the direction of Ring and Insidious, where each time we view the photos the malevolent spirit gets more integrated into our lives and when it shows up in a best friends forever photo alone with us it gets to assume our lives.

And enjoy a refreshing Coca-Cola, of course.

In the top-right corner of Lesswrong, you should be able to see your username. In my view it is third from the right, alongside a star for the karma summary and a bell for alerts.

If you click on your username, a drop-down menu should appear. On mine, the very first item is "New Question" which will open up a draft Question.

1Shiroe4mo
Thanks. That solved my issue.

My wife's iPhone put together one of its Over the Years slideshows for my birthday, and she sent it to me because - exactly as the designers hoped - it contains several good memories. I have two wonderings about this.

First, the goodness in good memories. We periodically talk about the lowest-cost, best-return psychological intervention of gratitude, which seems heavily wrapped up with the idea of deliberately reviewing good memories. I know nothing about the algorithm that is used to put together these slideshows, but it seems to me it mostly triggers on v... (read more)

6Viliam4mo
A skilled hacker could install themselves in your memories. Add their face to your photos, first as one of many people in the background, then gradually more and more, until you would start believing they were the best friend in your childhood. Each time you review your memories, you create fake memories of your "friend". Also, consider the possibilities this would offer for advertising. I bet you didn't notice that each of your best memories involves you holding a bottle of Coke. But the more you review the photos, the more obvious it becomes.

Plan A for my daughter is martial arts; the wife and I quibble a bit about what to look for when the time comes. I am much more tolerant of injury risks, on the grounds that no-contact martial arts doesn't advance the purpose of self defense. I would consider MMA; wife is opposed to MMA chiefly on cultural grounds.

I would also like her to do one of the team competition sports, by which I mean thing like soccer, basketball, and volleyball over track, wrestling, or swimming. The latter set is no different from totally individual competition, because there is... (read more)

15hout4mo
Seems reasonable. I think the variance MA school to MA school is so incredibly high that it's almost impossible to layout a plan other than "visit schools within a reasonable trip and see".

You might have heard it described as "PeeWee", which means small children. In general, it refers to elementary school aged leagues for otherwise contact or equipment-intensive, like football and hockey. Elementary schools in the United States do not spend money on fields and equipment for these things, not least because they have playgrounds to maintain instead.

The blue cheese of comments is the funniest phrase I have read in weeks; I am looting it. If constructively contrarian arguments stink like a good cheese, then we might say the path to rational discourse is trod with the feet of god.

This year Petrov day almost sneaked past me. This strikes me as weird on account of the biggest proxy war since the 80s being underway, putting us closer the same stakes in realspace.

This comment is the first successful deployment of agree-disagree trick I have seen. Neat!

I saw those scores and thought I was about to witness the greatest exchange of constructive contrarianism in the history of the forums. (Pretty proud of a +7 -12 I posted recently. A real fine stinker. The blue cheese of comments.)

Ah, thank you - I didn't twig on the incentives comment, but I can see how that would be a signal of different operation.

I noticed you mention you work in one of these areas: from your perspective, what would you want an org like this to do differently from the existing ones that would make it more successful at getting policy implemented?

3ErickBall4mo
I suspect (though it's not something I have experience with) that a successful new policy think tank would be started by people with inside knowledge and connections to be able to suss out where the levers of government are. When the public starts hearing a lot about some dumb thing the government is doing badly (at the federal level), there are basically three possibilities: 1) it's well on its way to being fixed, 2) it's well on its way to becoming partisan and therefore subject to gridlock, or 3) it makes a good story but there isn't much substance to it, e.g. another less tractable factor is the real bottleneck. So you'd want to be in the position of having a thorough gears-level understanding of a particularly policy area that lets you be among the first to identify mistakes/weaknesses and how they could be fixed. Needless to say, this is tough to do in a whole bunch of policy areas at once.

This project has real Carrick Flynn vibes: well-meaning outsider without much domain expertise tries to fix things by throwing crypto money (I assume) at political problems where money has strongly diminishing returns.

Can you talk a bit more about what gave you this vibe? They aren't starting a fund or a PAC, which is what comes to mind for me when people throw money at problems, and is literally what Carrick Flynn did.

6ErickBall4mo
My assumption about crypto money is because SBF/FTX has been the main EA funder giving extensively for political activity so far. Zvi's comment that "existing organizations nominally dedicated to such purposes face poor incentive structures due to how they are funded and garner attention" also implies that Balsa has an unusual funding source.  Availability of money encourages organizations to spend that money on achieving their goals, and Zvi's blogging about policy failures, here and in the past, has tended to be rather strongly worded and even derisive. This leads me to believe that in practice he will be more focused on using the organization's resources to enact changes, e.g. through advocacy/publicizing failures, than on impartial policy analysis. If I turn out to be wrong on these points, then I would be significantly more optimistic about the project. In principle I think more policy engagement could be a good thing, if handled carefully.

I have a book on my to-read list on exactly this topic, for those interested: Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945

I originally picked up the recommendation from a post at the Scholar's Stage.

Interesting - I interpreted this section differently, and yet I think it ultimately cashes out as agreeing with your comment about incentives.

In my reading, the clear concrete instructions are about the priorities, and about how to communicate. From the rest of the post I understood clearly that this means instructions like:

  • Priority 1 this week is X. In any decision with a tradeoff between X and Y, choose X.
  • Work on X for the next 4 hours after this meeting. Do not work on anything else.
  • Schedule miscellaneous meetings on Tuesdays. Do not schedule them on an
... (read more)
2ChristianKl5mo
Imagine Tesla implementing those rules. Whatever priority you set as X, it likely doesn't make sense that both the people putting solar tiles on people's roofs and the people writing code for automated cars work on X. 

Reviewing the examples in the post again, I think I was confused on first reading. I initially read the nuclear reactor example as being a completed version of the Michaelangelo example, but now I see it clearly includes the harms issue I was thinking about.

I also think that the Library of Babel example contains my search thoughts, just not separated out in the same way as in the Poorly Calibrated Heuristics section.

I'm going to chalk this one up to an oops!

Upvoted, because I think this a naturally interesting topic and is always relevant on LessWrong. I particularly like the threshold optimization section - it is accessible for people who aren't especially advanced in math, and sacrifices little in terms of flow and readability for the rigor gains.

I don't agree that the cost of a false-positive is negligible in general. In order for that to be true, search would have to be reliable and efficient, which among other things means we would need to know what brilliant looked like, in searchable terms, before we f... (read more)

5ChristianKl5mo
I don't think those are examples of medical research in Sturgeon's sense. Outside of "essential oil cure cancer" blogs, half of the published cancer research [https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03691-0]doesn't replicate and I wouldn't surprised if the majority of the rest is useless for actually doing anything about cancer for other reasons. 
4cartografie5mo
The precision-recall tradeoff definitely varies from one task to another. I split tasks into "precision-maxxing" (where false-positives are costlier than false-negatives) and "recall-maxxing" (where false-negatives are costlier than false-positives). I disagree with your estimate of the relative costs in history and in medical research. The truth is that academia does surprisingly well at filtering out the good from the bad. Suppose I select two medical papers at random — one from the set of good medical papers, and one from the set of crap medical papers. If a wizard offered to permanently delete both papers from reality, that would rarely be a good deal because the benefit of deleting the crap paper is negligible compared to the cost of losing the good paper.  But what if the wizard offered to delete M crap papers and one good paper? How large must M be before this is a good deal? The minimal acceptable M is CFN/CFP, so τ⋆=CFP/(CFP+CFN)=1/(1+M). I'd guess that M is at least 30, so τ⋆ is at most 3.5%.

This isn't spending per se; rather it is increasing costs. Any increase in spending happens in the course of existing programs, such as handing out more loans once students respond to the incentives.

On top of this, the federal financial structure is a unique and horrifying house of cards. Their accounting methods are actually unique to them, and sometimes vary by department or agency; auditing is difficult and inconsistent; much of it is seemingly designed to obfuscate, though in a change-the-standards-by-committee-to-make-us-look-less-bad way rather than ... (read more)

1tkpwaeub5mo
Yeah, you'd have to prove that the costs are somehow shifted. That's not at all clear. A dollar in accounts receivable is something of a legal fiction. It exists on a probability distribution according to how likely it is that the debt is going to be collected. Before credit cards, it was standard practice for businesses to "age" their AR over the course of months, ultimately writing off the most intractable debts. In many ways, that's all that's going on here. Credit cards are simply a way for businesses to sell their AR (at a modest discount). Interest rates partially offset this, but only to a point. If $200,000 isn't collectable neither is $2,000,000 - interest theater, if you will.

I wonder if someone were to form a credible educational institution that used income sharing agreements in lieu of various loans, whether it could directly out-compete the current university system.

Actually making a creditable educational institution is a pretty big hurdle.  I doubt the funding arrangement matters that much, and certainly I wouldn't want to compete against the current system of loans you probably won't have to pay back.

I am not doing anything different from you, but I don't see any major tactical shifts that make much sense. The problem is that 401k and index funds already are the maximum-uncertain-future choices, for any future where the stock market succeeds as an institution. Residential real estate already is the lowest risk bet for any future where land is assessed according to price rather than according to use.

So mostly what I am trying to do is:

  • Identify ways to make my property more useful. This is basic things, like growing a chunk of our food, increasing the am
... (read more)

I agree they make for really good stories. I tell you what I would like to see more of in these stories is leaning into the moral dessert of it all. 

  • Fox and Hound: make friends and gain the ability to survive bear attacks!
  • Mononoke: make not-enemies and not-die to spirit stampedes or cold iron!
  • Primal: make friends and you can eat anything!

Actually, the Primal example is so on the nose I feel like a better term is needed for coordination-related-morality. Moral dinner seems fitting. Be good, so you can eat.

3Raemon5mo
I do think it's kinda important that a major moral of the fox and the hound is "make friends because having friends is nice." (or, to be more clear: "make friends so you have people to play and have fun with, who like you, who give you a feeling of lasting connection". Notably, Todd doesn't get saved by a bear. What's he getting out of it?) But yes getting literally saved from bears is a big part of the package.

If we’re talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or even Beyond Thunderdome, this feels like the characters are reclaiming a moral boundary that had collapsed.

Though I also note they are quite a bit more focused on the community element: do they want to be a community together; can they, personally, deal with those requirements; can they find a place and resources to do it; etc.

Other communities exist, but are overpoweringly and explicitly ingroup-eats-outgroup or even ingroup-eats-ingroup in the sense of being exploitative.

4Raemon5mo
Yeah, I think sufficiently advanced post-apocalypses are basically "The Before Times". (And, even medium-advanced post-apocalypses certainly share structure with what the OP is talking about). But, for me there's something particularly compelling about origin stories for how bits of morality first appeared in the world at all.

Chiefly because this is walking face-first into a race-to-the-bottom condition on purpose. There is a complete lack of causal information here.

I should probably clarify that I don't believe this would be the chain of reasoning among alignment motivated people, but I can totally accept it from people who are alignment-aware-but-not-motivated. For example, this sort of seems like the thinking among people who started OpenAI initially.

A similar chain of reasoning an alignment motivated person might follow is: "3.5 years ago I predicted 5 years based on X and ... (read more)

I agree. I think of this as timelines not being particularly actionable: even in the case of a very short timeline of 5 years, I do not believe that the chain of reasoning would be "3.5 years ago I predicted 5 years, and I also predicted 1.5 years to implement the best current idea, so it is time to implement the best current idea now."

Reasoning directly from the amount of time feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy this way. On the other hand, it feels like the model which generated the amount of time should somehow be strategically relevant. On the other ... (read more)

2sudo -i5mo
Why not? 

I upvoted this post - it is a good stab based on the easily accessible public information and a look at relevant theory.

Hypothesis 5 is the path to victory here. The core problem is that (almost) everyone is wrong about (almost) everything, and the least wrong people do not form a group. Some examples:

Moderates do not exist. By this I mean there is not and never was any such group of people. The existence of moderates is a mistake in tabulating the results of political surveys. The mistake looks like this: you might have a survey with multiple responses, a... (read more)

I also thought these looked similar, so I dedicated a half-hour or so of searching and I could not turn up any relation between either of the authors of the Research Gate summary and Boyd or the military as far as their Wikipedia pages and partial publication lists go. It appears those two have been writing books together on this set of principles since 2001, based on work going back to the 60's and drawing from the systems management literature.

I also checked for some links between Rickover and Boyd, which I thought might be valid because one of Boyd's ot... (read more)

I’m pretty sure I got this advice from Yudkowsky at some point, in a post full of writing advice, but I can’t find the reference at the moment.

I think this is in The 5 Second Level, specifically the parts describing and quoting from S. I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action.

I am super curious about how you conceptualize the relationship between the theorist's theory space problem and the experimentalist's high dimensional world in this case. For example:

  • Liberally abusing the language of your abstraction posts, is the theory like a map of different info summaries to each other, and the experimentalist produces the info summaries to be mapped, or the theorist points to a blank spot in their map where a summary could fit?
  • Or is that too well defined, and it is something more like the theorist only has a list of existing summaries
... (read more)

This is totally different from creating comfort. I think lots of folk get this one confused. Your comfort is none of my business, and vice versa. If I can keep that straight while coming from a same-sided POV, and if you do something similar, then it's easy to argue and listen both in good faith.

I agree that same-sidedness and comfort are totally different things, and I really appreciate the bluntness of same-sidedness as a term. I I also think you are undervaluing comfort here. People who are not comfortable do not reveal their true beliefs; same-sidednes... (read more)

I have just recently been wondering where we stand on the very basic description of the problem criteria for productive conversations. Of late our conversations seem to have more of the flavor of proposal for solution -> criticism of solution, which of course is fine if we have the problem described; but if that were the case why do so many criticisms take the form of disagreements over the nature of the problem?

A very reasonable objection is that there are too many unknowns at work, so people are working on those. But this feels like one meta-problem, ... (read more)

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