Wiki Contributions


Large corporations can unilaterally ban/tax ransomware payments via bets

Yes. The difference is that betting on something is zero expected value (instead of just agreeing to pay which is negative expected value).

Legal contracts should avoid most issues with lying/cheating. The difficulty of cheating should be similar to insider trading. Companies make bets and pay those bets all the time: options and futures contracts.

Can group identity be a force for good?

First of all, I like this post and (at least roughly) agree with the core premise. I also think similar arguments can apply for other cognitive biases/cognitive heuristics. For example, see Sunk Costs Fallacy Fallacy.

Tribalism is a soldier of Moloch, the god of defecting in prisoner’s dilemmas.

I'm modestly confident that the opposite is true for our hunter gatherer ancestors and for small groups more generally. For example, we can model individuals freeloading and failing to gather food for the group as an iterated, many way prisoners dilemma. In this case I would imagine that tribalism tends toward cooperate over defect. Similarly, consider group conflict. The defect/Moloch option here is actually avoiding the fight which reduces risk of injury without substantially reducing the probability of your group winning. Tribalism would tend toward more (violent) opposition of the other group.

I have no idea how tribalism interacts with Moloch for the large ideological tribes of today.

Questions about multivitamins, especially manganese

The post doesn't mention iron at all, so why?

Iron deficiency is more common without animal sources. Given my diet, I think being iron deficient is considerably more likely than having too much iron. I haven't done a blood test. I also don't have any strong intuition if it is better to have too much or too little iron (my prior would be that too little is worse).

A related question, should manganese rich foods also be avoided? For example, just a few slices of whole wheat bread have a similar manganese content to a typical supplement (100% daily value or 2.3 mg).

On the whole, this comment has resulted in a very small update for me against taking multivitamins (mostly from the "Supplements have some beneficial components, but also some detrimental/poisonous ones and so their overall effect is net neutral or slightly negative" hypothesis). The net update is small because that link about chromium/manganese triggers my quackery alarms quite strongly.

(Another) Using a Memory Palace to Memorize a Textbook

Thanks for the response.

like if you want to remember simple things, like a grocery list, you can plop groceries around a path in your house

I will certainly try this.

(Another) Using a Memory Palace to Memorize a Textbook

First of all, interesting post. This gave me a better understanding of the process of creating a memory palace and updated me toward thinking memory palaces are much harder than I expected.

This post has made me think that memory palaces are not useful for me; typically, I want to memorize things either for recall faster than internet lookup or to make it easier to build intuition and connections.

This makes me wonder why you went through this and what other benefits exist. Why not just use the internet as slow memory given that memory palaces require slow reconstruction anyway?

Will outlets like the NYT be captured by Chinese influence and if so, when?

It's all a matter of having enough intelligence agents on the ground in the US and enough leverage on the right people.

I think we have different models/understandings of how Chinese capture is happening. My understanding is that the driving force is the 'soft pressure' of access to the Chinese market without being blocked by the great firewall or other barriers. In other words, I think organizations and individuals are self censoring for fear of losing access. I don't believe the Chinese state is typically directly threating or applying leverage to individuals; they are applying that leverage indirectly via the carrot of a large market. From reading what you wrote it seems that you think that the driving force is somewhat 'harder pressure' or at least more direct intervention by the Chinese state.

A related question is how much the Chinese government cares about control over media which isn't (very easily) available in China (like the NYT). From my understanding, they probably don't care very much. Thus, they wouldn't try to apply leverage to alter the content of the NYT. I think this may be the crux of our difference in beliefs: you think they do care a lot.

Here are some reasons to think they do care:

  • Funding Confucius Institutes
  • Chinese goverment english news sites and Chinese government representative social media accounts
  • The fact the celebrities and other entities self-censor even when mostly adressing US audiences

Here are some reasons to think they don't care:

  • I don't think Chinese state media aimed at the US is as well produced/popular as Russian media (RT)
  • China hasn't yet engaged in US misinformation campaigns to the same scale as Russia (as far as I am aware...).
  • I am not aware of any accounts of China pressuring media companies which don't do much business in China.

I think that in the future the Chinese government might care more and be more willing to apply direct pressure. However, there are some reasons to suggest that direct pressure could be less effective in the case of news companies - being caught taking bribes is quite unpopular, so companies/individuals may be reluctant to take the potential PR hit. I am not at all confident in this point. Perhaps there are some interesting historical examples to look at?

As far as the capture of other large US media institiutions, I think a good indicator would be if they are currently fully censored.

The US media institutions were quite willing to censor the lab leak theory for a long time and that's a question that was of huge interest for China to get censored.

I think you may have misunderstood what I said here. I meant censored by the Chinese state (great firewall). I wasn't refering to media organizations censoring their contents for the benefit of the Chinese state.

The US media institutions were quite willing to censor the lab leak theory for a long time and that's a question that was of huge interest for China to get censored.

Yeah, this should be a small update toward China having more control over US media. As I'm confident you know, a large part of why this theory was supressed is that it was strongly associated with Trump, particularly early in the pandemic.

As far as the New York Times censoring views that go against the interests of their owners, the Robert Moses from Caro is worth reading in it's explanation why no New York Times journalist would write against Moses. I don't see a reason to believe that the New York Times is harder to pressure today then back in it's golden years.

Interesting, I will take a look at some point.

Will outlets like the NYT be captured by Chinese influence and if so, when?

Epistemic status: speculating mostly from first principles with no expertise.

I don't think the NYT specifically will be captured. I believe the NYT is currently censored in China. Further, I think that most likely the NYT is quite far from being uncensored; substantial changes in editorial policy would be required. For instance, the NYT is willing to publish opinion peaces from democracy advocates in Hong Kong. The NYT also probably doesn't have an existing customer base in China (partially due to this censorship). This is unlike Hollywood. For instance, Marvel movies are quite successful in China, and Marvel (Disney more generally) targets its movies for Chinese audiences and to appease the Chinese censors already. Further, the NYT generally seems to follow a center left or maybe somewhat progressive political stance and China is generally quite unpopular among this cohort at the moment.

While I suppose it would be possible for the corporate managment to greatly alter the editorial policy to gain access to the Chinese market, I think this would cause a huge backlash in the US unless the typical center left and/or progressive stance on China changed substantially. This backlash would include the journalists working at the NYT and I think the attitudes of the journalists greatly shape the overall stance and policies of the NYT.

So, for the NYT to be captured I think that a considerable shift in the standard US center left and/or progressive political views on China would have to occur. This would also have to be accompanied with radical changes to the editorial policy (no publishing of pro-democracy opinion pieces from Hong Kong for instance). This isn't entirely unprecedented. For instance, a NYT opinon editor resigned after an editorial by Tom Cotton was heavy critiqued (at least in left wing circles). This is despite the fact that the NYT will publish editorials by the Taliban! See also "I can tolerate anything except the outgroup" by Scott Alexander.

It's hard for me to see how such a large political shift would occur.

As far as the capture of other large US media institiutions, I think a good indicator would be if they are currently fully censored. If so, probably the institution is unlikely to be captured anytime soon - there isn't a clear feedback cycle which would lead to capture.

EDIT: also, I commit to responding to comments on this answer for the next 2 weeks.