All of signal's Comments + Replies

Did anything come from this? Would love to see that, too!

Can you point out your 3-5 favorite books/frameworks?

Thanks Lumifer. The Prince is worth reading. However, tranferring his insights regarding princedoms to how to design and spread memeplexes in the 21st century does have its limits. Any more suggestions?

I suspect that at the more detailed level you have to be more specific -- you do want to run a party or an NGO or a cult or design nerd-culture memes or what? Things become different. Beyond the usual recommendation -- go into a large B&N and browse (or chase "similar" links on Amazon) -- I can point out an interesting book about building political movements from scratch in the XXI century.

Can somebody point out text books or other sources that lead to an increased understanding of how to influence more than one person (the books I know address only 1:1, or presentations)? There are books on how to run successful businesses, etc, but is there overarching knowledge that includes successful states, parties, NGOs, religions, other social groups (would also be of interest for how to best spread rationality...). In the Yvain framework: given the Moloch as a taken, what are good resources that describe how to optimally influence the Moloch with many self-interested agents and for example its inherent game-theoretic problems as long as AI is not up to the task?

I believe the usual term for this is "politics". This is one classic reference.

Heed the typical mind fallacy. Other people are not you. What you find interesting is not necessarily what others find interesting. Your dilemmas or existential issues are not their dilemmas or existential issues. For example, I don't find the question of "shall we enforce a police state" interesting. The answer is "No", case closed, we're done. Notice that I'm speaking about myself -- you, being a different person, might well be highly interested in extended discussion of the topic.

I strongly disagree and think it is unrelated to th... (read more)

I agree, that would be a bad thing. Of course not, but given my values and my estimates of how likely are certain future scenarios, I already came to certain conclusions. For them to change, either the values or the probabilities have to change. I find it unlikely that my values will change as the result of eschatological discussions on the 'net, and the discussions about the probabilities of Skynet FOOMing can be had (and probably should be had) without throwing the police state into the mix. In general, I don't find talking about very specific scenarios in the presence of large Knightian uncertainty to be terribly useful.

I conclude from the discussion that the term "rich" is too vague. The following is mine: I should be surprised to find many LWers who don't find themselves in the top percentage of the Global Richlist and who could not afford cryonics if they made it their lives' goal.

shrug I could afford cryonics if I made it my life's goal [pollid:1076]
It looks like MOST of the descriptions people are using for "richness" are pretty vague, which I find to be weird since we actually have readily available numbers. Median US individual income is $26,695 . Unless you want to claim that half of Americans are "poor" or lower class, you should probably start your middle class no lower than that. (ETA: For a full-time worker over the age of 25 it's $39k, so you could maybe push it up to that, but it disregards a lot of people who are stuck in part time jobs, or are kept working at just below full time so that they don't have to be given benefits) 10%ers start at $82k. I think it would be silly to say someone in the top 10% of US earners isn't rich. Almost all STEM LWers I've met either make well above this, or work for a non-profit.
Not that I suggest that everyone adopt these definitions, but I usually use these words in the following meaning: * Rich -- "financially independent", you don't have to work if you don't want to and still have at least upper-middle-class lifestyle. * Upper-middle -- not worry about money too much, it's sufficient for comfortable and socially adequate lifestyle, but you need a high-paying job and can't really afford expensive extravagances. * Middle -- money is kinda OK, you can afford all the necessities and some (but not many) luxuries. * Lower-middle -- money is tight, you can afford most necessities, but few if any luxuries * Lower -- Paycheck to paycheck (if you have a job), no reserves, any crisis can thoroughly screw you up.
I'm with you. I believe we use different meaning of rich. What do you mean by your own "rich"? I can't really give a reason for this, but 100k dollars would be "rich" for me, and that includes a lot of luxuries, too.

I meant especially in individual members such as described in the point "priorities." Somewhat along the lines that topics in LW are not a representative sample concerning which topics and conclusions are relevant to the individual. In other words: The imaginary guide I write for my children "how to be rational" very much differs from the guide that LW is providing.

Sure. And if you ever write that guide, you're still going to borrow heavily from LW. And someone else, writing "how to use your musical talent rationally" or "how to pick your career rationally" or whatever, can so the same. That is the true value of LW in my book - it presents useful ideas in a sufficiently abstract fashion to make them obviously applicable across a wide range of topics, and does so in a way a smart high school student can understand. Sure it sacrifices brevity in order to do so, and its lack of infographics and other multimodality is a huge drawback, and it spends time on topics most people won't care about, and I'm sure there are other valid concerns. But still, if you want to do better, LW isn't a competitor, it's a shoulder to stand on.
Of course! Guides should teach, not discuss. (Personally, I don't see LW as a guide to anything, but rather as a hivemind-critique-giving life form.)

Definitely. I am slightly irritated that I missed that. The line spacing and paragraph spacing still seems a bit off compared to other articles. Is there anything I am doing wrong?

They are, but I still would not wear them. (And no rings for men unless you are married or have been a champion in basketball or wrestling.)

Let's differentiate two cases in whom we may want to address: 1) Aspiring rationalists: That's the easy case. Take an awesome shirt, sneak in "LW" or "pi" somewhere, and try to fly below the radar of anybody who would not like it. A moebius strip might do the same, a drawing of a cat in a box may work but also be misunderstood. 2) The not-yet aspiring rationalist: I assume, this is the main target g... (read more)

1) For actual aspiring rationalists, we do want to encourage those who want to promote rationality to be able to do so through shirts they would enjoy. For example, how does this one strike you. 2) For the not-yet aspiring rationalist, do you think the shirts above, 1 and 2, do the job?

Fair Enough. Maybe I should take Elon Musk out, he has in WBW found a way to push the value of advertising beyond his the cost of his time spent. If Zuckerberg posts to, I will be fully falsified. To compensate, I introduce typical person X whose personal cost-benefit analysis from posting an article is negative. I still argue that this is the standard.

I think you're missing the broader point I was making: writing your own articles is like changing the oil in your own car. It's what you do when you are poor, unimportant, have low value of time, or it's your hobby.

Once you become important, you start outsourcing work to research assistants, personal assistants, secretaries, PR employees, vice presidents, grad students, etc. Musk is a billionaire and a very busy one at that and doesn't write his own books because it makes more sense for him to bring in someone like WBW to talk to for a few hours and have h... (read more)

I do not think that there exists a perfect rational world. My next article will emphasize that. I do think that there is a rational attire which is on average more consistent than the average one presented on LW and one should strive for it. I did not get the point of your presupposition though it seems obvious to you, LWers are not more rational?

I am not sure of the point here. I read it as "I can imagine a perfect world and LW is not it". Well, duh.

No. I think all the points indicate that a perfect world is difficult to achieve as rationalist forums are in part self-defeating (maybe not impossible though, most also would not have expected for Wikipedia to work out as well as it does). At the moment, Less Wrong may be the worst form of forum, except for all the others. My point in other words: I was fascinated by LW and thought it possible to make great leaps towards some form of trut... (read more)

None of us could "enforce a police state". It's barely possible even in principle, since it would need to include all industrialized nations (at a minimum) to have much payoff against AGI risk in particular. Worrying about "respected rational essayists" endorsing this plan also seems foolish. "Surveillance" has similar problems, and your next sentence sounds like something we banned from the site for a reason. You do not seem competent for crime. I'm trying to be charitable about your post as a whole to avoid anti-disjunction bias. While it's common to reject conclusions if weak arguments are added in support of them, this isn't actually fair. But I see nothing to justify your summary.
A perfect world is, of course, impossible to achieve (not to mention that what's perfect to you is probably not so for other people) and as to Wikipedia, there are longer lists than yours of its shortcomings and problems. Is it highly useful? Of course. Will it ever get close to perfect? Of course not. Sure. But this is an observation about your mind, not about LW. "Aspiring rationalist" is a content-free expression. It tells me nothing about what you consider "wrong" or "relevant". Heed the typical mind fallacy. Other people are not you. What you find interesting is not necessarily what others find interesting. Your dilemmas or existential issues are not their dilemmas or existential issues. For example, I don't find the question of "shall we enforce a police state" interesting. The answer is "No", case closed, we're done. Notice that I'm speaking about myself -- you, being a different person, might well be highly interested in extended discussion of the topic. Yeah, sure, you go join an Animal Liberation Front of some sorts, but what's particularly interesting or rational about it? It's a straightforward consequences of the values you hold.

I do agree. The point was originally "selfishness or effort" which would have avoided the misunderstanding. I think for Musk, the competitive aspect is definitely less important than the effort aspect (he is surely one of those persons for whom "the value of time approaches infinity"). However, I doubt that Musk would give away patents if he didn't see an advantage in doing that.

He sees that it gives him an advantage with the goal of our society not burning fossil fuels. But it doesn't give Tesla an advantage at making profits.

Thanks. It is now online in the discussion section: "The Market for Lemons."

As soon as I have two Karma points, I will post a 2000 word article on bias in most LW posts (which I would love to have your feedback on) with probably more to follow. However, I don't want to search for some more random rationality quotes to meet that requirement. Note to the administrators: Either you are doing a fabulous job at preventing multiple accounts or registration is currently not working (tried multiple devices, email addresses, and other measures).

Same here. I was going to make an incredible article about wizards and the same thing happened plus all the negative karma I got from trolling. :(
Thanks. It is now online in the discussion section: "The Market for Lemons."

Jane Goodall has some interesting oberservations regarding infanticide among chimpanzees in her book "Through a Window." While chimpanzees will attack females that are strangers to a group violently, their infants will only, and in rare instances, die as casualties, but not be directly attacked. Infanticide within a community has only been observed in a few cases and all perpetrated by the same female individual and her daughter. However, she concluded from their behavior that their reason lay solely in the meat of the hunted infants.

The Hollywood version of that is quite popular, sounds less rational though.

Losers always whine about their best, winners go home and f* the prom queen. --Sean Connery, The Rock

The definition of rationality is "winning", is it not? X-D

LW does seem dying and mainly useful for its old content. Any suggestions for a LW 2.0?

I've been thinking about this for a few months. I'm pointing this out to commit to writing a main-level article by December 1st, hopefully earlier.

Yvain, #2 in all-time LW karma, has his own blog which is pretty great. The community has basically moved there and actually grown substantially... Yvain's posts regularly get over 1000 comments. (There's also Eliezer Yudkowsky's facebook feed and the tumblr community.) Turns out online communities are hard, and without a dedicated community leader to tweak site mechanics and provide direction, you are best off just taking a single top contributor and telling them to write whatever they want. Most subreddits fail through Eternal September; Less Wrong i... (read more)

You should. Just started playing with those gums.

That may be the case. But even Lukeprog preferred to be given feedback in a nice wrapping, because after all we are still primates and will appreciate it more.

Maybe my standards are skewed, but nobody called anyone a fucking moron or expressed a desire to see him die in a fire.

Somehow in this context the notion of "picking the low-hanging fruit" keeps coming up. This is prejudgmental and one would have a hard time disagreeing with such an action. Intentional Insights marketing is also discussed on Facebook. I definitely second the thence stated opinion that the suggested T-Shirts and rings are counterproductive and, honestly, ridiculous. Judging the articles is seems more difficult. If the monthly newsletter generates significant readership, this might be useful in the future. However, LW and Rationality FB groups already have their fair share of borderline self-help questions. I would not choose to further push in this direction.

I hear you about the t-shirts and rings, and we are trying to optimize those. Here are two options of t-shirts we think are better: 1 and 2. What do you think?
I was also unimpressed by the T-shirts. It's just... I think it's easier to move from "bad shirts" to "good shirts" than from "no shirts" to "good shirts". It's just a different bitmap to print. (My personal preference about shirts is "less is better". I would like to have a T-shirt only saying "", and even that with smaller letters, not across the whole body. And preferably not a cheap looking shirt; not being white would probably be a good start.) Generally, what I would really like is something between the Intentional Insights approach, and what we are doing now. Something between "hey, I'm selling something! look here! look here! gimme your money and I will teach you the secret!" and "uhm, I'm sitting here in the corner, bumbling something silently, please continue to ignore me, we are just a small group of nerds". And no, the difference is not between "taking money" and "not taking money"; CFAR lessons aren't free either. Seems to me that nerds have the well-known bias of "too much talking, no action". That's not a reason to go exactly the opposite way. It's just... admirable what a single dedicated person can do.

A poor person comes to LW and wants to post a laborious article. LW judges them a high risk, and either declines to post the article or offers it at a high rate of 2 Karma points. PS: Sorry to misuse your comment; it was the most recent one. ;)