All of SilasBarta's Comments + Replies

Austin Winter Solstice

PM me for directions if you didn't get them.

Austin LW/SSC Meetup: Roots of Progress Crossover

Late to post this, but another resource:

Why did we wait so long for the bicycle?

And the HN discussion about it, with me mentioning high-karma poster John Salvatier.

Austin, TX – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021

FYI, we're aware of the predictions of rain for Saturday and will be bring tent coverings to provide some protection. It's still on!

Austin Petrov Day and Potluck

For anyone who still follows this, no one pressed the button.

Austin Petrov Day and Potluck

For anyone who found the event here, this is the mobile-friendly version of the program.

Austin Petrov Day and Potluck

Good news! We'll be coordinating with the Ottawa Petrov Day to do Hardcore Mode A-minus -- we'll get a button that destroys the other party's Petrov cake.

2SilasBarta4moFor anyone who still follows this, no one pressed the button.
Texas Far-Comers Meetup in Austin

And also 23 but no second sign :-(

2SilasBarta8moAnd 22! Great turnout!
Texas Far-Comers Meetup in Austin

We’re there at table 13 now! Hope to see you!

2SilasBarta8moAnd also 23 but no second sign :-(
Texas Freeze Retrospective & Emergency Planning (Non-Texans Welcome!)

Had to move to Jitsi. If anyone's still trying to join, go here.

You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That Particular) Proof

My favorite one: burning wood for heat. Better than fossil fuels for the GW problem, but really bad for local air quality.

According to Dale Carnegie, You Can't Win an Argument—and He Has a Point

To your alternative approaches I would also add Bruce Schneier's advice in Cryptographic Engineering, where he talks a little about the human element in dealing with clients. It's similar to the Socratic approach, in that you ask about a possible flaw rather than argue it exists.

Bad: "that doesn't work. Someone can just replay the messages."

Good: "what defenses does this system have against replay attacks?"

Should effective altruists care about the US gov't shutdown and can we do anything?

Why is a mere statement of contradiction voted up to five? Something I'm missing here? I could understand if it was Clippy and there was some paperclip related subtext that took a minute to "get" but ...

1JoshuaZ8yI suspect two reasons: 1) This summarizes a large amount what other people were thinking. Note that the post Gwern is replying to has had a lot of downvotes, so people who think it is obviously not well thought out favor a response like this. 2) Gwern is a highly respected user who almost never says something without fairly good data to back up his positions, so they are operating under this being a summary of Gwern's more detailed position. (A slightly more cynical version of 2 is simply that Gwern has high status here.)
Should effective altruists care about the US gov't shutdown and can we do anything?

Admittedly no one's ever been charged under the ADA, but there are plenty of examples of people being disciplined for violating it.

Thinking about your experiments does not (in itself) involve expenditure of government money, so I don't see how they would prosecute you under the ADA for that. Yes, managers have to be very clear to workers not to use resources, just to keep them away from edge cases, but even with that level of overcaution, managers can't actually stop you.

Even if you came back and (for some reason) said, "Hey boss, I totally though... (read more)

0JQuinton8yHow effective is the thinking that can be done if you don't have access to any of your work? I'm a gov't employee and am affected by the shutdown. All of my work is on my office computer, which I'm not allowed to even turn on during the shutdown. Yes, it's illegal for me to turn on my work computer or access work email during the shutdown. Sure, I can think all day about how to solve the current bug in my software, but without access to the actual code on my gov't computer not much can be done.
More "Stupid" Questions

... and that is what being a big fish in a small pond feels like ;-) That is, most of them there won't even make it that far. At least, that was my experience.

(My approach was the cruder one of just taking a remainder modulo max size after each operation.)

0RolfAndreassen8yThat would work for unsigned integers, but I don't see how it gives you the classic rollover from 32767 to -32768?
More "Stupid" Questions

C-style integers = integers with a fixed possible range of values and the corresponding rollover -- that is, if you get a result too big to be stored in that fixed size, it rolls over from the lowest possible value.

Ruby doesn't implement that limitation. It implements integers through Fixnum and Bignum. The latter is unbounded. The former is bounded but (per the linked doc) automatically converted to the latter if it would exceed its bounds.

Even if it did, it's still useful as an exercise: get a class to respond to addition, etc operations the same way ... (read more)

0RolfAndreassen8yHmm, interesting! Maybe the simplest approach would be to just implement a class with 16 (or 32, whatever) booleans, and do the underlying bit-pattern math. Then on printing, interpret as powers of two, or two's-complement, or whatever you like.
Open thread, July 29-August 4, 2013

+1 for a (+1 for acknowledging the inconvenient) on a subject you dislike discussion of.

More "Stupid" Questions

Depends on what you intend to get out of it, but you can go to an amateur hack night ("we're going to implement C-style integers in Ruby", "we're going to implement simulated annealing)", where almost everyone but you will have trouble conceptualizing the problem.

1RolfAndreassen8yIt's just as well this is a stupid-questions thread, but: Doesn't Ruby already have C-style integers? What is it you mean by this phrase which Ruby doesn't have?
More "Stupid" Questions

Non-thinking-of-customers-as-fish is not a business plan.

0Clippy9ysed -e "s/Work/Gas/" -e "s/time/volume"
Does anchoring on deadlines cause procrastination?

It's bad if they're systematically underestimating the urgency (and thus placing the deadline too far out) which seems to be the rule with humans rather than the exception.

Prisoner's dilemma tournament results

Maybe we should have a prisoner's dilemma meta-tournament in which we define a tournament-goodness metric and then everyone submits a tournament design that is run using the bot participants in the previous tournament, and then use the rankings of those designs.

Wait: does anyone know a good way to design the meta-tournament?

Duller blackmail definitions

Very well said! I would only add that your point generalizes: the differences between the two cases is the extent to which it has implications for future interaction ("moving the Schelling point"): blackmail-like situations are those where we intuit an unfavorable movement of the point (per the blackmailed) while we generally don't have such intuitions in he case of trade.

Countess and Baron attempt to define blackmail, fail

Somewhat OT:

Does it really help the exposition to have all the elaborate packaging (the such-and-such vase, the jester and description of the punishment, etc)? For me it just makes it harder to read: is the vase just a perspicuous example of a valuable, or is it important that it's subject to random catastrophe (from errant jesters)? Does the presence of the makeup sex have any relevance that should affect my intuition on this?

But then, a lot of people seem to like that kind of thing, even in non-fiction and when they no longer need explanations via fairy tale metaphors, so perhaps I'm alone on this.

EDIT: Sorry, I missed that you linked a fluff-free version. Much appreciated!

0ikrase9yWhile I don't find this easier to read than a more dry description, I do find it somewhat hard to read the completely astract mathematical forms.
Public Service Announcement Collection

Are you saying that no one expected the printing money (bidding up gold) before it happened, or is there a more subtle reason why the only relevant comparison is from the moment the policy called QE started?

Someone who bought gold after the Lehman fiasco (08), but before any of those QE milestones would have had several options since then to redeem for 2-3x gain.

It's an even bigger gap if you compare to any year before, back to ~98. S&P has had a horrible volatility/return performance going back to at least then.

Public Service Announcement Collection

Well, it was a pretty safe bet in '08 given typical reactions to economic crises, and the prevalence of advice like this P/S/A that "oh, there totally won't be inflation from the printing money".

1Alsadius9yYou seem to be mocking the idea that we'd avoid inflation. Look at the actual inflation stats, and we have. Velocity has dropped so significantly that the quantity of money rising was necessary just to maintain stability.
Public Service Announcement Collection

P/S/A: The people telling you to expect above-trend inflation when the Federal Reserve started printing money a few years back, disagreed with the market forecasts, disagreed with standard economics, turned out to be actually wrong in reality, and were wrong for reasonably fundamental reasons so don't buy gold when they tell you to.

You would have missed out on doubling or tripling your money if you hadn't bought gold when those same people had made the predictions.

You would have missed out on doubling or tripling your money if you hadn't bought gold when those same people had made the predictions.

The S&P 500 has outperformed gold since quantitative easing began. I don't believe there has been a time past four years where a $100 gold purchase would be worth more today than a $100 S&P 500 purchase.

2aelephant9yI have always heard that gold isn't meant to be a return-on-investment kind of deal, more like a safe store for your money that is going to maintain value over time.
Is our continued existence evidence that Mutually Assured Destruction worked?

Many treatments of this issue use "observer moments" as a fundamental unit over which the selection occurs, expecting themselves to be in the class of observer-moments most common in the space of all observer moments.

Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine"

"Causality is based on entropy increase, so it can only make sense to draw causal arrows “backwards in time,” in those rare situations where entropy is not increasing with time. [...] where physical systems are allowed to evolve reversibly, free from contact with their external environments." E.g. the normal causal arrows break down for, say, CMB photons. -- Not sure how Scott jumps from reversible evolution to backward causality.

It's a few paragraphs up, where he says:

Now, the creation of reliable memories and records is essentially always

... (read more)
0torekp9yI think one can also justify talk of backward causality along the lines of what Scott says on p. 23: If we are considering actions A and B now, and these correspond to microscopically different past facts X and Y, and there is no other route to knowledge of X or Y, it seems reasonable to agree with Scott that we are "selecting one past".
Prisoner's Dilemma (with visible source code) Tournament

Just thought I'd throw this out there:

TabooBot: Return D if opponent's source code contains a D; C otherwise.

To avoid mutual defection with other bots, it must (like with real prudish societies!) indirectly reference the output D. But then other kinds of bots can avoid explicit reference to D, requiring a more advanced TabooBot to have other checks, like defecting if the opponent's source code calls a modifier on a string literal.

8solipsist9yActually, 'D it's not a string literal -- it's a symbol. Compilers can legally to turn the symbol 'D into something opaque like 0x3859 and destroy any reference to the letter "D". The only way a program can generate a 'D symbol on its own is to include it in its source. But that doesn't mean that a program without a 'D can't defect! An IncrediblyInnocentBot, which does not contain a 'D and can't generate a 'D on its own can still defect by stealing a 'D from the opponent agent. One way to steal a 'D from an opponent would be to search for quoted symbols in the opponent's program. The opponent could foil this method, however, by including decoy symbols. Alternatively, IncrediblyInnocentBot could simulate its opponent against a bunch of stupid agents, such as CooperateBot or DivergeBot, and hope that the opponent defects in at least one of these simulations. If the opponent ever returns a symbol other than 'C in simulation, IncrediblyInnocentBot remembers that symbol and can later use it for nefarious purposes. IncrediblyInnocentBot is in-credible indeed. BTW, the strategies I listed above are why I said it was not trivial for an agent to prove that MimicBot [] does not defect against a cooperator, despite the fact that MimicBot does not contain the defect symbol.
[link] Scott Aaronson on free will

Eh, I don't think I count as a luminary, but thanks :-)

Aaronson's crediting me is mostly due to our exchanges on the blog for his paper/class about philosophy and theoretical computer science.

One of them, about Newcomb's problem where my main criticisms were

a) he's overstating the level and kind of precision you would need when measuring a human for prediction; and

b) that the interesting philosophical implications of Newcomb's problem follow from already-achievable predictor accuracies.

The other, about average-human performance on 3SAT, where I was skeptic... (read more)

Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns

I see that now. It didn't help that Luke_A_Somers, in defending what he did as steelmanning, kept insisting that he was "making the original argument worse".

(In any case, I don't think TB was the "steelest" man you could make here, nor the mother's real rejection.)

A Viable Alternative to Typing

Sure, but I don't think EEG quality (in terms of lab vs. consumer grade) is the real bottleneck; I think it's minimizing the amount of input that must be provided at all by exploiting the regularity of the input that will be provided. The techniques available here may have been overlooked.

A Viable Alternative to Typing

One character is not the same as one byte of (maximally compressed) information. The whole point of programs like Dasher (and word suggestion features in general) is to take advantage of the low entropy of text data relative to its uncompressed representation. Characteristic screenshot

Were you using a static, non-adaptive, on-screen keyboard? If so, that's why I would think connecting it to Dasher should result in a speed greater than one char per second, at least after the training period (both human training, and character-probability-distribution training).

Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns

Right, except yours missed out on the whole "make it a better argument that you're refuting" thing.

3Luke_A_Somers9yI don't see how the following conversation is NOT an example of Richard steelmanning. Mom: You could get bubonic plague! Richard: (refutes that concern, and then...) A more reasonable concern would be my getting Tuberculosis. Here are the reasons I can't... As I said above, I'm not doing steelmanning here, so comparing this to what they actually said is irrelevant.
A Viable Alternative to Typing

Right, I found that information at the time, but wasn't convinced this was the best achievable performance for such individuals (let alone price-performance), considering what should be possible with consumer-grade BCIs + Dasher.

I still can't convince myself that this is the best they can do. Personal project time?

0ChristianKl9yI think the 1 character per second speed is even done with EEGs that are much better than consumer grade equipment. It could be possible to do better but it probably won't be easy.
0Emile9yI played a bit with Emotiv and find a maximum of one character-per-second pretty believable - at least, if you stick to actual brain signals and not signals from face muscles ( and even with face muscles one character per second seems in the right ballpark).
Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns

Right, and we're talking about what true steelmanning would be in this case, right?

0Luke_A_Somers9yYes. We both tweaked matters so that the example became a steelmanning. You changed what Richard said. I changed what his mom said. We both changed something, and after either or both of our changes, it was an example of steelmanning.
Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns

I don't think we're agreeing on definition: I thought steelmanning was necessarily making the argument better, not worse.

0Luke_A_Somers9yWe're talking about Feynman steelmanning, not me. Feynman would have been steelmanning if she had made a worse argument to begin with yet he responded to it and a better one.
Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns

I think steelmanning would instead be if you listed more realistic dangers of that place rather than more extreme dangers: for example, "TB is not a threat, but let's look at what the biggest danger would be, and see if the concern is still justified. How about the danger that people may not want to be around you if you go there too much [probably closer to what she actually had in mind] ..."

1thomblake9yI think you missed what was going on there. In the hypothetical, Feynman's mom was concerned about the plague and for the steelman Feynman corrected it to TB. The assumption there is that TB is a more realistic threat than the plague.
0Luke_A_Somers9yThat would work too. Note that I was making what he did steelmanning by way of making the original argument worse - we're working on opposite ends but I think we agree on definition.
A Viable Alternative to Typing

I was exploring it

a) as a possible alternative (and very cheap) typing mechanism for the disabled that hadn't been tried before, and

b) because I figured I could improve on it to the point of making brain-typing competitive, or at least make BCI competitive with mouse usage.

2ChristianKl9yBrain-computer interfaces for the disabled have been tried. There's plenty of academic work on the topic. For some people who are completely paralyzed the technology allows them to communicate by typing 1 character per second.
A Viable Alternative to Typing

This is a device I got in December 2010, for IIRC $130. It detects tension ("grrr"), eye movement, and some other brain waves. In my experimentation with it, I found the brain wave modes hard to control, while the others were easier.

There was another model I saw that was $300, but I can't remember the name. The amazon page should get you started on finding related hardware.

Note: I haven't actually used a BCI with Dasher, it was just an idea I had for hands-free typing (and possible improvements in costs over existing tools for the disabled).

Prisoner's Dilemma (with visible source code) Tournament

Make sure the equality comparison only depends on things that affect functionality -- i.e. it will declare any functionally equivalent programs equal even they use a different nameset for variables or something.

(Yes, I know that's reducible to the halting problem; in practice, you'll use a computable, polynomial time approximation for it that will inevitably have to throw out equivalent programs that are too complex or otherwise be too 'clever'.)

1PeterisP9yIt's quite likely that the optimal behaviour should be different in case the program is functionally equal but not exactly equal. If you're playing yourself, then you want to cooperate. If you're playing someone else, then you'd want to cooperate if and only if that someone else is smart enough to check if you'll cooperate; but if it's decision doesn't depend on yours, then you should defect.
3shminux9yPatrick discusses this issue here [] in some depth.
A Viable Alternative to Typing

I was considering setting up a brain-computer interface for typing. There are a lot of existing BCI hardware systems out there, and you could hook them into Dasher), a program for the disabled that makes it easy to point a mouse or finger at the keys they want to type, and makes likelier keys easier to hit.

Idea free for the stealing.

Still, keyboards are pretty effective (I use Pentadactyl to browse the web using just the keyboard), so I would think you could find a better keyboard somehow that could work for you.

0MalcolmOcean9yIf someone is looking for something like Pentadactyl but for Chrome, I recommend Vimium [] . It adds tons of keyboard shortcuts that make keyboard-based browsing awesome.
2ChristianKl9yBoth speed and accuracy of brain-computer interface for typing are pretty bad. What your motivation for using it?
3maia9yCould you give an example/link? It never occurred to me that this might be something I could buy as of now.
0Luke_A_Somers9yExactly. They're not economic arguments at all. It doesn't even touch on economics.
Why economics is not a morality tale

To act morally means to take actions which benefit other people.

To act morally implies taking actions which benefit other people under certain value systems.

Why economics is not a morality tale

If we're going to talk about what people often do, I should add that people often warn about economics "not being a morality tale" and then go right on moralizing in different language ("we shouldn't let bondholders being able to stall a recovery...").

Or, a better example, "pollution is bad".

0Luke_A_Somers9yI don't get your better example. People only rarely invoke economic morality tale arguments to reach 'pollution is bad'. I've seen public health arguments (pollution kills and causes disease in humans and poisons our food sources). I've seen direct morality arguments (the above plus killing and causing disease in animals and plants). I've seen economic impact arguments (Public health argument put in monetary terms). I haven't seen an argument that skipped the public health argument, hit the economic impact, then looped from there into morality.
6Prismattic9yI think if you look at the actual medieval literary genre of morality tales, you'll find that it's specifically in the context of virtue ethics. In fact, the characters are usually embodiments of specific virtues and vices. It strikes my ear very strangely to hear what would presumably be a utilitarian economic argument (regarding stalling the recovery) described as a "morality tale".
How much was creating Google worth?

Good point, but I don't think the value of the end result is necessarily equal to RB, for much the same reason that (I suspect) Shapley value would correspond to (something like) "market value" rather than "market value plus consumer surplus". That is, no matter how badly you want you bathroom cleaned, the value of the labor to clean the bathroom is only equal to the market value of that labor, irrespective of how happy I am to have it done.

While voting doesn't directly map onto a market like that, there is a similar sense in which bei... (read more)

How much was creating Google worth?

I'm not sure myself, but the general PageRank algorithm (the method of adjacency matrix eigenvectors for determining critical nodes) had been around since the 60s, but hadn't been properly mapped to the site ranking problem until them (which is not a trivial problem at self, at least at the stage of recognizing the relevance).

How much was creating Google worth?

Interesting! I hadn't heard of Shapley Value before.

Regarding voting, let me do a back of the envelope calculation: every voter (that voted the same way) would, by symmetry arguments have contributed equal value. And since Shapley averages over every possible voter subset, and voters would only get credited for those subsets where they are the determining vote (which is proportional to the factorial of the margin of victory I think) then the value each voter (for policy A given two alternatives) contributes is something like:

n MV!

Where n is t... (read more)

2saturn9ySince the Shapley value of all players also has to sum to the value of the end result, I think the value of each A voter has to be just RB/n. I'm way out of my depth with the combinatorics here, but here's a paper [] I found that gives a bit more information than the wikipedia page.
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