T3t

T3t's Comments

March 14/15th: Daily Coronavirus link updates

Twitter: Seattle approaching Lombardy levels

The claims in that Twitter thread (now deleted) have been retracted: https://mobile.twitter.com/CT_Bergstrom/status/1239348331186249728

rmoehn's Shortform

Kai Faust (not sure if he has an account here) has already developed a prototype desktop application (cross-platform via Electron) for this.

Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality"

To reiterate, I don't explicitly use anything like the procedures I described in my posts to do any sort of interpretation. I came up with them to use as levers to attempt bridging the inferential distance between Said and I; I agree that in practice trying to use those models explicitly would be extremely error-prone (probably better than a random walk, but maybe not by much).

More salient to the point at hand: you understood (to a sufficient degree) the models I was describing, and your criticisms contain information about your understanding of those models. If for whatever reason I wanted to continue discussing those models, those two things being true would make it possible for me to respond further (with clarifications, questions about your interpretations, etc).

Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality"

I was not describing the process I use to interpret novel linguistic compositions such as "authentic relationship" - my brain does that under the hood, automatically, in a process that is fairly opaque to me; despite that, the results are sufficiently accurate that I don't spend hours trying to resolve minutiae, even in highly complex technical domains.

I was attempting to use an analogy with word embeddings in multi-dimensional space to explain why the way you approach information-gathering has asymmetrical costs. I can't come up with another analogy, because your response is totally non-informative with respect to how/why/where my first analogy failed to land. Did you notice that you didn't even tell me whether you're familiar with the concepts used? I have literally zero bytes of information with which to attempt to generate a more targeted analogy.

Would it not be easy for him simply to say that?

This doesn't really seem material to the point I was trying to discuss, but (I imagine) it's because there can be a trade-off between density and precision when trying to convey information. (And, also, how is he supposed to know which parts of his post are going to be incomprehensible to which people? Again, one could put in an unbounded amount of effort into specifying with ever more clarity and precision exactly what they mean by every word.)

Your response to Habryka also seems to not materially respond to his main points (the grossly asymmetrical effort involved, and the fact that the time spent is not free, it is traded off against other pursuits).

You list certain outcomes you consider beneficial, but "things are not easy to explain and have hidden complexities" is true for literally everything given a sufficient level of desired precision. It is a fully general argument in favor of asking arbitrarily vague questions.


EDIT: I did want to thank you for your straightforward answer here:

I don’t know how you generated that guess, so my answer can only be the former.

That, at least, would let me move the conversation forward with a tentative conclusion for that question, but unfortunately that answer seems to imply sufficiently different mental machinery that I'm a bit stuck regardless. I'll come back to this if I come up with something exceptionally clever to try to solve that problem, I suppose.

Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality"

If I read "authentic relationship", "a relationship which is built on honest premises and communication (i.e. neither party has lied or misled the other about their background, motivations, or relevant personality characteristics)" is my first guess as to what that would mean. My question is: are you incapable of performing this sort of "decryption work" (as in, the examples you generated are your best effort), or is your chief complaint that it's effortful and error-prone (as in, you could have extrapolated something similar to what I did, but you believe that doing so is epistemically unjustified)?

I am advocating for this because, in practice, this seems to minimize the amount of time and communication necessary to make sure both parties are on the same page w.r.t. the definitions of terms used and the intent behind what is being communicated. The way you ask questions reveals almost nothing about the state of your mental map of the subject of discussion (what you think the boundaries are, how you think it corresponds to the surrounding context, etc). This increases the amount of communication required to answer your question much more than linearly - you know "where" you are confused much better than the author. The author can guess, but the author is dealing with the entire possibility space of things you can be confused about; the amount of work that can go into resolving that confusion is unbounded. However, if you put forth your interpretation, then ask for clarification/correction, the author has a much more constrained space to explore to attempt to diagnose where your map is insufficiently well-specified/pointing at the wrong thing/has some other conflict with the author's map. ~Linear time for you to come up with the most straightforward possible interpretation (contingent on you actually being able to do so - still not clear to what degree this is a disagreement in the allowable degree of inference), + ~linear time for the author to identify mistakes, vs 0 time for you + unbounded time for the author.


The problem I'm having with trying to respond to the rest of your post (and the previous one in the thread) is that I don't feel like I have a better sense of your position on the more critical underlying issues now than when I first replied.

I will try to be more specific still, though I will be leaning on concepts similar to those in ML, such as embeddings, vectors, dimensionality, etc. I can try to find another set of concepts if this doesn't translate well enough. (I already tried to come up with an analogy with interfaces & generics in the software engineering sense, but couldn't actually come up with a coherent model without bringing in intersection types, at which point I gave up. Maybe that gives you some idea of what I was going for anyways.) When you performed the substitutions for "authentic", it looks like you traveled the smallest possible distance away from the "authentic" node, and not in the direction of any cluster of nodes that would be closer to (or have higher connective weight with, if you prefer) "relationship" (or "expression", or "reaction"). Naturally, the node you landed on fit the surrounding context about as well as a square peg in a round hole.

Now, to be absolutely clear, when you say that "authentic" has no standard meaning, are you claiming that "authentic" is equidistant from every other node in your graph (of all possible concepts)? I feel like we've ruled that out, but I'm not 100% sure; if that is the case then the direction I'm going in with the rest of this is probably fruitless.

If not, if you do indeed have a graph with concepts that are much closer to "authentic" than other concepts, then some of the concepts in the "authentic"-adjacent cluster will likewise be much closer to the "relationship" node along many dimensions than most of the others. What are those dimensions? Relationships have many properties and embedded concepts: participants, duration, style, etc. The dimensions we could say are relevant for linking together "authentic" and "relationship" would be more granular, likely describing the terms on which the participants engaged in the relationship, and the style of communication they use. If you refuse to traverse the graph to any appreciable degree (and make public where you landed; ideally also the path you followed), it's much harder for anybody else to help you. It's not clear at which level of linguistic abstraction the disconnect is - you could be missing the "authentic" node altogether (solved by dictionary), you could be missing connections from "authentic" to "honest" to "honesty about self" (don't think this is the problem; not clear how to solve this if it is), you could be asserting that those connections in your graph have equal weights to, say, the connections from "authentic" to "tangerine" to "random number generator", so there's literally no way for you to privilege the first set when trying to trace a path from "authentic" to "relationship", because you have no idea which direction to go looking in (don't think this is the problem either), or you could be asserting that the first set of connections do indeed have heavier weights, but not to a sufficient degree (if there is any such degree) that you would feel justified in traversing those nodes.


EDIT: I want to note that I started writing this comment well before Habryka posted his response. It strikes me that he hit on some very similar things (at one point I edited out a sentence that called your initial question "underspecified"; it's not that it wasn't an accurate description of my feelings on the subject, but I decided to taboo that word because I thought of a better way to explain what I thought the problem was).

Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality"

I find it surprising that you find definitions 1,2, 4, and 5 inapplicable. "Authentic" is used three times in the original post, and "authenticity" is used twice. "Authentic" is used as a modifier for "expression", "relationships", and "reaction".

Definition 1a from MW:

worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact

"Conforming to or based on fact" feels very similar to "the map corresponds to the territory".

Performing the substitution: "An expression that is worthy of acceptance or belief, as the expression (map) corresponds to the internal state of the agent that generated it (territory)."

This is not necessarily the most trivial possible leap, but to draw in another analogy... if we consider concept-space to a multidimensional space with connected nodes, the weight of the connection between "authentic" and "honest" is much stronger than between "authentic" and "tangerine". I don't know if you're agreeing with this part of Mark's claim:

It is an applause light that can be used by a speaker to mean whatever they want, with no fixed meaning across contexts and speakers.

But if so, that is the part that I am explicitly disagreeing with (moreso along the axis of prescriptivism, but also for descriptivism, just to a lesser degree). That is, ignoring context, "authentic" has a set of definitions and connotations which are relatively tightly clustered, and rule out the possibility of using it as a substitute for, say, "dishonest". Do you disagree, that in both the sense of its formal definitions, and actual in-practice usage, "authentic expression" is much closer to "honest expression" than "dishonest expression"?

The same analysis seems to apply equally well to "authentic reaction"; "authentic relationship" does seem to require linking together slightly more divergent concepts, though "relationship" has enough interfaces with "honesty" that coming up with a better-than-random (or better-than-tangerine) interpretation does not seem difficult.

Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality"

I think I can take a stab at this; timing myself out of curiosity.

@Said: let me draw an analogy to a fictional online interaction (without implying that comment that started all of this is analogous in *all* relevant ways to the fictional one):

Author Andy: "...a destructive mode of communication."

Commenter Cody: "What do you mean by destructive in that context?"

If Andy had written something like "a tangerine mode of communication," it would be understandable if Cody (and most other readers) had *literally* no referents for "tangerine" which would cause that sentence to parse at all. If Andy had instead written something like "...a mode of communication harms the ability of conversational participants to reach agreement on the definition of terms [x, y, and z]," and Cody asked what "harms" meant in that context, as an outsider, it would be very difficult to understand where the communication had broken down, because "harms" is a widely-used term with referents that map relatively cleanly to the concepts at play, even if it is not the most common use for the term. "Destructive" is a more interesting case, because it is rarely used as a modifier to "mode of communication", but if Cody were to claim that there was no "plausible interpretation" or "standard usage" he could assume, it would be difficult to understand how to help him construct the mental machinery to map the dictionary definition (as, for example, a "standard usage") of "destructive" as an adjective to another concept. "Destructive" has a widely-known and well-accepted definition, and while Cody is not claiming that he does not know that definition (or any others), he is claiming that *none* of the definitions he knows produce coherent output when used to modify "mode of communication".

This is what this looks like, from the outside. You are claiming that you have no referents for "authentic" which produce a coherent-in-context (note: no claim about whether it is justified) interpretation for the given sentence(s). Authentic has a dictionary definition of "genuine"; if we replace "authenticity" with "being genuine" in

Similarly, why should “that which can be destroyed by authenticity” be destroyed? Because authenticity is fundamentally more real and valuable than what it replaces, which must be implemented on a deeper level than “what my current beliefs think.”

...it seems to be a coherent claim (though, again, no claim on whether it is sufficiently justified). If you have the same problem with "genuine", then perform another substitution: "truthful self-representation" (that substitution tied together the external context with the modifier, which is maybe a sign that it's a clearer way of communicating the mapping? Need to think about that...). It is difficult to understand what kind of answer you are looking for when you ask "what is the standard usage of authenticity", because this is a query that is trivially resolved by a dictionary lookup/google search. If the answer that procedure provides is insufficient to provide a mapping to the broader context the term is used in, then repeating it back to you won't help; it's clear that your confusion is elsewhere (this is gesturing the direction of a definition for "shape of confusion"). If you don't see any way in which any plausible definition/referent for "authentic", set in that context, allows you generate expectations from the resulting sentence(s) (for example, being able to come up with hypothetical situations which would *not* be accurately described as such), then there's either incompatible mental machinery, or a more subtle misunderstanding. I don't think that's the case, though. I believe you know (or could look up) the definition of "authentic", and I believe that if you ran the iterated procedure of substituting synonyms (or sufficiently close referents in concept-space, accounting for the surrounding context), you would quickly find an interpolation that was sufficiently coherent. It is possible that you ran this procedure and decided that the predictions that could be generated by the result were very "fuzzy" (the distribution of possible expectations would be extremely wide; you would have trouble cleaving reality at a sensible set of joints). If so, this is the point where I would describe to the author of the original post what my interpretation of the claim was, with some hint as to what shape the distribution of generated expectations my interpretation would imply, so that the author could help me narrow the boundaries of that distribution (or point me to another spot on the map entirely, if my interpretation was completely wrong rather than insufficiently well-specified).

...almost an hour, and I don't think I did a great job, but maybe this crosses some inferential distance.

Pricing externalities is not necessarily economically efficient

An interesting implication, taking the high-level proposition at face value, is that one would expect to see a lot of behavior (more than one might naively expect) with negative externalities whose costs fall under the threshold of the transaction costs which would be required to compensate those affected.

Realism and Rationality

Seconding this - my strong impression is that a substantial percentage of the rationality community rejects moral realism, not normative realism (as you say - what would the point of anything be?).

I'm curious where this impression came from. The only place I can imagine anything similar to an argument against normative realism cropping up would be in a discussion of the problem of induction, which hasn't seen serious debate around here for many years.

Load More