All of technicalities's Comments + Replies

The Best Software For Every Need

Ooh that's more intense that I realised. There might be plugins for yEd, but I don't know em. Maybe Tetrad?

The Best Software For Every Need

I love Sketchviz for 10 second prototypes, but it requires the DOT language, and if you need very specific label placements it's a nightmare.

For using a mouse, yEd is good. Exports to GraphML for version control.

2JenniferRM4moDoes yEd have the ability to: (1) treat nodes as having "states" with a default prior probability and then (2) treat directional node-to-node links as "relevant to reasoning about the states" and then (3) put in some kind of numbers or formulas inspired by Bayes Rule for each link and then (4) later edit the graph on the fly (with "do()" or "observe()" basically) to clamp some nodes to definite states and then (5) show all the new state probabilities across all other nodes in the graph?
We have some evidence that masks work

Givewell's fine! 

Thanks again for caring about this.

We have some evidence that masks work

Sounds fine. Just noticed they have a cloth and a surgical treatment. Take the mean?

5Mike Harris6moSure. My current belief state is that cloth masks will reduce case load by ~15% and surgical masks by ~20%. Without altering the bet I'm curious as to what your belief state is.
We have some evidence that masks work

Great! Comment below if you like this wording and this can be our bond:

"Gavin bets 100 USD to GiveWell, to Mike's 100 USD to GiveWell that the results of NCT04630054 will show a median reduction in Rt > 15.0 % for the effect of a whole population wearing masks [in whatever venues the trial chose to study]."

5Mike Harris6moI can't accept the wording because the masking study is not directly measuring Rt. I would prefer this wording "Gavin bets 100 USD to GiveWell, to Mike's 100 USD to GiveWell that the results of NCT04630054 will show a median reduction in cumulative cases > 15.0 % for the effect of a whole population wearing masks [in whatever venues the trial chose to study]."
Fire Law Incentives

This is an interesting counterpoint (though I'd like to see a model of CO2 cost vs thinning cost if you have one), and it's funny we happen to have such a qualified person on the thread. But your manner is needlessly condescending and - around here - brandishing credentials as a club will seriously undermine you rather than buttressing you. 

1J Mann6moHah! That is definitely a weakness of my "What does Gelman have to say" strategy.
Critiques of the Agent Foundations agenda?

Stretching the definition of 'substantial' further:

Beth Zero was an ML researcher and Sneerclubber with some things to say. Her blog is down unfortunately but here's her collection of critical people. Here's a flavour of her thoughtful Bulverism. Her post on the uselessness of Solomonoff induction and the dishonesty of pushing it as an answer outside of philosophy was pretty good.

Sadly most of it is against foom, against short timelines, against longtermism, rather than anything specific about the Garrabrant or Demski or Kosoy programmes.

Critiques of the Agent Foundations agenda?

Nostalgebraist (2019) sees it as equivalent to solving large parts of philosophy: a noble but quixotic quest. (He also argues against short timelines but that's tangential here.)

Here is what this ends up looking like: a quest to solve, once and for all, some of the most basic problems of existing and acting among others who are doing the same. Problems like “can anyone ever fully trust anyone else, or their future self, for that matter?” In the case where the “agents” are humans or human groups, problems of this sort have been wrestled with for a long

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Rationalists from the UK -- what are your thoughts on Dominic Cummings?

Huh, works for me. Anyway I'd rather not repeat his nasty slander but "They're [just] a sex cult" is the gist.

1TAG1yAll very spicy, but it doesn't address the intellectual content of LW at all.
2habryka1y(That link just goes to the Google Books page for "The AI Does Not Hate You". Based on the query parameters there is something else you probably wanted to link to, but at least for me it isn't working.)
Rationalists from the UK -- what are your thoughts on Dominic Cummings?

The received view of him is as just another heartless Conservative with an extra helping of tech fetishism and deceit. In reality he is an odd accelerationist just using the Tories (Ctrl+F "metastasising"). Despite him quoting Yudkowsky in that blog post, and it getting coverage in all the big papers, people don't really link him to LW or rationality, because those aren't legible, even in the country's chattering classes. We are fortunate that he is such a bad writer, so that no one reads his blog.

Here's a speculative rundown of things he probably got impl... (read more)

1TAG1ySay more!
Model Depth as Panacea and Obfuscator

Great post. Do you have a sense of

  1. how much of tree success can be explained / replicated by interpretable models;
  2. whether a similar analysis would work for neural nets?

You suggest that trees work so well because they let you charge ahead when you've misspecified your model. But in the biomedical/social domains ML is most often deployed, we are always misspecifying the model. Do you think your new GLM would offer similar idiotproofing?

Yeah, the definition of evidence you use (that results must single out only one hypothesis) is quite strong, what people call "crucial" evidence.

1misabella161yTHANK YOU!
Are there good ways to find expert reviews of popular science books?

I suspect there is no general way. ): Even the academic reviews tend to cherry-pick one or two flaws and gesture at the rest.

Partial solutions:

  1. Invest the time to follow the minority of Goodreads users who know their stuff. (Link is people I follow.)
  2. See if Stuart Ritchie has reviewed it for money.
Most reliable news sources?

The Economist ($) for non-Western events and live macroeconomics. They generally foreground the most important thing that happens every week, wherever it happens to occur. They pack the gist into a two page summary, "The World this Week". Their slant is pro-market pro-democracy pro-welfare pro-rights, rarely gets in the way. The obituaries are often extremely moving.

Conceptual engineering: the revolution in philosophy you've never heard of

Raised in the old guard, Chalmers doesn't understand...

This amused me, given that in the 90s he was considered an outsider and an upstart, coming round here with his cognitive science, shaking things up. (" 'The Conscious Mind' is a stimulating, provocative and agenda-setting demolition-job on the ideology of scientific materialism. It is also an erudite, urbane and surprisingly readable plea for a non-reductive functionalist account of mind. It poses some formidable challenges to the tenets of mainstream materialism and its cognitivist offshoots" )


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What are objects that have made your life better?

I did a full accounting, including vague cost-benefit ranking:

Ignoring the free ones, which you should just go and get now, I think the best are:

  • Sweet Dreams Contoured sleep mask. Massively improved sleep quality, without having to alter the room, close the windows, whatever. 100:1.

  • Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells. A cheap gym membership is £150 a year; using these a couple times a week for 2 years means I’ve saved hundreds of pounds and dozens of hours commuting. They should last 15 years, so maybe total 30:1. (During the pre

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1korin432yI have three of the things you mention and would immediately buy them again if necessary: * A sleep mask (I've actually bought several of these because I lost them). Mine is the "Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask []" since I sleep on my sides sometimes and find the flat kind more comfortable. * Adjustable dumbbells. I have the "Ironmaster 45 lb Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell System []", which get points of durability, but I actually wish I had bought the Bowflex ones since they can be adjusted much more easily. * Bose Quietcomfort headphones. I have the bluetooth version and actually really like it, since I only need to recharge them every few days and they're nicer to use when I'm walking around. Note that you can sometimes get these for massive discounts on ebay. I bought my Bose Quietcomfort 35's for $120 [].
4Mark Xu2yFor the people who don't know acronyms (me), RSI stands for repetitive strain injury.
What are the relative speeds of AI capabilities and AI safety?

Some more ways:

If it turns out that capabilities and safety are not so dichotomous, and so robustness / interpretability / safe exploration / maybe even impact regularisation get solved by the capabilities lot.

If early success with a date-competitive performance-competitive safety programme (e.g. IDA) puts capabilities research onto a safe path.

The Samurai and the Daimyo: A Useful Dynamic?

My name for this Einsteins and Eddingtons.** Besides the vital testing and extension of the big ideas, the Eddington can also handle popularisation and, most important of all, the identification and nurturing of new Einsteins. This is one reason I think teaching in academia could be high-impact, despite all the notorious inefficiencies and moral mazes.

** Not totally fair to Eddington, since he was a pretty strong theorist himself.

What is the point of College? Specifically is it worth investing time to gain knowledge?

Caplan puts the signalling share of the college income premium at 50%-80%, leaving (say) 20% for the human capital share. So your sentence calling HC "mostly irrelevant" is technically true, but I wouldn't use the word 'irrelevant' for a feature explaining ~ a fifth of the variance.

What are the risks of having your genome publicly available?

Ooh I know this one

  • Health insurance
  • Adversarial dirt
  • Increased police attention, false positives
  • DNA framing
  • Releases info about my family members
  • Probabilistic homophobia (etc)
  • Mate choice

Plus a few I wouldn't worry about even if I lived 500 years (signature bioweapons, clones)

Have epistemic conditions always been this bad?

The first thing that comes to mind is that there was more campus violence in the past (1960s-70s). e.g. Paris in May '68, the Zenkyoto riots, Students for a Democratic Society, internal Black Power murders, and so on.

When, at the 1966 SDS convention, women called for debate they were showered with abuse, pelted with tomatoes.

(Though one of the most notable student movements, the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, was actually about lifting institutional restrictions on discussion specifically Vietnam War protest.)

I don't have data, but this fear was may

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9Wei_Dai2yThis seems to be true, but: 1. There is violence today as well, for example see Middlebury incident [] where one professor was injured. 2. There may be less violence today overall because the non-violent chilling effects are stronger (due to potential for things like social media and search engines to permanently ruin one's reputation) and that silences people before conflicts become violent. 3. I think there was little or no violence in the 80s-00s? If so, the most recent trend would be negative even ignoring #2. These are good ideas, but how to get the data?
3Jan_Kulveit3yNo. It's planned so you can attend both events.
Automatic for the people

1 and 2. These are what I mean by capital distribution:

Prop up the liberal mixed economy: with a programme of mass employee stock ownership (mostly your 1); or by carving each full-time job into several part-time ones, plus heavy wage subsidies (your 2) (...); or get the government to buy every 18 year old a serious stock portfolio (your 2)

Basic income is also political in your sense (2), since it's a large government-driven change from the status quo (and, unless we wait for >> 50 years of growth before we implement it, it will likely involve ... (read more)

2Dagon4ySo, which of these don't "transfer vastly more economic power too politicians"? At least basic income is relatively straightforward monetary taxation and distribution (a flow of meaningless fiat-money). Other meddling in capital ownership (corporate stocks? you want governments to control business ownership?) puts FAR more power in political hands.
Automatic for the people

That's a fair inference; 'foolish' was an unhelpful thing to say.

(My actual reason for disdaining Macs is finding recently that my desired laptop - nothing crazy, i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD - was unavailable for any price. And that a price-matched one had about 25% those specs. Is that ideological?)

2ChristianKl4yThere's no reason why people should only care about specs like that and not for things like design and the OS.
2Said Achmiz4yHave you looked into the refurbished market? (Apple’s own refurb Macs,, and are all good and reputable, and often come with a warranty.)
4Dagon4yIt is ideological to let that annoyance creep into an economic/social analysis. And ideological to judge other peoples' choices of how to spend their share of economic activity. Note that I don't believe one can decouple ideology from fiscal/social policy. Judging how money and effort is spent is the main thing that needs doing.
Automatic for the people

Sorry if I was unclear; I'm not endorsing that logical extreme of the UBI, and I'm also unnerved by many of the policies I describe. ("total control of production by any entity is a terrible unnecessary risk"). The point of the calculation is to show that automation (or a similarly giant productivity gain) is necessary for a good future. Or are you saying it's so implausible that it's not worth thinking about?

I think the best argument against basic income is that it transfers vastly more economic power to politicians. That's what makes me take capital distribution seriously: put it right into people's hands, away from mob-shaped politicians and denial.

2Dagon4yWait. Capital distribution is always one of: 1) historical, status quo with slight changes over time 2) political, backed by threat of state violence 3) revolutionary, backed by actual individual violence Which mechanism are you taking seriously, thinking that it's preferable to basic income?
Automatic for the people

Demographics: not sure!

1) Naively, population growth should delay automation by decreasing wages. Frey and Osborne don't account for this, let alone more realistic second-order effects (e.g. 'more people, more demand, thus feedback...'). But they don't commit to a real timeframe anyway.

2) Banally: "if economic growth matches or exceeds population growth, at least the downside will be bounded". But we're not going to get sensible macro' predictions for a century away, so that ends that thought.

Even conditional on Frey... (read more)

Automatic for the people

Yes, the piece is conditional; the "47% of jobs in the next few decades" estimate, which spurred me to write this, is more or less naive top-down extrapolation.

But many of the same considerations apply if long-term labour trends continue:

Anyway other powerful forces (e.g. global outsourcing, the decay of unions) besides robots have led to the 40-year decline in labour’s share of global income. But those will produce similar dystopian problems if the trend continues, and there’s enough of a risk of the above scenario for us to put a lot of thou
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9ChristianKl4yThe IMF data [] suggests that labors share was lower in 2015 than 40 years ago but it was higher than 10 years ago. The last ten years correspond to the time with extremely low interest rates. Interest rates are still extremely low. Currently, there don't seem to be many option to effectively invest capital. The economic data suggests that we aren't living in a world where it's easy to invest capital into automation in a way that produces a good return on that capital but we are rather living in the great stagnation.
Automatic for the people

"80%" seems accurate about the UK's media; see this (2007) study which puts original reporting at only 19% of all stories:

In short, fewer than one in five press articles (19%) appear to be based mainly on information that does not come from pre-packaged sources. Indeed, 60% of press stories rely wholly or mainly on pre-packaged information, and only 12% are entirely independent of such material

I've linked that and qualified the claim as about "[UK] journalism" anyway; thanks.

The slow uptake of auto-journalism is evidence that... (read more)

2ChristianKl4yThere are plenty of startups willing to compete with old media. Companies like Buzzfeed were build around effectively applying new technology in a way the established players wouldn't.
Meetup : Glasgow (Scotland) Meetup


Just saw this, but will sadly miss it. Would be very interested in future meetups.