All of TheAltar's Comments + Replies

Effective altruism is self-recommending

This has a long list of sound arguments in it which exist in tandem with a narrative that may not actually be true. Most of the points are valid regardless, but whether they have high importance in aggregate or whether any of the conclusions reached actually matter depends heavily on what lens we're looking through and what actually has been going on in reality at Open Phil and Open AI.

I can imagine a compelling and competing narrative where Open Phil has decided that AI safety is important and thinks that the most effective thing they can do with a ton of... (read more)

That sounds like a strawman. The problem isn't that Holden is now a board member of Open AI. OpenPhil wrote: "We expect the primary benefits of this grant to stem from our partnership with OpenAI, rather than simply from contributing funding toward OpenAI’s work." There's the suggestion that having Holden on the board of Open AI is worth millions of dollars of philanthropic money. No. They think that Open AI's leadership is sufficiently bad that it's worth to spend millions of dollars to put Holden on the board of Open AI to push Open AI in a positive direction. That action presumes that they do have enough useful information to affect what Open AI is doing.
Wireheading Done Right: Stay Positive Without Going Insane

This is probably my favorite link post that's appeared on LW thus far. I'm kinda disappointed more people haven't checked it out and voted it upward.

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

Having the best posts be taken away from the area where people can easily see them is certainly a terrible idea architecture wise.

The solution to this is what all normal subreddit do: sticky and change the color of the title so that it both stands out and is in the same visual range as everything.

On calling inconceivable what you've already conceived.

"You can deduce that verbally. But I bet you can’t predict it from visualizing the scenario and asking what you’d be suprised or not to see."

I like this.

In my mind, this plugs into Eliezer's recent facebook post regarding thinking about the world in mundane terms or in terms of what is merely-real or in terms of how you personally would go and fix a sink or how you go and buy groceries at the store VS. the way you think about everything else in the world. I think these methods of thought in which you are visualizing actual objects and physics in ... (read more)

A Return to Discussion

I hadn't sufficiently considered the long term changes of LW to have occurred within the context of the overall changes in the internet before. Thank you very much for pointing it out. Reversing the harm of Moloch on this situation is extremely important.

I remember posting in the old vbulletin days where a person would use a screenname, but anonymity was much higher and the environment itself felt much better to exist in. Oddly enough, the places I posted at back then were not non-hostile and had a subpopulation who would go out of their way to deliberate... (read more)

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

A separate action that could be taken by bloggers who are interested in it (especially people just starting new blogs) is to continue posting where they do, but disable comments on their posts and link people to corresponding LW link post to comment on. This is far less ideal, but allows them to post elsewhere and to have the comments content appear here on LW.

This is a nontrivial cost. I'm considering it myself, and am noticing that I'm a bit put off, given that some of my (loyal and reflective) readers/commenters are people who don't like LW, and it feels premature to drag them here until I can promise them a better environment. Plus, it adds an extra barrier (creating an account) to commenting, which might frequently lead to no outside comments at all.

A lighter-weight version of this (for now), might be just linking to discussion on LW, without disabling blog comments.

July 2016 Media Thread

I have visual snow from trying out a medication. I can confirm that it sucks and is annoying. It's not debilitating though and is mostly just inconvenient.

Then again, it may be slightly harming my ability to focus while reading books. Still checking that out.

Review and Thoughts on Current Version of CFAR Workshop

I went through similar thought processes before attending and decided that it was extremely unlikely that I would ask for my money back even if I didn't think the workshop had been worth the cost. That made me decide that the offer wasn't a legitimate one for me to consider as real and I ignored it when making my final considerations of whether to go or not.

I ultimately went and thought it was fully worth it for me. I know 3+ people who follow that pattern who I spoke to shortly after the workshop and 1 who thought that it hadn't actually been worth it but did not ask for their money back.

Open Thread May 16 - May 22, 2016

Normally I say get plenty of sleep, but I think you asked a bit late to get that answer.

I'm worried about missing out on conversations with other interesting people - what do you think about that tradeoff?
Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016

This looks like it. Thank you!

Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016

I saw a link in an open thread several months back about an organization in the past that was quite similar to the Rationality movement but eventually fell apart. It was science based self-improvement and people trying to make rational choices back in the 1920s or earlier. I've tried searching for the link again but can't find it. Does anyone know which one I'm referring to?

The 1920 didn't have the same idea of science that we have today. Maybe you mean General Semantics?

Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016

I was reading through a link on an Overcoming Bias post about the AK Model and came across the idea that, " the Social return on many types of investments far exceed their private return". To rephrase this: there are investments you can make such as getting a college education which benefit others more than they benefit you. These seem like they could be some good skills to focus on which might be often ignored. Obvious examples I can think of would be the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and various social skills.

Do you know of any good low hanging fruit... (read more)

Getting pregnant.
I think that parenting skills are a good example of such situation
Writing educational articles, editing wikipedia, contributing to free software projects.
There are cases where better being able to perceive whether someone else really wants to do what you ask them to or whether they are just saying "yes" because they feel an obligation benefits the other person a lot more.
May Outreach Thread

EY was attempting to spread his ideas since his first post on overcomingbias. This pattern was followed through entire Sequences. Do you regard this as different from then?

Means and ends. LW was the means of "spreading his ideas" as you put it. Whereas Gleb is promoting the idea that we should do outreach for LW. LW as the end.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

I have a similar aesthetic. What areas of weirdness are present in the people you like the most?

I don't know if there's a general answer to that. It depends, mostly on the person in question. The same thing in one person might be exciting and in another person -- creepy. As to areas, I'm usually more interested in the insides of someone's head than in the outsides of his/her skin.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

I think this is closest to what I thought Hanson was trying to say and it was close to what I was hoping people were interpreting his writing as saying. The way other people were interpreting his statements wasn't clear from some comments I've read I thought it was worth checking in to.

Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

This is an example of why I'm curious about everyone else's parsing. I bet Robin Hanson does talk about status in the pursuit of status, however I bet he also enjoys going around examining social phenomenon in terms of status and that he is quite often on to something. These aren't mutually exclusive. People may have an original reason for doing something, but they may have multiple reasons that develop over time and their most strongly motivating reason can change.

Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

Could you expand on this? Is this just an idea you generally hold to be true or are there specific areas you think people should conform far less in (most especially the LW crowd)?

It is an idea I generally hold true. "When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other" -- Eric Hoffer A herd of Dollys [\(sheep\]) is a sorry thing to behold. Of course this is all IMHO (I like weirdness and dislike vanilla).
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

This makes me wonder whether lots of people who are socially awkward or learning about socialization (read: many LWers) need not only social training but conformity coaches.

One should learn to walk before they try to run. Conformity is a signal of average social skills. Non-conformity usually means low social skills; and sometimes is a costly signal of high social skills. Unless you really know what you are doing, it's the former. Generally, if your social skills are really bad (and they could be worse than you imagine []), imitating average people is an improvement, and is probably a better idea than any smart idea you invented yourself (assuming that your current bad situation already is a result of years of following your own ideas about how to behave). If you want to be a socially successful person, aim to be a diplomat, not a clown, because it's better to be a mediocre diplomat than a mediocre clown. Of course, everything is a potential trade-off. Sometimes you have a good reason to do something differently than most people, maybe even differently than everyone else. But choose your battles wisely. Be weird strategically, not habitually. It is probably wise to see your non-conformity impulses as a part of your self-sabotaging mechanism.
I think most people need non-conformity coaches.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

I've been reading a lot of Robin Hanson lately and I'm curious at how other people parse his statements about status. Hanson often says something along the lines of: "X isn't about what you thought. X is about status."

I've been parsing this as: "You were incorrect in your prior understanding of what components make up X. Somewhere between 20% and 99% of X is actually made up of status. This has important consequences."

Does this match up to how you parse his statements?


To clarify: I don't usually think anything is just about one thin... (read more)

He likes to use this as a catchphrase, but the actual content of his statements is more like: "Here's how status most likely affects X, and here's some puzzling facts about X that are easily explained once we involve status." Of course the importance of status dynamics may vary quite a bit depending on what X is and perhaps other things, so your question doesn't really have a single answer.
I think it reads better if you say "about signalling" rather than "about status". The relationship to actual status evaulations is murky and complicated. The motivations to affiliate with high-status groups and ideas are much more straightforward.
It's about mental models. It says that the standard mental model isn't good at explaining reality. On the other hand the status model is better at explaining reality and therefore a better model to use. It's not the claim that the status model is perfect at predicting. Models don't need to be perfect at predicting to be useful. In general Hanson tries to focus on expressing concepts clearly and arguing for them instead of making them complex by introducing all sorts of caviats.
Status, as far as I can tell, has a motte-and-bailey problem. The bailey is that status is a complex, technically defined concept, specifically involving primate hierarchies, extremely sensitive to context. The motte is that status is exactly what it sounds like - just your standing in the eyes of other people. (Or am I using the terms backwards? Let me know.) You could say that I actually brush my teeth in the morning because I would lose status if I didn't due to having visibly stained teeth and bad breath, etc., and my reasons really don't have anything to do with preventing cavities and avoiding dental suffering. This is somewhere between facile and banal, depending on how you're reading "status". At best, Hanson's work forces you to consider the social context of certain actions and policies.
Personally, I tend to parse them as "Look how cynical and worldly-wise I am, how able I am to see through people's pretences to their ugly true motivations. Aren't I clever and edgy?". I am aware that this is not very charitable of me. In more charitable mood, I interpret these statements roughly as Lumifer does: Hanson is making claims about why (deep enough down) people do what they do.
Nope. I parse them in terms of incentives. When Hanson says "X isn't about what you thought. X is about status", I understand it as "People are primarily motivated to do X not because of X's intrinsic rewards, but because doing X will give them status points".
What is the best way to read the sequences?

You're welcome to post in old threads since threads don't get bumped up to the top when replied to. However, you're likely to get more answers to a question like this one if you post in the current Open Thread.

Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

This seems very useful. Thank you for posting it.

Out of all of the blogs, which ones do you prioritize in reading first? It seems like there are far too many to always read all of them.

I think most update pretty infrequently, which makes RSS a good solution.
If you just wanted blogs (i.e. no twitter+tumblr) the following are blogs I personally like that post frequently in rough order of how useful/insightful I have found them, * * * * * * * [] * * There are a few that are very infrequent but very good when they do post, * * [] * []
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

What are the special rules involved that are mentioned in the thread? Are they the same as the Happiness Thread?

Pretty much
Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

Counterfactual Diaspora Question:

If Eliezer had written on OvercomingBias and gotten enough activity to create LessWrong, but the population was filled with different personalities (no So8res, no AnnaSalamon, no Yvain, etc.) do you think the diaspora would have occurred in the same way and on the same general timeframe that it has?

I' m curious about what parts of LessWrong's development you think were inevitable and why.

Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

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Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

Fairly soon I imagine you'll get games that allow you to choose the pronouns used to address your character separate from their looks and a slider or more freeform body-sculpting ability rather than just two choices.

Do you mean the pronouns used to address your character are automatically edited to be what you want? It would be interesting if people could put up lists of the pronouns they prefer, and that would give them a tool for roughly judging how much trouble people are willing to go to to appear to be on their side. Are there any games which encourage a you/thou distinction?
That exists and has existed for a long time. In many games (usually MMORGs which have an incentive for you to get attached to your avatar) you can rather extensively body- and face-sculpt your character. There are still constraints imposed by your choice of race (not necessarily human) and sex. You are also limited to the general human body plan (two legs, two arms, no tentacles, etc.). I don't know if any mainstream game (not counting sandboxes like Second Life) ever offered a fully customizable character model. There are issues here, from practical -- each player has a unique mesh and textures, and there are many players -- to social -- your game will have giant walking penises and floating vaginas.
Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

If I take a few dozen pictures of one person talking, I can find in them there most any microexpression you want including ridiculous ones. These expressions are not representative of anything.

Tabloid news are a great example of this. If you take thousands of pictures of the most gorgeous and breathtaking people in the world, you can find one where they look like deranged freaks.

Yep. If you are interested in examples, look for pictures of Hillary and Trump on right- and left-wing sites respectively.
How to provide a simple example to the requirement of falsifiability in the scientific method to a novice audience?

I came here to mention raindances. You do a raindance and nothing happens. You raindance for 12 more days and suddenly it rains. That must mean if you dance for 13 days straight (or dance until some other sort of requirement you Just So on the spot) it will rain!

If you don't add the idea of falsifiability to accept that raindances might not cause rain when you get negative results, then you will always get the conclusion that some amount of raindancing will cause rain.

Ideally you would add a parameter of audience interaction though if you really want every... (read more)

raindance is good for that reason (it has a lot of freedom). You can do statistics on it; you can also (sneakily) keep experimenting for a very long time scale and only stop when you have the right answer. you can also do things like - dance on days when the weather man says it will rain. just to confuse people
Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

It's also possible that people's perception of the landscape itself changed over time as Clarity posts often and has been here a while now. That, and if any votes were from Eugene's downvote brigades, then their removal would have helped. (I'm at 85% karma and i think almost all of the negative votes were from Eugene's accounts.)

Positivity Thread :)

I think weird sun twitter is really great and any of you that are weird suns are really great.

Open Thread April 4 - April 10, 2016

I made a comment related to this on the SSC post about the rationalists I met in person in the Bay Area. I think it's the continued and extended version of what you stated above with some people in the Bay Area calling themselves rationalists while being in the 20% LW-ish (or lower) crowd. I primarily focused on the overcoming biases and getting stronger parts.

"I witnessed some trends in rationalists during a visit in the Bay Area recently that make far more sense to me now when seen through the lens of your generation descriptions. The instrumental

... (read more)
It is interesting how a community built around the Sequences gradually changed into a community of people who treat mentioning the Sequences almost as a faux pas. With the consequence that the ideas mentioned in the Sequences are more mentioned than used (well, those few of them that are mentioned at all), and rationality becomes a question of group affiliation. There is an analogy with Christianity, except that what took Christianity 2000 years, we managed to achieve in 2000 days. Truly, the progress is accelerating exponencially, and the Singularity is near!
Consider having sparse insides

Generally I'd say: make a list of all things you do, and for each of them ask yourself a question: "Is this something I do because I got used to thinking about myself as 'the person who does this'? If I would right now magically reincarnate as someone else, who is 'not the person who does this', would I want to start doing it again?"

I like this technique. I like this a lot.

Happily, my friends do meet that criteria now. The Unattractive Person part is primarily a delayed updating. I'm working on those various skills but also haven't updated my... (read more)

Happy Notice Your Surprise Day!

I was a bit confused about how it's a prank on people at all. Ideally a prank is localized to one person and is set up so that it doesn't run out of control.

What happened to you?

Oh, I found the "Drop The Mic" button on my Gmail account, and thought it was a real feature. You can see the write-up in the linked article for more details.
Open Thread March 28 - April 3 , 2016

I'm not able to see the post Ultimate List of Irrational Nonsense on my Discussion/New/ page even though I have enabled the options to show posts that have extremely negative vote counts (-100) while signed in. I made a request in the past about not displaying those types of posts for people who are not signed in. I'm not sure if that's related to this or not.

It's not the karma: I can see Gleb's post on Brussels with a lower score and a lower %, but not that post. (When not logged in I can't see the Brussels post.) Probably it was "deleted." That is a state where the permalink continues to work, but the post does not appear on various indices. I think that if the author or moderator wants to break the permalink, they have to click "ban." Deleting an account does not delete all the posts, at least in the past [].
OP deleted the account used to post the article
Consider having sparse insides

How exactly would a person burn an identity away?

Are there any non-obvious identities that people have which might be useful to burn away?

I recently noticed that I have an internal identity of Unattractive Person which may have been valid in the past but isn't any longer considering repeated signals in a variety of social interactions over the past few months.

Generally I'd say: make a list of all things you do, and for each of them ask yourself a question: "Is this something I do because I got used to thinking about myself as 'the person who does this'? If I would right now magically reincarnate as someone else, who is 'not the person who does this', would I want to start doing it again?" Specifically think about the people you interact with. If you would magically reincarnate as someone else (so you would remember these people, but they wouldn't recognize the new you) would you want to meet them again? Just a random thought: could you reframe this as statement about your skills? For example "I am a person who doesn't dress well" or "I am a person who cannot hold an interesting conversation". Then, simply add "...yet" at the end of each statement. And then start learning (you can ask for a learning advice in LW Open Thread anytime).
What can we learn from Microsoft's Tay, its inflammatory tweets, and its shutdown?

They deleted the worst ones. Screenshots can be found on other websites.

Lesswrong Potential Changes

Additional Suggestion 1: Regular reminders of places to send suggestions could be helpful. I occasionally come up with additional ones and usually just post them on whatever recent suggestion-related thread is new

Additional Suggestion 2: The search function would be massively improved if it ignored and didn't search the text in the sidebar. This was referenced and I was reminded of this by gjm from his comment here in the latest Open Thread.

Re: 2. There is now a help ticket on the github. Re: 1. in the document now. So long as your suggestions get noticed; they can be posted anywhere. But a "place to make it easier to notice suggestions" would help greatly for both people suggesting and people trying to make progress on changes needed to lw.
Open Thread March 21 - March 27, 2016

I've run into this problem several times before. It would be very helpful if the search feature ignored the text in the sidebar.

Open thread, Mar. 14 - Mar. 20, 2016

A trust app is going to end up with all the same issues credit ratings have.

Posting to Main currently disabled

Is it possible for Main posts to also be listed on Discussion but have an added highlight effect around their title or something? Then people can tell they're Main while now having to check a rarely used side subreddit.

How I infiltrated the Raëlians (and was hugged by their leader)

Why did the hug feel 100% fake to you? Do you think the other Japanese people give less fake hugs?

I generally know that Japan isn't too big on hugging as a culture, so I wonder whether very many Japanese people would be very skilled at this.

Rael [] is French, not Japanese.
Newsjacking for Rationality and Effective Altruism

How commonly do you think other groups do this and what ways would you suggest at stopping it? Your article seems fairly innocuous as far as spotlight stealing goes, but I'm sure other people's attempts might be far more harmful for the original news story obtaining appropriate attention.

Oh yes, spotlight stealing is a tool, and can be used for good or evil alike, as any other tool. Other groups who are savvy at marketing do this regularly, and there aren't good ways to stop them doing so. My take is that our best bet is to use this tool for the sake of decreasing entropy and improving the world, rather than trying to stop others from using this tool.
Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

A game like that could occur between humans and A.I. with online collectible card games. (I'm specifying online because the rules are streamlined and mass competition is far more available.)

AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol

I was worried about something like this after the first game. I wasn't sure if expert Go players could discern the difference between AlphaGo playing slightly better than a 9dan versus playing massively better than a 9dan due to how the AI was set up and how difficult it might be to look at players better than the ones already at the top.

AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol

Does anyone know the current odds being given of Lee Sedol winning any of the three remaining games against AlphaGo? I'm curious if at this point is AlphaGo likely possible to beat by a human player better than Sedol (assuming there are any) or if we're looking at an AI player that is better than a human can be.

The odds I saw for the second match were about 2:3 favoring AlphaGo; my guess is the odds moving forward will be more like 1:4 favoring AlphaGo (but probably it should be closer to something like 1:9). This is my estimation.
Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

Ah. Found it. Saw a different one that also matched but had 10 letters.

Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

Should "pop slurper" be 10 letters?

Looks like 9 to me. It's not crazy.
Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

Open Threads are already pretty crowded at around 200 posts per thread. Media threads also seem to have slightly different posting rules and are doing just fine as-is.

Open Thread Feb 29 - March 6, 2016

Aren't there wrist devices that can measure your heart rate over time? Not sure how well they work, but they might be cheaper than a gadget bed.

Wrist-worn devices for measuring heart rate work for situations where you don't move much like sleeping when you don't need HRV. On the other hand some people prefer to sleep without something on their wrist. On the other hand the bed does has features like automatically contouring the body and the ability to adjust the firmness of the bed that ordinary beds don't have. For the future it would be interesting to test the effect of dynamically changing firmness and see whether it provides improvement with topics like back pain. It might be interresting to raise the firmness of the bed right before waking up. A lot of people struggle with back pain. If the bed finds a way to relax the back better at night that can be valuable.
Open Thread Feb 29 - March 6, 2016

I worry that a lot of discussions about AI are all being done via metaphor or being based on past events while it's easy to make up a metaphor that matches any given future scenario and it shouldn't be easily assumed that building an artificial brain is (or isn't!) anything like past events.

I agree that using metaphors to predict the future is problematic, but predicting the future is really hard and if we don't have a good inside view of what's likely to happen the best we can do is to extrapolate from what has happened in the past.
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