All of TraditionalRationali's Comments + Replies

Career prospects for physics majors

I guess that education systems differ quite a lot between different countries. So where you do your physics studies could make a significant difference. The OP is probably somewhat USA-centric. In Sweden there are two major undergraduate programs in physics. The general university physics program, and the engineering physics program. The latter is an engineering program and you are awarded an engineering degree. The contents, however, is mostly a physics program. For those going into an academic physics career it is as good a starting ground as the general... (read more)

Does My Vote Matter?

Good someone pointed this out! I think this is correct and an important point. Voting is to a large extent about expressing loyalty to king and land (or system and government for those of you who do not live in constitutional monarchies). It is one of the processes that build trust in the society and thus in efficient coordination. Looking just at who will win the election is too a narrow perspective to properly understand the effect of voting.

Open Thread, July 1-15, 2012

Anyone who knows what these two pictures are and where they come from? Nemesis is doing some I think not very accurate critique of LessWrong on the Swedish Skeptics internet forum. It is in Swedish, and sorry, I have not time to translate into English. But though I do not know, I suspect that Nemesis have not the pictures them by himself but found them somewhere. If anyone knows I would be glad to know. (If someone should know already and recogises them, I do not ask anyone to spend significant time on it.)

The second is from the facetious (and sometimes hilarious) Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts thread []. The original is here []. Another important LW picture is here: []
Neil deGrasse Tyson on Cryonics

Anyone who knows what these two picturse are and where they come from? Nemesis is doing some I think not very accurate critique of LessWrong on the Swedish Skeptics internet forum. It is in Swedish, and sorry, I have not time to translate into English. But though I do not know, I suspect that Nemesis have not produced them by himself but found them somewhere. If anyone knows I would be glad to know. (If someone should know already and recogises them, I do not ask anyone to spend significant time on it.)

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Why a Human (Or Group of Humans) Might Create UnFriendly AI Halfway On Purpose

"what can we do to prevent some small group of humans (the SIAI, a secret conspiracy of billionaires, a secret conspiracy of Google employees, whoever) from steering a first-mover scenario in a direction that's beneficial to themselves and perhaps their blood relatives, but harmful to the rest of humanity?"

Actually, if they managed to do that, then they have managed to build an FAI. The large(/largest ?) risk some (as SIAI I think, but I am not an expert) is that they think they are building an FAI (or perhaps a too weak AI to be really dangerous... (read more)

That's not how I understood the "on the whole, beneficial to humans and humanity." It would benefit some humans, but it wouldn't fulfill the "on the whole" part of the quoted definition of Friendly AI. That does, though, highlight some of the confusions that seem to surround the term "Friendly AI."
Abandoning the 99% may fail the "beneficial to humans" test.
[LINK] An amazing breakthrough in wireless communication, or a pipe dream?

Yes. The orbital angular momenta spans the same space as the linear momenta, so it cannot add anything in principle to MIMO and similar. (Practical issues can of course in some cases make the one or the other basis more effective under various circumstances.)

... nm
Not correct! Linear momentum and angular momentum are entirely different things. This was shown by Euler already 1776. Any good mechanics book will show why. Read the books by Clifford Truesdell to get all the details right.
The Landmark Forum — a rationalist's first impression

The Landmark Education is probably yet another one of those non-serious self-improvement course providers. I do not know too much myself about them but e.g. the Swedish Skeptics who are often quite reliable are one of those who have accused Landmark Education of not serious methods. E.g., Landmark lämnar Sverige: Landmark Education, an American company that offers courses in personal development, to abandon services in Sweden, reported Dagens Nyheter 2004-06-08. The reason is a substantial reduction in interest rates. It should be related to several critic... (read more)

Networks, Crowds, and Markets textbook

In what chapter is the outbreak of world-war 1 treated?

I read some time ago The Origins of Major War by D. C. Copeland. He argues that WW1 broke out because Germany feared that due to Russia's large size, and their at the time rapid industrialisation and economic growth, would become a strategic threat in the future. Therefore Germany better had to try a war to weaken them when Germany's relative military strength was at its peak, which the German gouvernment estimated was at 1914. So, according to Copeland, the German attack on France (which they hoped to... (read more)

I Want to Learn About Education

I can recommend A Guide to Introductory Physics Teaching by Arnold B. Arons (or maybe Teaching Introductory Physics which seems to be in practice a second edition of the former although I have not read it). I read it more than ten years ago and don't remember much more than that I found it a good book. It is centred on high-school level physics but has some contents also to related subjects, e.g. on how to show the students how to think on why they/we believe what they/we believe we do understand.

Open Thread: July 2010

That it should be possible to Algorithmize Science seems clear from that the human brain can do science and the human brain should be possible to describe algorthmically. If not at a higher level, so at least -- in principle -- by quantum electrodynamics which is the (known and computable in principle) dynamics of electrons and nuclei that are the building blocks of the brain.( If it should be possible to do in practice it would have to be done at a higher level but as a proof of principle that argument should be enough.)

I guess, however, that what is actu... (read more)

The scientific method is already a vague sort of algorithm, and I can see how it might be possible to mechanize many of the steps. The part that seems AGI-hard to me is the process of generating good hypotheses. Humans are incredibly good at plucking out reasonable hypotheses from the infinite search space that is available; that we are so very often says more of the difficulty of the problem than our own abilities.
Open Thread: July 2010

I wrote a backlink to here from OB. I am not yet expert enough to do an evaluation of this. I do think however that it is an important and interesting question that mjgeddes asks. As an active (although at a low level) rationalist I think it is important to try to at least to some extent follow what expert philosophers of science actually find out of how we can obtain reasonably reliable knowledge. The dominating theory of how science proceeds seems to be the hypothetico-deductive model, somewhat informally described. No formalised model for the scientific... (read more)

Open Thread: May 2010

Very interesting. If you find time, could you elaborate on these. I am particularly interested in hearing more on the criticism of the skeptics movement.

I think it was mentioned here before. Skeptics do a decent job of raising the sanity waterline [] and thats all nice and important. I watched all of Randis U-tube videos, Penn&Teller Bullshit, Dawkins, Derren Brown and what ever else looked interesting. But as some keep pointing out. Randi is not a scientist! He talks about stuff that should be obvious to elementary school kids. P&T get stuff wrong on their show. (I identified 2 topics so far). And they use a style of edutainment that might make you think a bit, or move in-groups. But you dont learn more about reasoning from it. I am not sure, but you might be able to compare it to any standard theist shoutout show. (To be fair, they generally do a decent job of representing oposing views. But might have learned some Tricks from a certain Michael Moore.) All those skeptics push saner beliefs into the public and make it cool to have those in their respective subculture. As a fellow Rationalist i feel sometimes smug listening to them. But telling me stuff i already know is not too effective, while i dont have any indicators if they reach a target audience where an opinion shift is really mandated. And: skeptics are not particularly rational. (I don't think they are even into the concept of learning more about thought processes or how science works.) Wenn you spend your time battling idiots you might not remark, when you are wrong yourself. Find a skeptic that will listen to your criticism of the traditional scientific method, and/or about how awesome baysianism is :-) On a personal note: there is a distinct line of highly accidental circumstances that lead me to become involved in this particular group here. Each step involved people i learned from, and that knew more than my general surrounding. But each of those people got stuck in their personal level of thought (and field of interest respectively), and didn't follow me any further. Becoming an Atheist,
Open Thread: May 2010

Eliezer Yudkowsky and Massimo Pigliucci just recently had a dialogue on The title is The Great Singularity Debate.

After Yudkowsky at the beginning gives three different definitions of "the singularity" they discuss strong artificial intelligence and consciousness. Pigliucci is the one who quite quickly takes the discussion from intelligence to consciousness. Just before that they discuss whether simulated intelligence is actually intelligence. Yudkowsky made an argument (something like) if the AI can solve problems over a suffic... (read more)

I'm going to have to remember to use the word cishumanism more often.
I found this diavlog entertaining, but not particularly enlightening - the two of them seemed to mostly just be talking past each other. Pigliucci kept on conflating intelligence and consciousness, continually repeating his photosynthesis analogy, which makes sense in the context of consciousness, but not intelligence, and Eliezer would respond by explaining why that doesn't make sense in the context of intelligence, and then they'd just go in circles. I wish Eliezer had been more strict about forcing him to explicitly differentiate between intelligence/consciousness. Frustrating.... but worth watching regardless. Note that I'm not saying I agree with Pigliucci's photosynthesis analogy, even when applied to consciousness, just that it seems at least to be coherent in that context, unlike in the context of intelligence, in which case it's just silly. Personally, I don't see any reason for consciousness to be substrate-dependant, but I feel much less confident in asserting that it isn't, just because I don't really know what consciousness is, so it seems more arrogant to make any definitive pronouncement about it.
You should post this as a top-level post for +10x karma.
random, possibly off-topic question: Is there an index somewhere of all of Eliezer's appearances on BHTV? Or a search tool on the BHTV site that I can use to find them?
SIAI may have built an automaton to keep donors from panicking
Open Thread: March 2010, part 2

An interesting dialogue at BHTV abot transhumanism between cishumanist Massimo Pigliucci and transhumanist Mike Treder. Pigliucci is among other things blogging at Rationally Speaking. This BHTV dialogue is partly as a follow-up to Pigliucci's earlier blog-post the problems with transhumanism . As I (tonyf, July 16, 2009 8:29 PM) commented then, despite the title of his blog-post, it was more of a (I think) misleading generalisation from an article by some Munkittrick than by an actual study of the "transhumanist" community that was the basis fo... (read more)

No, Pigliucci agrees that it might be possible to get an intelligence (e.g., that passes the Turing test) through the computer system. He just does not think that you can call it a human intelligence. He thinks the concept of "mind uploading" is silly because the human mind (and intelligence) is therefore fundamentally different from this computer mind. He also argues that the human mind is inseparable from the biological construction. I have to admit I am not surprised that this argument is coming from a biologist. To a physicist or an engineer, almost all problems and constructs are computational, and it's just a matter of figuring out the proper model. As a biologist, it is more difficult to see how living entities follow similar sorts of fundamental rules. In objecting to the computational theory of mind, Pigliucci objects to the computational theory of reality, and in essence, he contradicts himself. He reveals himself to be a dualist. I think he is confusing the mathematical or logical abstraction of a system (not dualistic) with the physical or material abstraction (dualistic).
Good link. Question: In one part of the discussion, Pigliucci mentions that we know how chess players seem to think (and it's not at all like chess playing computer programs.) Does anyone have any good references about how chess players think?
The Graviton as Aether

This is a standard semiclassical motivation as to why gravitons most probably exist (I think from Steven Weinberg "gravitation and cosmology" but I have since long lost the book so I am not sure): In the limit of weak gravitation GR looks similar to the Maxwell equations. In particular there should exist gravitational waves.. (Have not yet been detected experimentally but if GR is (at least approximately) correct they should exist.) This means that you could in principle build a gravitational wave microscope. Say you want to measure the position ... (read more)

I do agree with you that GR cannot be a fully correct description of reality on a quantum level (because of this and other issues, especially many worlds). I was saying that we should take the structure of GR into account when building a unified theory, rather than just starting off with the assumption that gravity works exactly like all the other forces.