Vitor

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2[Event]SSC Zürich February MeetupMüllerstrasse 64, ZürichFeb 1st
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Covid 4/15: Are We Seriously Doing This Again

News from Switzerland: health authorities have made the decision that people who had covid should only get one vaccine shot, 6 months after recovery. This sounds sensible to me, but I'm worried what this means regarding different strains: if someone was infected by the milder variant, aren't they still at high risk from the newer strains? Anyplace else pursuing similar policies?

Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots

Germany has already reversed the AZ stop. Hopefully all other countries will do likewise soon.

Kelly *is* (just) about logarithmic utility

Great post, I find it really valuable to engage in this type of meta-modeling, i.e., deriving when and why models are appropriate.

I think you're making a mistake in Section 2 though. You argue that a mode optimizer can be pretty terrible (agreed). Then, you argue that any other quantile optimizer can also be pretty terrible (also agreed). However, Kelly doesn't only optimize the mode, or 2% quantile, or whatever other quantile: it maximizes all those quantiles simultaneously! So, is there any distribution for which Kelly itself fails to optimize between meaningfully different states (as in your 2%-quantile with 10% bad outcome example)? I don't think such a distribution exists.

(Note: maybe I'm misunderstanding what johnswentworth said here, but if solving for any x%-quantile maximizer always yields Kelly, then Kelly maximizes for all quantiles, correct?)

Kelly isn't (just) about logarithmic utility

Comment/question about St. Petersburg and utilities: given any utility function u which goes to infinity, it should be possible to construct a custom St. Petersburg lottery for that utility function, right? I.e. a lottery with infinite expectation but arbitrarily low probability of being in the green. If we want to model an agent as universally rejecting such lotteries, it follows that utility cannot diverge, and thus must asymptotically approach some supremum (also requiring the natural condition that u is strictly monotone). Has this shape of utility function been seriously proposed in economics? Does it have a name?

Covid 12/10: Vaccine Approval Day in America

So, the Swiss just approved the Pfizer vaccine. I think this clearly proves you wrong. However, as I was already planning to write an answer before this new development, let me give you that answer for completeness' sake (better late than never).

Your original claim sounded a lot stronger than what you're now saying, where it seems you simply disagree with the exact quantity that is being ordered.

Do you consider it obvious that 5+ doses per person would be optimal? For starters, only about half the population even wants to get vaccinated. Also, the first million doses are clearly worth much more than each additional million. These decisions were made in a very high uncertainty environment, before the effectiveness numbers were known. Switzerland obviously doesn't have the same market power as other, larger countries, etc. I'm not saying I disagree with your position, just that it is far from obviously correct.

But your original comment went much further than just claiming the swiss ordered the wrong quantity. You implied that Swissmedic (the body in charge of approval) basically has no political independence, and that both the head of Swissmedic and the health minister were brazenly lying to the public when they claimed that they were moving as fast as possible towards approval.

My priors say that these things are pretty unlikely. The delay is much more easily explained by the fact that there is no emergency approval process in Switzerland, which yields a huge status-quo bias for the regular process. To move any faster, new laws would have had to be passed.

So yes, I do think that you made a very far reaching read based on very little information.

Covid 12/10: Vaccine Approval Day in America

> Switzerland is going even slower, making the usual noises about the need for ‘caution.’ My read is that this is because they did not order vaccine doses early enough, and now they are all sold out, so why not spin that by not approving the vaccine for a while and calling it ‘caution?’

This "read" of yours is quite far reaching, going on very little information. It is also completely wrong: Switzerland has contracts with all 3 major vaccine providers, the first of which was signed way back in August, securing 4.5 million doses (covering ~25% of the population).

Source (in german): <https://www.srf.ch/news/schweiz/moderna-impfdosen-gesichert-schweiz-steigt-ins-rennen-um-einen-moeglichen-impfstoff-ein>

So, yes, these delays are indeed because the swiss health authorities are being cautious. The vaccines are going through expedited but otherwise normal approval processes.

Being Productive With Chronic Health Conditions

Wholeheartedly agree with this. This covers most of the things I do / aspire to do to manage my own chronic condition.

One area that you don't really mention is finding work that is flexible and offers social support for the measures you're implementing for yourself. If your productivity is unreliable, it is a very bad thing to be working a job with lots of hard deadlines, or where your lack of progress will immediately block your co-workers from progressing in their own work. It's also important to prevent others from assuming you have more slack than you actually do.

In this area, I've found pre-committing to be an extremely valuable tool. When I work towards a deadline, I discuss with my boss in advance how bad it would be to miss the deadline, and what our plan B would be in that case (e.g. if 1 week before the deadline things are looking bad, we cut X which we agree is non-essential). This prevents high-stakes, high-pressure discussions from happening while I am in a health crisis, and protects my professional reputation. You don't want to find out 1 week before the deadline that your boss actually considers X to be essential! Better to find out a month in advance and adjust your plans accordingly.

Design thoughts for building a better kind of social space with many webs of trust

I'm intrigued, but this is a bit vague. What kind of thing are you looking to build, concretely? The gestalt I'm getting is this: A social network with a transparent feed / recommendation algorithm that each user can explicitly tune, which as a side effect tags any piece of information with a trust score. This score is implicitly filtered through a particular lens / prior depending on who you trust. Looking at things through different lenses for different purposes is encouraged.

Two thoughts on this:

  • It seems to put a lot of administrative burden on users to keep their edges up to date. Can the system be made mostly automatic, e.g. alerting you to changes, suggesting manual review of certain nodes, adjusting weights over time based on your usage, etc? Basically, can you give a user-centric description of the idea, rather than a system-centric one?
  • What about strategic incentives? Sure, very blatant voting rings and such can be easily rooted out, but this system would give malicious actors a lot of information to embed themselves in a web in more subtle, insidious manners, e.g. sleeper accounts.
What's the best overview of common Micromorts?

This chart might be misleading in that it doesn't account for the impact of a person's skill on the danger. Some of these activities have a fixed risk (commercial flying), while others directly depend on how fit/agile/careful the person is, so the risk probably varies by orders of magnitude between individuals (motorcycling). At the more dangerous end, I'd expect the risk to be underestimated significantly: many people go skiing, only a few very fit people attempt to climb Everest.

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