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I think it depends on the size of the world model. Imagine an agent with a branch due to uncertainty between two world models. It can construct these models in parallel but doesn't know which one is true. Every observation it makes has two interpretations. A single observation which conclusively determines which branch world model was correct I think could produce an arbitrarily large but resource bounded update.

I suggest this be posted to Main. I go long stretches without checking discussion, and just happened to find the survey here, but I subscribe to the Main RSS feed.


I have taken the survey

I was trying not to kick the bees nest too hard, but I agree with you, doing bad things does tend to make people think bad things about you.


Perhaps that connotation is because of the group in question? I dislike playing word games, the words we use should be interchangeable if they refer to the exact same thing. It's kind of like how we went from Negroes to Black to African Americans in an attempt to combat racism, but the racism was the problem, not bad words, and it only gets confusing when you word police. I was talking to some social justice types before the term was used in a derogatory way online and they described themselves that way, and the first place I saw it online was as a self-description of those groups. Words get loaded with bad affect because people have negative thoughts about the thing being referred to. I think any decision to use a new word that predates changing the thing to which we are referring is premature.

Regarding the McAfee economics book, the link appears to have changed. I believe this link directs to the appropriate text

You didn't actually do the math on that. According to this paper by the Future of Humanity Institute (Nick Bostrom's group), if life evolved to the point of interstellar travel 3 billion years ago and could travel at 50% of c, then you would expect it to travel not just to this galaxy, but the nearest million. If you go back five billion years and assume travel speeds of 99% of c, it could reach a billion galaxies. 75% of stars in the Milky Way that could support life are older than our Sun. It really is an enigma.

Posts 8 and 9 were really beneficial to me. The illusion of transparency is something that has caused me great distress in the past, and it was really nice to have an explanation for why that was. I always valued my intelligence, and I used to think that when people didn't agree with things that seemed obvious to me it was a sign that they were stupid. I had come across this idea as "people have different experiences", and when I saw things through that lens it helped me to be kinder and less arrogant. These posts really crystallized that idea and made me go "oh, that's why that is".

Not a full article. Discussion-starter. Half-digested ideas perhaps if they had been fully digested this would have been better received? I think I saw what you were getting at, and I liked it for working them out collaboratively, if you are interested. Will edit article with your feedback.

Learning environments

Examples: Less Wrong, martial arts gyms, Toastmasters

I'm not sure how much LW belongs in this category, which leads me to think that that's a major weakness of the site

  • Focused on improving a skill or virtue or ability

  • "we are all here to learn" attitude

  • Little if any status competition with that skill or ability, because it is understood your level is largely based on how long you are practicing or learning it, being better because having started 5 years before others does not make you an inherently superior person, it is the expected return of your investment which others also expect to get with time.

  • If there is any status competition at all, it is in the dedication to improve

  • It is allowed, in fact encouraged to admit weakness, as it both helps improving and signals dedication thereto

  • The skill or ability is not considered inherent or inborn

  • People do not essentialize or "identitize" that skill or ability, they generally don't think about each other in the framework of stupid, smart, strong, weak, brave, timid

Testing environment

Examples: most of life, that is the problem actually! Most discussion boards, Reddit. Workplaces. Dating.

  • I should just invert all of the above, really

not sure what you mean here

  • People are essentialized or "identitized" as smart, stupid, strong, weak, brave, timid

  • Above abilities or other ones seen as more or less inborn, or more accurate people don't really dwell on that question much but still more or less consider them unchangable, "you are what you are"

  • Status competition with those abilities

  • Losers easily written off, not encouraged to improve

  • Social pressure incentive to signal better ability than you have

  • Social pressure incentive to not admit weakness

  • Social pressure incenctive to not look like someone who is working on improving: that signals not already being awesome at it, and certainly not being "born" so

  • Social pressure incentive to make accomplishing hard things look easy to show extra ability

Objections / falsification / what it doesn't predict: competition can incentivize working hard. It can make people ingenious. this bit was unclear to me Counter-objection: as long as you make it clear it is not about an innate ability. That is terrible for development this made me pause I think this is a difficult subject, but perhaps some people don't believe in the Noble Lie of downplaying innate ability? I am torn on the subject. but if it is not about ability but working on improving, you get the above social pressure incentive problems: attitudes efficient for competing are not efficient for improving I don't think you've backed this claim up. I think I might disagree with you here. Possible solution: intermittent competition.

Possible combinations?

If you go to a dojo and see someone wearing an orange or green belt, do you both see it as a combination of tests taken and thus current ability, or a signal of what the person is currently learning and improving on (the material of the next belt exam) ? Which one is stronger? Do you see them as "good"/"bad" or improving?

Tentatively: they are more learning than testing environments. I may disagree with this do you mean there are, or what are you referring to with they?

Tentatively: formal tests and gradings can turn the rest of the environment into a learning environment.

Tentatively: maybe it is the lack of formal tests and gradings and certifications is what is turning the rest of the world all too often a testing environment. I don't think this is it. I think the world is default a testing environment. One thing that your learning environments seem to have in common is that there is some incentive for the groups to foster new members, and the degree to which they foster new members seems to depend on supply and demand for new members

Value proposition: it would be good to turn as much as possible of the world into learning environments, except mission-critical jobs, responsibilities etc. which necessarily must be testing environment. I agree with this, and related to my above comment I would would say that competition between groups leads to fostering within groups when there is a high demand for new recruits. As a point of nomenclature, how about instead of "testing" competing and instead of "learning" fostering? To me those terms seem closer to the what you're describing, but that's mostly aesthetic, might make the idea clearer for some people. And I think your intuition that good tests might tease out more fostering could be correct, in that having a good test makes for better competition. This is starting to remind me of The Craft and the Community sequence, where EY talks about rationality dogos and struggles with the difficulty of measuring rationality well. Would the equivalent of a belts system in everything fix it? Figuratively-speaking, green-belt philosopher of religion: atheist or theist, but excepted to not use the worst arguments? Orange-belt voter or political-commentator: does not use the Noncentral Fallacy? More academic ranks than just Bachelor, Masters, PhD? I don't know how this would work exactly, for some things perhaps demonstrating a high level of comprehension for certain reading lists? If we are so stupidly hard-wired animals to always feel the need status-compete and form status hierarchies, and the issue here is largely the effort and time wasted on it plus importing these status-competing attitudes into issues that actually matter and ruining rational approaches to them, would it be better if just glancing on each others belt - figuratively speaking - would settle the status hierarchy question and we could focus on being constructive and rational?

Example: look at how much money people waste on signalling that they have money. Net worth is an objective enough measure, turning it into a belt, figuratively speaking, and signing e-mails as "sincerely, J. Random, XPLFZ", where XPLFZ is some precisely defined, agreed and hard-to-falsify signal of a net worth between $0.1M and $0.5M fix it? Let's ignore how repulsively crude and crass that sounds, such mores are cultural and subject to change anyway, would it lead to fewer unnecessarily, just showing-off and keeping-up-with-the-joneses purchases? Scott Alexander from SSC had a similar idea for his ideal world, so you're in good company there. I think this is an area effective altruists should look into, have official rankings for amount donated, though would it really be effective altruism or effective signalling? Either way, a social good I think.

Counter-tests: do captains status-compete with lieutenants in the mess-hall? No. Do Green-belts with orange-belts? No.

What it doesn't predict: kids still status-compete despite grades. Maybe they don't care so much about grades. LW has no "belts" yet status-competition is low to nonexistent.


I choreograph my morning routines to a specific playlist. I know what I'm supposed to be doing during each specific song, and I get things done on time without distractions. I started in highschool when I would occasionally miss the bus and I never missed the bus after I started.

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