All of WrongBot's Comments + Replies

I'm planning to run a rationality-friendly table-top roleplaying game over IRC and am soliciting players.

The system is Unknown Armies, a game of postmodern magic set in a creepier, weirder version of our own world. Expect to investigate crimes, decipher the methods behind occult rituals, interpret symbols, and slowly go mad. This particular game will follow the misadventures of a group of fast food employees working for an occult cabal (well, more like a mailing list) that wants to make the world a better place.

Sessions will be 3-4 hours once a week over I... (read more)

It may be possible to take advantage of multiple levels of reality within the game itself to confuse or trick the gatekeeper. For instance, must the experiment only be set in one world? Can there not be multiple layers of reality within the world you create? I feel that elaborating on this any further is dangerous. Think carefully about what this advice is trying to imply.

This is a pretty clever way of defeating precommitments. (Assuming I'm drawing the correct inferences.) How central was this tactic to your approach, if you're willing to comment?

It's worth noting that I never have just a "single" approach. This tactic is central to some of my approaches, but not others.

The bad guy(s) relative to Harry. Hermione coming back is important whichever way his morality goes.

What would normally be considerd dead, sure. I wouldn't put it 19:1 against that Harry successfully prevented information-theoretic death.
I really miss Intrade.
There is a very significant risk that without Hermione, Harry will become a bad guy. That's what the Hat warned him about, and we have reasons to think that it's why Quirrelmort tried to remove Hermione from Harry. And that's what the prophecies seem to be warning about.

Quirrell is That Fucker.

Heavy spoilers for Nonjon's excellent A Black Comedy follow.

Va N Oynpx Pbzrql, Qnivq Zbaebr vf gur ragvgl perngrq jura gur Ubepehk va Evqqyr'f qvnel fhpprffshyyl erfheerpgf vgfrys, jvgu gur gjvfg gung vg jnf perngrq hfvat nyy bs Ibyqrzbeg'f 'cbfvgvir' rzbgvbaf. Guhf Qnivq Zbaebr vf bccbfrq gb Ibyqrzbeg, unf uvf zrzbevrf naq fxvyyf, naq frrf gung fgbel'f Uneel nf n cbgragvny gbby, nyyl, be rira rdhny.

Fbhaq snzvyvne? Gur anzr whfg znxrf vg boivbhf.

The story had me at

Hermione will be resurrected before the conclusion of this story.

(Given that Harry wins and souls aren't real.)

I continue to have at least 30% confidence that Hermione was never dead. There are too many would-be-conclusive bits of evidence just barely out of reach.

I'm a bit divided on how I'd feel about that. On the other hand, finding a way to resurrect her would be thematically appropriate. On the other hand, it would also be thematically appropriate if there wasn't any way, and you just had to accept that the universe doesn't always play fair, with you sometimes not getting everything you want despite your best efforts.

I'll go a step farther, and say that regardless of the existence of souls, Hermione will be resurrected before the conclusion of this story.
I sorta feel that I know what you're getting at, but "Hermione lives" seems like a precondition for "Harry wins", no?

PSA: There is an actual physical sensation that accompanies religious experiences. If you feel the presence of a being of awesome power and an unusual sensation of... fullness?... in your chest, don't panic or starting believing in a god or anything crazy.

It's a physiological thing that happens to people, especially in altered states (drugs, sleep deprivation, etc.), and it doesn't mean anything.

This sounds dangerously close to ignoring evidence when it conflicts with your priors.
A lot of people got this from shuttle launches, and so reacted negatively to the the (in my opinion good) arguments for focusing NASA's budget on robotic space exploration.

Right, but not all trade-offs are equal. Thinking-rainbows-are-pretty and self-determination are worth different amounts.

Thank you for pointing this out; I've apparently lost the ability to read. Post edited.

Happens to me sometimes, too. :)

"If you perform experiments to determine the physical laws of our universe, you will learn how to make powerful weapons."

It's all about incentives.

If you get into the practice of keeping honest and accurate records of everything, and quantifying as much as you can, then you will become much better at military logistics.

If you just want incentives then I'd go with - "In 500 years, a gamma ray burst will wipe out all humanity unless you colonize distant stars, so get to work."

Afterall, 'powerful weapons' presumably caused the problem in the first place. A burning, racially/religious/culturally rooted drive to reach the stars would be far more useful in the long run than a desire to conquer our enemies, even if it is based on a lie.


"physical laws" and "universe" maybe suppose too much background.

I cross-pollinate your thing with EY's:

"If you test theories by how precisely they predict experimental results, you will learn how to make powerful weapons."

EDIT: My latest version is "If you test theories by how precisely they predict experimental results, you will unlock the secrets of the ancients." Which fixes a few bugs.

Do you think wisdom automatically follows knowledge, however?

The Keeley book you linked has been discredited. See here, e.g.

Certainly people have challenged that book. But my understanding is that its findings have held up well and that, to the contrary, it is Ryan and Jetha's book that has been variously ignored and discredited, especially for their highly misleading presentation of others' data and the literature generally. See e.g. here [].

Took it and laughed several times.

In people's brains, and in papers written by philosophy students.

Sorry for the very belated reply, but I was struggling to find the words to describe exactly what I meant. Luckily, Eliezer has already done most of it for me in his latest post.

Thing A exists with respect to Thing B iff Thing A and Thing B are both part of the same causal network. So ArisKatsaris was half-right, but things outside our past and future light cones can be said to exist with respect to us if they have a causal relationship with anything that is inside our past and future light cones.

Other: Existence is a two-valued function, not one-valued.

Could you elaborate, please?

Creepy behavior has an evolutionary purpose, just like all human behavior.

Humans are adaptation-executors, not fitness-maximizers. Evolution may have crafted me into a person who wants to sit at home alone all day and play video games, but sitting at home alone all day and playing video games doesn't offer me a fitness advantage.

(I don't actually want to sit at home alone all day and play video games. At least, not every day.)

Yep. I'm arguing that creepy/misogynistic behavior may be an adaptation that fires when a man is feeling desperate. It's weird because since thinking of this yesterday, I've noticed that it has a ton of explanatory power regarding my own feelings and behavior. And it actually offers a concrete solution to the problem of feeling creepy: hang out with more women. But I'm getting voted down both here and on reddit. I guess maybe I'm generalizing from myself improperly, and lack of social awarenesss is actually a much larger problem? Hanging out with more women could also be a solution to lack of social awareness, by the way. In my experience, I naturally tend to start making friends with some of them, and in conversations I learn a lot more about how they think and feel.

I work in video games, so my experience isn't at all typical of programming more generally. The big issues are that:

  • Development priorities and design are driven by marketing.
  • Lots of time is spent doing throwaway work for particular demos. I (and many others) wasted a couple weeks hacking together a scripted demo for E3 that will never be seen again.
  • The design for my portion of the project has changed directions numerous times, and each new version of the feature has been implemented in a rush, so we still have bits of code from five iterations ago hang
... (read more)

The people I work with are mostly not dickheads and the pay is reasonable. It's the mountain of ugly spaghetti code I'm expected to build on top of that kills me. There's no time to do refactors, of course.

When a deadline is near, all best software practices are thrown out of the window. Later in the project, a deadline is always near.

This is precisely the problem. Not really much more to add.

Up until a month or so ago, I was convinced I'd landed my dream job. If I had a soul, it would be crushed now.

Which is not to say that it's awful, not by any means. I've just gained a new perspective on the value of best practices in software development.

Can you explain in more detail? I'm interested in learning about the downsides of programming jobs (which have been strongly promoted [] around here).
Which is to say, much less than getting paid a lot and not working with dickheads?

I'm working on a video game in which the player controls a horde of orcs and attempts to take over the world. The game is narrated, however, from the perspective of the humans who are being crushed. You get lots of opportunities to commit atrocities, of course.

As far as mechanics go, it's simplified grand strategy tuned so that a typical game takes no more than a couple hours. Haven't gone much beyond design writeups and figuring out my platform (Unity), but I'm only about five hours of actual work into the project.

My realistic goal for the game is for it to serve as a portfolio piece (I work as a game designer). My stretch goals are to get it into the IGF and/or release it on Steam/Desura/etc.

Did this ever come to fruition?
I wish to hear more about this game, possibly offsite.

Anger is pretty easy, too. All I have to do is remember a time I was wronged and focus on the injustice of it. Not very fun, though.

Karma isn't (necessarily) about punishment. Downvotes often just mean "I'd prefer to see fewer comments like this."

What ever. The reason why I don't like that story too much is, I do not believe that, given the way homo sapiens are, demonstrating them that child in the Omelas would have consequence stated in the story, even if they are instructed that this is the consequence. It's too much of a stretch. The effect of such on H. Sapiens, that I would forecast, would be entirely opposite. The Omelas is doing something more similar to how you break in the soldiers for effective Holocaust death squad - the soldiers that later kill others or themselves outside the orders. You make the soldiers participate all together in something like that. That's why I don't like this as example. I'm arguing against my own point of bringing it up as example. Because the reason we don't like Omelas is because keeping child like this won't have positive consequence. (and for it to have stated positive consequence, the people already have to have a grossly irrational reaction to exposure to that child)

Please stop making these little explanatory comments. They're obnoxious, unhelpful, and their karma ratings should indicate to you that they are not well-liked.

I'm not sure about that. Being too math-heavy is not a good reason to downvote (except perhaps in very extreme cases), but if you are downvoting, isn't leaving an explanation better than not?
But then one wouldn't be able to provide negative reinforcement for his downvotes...?

Your edit demonstrates that you really don't get consequentialism at all. Why would making a good tradeoff (one miserable child in exchange for paradise for everyone else) lead to making a terrible one (a tiny bit of happiness for one person in exchange for death for someone else)?


Omelas is a goddamned paradise. Omelas without the tortured child would be better, yeah, but Omelas as described is still better than any human civilization that has ever existed. (For one thing, it only contains one miserable child.)

Well it seems to me they are trading N dust specks vs torture in Omelas. edit: Actually, I don't like Omelas [as example]. I think that miserable child would only make the society way worse, with the people just opting to e.g. kill someone when it ever so slightly results in increase in their personal expected utility. This child in Omelas puts them straight on the slippery slope, and making everyone aware of slippage makes people slide down for fun and profit. Our 'civilization' though, of course, is a god damn jungle and so its pretty damn bad. It's pretty hard to beat on the moral wrongness scale, from first principles; you have to take our current status quo and modify it to get to something worse (or take our earlier status quo).

Before the bootcamp, I'd just barely managed to graduate college and didn't have the greatest prospects for finding a job. (Though to be fair, I was moving to SF and it was a CS degree.)

At the bootcamp, I founded (and then folded) a startup with other bootcampers, which was profoundly educational and cost a couple months of time and <$100.

Now, <1 year after the bootcamp, I'm doing programming and design work on the new SimCity, which is as close to a dream job for me as could reasonably be expected to exist.

I can't attribute all my recent success to ... (read more)

Harry could destroy his own reputation in order to save Hermione, by (for example) threatening to forever abandon Wizarding Britain. He is a beloved celebrity, after all, and it would be bad press for the Wizengamot if the Boy-Who-Lived defected to France.

Not sure how likely his dark side is to go for a self-sacrificing ploy, though.

Shouldn't they take that for granted already? I mean obviously he's going to have absolutely no remaining loyalty to the state - or at least the power structure - that did that to him. They should all expect to die whenever Harry finds it convenient to overthrow them. Or is that just what I would do? (Any sane politician who was planning to make that sort of move against a potential emergent power like Harry would also see to it that they were killed, crippled or framed as a matter of course. You don't go around recklessly making enemies and leaving them free to gather power.)
I disagree. This is a possible, but weak solution whereto the probability calculation of good Bayesian says that it doesn't stand a good chance of succeeding compared to the cost. Right now Harry is not in an impressive social situation. Besides being the Boy-Who-Lived he's done nothing, and in this particular context he has not scored an awful lot of points.
Wizarding Britain doesn't know that there's a Dark Lord still out there; it doesn't know that they still need Harry Potter as anything other than a celebrity, and for him to make such a threat would appear only as the height of vanity.
Dark side doesn't care about consequences - I believe someone likened it to an UFAI.

Fair enough. The canon definition of a squib is specifically a non-magical child of wizarding parents. I'd assumed the Grangers had wizarding blood further back than that, making them genetically identical to squibs but not meeting the definition of the term as used in wizarding culture.

That could still be true of Mr Dr Granger.
They had to be, in order for Hermione to be MuggleBorn. Mendelian pattern.
I'm having a hard time imagining how Hermione got two copies of the magic gene if they weren't.
Both recessive magic-gene carriers. That's the definition of Sqib in MoR - or have I got this wrong?

Yeah, that would definitely allay my concerns. I think it's the uncertainty surrounding the number and quality of other entrants that bothers me.

Maybe the thestral blood added permanence, because death is permanent? If it was replacing blueberries I doubt it was the key magical ingredient, and so its effect may not be directly related to its properties.

ETA: And also that's why this version of the potion so much more dangerous. It has Death in it.

Yes, definitely. But it must be very dilute death or it'd just be a stupid potion. Dumbledore may feel guilty over such dangerous 'help' but he wouldn't make a suggestion guaranteed to fail. That's just crazy enough to work, but to continue the vein of thought, if thestral blood conferred permanence on all sorts of potions, you'd expect it either to be a deep wizarding secret Dumbledore wouldn't give any schoolgirl or to be used in lots of other contexts - anything you want a potion to be permanent. (Maybe witches aren't desperate enough to risk Petunia's potion... but how about Felix felicis? We saw what one day on FF could do, imagine an entire lifetime!)

See Raemon's comment. The Dark Arts are involved, mere honesty is no defense.

Yes, but those who read this thread know the Dark Arts are involved and can adjust their beliefs accordingly.

Thank you for explaining to me what I was thinking. This is exactly my concern.

This is all great except for the contest part, which I might currently have moderate ethical objections to. In general I'm concerned by contests which are held as an alternative to just paying someone to do the work for you; I objected to the contest that SI used to select their new logo (which is great) for the same reasons.

Essentially what you're doing is asking some unknown number of people to work for highly unpredictable pay, which is mostly likely to be (assuming at least a half-dozen entries), no pay at all. This tactic makes lots of financial sense... (read more)

An alternative that you might consider more ethical is to limit the number of contestants and determine payment (or lack thereof) based on an absolute measure of quality rather than through competition.
Is it still unethical if competitors know the field? I have a hard time seeing how offering someone any deal they aren't being deceived about can be unethical...
As long as the process is clear and people know what they're getting into, I don't think there's an issue with this.

I have a similar problem with contest-labor. I have less of a problem with it for non-profits. But my reasoning is actually particularly relevant to an organization that is (among other things), promoting rationality. (You could argue that it is either more or less concerning, given your pool of volunteers' propensity for rationality)

My problem with contest labor is that it exploits people's probability biases. They see "I could get $1000!". They don't see "the expected value for this labor is about $1.00/hour" (or less). Which is usual... (read more)

Thank you. Alas, my credibility shall be forever tainted.

Nah, if you didn't make mistakes now and then your name wouldn't make any sense. See: me.

It would be less confusing (to me, possibly others), if you abbreviated Albus Percival Brian Wulfric Dumbledore's name as AD. (My personal preference for APBWD should not be catered to.)

Just call him Heh.

I'd settle for "Albus" or "Dumbledore" too.
It's APWBD, not APBWD.

Dead brains are like burned libraries.

I don't often agree with you, but you just convinced me we're on the same side.

My preference would be for one post per major idea, however short or long that ends up.

Please keep posting mathy stuff here, I find it extremely interesting despite not having much of a math background.

Those questionnaires are not a particularly good introduction to the LW/SI memespace. I worry that he is therefore making a poor first impression on our behalf, reducing the odds that these people will end up contributing to existential risk reduction and/or friendliness research.

I was going to upvote this comment until I got to the last line. XiXiDu's email campaign is almost certainly doing more harm than good.

That's surprising; I found having a set of views from outside the LW/SIAI cluster quite refreshing. What do you think was bad about those? My only quibble would be that I found some of the questions awkward/guiding/irrelevant; I would have prefered a better set of questions. But Xixidu improved them with time.

RIght now I'm on a career path that will lead to me making lots of money with reasonable probability. I intend to give at least 10% of my income to existential risk reduction (FHI or SI, depending on the current finances of each) for the foreseeable future.

I wish I could do more. I'm probably smart/rational enough to contribute to FAI work directly in at least some capacity. But while that work is extremely important, it doesn't excite me, and I haven't managed to self-modify in that direction yet, though I'm working on it. Historically, I've been unable t... (read more)

Flitwick is probably also out as an Imperius candidate, being a former international dueling champion and all.

How are the two connected?

In the intervening time I've also been convinced that I have ADD, or at least something that looks like it. My executive function is usually pretty decent.

My comments on this topic after the first one were a mistake. Apologies for feeding the troll.

My comments on this topic after the first one were a mistake. Apologies for feeding the troll.

I affirm your judgement. Aurini appeared to be a user in good standing, at 700 votes but seems to have transitioned to troll.

If, for some reason Aurini is not ostracised while he behaves like this it would be necessary to refute his willfully obnoxious sexist drivel point by point. I know people hate to read debates about sex politics but either the nonsense must be countered through argument or (preferably) it needs to be made clear through downvotes/ignore/dontfeeds that nothing Aurini is saying here should be considered remotely like a position that lesswrong supports.

You want to normalize domestic violence and make it legal. That's the only reasonable inference I can draw from what you've written.

Pro tip: I'm a dude. Does that falsify anything you believe?

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