All of Zolmeister's Comments + Replies

Why I Work on Ads

It's hard for me to credibly believe that this harm happened due to the algorithm, that no humans at Google were clearly aware of what was going on, when Googlers were being sent out to events to pitch to this market

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. It sounds like the fraud involved was extremely sophisticated, as it was hiding behind state negligence. Google now requires these advertisers to be licenced by a reputable third party.

The problem I see here isn't just that the Ads team gets paid for participation i

... (read more)
Why I Work on Ads

You have not produced evidence that billboards are generally 'criminal mind control', only that they violate norms for shared spaces for people like Banksy. Ultimately this boils down to local political disagreement, rather than some clever ploy by The Advertisers to get into your brain.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you.

This is strictly true in the sense that advertisement is negative cost and negative value, but that is exactly why it is used as a tool for producing otherwise dif... (read more)

Dark Matters

I was interested in her claim that the Bullet Cluster is evidence against dark matter.

The scientists estimated the probability for a Bullet-Cluster-like collision to be about one in ten billion, and concluded: that we see such a collision is incompatible with the concordance model. And that’s how the Bullet Cluster became strong evidence in favor of modified gravity.

Technically, the market I should make corresponds to what I think other people's probabilities are likely to be given they can see my market. I might give a wider market because only people that think they're getting a good deal with trade with me

Technically, market making is betting on price volatility by providing liquidity. To illustrate, I'll use a simple automated market maker.

Yes * No = Const

This means I will accept any trade of Yes/No tokens, so long as the product remains constant. Slippage is proportional to the quantity of tokens available. Pr... (read more)

Two Designs

Each of these functions takes ~30s to run, so it ends up being more efficient to put them in one job instead of multiple.

This is a perfect example of the AWS Batch API 'leaking' into your code. The whole point of a compute resource pool is that you don't have to think about how many jobs you create.
It sounds like you're using the wrong tool for the job (or a misconfiguration - e.g. limit the batch template to 1 vcpu).

The benefit of the pass-through approach is that it uses language-level features to do the validation

You get language-level validatio... (read more)

2SatvikBeri22dThis is true. We're using AWS Batch because it's the best tool we could find for other jobs that actually do need hundreds/thousands of spot instances, and this particular job goes in the middle of those. If most of our jobs looked like this one, using Batch wouldn't make sense. You're right. In the explicit example, it makes more sense to have that sort of logic at the call site.
Two Designs

The reason to be explicit is to be able to handle control flow.

def run_job(make_dataset1: bool, make_dataset2: bool):
    if make_dataset1 && make_dataset2:

If your jobs are independent, then they should be scheduled as such. This allows jobs to run in parallel.

def make_datasets_handler(job):
    for dataset in job.params.datasets:
        schedule_job('make_dataset', {dataset})

def make_dataset_handler(job):
     {name, params} = job.params.dataset

Passing random params to fun... (read more)

2SatvikBeri22dThe datasets aren't dependent on each other, though some of them use the same input parameters. Sure, there's some benefit to breaking down jobs even further. There's also overhead to spinning up workers. Each of these functions takes ~30s to run, so it ends up being more efficient to put them in one job instead of multiple. So then you have to maintain check_dataset_params, which gives you a level of indirection. I don't think this is likely to be much less error-prone. The benefit of the pass-through approach is that it uses language-level features to do the validation – you simply check whether the parameters dict has keywords for each argument the function is expecting. I agree in general, but I don't think there are particularly good ways to test this without introducing indirection. The failure you're talking about here is tripping a try clause. I agree that exceptions aren't the best control flow – I would prefer if the pattern I'm talking about could be implemented with if statements – but it's not really a major failure, and (unfortunately) a pretty common pattern in Python.
[Letter] Advice for High School

I dropped out of high school. It's not a place for smart people.


Some highlights from my .vimrc

" Prevent data loss
set undofile
" Flush to disk every character (Note: disk intensive, e.g. makes large copy-pastes slow)
set updatecount=1

" Directory browsing usability
let g:netrw_liststyle = 3 " tree list view
let g:netrw_banner = 0

" Copy for X11
vnoremap <C-c> "cy <Bar> :call system('xclip -selection clipboard', @c)<CR><CR>

Also worth checking out CoC (language server)

Promoting Prediction Markets With Meaningless Internet-Point Badges

Twitch has recently begun experimenting with predictions for streamers using their channel-points currency.

Democracy, Bureaucracy, Central Banking

The history of central banking (and large scale monetary policy generally), is fascinating. This lecture I found particularly enlightening (George Selgin):

Noteworthy remarks:

  • Even before central banking, government regulation required banks purchase junk assets (causing failures)
  • Nonuniform currency price slippage (when each bank issued its own notes) may have been < 1%
  • The National Bank Act taxed private bank notes at 10%, effectively destroying private currency circulation
    • National Bank notes were backed b
... (read more)

I have removed the good/bad duality entirely, as I found it confusing.

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

To use a more realistic example, it's hard for me to agree that a billionaire values their tenth vacation home more than a homeless person who is in danger of freezing in the winter.

I don't see "value" as a feeling. A freezing person might desire a warm fire, but their value of it is limited by what can be expressed.

That said, a person is a complex asset, and so the starving person might trade in their "apparent plight" (e.g. begging).

For example, the caring seller of the last sandwich might value alleviating "apparent plight" more than millions of shar... (read more)

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

Tap again directly on your prediction to remove it.

1WilliamKiely5moThanks! On mobile I had to zoom in to reliably tap directly on the bar, which I didn't try originally.
What technologies could cause world GDP doubling times to be <8 years?

What if instead of producing new things to value, people change the things they value. Perhaps increased homogeneity of value creates more efficient economies of scale.

Eth2 Staking explained as a Financial Instrument

If I understand correctly, then Rocket Pool fits the bill. It is a network (with mild centralization) that allows people to buy and sell shares of a validator pool. Risk is spread across the network in case of node failure.

Note on 1, the withdrawal key is separate from the validator key, such that one can validate but not withdraw.

Edit: Though I agree on 2, that in the long term the fees such networks will be able to charge will decline significantly.

Eth2 Staking explained as a Financial Instrument

There will not be a secondary market for Eth2 stakes

Actually, Coinbase just announced intent to deliver this secondary market. A tokenized Eth2 stake may then also be traded on DeFi exchanges.

1Annapurna5moThank you for sharing. It's great to see these services already commit to Eth2 staking. I wouldn't call this a secondary market though. This is more Coinbase becoming an intermediary between the customer and the Eth2 staking process. A secondary market would be being able to buy and sell validator nodes. I do not think this would happen for two reasons: 1. Security. Every validator has a set of keys. A secondary market would imply the sharing of those keys. 2. Pricing. A secondary market would imply that the market value of validators (32 ETH) would fluctuate. Why would you sell a validator for lower than 32 ETH (and inversely buy a validator for more than 32 ETH) if the consensus protocol will always allow you to set up a node (and in phase 1.5 and beyond, exit a node) for 32 ETH?
It’s not economically inefficient for a UBI to reduce recipient’s employment

It's not 'free', just very very cheap. If food at the mall was as cheap to produce as ketchup, they would probably just make the food free to bring in business.

It's based on an observation of the continual efficient pricing pressure of competitive markets combined with technological innovation which reduces the real cost of food.

1TAG6moBusiness in the sense of the person who is now in the mall spending money on something other than food which is not free. Everything being cheaper makes sense, some things being free makes sense, everything being free doesn't.
It’s not economically inefficient for a UBI to reduce recipient’s employment

And when I go spend my money I impose a cost on the world

You impose no such cost, as those willing to exchange your money for their services do so profitably.

0Slider6moIt is possible to trade oneself to be bankcrypt. You could have a worker that faced a situation that if we doesn't lower his pricer all the customers will go to the competitors. If people were completely farsighted and could factor in everything they would close shop immidietly. But it isn't unheard off to run an activity a little while with loss or run it by overworking oneself outside of ones capacity. There are uncertainties and closing and opening a shop isn't neccesarily frictionless. But that fricton can mask an area where activity is kept for inertias sake while actually being a little bit of burden. Doing all the risk adjusments and opportunity costs and everything correctly is cognitively very challenging. Trusting that everybody does every decision always correctly might be handy for mathematical ideal land but for limited cognition agents it just means that everybody has a story how their deal makes sense. And like nobody is the villain of their story, everybody is the mastermind of their business. It doesn't mean that everybody is a saint or that all business is suistainable.
It’s not economically inefficient for a UBI to reduce recipient’s employment

Is working good for the rest of society?

Suppose you do some work and earn $100. The question from the rest of society’s perspective is whether we got more benefit than the $100 we paid you.

We can get more than $100 if e.g. you spend your $100 on a Netflix subscription...

If you receive $100 for work, that means you have already provided at least $100 in value to society. That society might gain additional benefit from how you spend your money is merely coincidental.

3Slider6moGaining an item worth $100 and losing $100 in cash is value neutral. If you buy one banana for 10 million dollars that doesn't make a banana 10 million worth to society.
4Donald Hobson6moNo, it means that there is at least 1 person prepared to pay $100 for the work. If you are manufacturing weapons that end up in the wrong hands. You might be doing quite a lot of harm to society overall. Your employer gains at least $100 in value. The externalities could be anything.
2Gurkenglas6moYou can cause more than a dollar of damage to society for every dollar you spend, say by hiring people to drive around throwing eggs at people's houses. Though I guess in total society is still better off by a hundred dollars compared to if you had received them via UBI.
5paulfchristiano6moI'm not sure what "coincidental" means here. The question is how much more or less than $100 of value you create by working, and that seems to depend about as much on how you spend your money as it does on how you earn your money.
What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like?

Digital Rights Enforcement Agencies

Given a desire for digital rights in the face of Crypto-Anarchy, market-based polycentric law might yield a solution.

David Friedman's model for market-law involves defense agencies and arbitrators who mediate between those agencies. The system is stable as a repeated game, wherein the cost of fighting other agencies is higher than the cost of peaceful negotiation.

In the digital world, a 'defense agency' might look like a professional hacking group. This group would maintain a public identity and offer it's services to cl... (read more)

How can I bet on short timelines?

I was imagining a utility function for fiat with a singular limit at t=15yr, such that any bet paying out fiat is worthless. Think hyperinflation caused by it being obvious that we are facing imminent doom.

I don't see how stocks necessarily correlate with the prediction you're making.

How can I bet on short timelines?

Bet an asset instead of money.
Alternatively, you could bet that market odds will change significantly before then.

Concretely, you could use ETH denominated Augur for a long-term bet, or USDC for a short-term bet on odds.

2Daniel Kokotajlo6moIf money isn't worth betting, why would assets be worth betting? Aren't assets the sorts of things you can buy with money? Maybe I don't know what you have in mind here. I like the idea of betting the market odds will change. But if there's already a market for the thing I'm interested in, I can just play that market, e.g. buy stocks or calls of MSFT or something. But like I said, money isn't my main problem right now anyway.
The rationalist community's location problem

I am excited by the self-governance aspect, and the opportunity to live under a more personalized set of social norms.

The structure of monastery is specifically appealing because it greatly reduces 'distance' between individuals. See Going Critical.

I have some more concrete ideas about a shared ranch (with fast internet) out somewhere beautiful.

4Viliam7moEffective altruists seem to have something similar here [].
The rationalist community's location problem

I've been kicking around the idea of a 'rationalist cult', and am interested in the monastery idea.

3lincolnquirk7moOh great! I realize a lot of different people might have different ideas about what the vision is. Could you spend a few sentences distilling what exactly excites you about the idea?
Inoculating against Psychedelic Woo

The premise that psychedelics usually permanently impair your long-term epistemic ability seems dubious.

I'll caution other readers that fighting a trip is how good trips turn bad.

1MikkW9moStrong upvoted. That's an important warning to keep in mind
1MikkW9moI don't think Nootropics is the right tag for the concept I want to index- if I were ever to go to the Nootropics tags, I'd expect to find conversation about substances I could generally expect to take on a regular basis to improve my cognition. While I think the case can be made for microdosing being nootropic, microdosing is only mentioned here in the context of having a pseudo-trip experience, which is different in intent from nootropic microdosing. The concept I'm looking to index is substances that create short-term experiences which lead to long-term influences on one's life, which is an overall different concept from nootropics
Highlights from the Blackmail Debate (Robin Hanson vs Zvi Mowshowitz)

Would this then disallow out-of-court settlements? e.g. Uber settling a wrongful death case with cash.

Edit: Upon further reflection, it would only apply to the criminal case, not the civil case.

It seems like you're describing banning trade of knowledge of crimes. This is distinct from blackmail, which has to do with an asymmetry between offer direction (by Hansons definition).

Highlights from the Blackmail Debate (Robin Hanson vs Zvi Mowshowitz)

NDAs are common in legal settlements and severance agreements. e.g. If we settle out of court, you agree not to tell anyone about it.

Highlights from the Blackmail Debate (Robin Hanson vs Zvi Mowshowitz)
It's a bit like legalizing violence from shopkeepers because most of the time they're punching thieves.

Robin Hanson argued that negative gossip is probably net positive for society.

Robin Hanson: On average, letting people know about other people's dirt is a good thing.

The act of providing negative gossip to the public 'for free' is a public good. In a transaction-cost-free market, the blackmailer might try to sell the secret to the public (e.g. via assurance contract).

surely blackmail gives more incentive to lie

Lying about someone in a damaging way is already covered by libel/slander laws.

2Veedrac9moYes, this is what my post was addressing and the analogy was about. I consider it an interesting hypothesis, but not one that holds up to scrutiny. I know, but this only further emphasizes how much better paying those who helped a conviction is. Blackmail is private, threat-based, and necessarily unpoliced, whereas the courts have oversight and are an at least somewhat impartial test for truth.