Connor_Flexman's Shortform

post by Connor_Flexman · 2019-10-16T21:31:55.112Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW · 12 comments


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comment by Connor_Flexman · 2020-02-26T20:54:58.031Z · score: 21 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Shut up and multiply is only about very comparable things (hence the example with differing numbers of birds). Obviously very important to make Pareto improvements of the form "hold everything constant, get more of good thing X".

The main failure mode is applying it between un-like things, and accidentally making bad tradeoffs. For example, working very hard to make money to give away but then stagnating, because it turns out doing things you like is actually very important to personal growth and personal growth is very important to achieving your goals in the future. In general, making Kaldor-Hicks improvements that turn out not to be Kaldor-Hicks improvements because things had secret benefits.

Shut up and divide [LW · GW] helps alleviate people getting mind-controlled by Very Large Numbers and devoting all of their time to other people (of whom there are many more of than yourself), but... it smuggles in an insidious and terrible type error (while not correcting the core issue).

"Shutting up and letting an explicit deliberative practice decide the answer" is not about getting your emotions to work more reasonably, as is said in the division post, it's about making decisions where your emotions don't have the proper sense of scale. You're not supposed to walk around actually feeling the desire to save a billion birds at an intensity a billion times stronger than the desire to save one bird. The deliberative analysis isn't about aligning your care, it's about making decisions where your care system is having troubles. To apply it to "how much you care about a random person", as he did, is not the place your care system has troubles! (Of course, plausibly Wei Dai was not actually making this mistake, it's always hard to ensure your ideas aren't being misinterpreted. But it really sounds like he was.)

But still, directly, why do I think you should still care about a random bird, when there are so many more important things to do? Why not overwrite your initial caring system with something that makes more sense, and use the fact that you don't care greatly about the sum total of birds to determine you don't care greatly about a single bird? Because I desperately want people to protect their learned local gradient.

The initial problem of missing secret benefits to things is well-known in various guises similar to Chesterton's Fence. But Chesterton's Fence isn't very constructive—it just tells you to tread carefully. I think the type of process you should be running to actively identify fake Kaldor-Hicks improvements is protecting the local gradient. If your mind has learned that reading fiction books is more important than going above and beyond on work, even if that supposedly saves lives—preserve this gradient! If your mind has learned that saving a single bird is more important than getting to your appointment on time, even if that supposedly saves lives—preserve this gradient!

The whole point of shutting up to multiply is that your brain is very bad outside a certain regime, but everyone knows your brain is the most profound analysis tool ever created inside its wheelhouse. And local gradients are its wheelhouse. In fact, "using deliberate analysis to decide which of multiple very different goals should be pursued" is the kind of tool that is great in its own regime, namely optimizing quantities in well-known formal situations, but is itself very bad outside of this regime! (Cf Communism, Goodhart, the failures of high modernism, etc.) To make hard tradeoffs in your daily life, you want to use the analogous principle "shut up and intuit" or "shut up and listen to your desires" or whatever provokes in you the mindset of using your mind's experience. That's the place you'd expect to get the note of discord, that says "wait, I think there's actually something pretty bad about working constantly and giving all my money away—what is that about?"

comment by Pattern · 2020-02-27T17:23:41.660Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This shortform post makes me wish LW supported bookmarking/sequencing it internally. Absent that, there's bookmarking the shortform, but this comment in particular seems like a step towards something that the sequences seem like they're missing.

comment by Raemon · 2020-02-28T03:23:57.745Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We might implement bookmarking shortform posts (though it's a bit of work and not sure we'd get to it soon). But, meanwhile, I'd support this post just getting turned into a top-level post.

comment by mr-hire · 2020-02-27T00:05:07.856Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
To make hard tradeoffs in your daily life, you want to use the analogous principle "shut up and intuit" or "shut up and listen to your desires" or whatever provokes in you the mindset of using your mind's experience

I enjoyed this and it clarified one thing for me. One question I have about this is shouldn't you also listen to the part of your cognition that's like "You're wasting time reading too many fiction books" and "You could donate more of your money to charity?"

I think maybe what you're pointing at here is to not immediately make "obvious improvements" but to instead inquire into your own intuitions and look for an appropriately aligned stace.

comment by Connor_Flexman · 2020-02-28T03:19:35.948Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good point, and you're right that that's the complex part. It's very hard to say the criterion, but it's the difference between "I feel like I should donate more of my money to charity because of this argument" vs "I should donate more of my money to charity, which I realized because of this argument".

The deliberative process is like your heuristic in A*, and you definitely feel some strong push toward that option, but the S1 pathfinder hasn't approved of the thing until (something happens), which I'm going to call "realizing it". I think this meshes with our other uses of the phrase. Cf someone who "realizes there is nothing left for them here", or "realizes that person is actually good", or something—they aren't going to have any sort of akrasia on acting from that new belief.

comment by Connor_Flexman · 2020-03-18T17:11:59.041Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I’ve updated toward significantly less risk from COVID than I expected a week ago, for people aged 25-30:

Old numbers:

  • .2% mortality = 1 expected month
  • 1.5% long-term side effect = 2 expected months
  • 1% mortality from lack of ventilators = 5 expected months (10% hospitalized, 10% of those on ventilators, n_vent is .03% of pop and older people need more ventilators so we run out at ~1% of population infected, and no shutdown measures had been taken approximately 2 days before we hit 1% of population by my estimates)
  • Total = 8 expected months

New numbers (from ICL report; someone please tell me if I’m misunderstanding their context):

  • .05% mortality = .3 expected months
  • .7% long-term side effect = 1 expected month
  • .1% mortality from lack of ventilators = .5 expected months (2% hospitalized, 5% of those on ventilators)
  • Total = 2 expected months (maybe less if we never go above 2% of population infected in most places due to new shutdown measures, and ventilators are sufficiently mobile to move to crisis zones)

For older people, the numbers changed less (about a factor of 2), e.g. a healthyish parent in their 60s went from about 3 years of expected life lost to roughly 1.5 years.

In general, I feel fine with this outcome—the old numbers I was using were more an average than a median, so the most likely update was downward. I also adjusted the mortality rates downward somewhat, but I didn’t know how far, and the final update was further than I should have guessed. Lastly, a week ago the response was so abysmal that I think it was correct to have a factor of two worse expectation than I do now, just from failures to contain, treat, etc.

The one thing I wish I had done differently was weight South Korea’s numbers a little higher a little earlier, since priors were already on the side of lots of undiscovered/mild cases. I thought Wuhan’s testing was relatively good and things were partially adjusted for the missing cases, but I went like two weeks between looking at South Korea and that caused my numbers to lag somewhat. I think I could have been estimating 4-6 weeks as of a week ago, if I had flagged that better to come back to.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2020-03-18T17:45:38.291Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That mortality estimate seems a bit too low to me, Sarah Constantin estimated 0.1%-0.2% for someone below 40, so the lower end of that seems right to me.

The 0.1% mortality from lack of ventilators also seems too low to me. We might be a bit in luck in Bay Area since I think we are less likely to get it, but you should still expect that if you do get the virus, you get it when everyone else gets it, which means likely overwhelmed hospitals, and 0.1% mortality seems too low for that case. Sarah Constantin also estimates a total fatality rate of 1%-2% when hospitals are overwhelmed. 

I don't trust the numbers in the ICL report particularly much, since they are reliably lower than from other reputable sources, and I don't actually see how they got numbers that were that low. I am currently reading through the study that they are basing their estimates on.

comment by Connor_Flexman · 2019-10-20T17:44:03.787Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Remember that just like there are a lot of levels to any skill, there are a lot of levels to any unblocking!

It feels to me like perhaps both parties are making a mistake when one person (the discoverer) says, "I finally figured out [how to be emotionally liberated or something]!" and the skeptic is like "whatever, they'll just come back in a few months and say they figured out even more about being emotionally liberated, what a pointless hamster wheel." (Yes, often people are unskilled at this type of thing and the first insight doesn't stick, but I'm talking about the times when it does.)

In these cases, the discoverer will *still find higher levels of this* later on! It isn't that they've discovered the True Truth about [emotional liberation], they've just made a leap forward that resolves lots of their known issues. So even if the skeptic is right that they'll discover another thing in the future that sounds very similar, that doesn't actually invalidate their present insight.

And for the discoverer, often it is seductive to think you've finally solved that domain. Oftentimes most or all of your present issues there feel resolved! But that's because you triangulate from the most pressing issues. In the future, you'll find other cracks in your reality, and need to figure out superficially similar but slightly skewed domains—and thinking you've permanently solved a complicated domain will only hamper this process. But that doesn't mean your insight isn't exactly as good as you think it is.

comment by Connor_Flexman · 2019-10-16T21:31:55.278Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sometimes people are explaining a mental move, and give some advice on where/how it should feel in a spatial metaphor. For example, they say "if you're doing this right, it should feel like the concept is above your head and you're reaching toward it."

I have historically had trouble working well with advice like this, and I don't often see it working well for other people. But I think the solution is that for most people, the spatial or feeling advice is best used as an intermediate/terminal checksum, not as something that is constructive.

For example, if you try to imagine feeling their feeling, and then seeing what you could do differently to get there, this will usually not work (if it does work fine, carry on, this isn't meant for you). The best way for most people to use advice like this is to just notice your spatial feeling is much different than theirs, be reminded that you definitely aren't doing the same thing as them, and be motivated to go back and try to understand all the pieces better. You're missing some part of the move or context that is generating their spatial intuition, and you want to investigate the upstream generators, not their downstream spatial feeling itself. (Again, this isn't to say you can't learn tricks for making the spatial intuition constructive, just don't think this is expected of you in the moment.)

For explainers of mental moves, this model is also useful to remember. Mental moves that accomplish similar goals in different people will by default involve significantly different moving parts in their minds and microstrategies to get there. If you are going to explain spatial intuitions (that most people can't work easily with), you probably want to do one of the following:

1) make sure they are great at working with spatial intuitions

2) make sure they know it's primarily a checksum, not an instruction

3) break down which parts generate that spatial intuition in yourself, so if they don't have it then you can help guide them toward the proper generators

4) figure out your own better method of helping them work with it that I haven't discovered

5) remember the goal is not to describe your experience as you experience it, but to teach them the skill, and just don't bring up the spatial intuition as if they should be guided by that right now

comment by mr-hire · 2019-10-19T22:47:36.049Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like NLP's explanation of this. Submodalities like position and distance aren't common between people, but people DO tend to have similar representations with similar submodalities. I tend to be very kinesthetic with proprioceptive intuitions, but if instead I can say "do this task, wait for some sense, then tell me how you represent that", I can have them work with THEIR representation instead of mine.

This seemed to work decently well for teaching people strategies for overcoming Akrasia/procrastination, and I suspect with some tweaking it can be even more consistent.