Open Thread February 2019

post by ryan_b · 2019-02-07T18:00:45.772Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW · 9 comments

If it’s worth saying, but not worth its own post, you can put it here.

Also, if you are new to LessWrong and want to introduce yourself, this is the place to do it. Personal stories, anecdotes, or just general comments on how you found us and what you hope to get from the site and community are welcome. If you want to explore the community more, I recommend reading the Library [LW · GW], checking recent Curated posts [LW · GW], and seeing if there are any meetups in your area [LW · GW].

The Open Thread sequence is here [LW · GW].


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ryan_b · 2019-02-07T18:11:09.795Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How much actual time do you spend when you read a paper deeply?

I am currently reading the Minimum Entropy Production Principle paper, dedicating some time to it every day. I am about 3 hours deep now, and only half finished. I am not going as far as to follow all the derivations in detail, only taking the time to put the arguments in the context of what I already know. I expect it will take more than one reading to internalize.

Sometimes I worry this is so slow I am spending my time poorly, but I haven't any idea how it goes for more serious people, so I thought I would ask.

comment by rossry · 2019-02-08T13:23:33.873Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It varies a lot between papers (in my experience) and between fields (I imagine), but several hours for a deep reading doesn't seem out of line. To take an anecdote, I was recently re-reading a paper (of comparable length, though in economics) that I'm planning to present as a guest of a mathematics reading group, and I probably spent 4 hours on the re-read, before starting on my slides and presumably re-re-reading a bunch more.

Grazing over several days (and/or multiple separate readings) is also my usual practice for a close read, fwiw.

comment by MakoYass · 2019-02-09T20:49:15.480Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've been writing a simulism essay that strives to resolve a paradox of subjectivity-measure concentration by rolling over a few inconvenient priors about physics towards a halfway plausible conception of naturally occuring gods. I think it's kind of good, but I've been planning on posting it on April 1st because of the very obvious bias that has been leading my hand towards humanity's favourite deus ex machina ("The reason the universe is weird is that a very great big person did it" (to which I answer, "But a great big person, once such beings exist, totally would do it!"))

It will only be funny if it's posted in a context where people might take it halfway seriously, but I'm not sure it's appropriate to post it to lesswrong. If people upvote it, it will still be here on April 2nd, and that might be kind of embarrassing. I'm not sure where to put it.

Summary: It's weird that anthropic measure seems to be concentrated in humans and absent from rock or water or hydrogen (We each have only one data point in favour of that seeming, though). It's plausible that a treaty-agency between mutually alien species would optimise the abundance of life. If universes turn out to be permeable under superintelligence (very conceivable IMO), and if untapped energy turns out to be more common than pre-existing entropy then the treaty-agency could spread through the universe and make more of it alive than not, and if this has occurred, it explains our measure concentration weirdness, and possibly the doomsday weirdness ("if the future will contain more people than the past, it's weird that we're in the past") as well.

Its many predications also include: Either entropy has no subjectivity (I'd have no explanation for this, although it seems slightly intuitive), or perpetual computers (life that produces no heat) within a universe that contains some seeds of entropy already are somehow realisable under superintelligence (o_o;;;;,, Would bet we can refute that already. It might be fun to see if we can figure out a method a superintelligent set of cells in a conway's gol universe could contain a section of randomly initialised cells that it does not know the state of. My current guess is we'd be able to prove that there is no method that works in 90% of possible cases)

comment by ryan_b · 2019-02-12T16:07:01.699Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there's anything wrong with posting such a thing. As long as you are clear up front about your state of confidence and that you are exploring an argument instead of trying to persuade, I expect few people would object. There are also many who enjoy unconventional arguments or counter-intuitive conclusions on their own merits.

Worst case scenario, it remains a personal blog post. I say post it.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-02-12T16:40:09.589Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, seems true to me. I am all in favor of weird exploratory stuff on LW.

comment by Pattern · 2019-02-12T21:55:43.651Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


comment by ryan_b · 2019-02-11T22:26:41.203Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Apropos of the negative utilitarianism question posted recently, has anyone read any pessimism? I picked up The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror relatively recently. It is a survey, written by Thomas Ligotti, who is a horror and weird fiction writer.

It is gloriously grim. I recommend against it if you are in a sensitive place, however.

comment by Raemon · 2019-02-12T00:40:39.200Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not in a sensitive place but I'm not sure whether I want to read it or not. Can you give a rough sense of what you got out of it?

comment by ryan_b · 2019-02-12T15:15:27.169Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

All I have gotten out of it so far is a morbid entertainment value. It does look like it will spend more time talking about subjects adjacent to the Repugnant Conclusion and the voluntary extinction of Absolute Negative Utilitarianism, but it isn't rigorous (so far) in the sense that we usually prefer here.

The author is a good writer, so it does a pretty good job of holding interest despite the subject matter. I would say it is unproductive aside from the entertainment, and if you find it persuasive even more so.