Open Thread for January 17 - 23 2014

post by niceguyanon · 2014-01-17T13:26:59.378Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 192 comments

Contents

  If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.
None
192 comments

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

192 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by erratio · 2014-01-17T17:55:43.750Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

On my way to work, there's a random piece of graffiti that says "FREE OMEGA". Every time I pass it I can't help but think of a boxed AI trying to get out.

comment by DanielLC · 2014-01-17T18:22:52.023Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

There are two boxes. One contains an FAI, and the other contains Omega. You can open either of them. Unfortunately, if you choose to open one, Omega has already predicted this, and is in the one you're going to open.

comment by NoSuchPlace · 2014-01-17T18:47:17.333Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

What happens if I two-box?

comment by Locaha · 2014-01-17T19:04:17.246Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What happens if I take the box that contains Omega and cram it into the box that contains FAI?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-17T20:45:18.115Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

DO NOT MESS WITH TIME.

comment by Locaha · 2014-01-17T22:51:13.505Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I use timeless decision theory, so I don't need time.

I also use brainless decision theory...

comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-01-18T21:22:37.397Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The two fight it out in a boxing match.

comment by DanielLC · 2014-01-20T19:59:40.763Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The first box contains Omega and the second box contains a million dollars.

comment by ialdabaoth · 2014-01-20T17:09:24.276Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I have a meta-question regarding my participation style at LW.

I would like to learn how to contribute more positively to the community, rather than being confused and frustrated with the reactions I get to my posts. Is this a teachable skill? And if so, where would I go to learn it? (So far, I've tried asking here, and on #lesswrong, but I never get anything that I can parse into a consistent or actionable model, other than "less posts like this one".)

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-01-20T23:20:55.268Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Just a meta idea: Treat values -1, 0, 1 as noise. Make a list of your upvoted commends, and another list of your downvoted comments. When you compare the lists, maybe you'll see some difference.

comment by ialdabaoth · 2014-01-20T23:37:48.842Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. So far, I'm noticing more similarity between the extremes on both sides than I'm noticing with the 'noise' in the middle - i.e., it seems like I can roughly predict that a statement will have a large number of votes, but not in which direction.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-20T23:58:54.128Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would like to learn how to contribute more positively to the community, rather than being confused and frustrated with the reactions I get to my posts.

What reaction confuses you? Could you point to posts that are downvoted where you don't understand why they are downvoted. I would note that understanding that someone downvotes your post doesn't mean that you agree that it should be voted down.

comment by ialdabaoth · 2014-01-21T00:32:28.082Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This one (which you explained well)

This one sat at -2 for awhile; I was confused by that.

This one also sat at -2 for quite awhile, but seems to have come up recently.

...huh. On the whole, most of the severely-downvoted posts that I remember being confused about, have since been upvoted to low-positives. I had no idea. Thank you for prompting me to take the time and attention to notice that.

I guess, then, a more direct question I have is "how do I bring my karma into the 90%'s, instead of the low 70%'s where it is now?" - I've always felt that percentages are a better measure of my worth to the community than numbers. (Alternatively, if this is an incorrect assumption, then how do I update so that I see the percentages as not that important?)

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2014-01-21T06:08:55.998Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There are a lot of users on LW, and any one of them could like or dislike a comment or post for any reason. If you look at the score of a comment a short time after it has been posted, it's very likely that your score only reflects the opinion of a couple of people chosen essentially at random from the whole voting LW user base. (Also, if you comment on older threads, you will have fewer people reading them, so this effect gets amplified.) It's only over a longer time that the scores become reliably non-random. You should basically just ignore short-term score and only look at the comments/posts that have been up for a while, say at least 1-3 days for new posts as well as for comments in relatively recent threads. (I rarely post in old threads, so can't offer a good number there, but I would guess that it could be much longer.)

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-21T16:01:29.269Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would add to this that the sign of net scores within a couple of points of zero doesn't provide very much information, regardless of age.

comment by votesplainer · 2014-01-21T21:55:00.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In many of your comments you seem to advocate an overly pessimistic view of humanity and portray people as unusually selfish or sadistic. Single instances of such comments might not get downvoted, but once there are enough of them to make a pattern, this might evoke a stronger reaction and even oversensitivity to such a pattern causing innocent comments to get the punishment. I haven't downvoted such comments, but don't want to see them either. This feels like a matter of mental hygiene. In some of your comments you're introducing negative bias that takes unnecessary cognitive work to counter and I think you know which comments I'm talking about.

From your previous comments I infer you're aware of this bias, or at least that other people consistently view it as such. It seems to me this bias is specific to certain topics, so if you don't know how to counter it yourself, it might be better to avoid these topics as much as possible. Even if you think your ideas of some aspects of human psychology are accurate, you might want to reconsider your prospects of making people conform to them here in light of accumulating evidence, and pursue more fruitful and noncontroversial discussion.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-21T16:10:09.442Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This one sat at -2 for awhile; I was confused by that.

I think it also got downvoted for promoting bad behavior.

Then you come across several legitimately successful people, who are being rewarded for making people sad, or inflicting pain, or for attaching a price to other peoples' happiness.

And then something clicks.

You speak about observing bad people winning in a direct way. That's something for which some folks on LW vote you down. On the other hand your post isn't insightful in a way where the people who enjoy analysing the dark arts of social interaction will upvote your post in significant amounts.

If popularity is your goal that you might want to avoid posts that advocate that bad social behavior pays off. If you still want to write those posts, go more into theoretical depth or quote statistics but even then the post probably doesn't reach a >90% approval rate.

comment by bogus · 2014-01-23T08:20:32.854Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My guess is that the comment was downvoted because it's wrong, or at least inaccurate. People are seldom rewarded for harming others: using Carlo M. Cipolla's terminology, there is an important distinction between banditry and stupidity. Banditry probably causes quite a bit of harm, but stupidity may be far more common overall. It's also more relevant to LessWrong's goal of promoting rationality.

comment by gothgirl420666 · 2014-01-23T07:21:23.557Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Dude, this is not worth stressing about. Write what you want and let people react how they will. Many of Eliezer's posts are heavily downvoted.

comment by Error · 2014-01-23T14:31:07.070Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've noticed that. I sometimes wonder if said posts are him deliberately going out of his way to Not Be Bloody Gandalf.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-20T22:53:31.195Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is a good idea to ask this question here. I see that you didn't got replied on your earlier try on this in one such comment.

First of all my experience is that such replies are seldom answered. First: Few people explain why they are rude. And then it is unlikely that the downvoter himself will see your edit.

I looked at you first page of comments and the answer is neither simple nor clear.

I get the impression that your comments have one or more of the following characteristics

[pollid:582]

Maybe some people here might vote the main problem you should work on.

As a consolation: You may calculate the vote total you reaped by k/(2p-1) where k is your karma and p your positive fraction. Take some consolation from it that you caused controversy. That is still better then silence.

You are at 75% and I am at 85% that is not that much differnt and for me I see it as a sign that I post controversial topics and opinions that differe sufficiently from the mean that some think them wrong.

comment by JoshuaFox · 2014-01-23T13:00:50.448Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Fewer links should have nofollow added to them. Any user with karma more than ~100 should get the benefit of the google-juice in their profile and even in any links they add. There is also benefit for the owners of those linked sites and to web denizens in general---the fact that a LW-er with karma > 100 linked to them is important information.

But beyond that, even the internal links on the front page are nofollow! Certainly links to lesswrong.com and the LW Wiki should not have this tag.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-01-17T19:31:29.384Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I have a specific question and a generalisation of that question.

Specifically, I have recently considered obtaining and working my way through some maths teacher training materials because I want to be better at explaining mathematical concepts (or any concepts, really) to others. I don't know whether this will actually be a productive use of my time. So, a question to educators: are there general theories and principles of this aspect of education (tuition, explaining stuff, etc.) that I could pick up through reading a book, and experience immediate gains from?

More generally, are there any useful heuristics for determining what subjects do or don't have this characteristic of "core principles with immediate gains"? A few hours of self-defence training raise you considerably above zero hours of self-defence training, and reading How to Win Friends and Influence People gives the reader a lot of immediate practical tips that they can start using. Meanwhile, a lot of academic subjects require a considerably greater investment of time and effort before you can actually do anything with them.

I do have a certain level of skepticism as far as this characteristic is concerned. I'm pretty sure someone who's read a decent popular introduction to economics is equipped with a lot of useful principles, but they're probably also equipped with a lot of oversimplified ideas and a great deal of overconfidence in their understanding of the subject.

comment by ThrustVectoring · 2014-01-18T06:11:19.222Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

because I want to be better at explaining mathematical concepts (or any concepts, really) to others.

I'd suggest looking into effective techniques for tutoring, rather than teaching in general. It's both a more marketable skill, as well as more valuable for explaining things to other people. It may be my personality bias showing, though - I'm much more comfortable in 1 on 1 social situations.

As a strategy, I'd spend a few hours looking at how to evaluate the difference between good and bad tutoring, and then head up to anywhere that needs volunteer tutors and start volunteering.

comment by somervta · 2014-01-17T23:06:27.478Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Re the specific question, I was told that there exists quite a lot of good, experimentally confirmed research on education in general and math education in particular, but that almost none of this research is implemented in high schools and very little in tertiary. So I would guess that teacher training materials will not contain it.

comment by whales · 2014-01-18T02:23:58.422Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010) is the standard text that gets thrown around (as far as education in general). I'm surprised it apparently hasn't come up here before, since the approach is very well aligned with LW norms. I'd say it's worthwhile for anyone who expects to teach (or learn) in the future.

I'll plan on writing up a summary/review if no one beats me to it.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-01-18T10:10:04.064Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, please do write the summary!

(Former teacher here, and I sometimes discuss this topic with my friends.)

comment by whales · 2014-01-20T00:03:37.256Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

OK, it's done.

comment by lukeprog · 2014-01-23T05:24:11.996Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Bold long-term prediction:

"[I predict] that by 2035, almost no country will be as poor as any of the 35 countries that the World Bank classifies as low-income today, even after adjusting for inflation."

Bill Gates

comment by Prismattic · 2014-01-23T23:49:11.122Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would be bolder if "almost no" was replaced by a more concrete figure...

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-22T07:01:42.467Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Following up on a precommitment I made in the study hall: I am looking into using the Google Hangouts API for a better study hall. This is also a precommitment to follow up by February 1st with:

  • some amount of (possibly small) progress
  • a precommitment for the next date to announce progress by

Preliminary notes:

  • I have a server I can run stuff from. It's not super powerful, but it can handle some work if we need things beyond what a static hosted app/plugin xml file can provide.
  • Ideas for things a Study hall should have are here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/gzm/programming_the_lw_study_hall/ . I suggest moving this to and maintaining ideas, plans, and progress on a wiki page. I precommit to having this done by the next progress report if you (yes, you reading this now, specifically) don't do it.

Preliminary thoughts on ways to use API to implement things we want:

Things I don't see an obvious way to do yet and could use help/eyes with:

  • I don't see an obvious way to make some users mods
  • I don't see an obvious way to ban users or password protect the hangout

Things I will not be focusing on right now:

  • multiple rooms. We'll worry about this after we have a working room, and then only if there is sufficient popularity and demand for additional rooms
  • branching (see above)
comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2014-01-22T07:27:48.515Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that while Google Hangouts might have been the obvious choice last year, WebRTC might actually work better now. See talky.io for a live demo. This page details how you can roll your own video chat with <20 lines of totally-front-end code. Since it all runs front-end, the cost to the server is no greater than a normal text-based chat client, as far as I can tell.

For a simple chat solution, there are lots of other libraries (I'm familiar with ShareJS for node, which makes this super easy). Honestly I think this would probably be simpler than trying to integrate with Google Hangouts, and it also makes your two "I don't see an obvious way" issues less issues (still need solving, but there are straightforward solutions) and makes the multiple rooms thing quite easy.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-22T07:54:53.293Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good points! I'm likely to switch to this now.

comment by kgalias · 2014-01-17T13:42:54.932Z · score: 7 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Is it OK for me to downvote meetup threads if I don't want to see them?

comment by Coscott · 2014-01-17T20:06:30.977Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know how other meetups go, but my local meetup is based on the fact that members of the group volunteer to lead the meetup. (on a week by week basis) The person who volunteers puts in some extra amount of their time to ensure that there is a good topic. These people keep the meetups going, and are doing a service for the rationality community.

These people should not be punished with negative karma. If anything, we should be awarding karma for those people who make meetup posts.

Your complaint is about the fact that there is no separate list of meetups and non-meetup posts, and by down voting meetup posts, you are punishing innocent volunteers.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-18T11:52:23.793Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

These people should not be punished with negative karma. If anything, we should be awarding karma for those people who make meetup posts.

Karma shouldn't be about punishing or rewarding writers, it should be about telling potential readers how helpful you think a post/comment is.

comment by Roxolan · 2014-01-18T14:59:57.568Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Karma is currently very visible to the writers. If you give little positive and negative points to human beings, they will interpret it as reward/punishment, no matter what the intent was. As a meetup organiser, I know I do feel more motivated when my meetup organisation posts get positive karma.

comment by Ishaan · 2014-01-26T08:14:23.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

shouldn't

but is for some people, unfortunately

(I advocate more nuanced voting categories to solve this)

comment by philh · 2014-01-17T14:28:40.766Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I think not, unless there are only very specific meetup threads that you don't want to see. E.g. ones with no location in the title.

Any individual meetup thread is very valuable for a small number of people, and indifferent-to-mildly-costly to a large number of people. Votes allow you to express a preference direction but not magnitude, which doesn't actually capture preferences in this case.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-01-17T16:05:38.787Z · score: 3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

A core long-term goal of LessWrong is to build a rationalist community so a necessary condition for a downvote should be that a post doesn't advance this goal.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-17T14:26:16.469Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoting, by itself, isn't going to stop anyone from posting meetup threads. That said, there has been discussion/complaints about meetup spam before, so you're not alone.

edit: clarify wording

comment by kgalias · 2014-01-17T20:13:30.703Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I understand. Nevertheless, discussion so far hasn't gotten anywhere. Perhaps downvoting meetup threads would put some pressure on people involved in meetups to resolve the matter.

As of now, I haven't downvoted any meetup-related thread.

comment by rocurley · 2014-01-18T03:06:52.404Z · score: 9 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm the guy who posts the DC meetups. While I'm sympathetic to the problem, I'm not sure what I can do to help, aside from not posting meetups at all (not really an option). Pressuring me won't help you if I can't do anything.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-20T22:20:57.929Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I understand that once some dissatisfaction with some minor nuisance (and a minor nuisance the meetups notices are given that you can scroll them away with the flick of a finger) can cause your brain to get into a negative feedback loop where the dissatisfaction gets moved around and increased as long it is not solved (see also http://lesswrong.com/lw/21b/ugh_fields/).

But see thru this. It is a minor nuisance. You are above this. Dont let your dissatisfaction fool you. Yedi mind trick: There is no prblem with meetups. Scroll on.

comment by kgalias · 2014-01-20T22:48:34.958Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are minor nuisances never worth solving?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-20T22:55:10.350Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not it the cost exceeds the benefits.

comment by kgalias · 2014-01-20T23:06:26.078Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The cost here might be someone implementing a technical solution.

comment by lmm · 2014-01-17T19:55:21.793Z · score: -4 (18 votes) · LW · GW

It's always okay to downvote. (Or to upvote)

comment by thelomen · 2014-01-17T13:40:53.236Z · score: 7 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like I'm whoring for upvotes just so I can post links. I've been lurking for so long, but I guess the 20 karma finally got me into action in the last two weeks.

2 more to go cracks best rationalist grin and winks

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-17T17:25:27.726Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Have you posted in the Welcome thread?

comment by thelomen · 2014-01-18T23:49:16.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That was probably more sensible. Post here

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-01-17T15:22:12.233Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You can also post links in Open Thread. Actually, it probably is the right place.

comment by Emile · 2014-01-17T15:26:39.907Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, this isn't reddit, a naked link (with no summary) and a clever title, even with [LINK] generally gets downvoted (except maybe if it's super-relevant to the community, like "Eliezer Yudkowky arrested by police for pushing fat people off bridges")

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-18T07:20:23.831Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Eliezer Yudkowky arrested by police for pushing fat people off bridges"

Does anyone here know anybody at The Onion or similar?

comment by Locaha · 2014-01-23T09:24:52.640Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I want to study probability and statistics in a deeper way than the Probability and Statistics course I had to take in the university. The problem is, my mathematical education isn't very good (on the level of Calculus 101). I'm not afraid of math, but so far all the books I could find are either about pure application, with barely any explanations, or they start with a lot of assumptions about my knowledge and introduce reams of unfamiliar notation.

I want a deeper understanding of the basic concepts. Like, mean is an indicator of the central tendency of a sample. Intuitively, it makes sense. But why this particular formula of sum/n? You can apply all kinds of mathematical stuff to the sample. And it's even worse with variance...

Any ideas how to proceed?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T12:48:09.941Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What do you want to learn?

Do you want to learn to do statistical analysis with a tool like R and interpret data? Do you want to learn mathematical axioms and theorems about probability and statistics and how to prove them.

Like, mean is an indicator of the central tendency of a sample. Intuitively, it makes sense. But why this particular formula of sum/n?

Depending on who you ask it's not. sum/n is the arithmetic mean. There are also other mean's like the geometric mean and the harmonic mean. Depending on the context different mean's can be used. It's just a convention that one usually means the arithmetic mean if one says mean. It has the advantage that's relatively easy to calculate by hand and therefore people liked it. It's not complicated to do mathematical proofs with it.
One of the key reasons why few people use robust statistics is that the math is more complicated.

This is even a political issue. In soviet Russia the usage of the arithmetic mean was very looked down upon. People were supposed to use the median. Sometimes that communist thought got in the way for cases where the arithmetic mean was really appropriate.

When it comes to learning notation. Anki is quite good.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-24T20:34:00.268Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In soviet Russia the usage of the arithmetic mean was very looked down upon. People were supposed to use the median.

That, um, sounds like an urban legend to me. Links?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T20:54:37.810Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That, um, sounds like an urban legend to me. Links?

Unfortunately I don't have a link to a source available. It might be an urban legend from an untrustworthy source. A bunch of my knowledge of statistics comes from formal education without online sources but that doesn't even mean that it's necessarily trustworthy as I wouldn't be surprised if my statistics professor would have a retold a urban myth about a case like this.

Given how Russians handled the issue of Mendelian genetics I wouldn't be too surprised if it's true ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko ).

If you want to convince people that the communist economic model is better than the Western one, thinking in terms on median income instead of mean income as important helps. I think I picked up that meme somewhere in the context of possibilities of shaping data to your liking.

Means, motive and capabilities are all there.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-24T20:59:03.733Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to convince people that the communist economic model is better than the Western one, thinking in terms on median income instead of mean income as important helps.

Income (and wealth) in societies tends to be distributed according to a power law. That makes the mean a bad estimator regardless of your ideology. The Western economic literature almost universally uses the median when discussing income and wealth comparisons.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-25T19:22:40.138Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Given that the utility of money is (assumed to be) logarithmic, what I'd be curious to know is the geometric mean income of countries.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-26T02:34:54.481Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am sure Google can point you in the right direction.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T21:09:34.402Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Western economic literature almost universally uses the median when discussing income and wealth comparisons.

I see a lot of data expressed in GDP per capita to compare the wealth of different nations. http://www.gapminder.org/ for example uses it. The CIA Worldbook does so as well.

If the economics literature really does things different this seems to be a neat way that the CIA is actually using to push it's policy agenda.

If you have nearly data over the median income of countries all over the world over the last 100 years I would be interested in the data set.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-24T21:20:13.918Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I see a lot of data expressed in GDP per capita

GDP per capita is the aggregated Gross Domestic Product of the entire country divided by its population. It says nothing about income or wealth distribution within this country. It is also NOT the mean of personal income in that country.

GDP per capita basically tells you how much does a country produce, normalized for its population.

a neat way that the CIA is actually using to push it's policy agenda

If you have nearly data over the median income of countries all over the world over the last 100 years

I don't and I doubt it exists. You can find estimates of median income for developed countries during the last couple of decades easily enough in the usual places, but beyond that the data is likely to be sparse to absent.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-25T13:25:47.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't and I doubt it exists.

If you don't have the data how would you go about comparing the wealth of different countries based on it? I don't see how those claims fit together.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-26T02:32:33.005Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

how would you go about comparing the wealth of different countries

I wouldn't. At least until the concept of "wealth of a country" gets defined.

But to answer your question, reread the last paragraph, particularly the part which starts "you can find...".

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-01-24T23:00:12.576Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While the basic fact is that Christian is wrong, I think your response is an over-reaction. For example, the main point of PPP is to use GDP per capita as a typical income.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-25T02:02:06.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the main point of PPP is to use GDP per capita as a typical income.

Why do you think so? As far as I am concerned, the main point of PPP is to adjust the FX rates to make comparisons (of incomes, costs, living standards, etc.) between countries more meaningful.

PPP has nothing to do with the relationship between GDP per capita and personal (or household) income.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-01-25T02:23:39.148Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, PPP is logically independent of GDP, but PPP GDP per capita is quite popular, probably the most common use of PPP.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-25T13:09:15.507Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. Someone succeeded in making the most common use of PPP something for which it's logically inappropriate. Of course it can be an accident of history but it's still interesting.

If your goal is to understand the difference between median and mean, developing sensitivity for issues like that is the point. Even if it's all accidents of history, you want to have issues like that get your conscious attention when looking at statistics.

The fact that the CIA factbook happens to be the best source of knowledge and the CIA is an organisation that heavily invest into shapping public discourse is something that can raise a bit of attention.

Of course it can be just because some bureaucrats inside the CIA are stupid that they don't give you the median income, because the have never thought that anyone would be interested in the median income. A much better explanation of why they don't give you that data is that they actually want that the GDP per capita is used that way. That people use GDP per capita when they want to think of the typical income of a country.

If people don't have any good data of the median income of countries, than that's what happens. Because of decisions by the CIA GDP per capita data is available but median income of countries isn't.

Statisticians in the CIA aren't stupid. They should at least be aware of the effects of choosing to report the wealth of countries that way.

The CIA also takes information warfare seriously. I live in Germany. After WWII there was a lot of investment in shaping German public opinion by the CIA. In the West people would be upset if the CIA world factbook gives them wrong numbers but nobody is upset if they are just given a number like GDP per capita when they want to know about the typical income.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-26T02:46:56.790Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Someone succeeded in making the most common use of PPP something for which it's logically inappropriate.

It is not the "most common use of PPP", at least in my neck of the woods.

the CIA factbook happens to be the best source of knowledge

It is not, not even close.

the CIA is an organisation that heavily invest into shapping public discourse

It is not.

Because of decisions by the CIA GDP per capita data is available but median income of countries isn't.

Really..? Are you posting drunk or something?

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-01-24T19:25:54.047Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes that communist thought got in the way for cases where the arithmetic mean was really appropriate.

What is an example where the mean is better than the median?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T19:31:48.536Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I care more about my daily mean income in the last year than my median income over the last year.

comment by Locaha · 2014-01-24T14:02:58.047Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you want to learn to do statistical analysis with a tool like R and interpret data? Do you want to learn mathematical axioms and theorems about probability and statistics and how to prove them.

Ideally, I'd like to learn both.

Depending on who you ask it's not. sum/n is the arithmetic mean. There are also other mean's like the geometric mean and the harmonic mean. Depending on the context different mean's can be used.

I know about different means. And I know that sometimes mean isn't appropriate at all (bimodal...) The context is one of the things I'd like to understand.

When it comes to learning notation. Anki is quite good.

Just used it to learn the Greek alphabet. :-)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-01-22T17:49:12.313Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How to survive a death march

tldr: Good food, exercise, frequent stretch breaks, meditation, down time afterwards.

Further discussion at reddit

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-22T18:02:24.162Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely endorse all of that. Would add, for me at least, that some non-work socialization is necessary and I have to schedule it into my day, just like I do meals, when things get that oversubscribed.

comment by Roxolan · 2014-01-17T16:27:35.628Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

(Reposted from the LW facebook group)

The next LW Brussels meetup will be about morality, and I want to have a bunch of moral dilemmas prepared as conversation-starters. And I mean moral dilemmas that you can't solve with one easy utilitarian calculation. Some in the local community have had little exposure to LW articles, so I'll definitely mention standard trolley problems and "torture vs dust specks", but I'm curious if you have more original ones.

It's fine if some of them use words that should really be tabooed. The discussion will double as a taboo exercise.

A lot of what I came up with revolves around the boundaries of sentience. I.e. on a scale that goes from self-replicating amino acid to transhumans (and includes animals, babies, the heavily mentally handicapped...), where do you place things like "I have a moral responsibility to uplift those to normal human intelligence once the technology is available" or "it's fine if I kill/eat/torture those", and how much of one kind of life you'd be willing to trade off for a superior kind. Do I have a moral responsibility to uplift babies? Uh-

Trading off lives for things whose value is harder to put on the same scale is also interesting. I.e. "will you save this person, or this priceless cultural artifact, or this species near extinction." (Yes, I've seen the SMBC.)

comment by MrCogmor · 2014-01-18T01:14:14.165Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I thought of this moral dillema

There are two options.

  1. You experience a significant amount of pain, 5 minutes later you completly forget about the experience as if you were never in pain at all.
  2. You experience a slightly less amount of pain then option 1 but you don't forget it.

Which one would you choose?

comment by niceguyanon · 2014-01-17T13:39:31.738Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Is Biofeedback crank or a promising area of self improvement? Anyone have a personal experiences with the use of GSR, temperature and heart rate biofeedback devices?

Devices include this one and those under frequently bought together.

More info here.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-01-17T16:09:04.567Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've done a lot of neurofeedback, a subset of biofeedback. It seems to have had a strong positive effect on me. Neurofeedback, and perhaps all of biofeedback, pushes you in some direction so make sure you determine if you would indeed be better off moving as such.

comment by niceguyanon · 2014-01-17T20:08:20.424Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've done a lot of neurofeedback

Anything that is attainable for the common person? Is there a particularly affordable device that you use?

comment by James_Miller · 2014-01-17T21:16:23.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, and you should do it with a professional at first.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-23T10:26:00.949Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Could you be a bit more specific about the positive effect?

comment by James_Miller · 2014-01-23T16:49:21.088Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

More energy in the morning and lower levels of stress. But you can't generalize from this as to how neurofeedback would impact you.

comment by Vaniver · 2014-01-17T15:23:18.166Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is Biofeedback crank or a promising area of self improvement?

Everything I've read says promising area of self improvement. I got the linked GSR device a while ago and haven't used it much because I don't like the feedback medium (why yes, play a high-pitched noise whenever I relax, that's a great idea).

comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-01-25T06:53:16.414Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Any thoughts on doing a reboot of the Irrationality Game, as was done in the following old posts?

http://lesswrong.com/lw/2sl/the_irrationality_game/

http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/df8/irrationality_game_ii_electric_boogaloo

comment by RowanE · 2014-01-25T11:09:58.121Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd participate, and there are several comments on the older post from this month, so the interest is there.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-21T04:46:47.598Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Which stimulants/eugeroics have a short (< 3 hours) half-life? I did some research into this. Nicotine and selegiline (~1.5 hours) are the shortest I could find. Methylphenidate comes in next (~3.5 hours), but that's longer than I'd like. I don't particularly like any of these choices for various reasons and am interested in learning about others. Alternatively, if there's a way to significantly reduce the half-life of modafinil, I'd like to hear about that.

I've considered amphetamine, armodafinil, atomoxetine, caffeine, ephedrine, methylphenidate, modafinil, nicotine, pseudoephedrine, and selegiline.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-21T16:33:54.401Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you care about the half-life?

comment by gwern · 2014-01-21T23:59:05.896Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Seems relevant for not interfering with sleep. For example, I can't use modafinil after 11AM because it interferes with my sleep that night if taken later; if I take modafinil or armodafinil at 5PM I might as well just skip the night's sleep. On the other hand, I can use caffeine up to 7/8PM without issue, and nicotine up to 10/11PM. (This is unfortunate because I am a bit of an owl and the evening is precisely when I'd like to be able to use a stimulant.)

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-23T11:24:35.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Have you tried any drugs to fall asleep faster when using stimulants in the evening?

comment by gwern · 2014-08-05T22:51:30.453Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't usually look at interactions, because it's more important to establish an effect exists in the first place. Right now, I know that melatonin helps in getting to sleep, vitamin D impedes getting to sleep, high doses of magnesium citrate have ambiguous effects on sleep, alcohol usage seems to correlate with early bedtime (I forget about getting to sleep), and I speculate that Redshift/f.lux and masturbation help in getting to sleep but I haven't analyzed that experiment yet. I haven't looked at any interactions with nicotine or modafinil or anything, since I'd expect them to just independently make it harder to get to sleep.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-22T00:34:14.372Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If that's the goal why don't ask for it directly?

comment by gwern · 2014-01-22T02:06:24.884Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ask for what directly? If he asked for stimulants that didn't interfere with sleep, he'd get replies suggesting... he look for ones with short half-lives like nicotine and avoid long-acting ones like modafinil. Short half-lives is the governing criterion, so he simply asked for it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-22T12:17:29.373Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think there are plenty of people that have tested various stimulants and know the effects those substances have on them, but who don't know the exact half-life of the substances.

I'm not even sure whether the real half life of caffeine is the thing that matters. When it comes to designing drugs there are quite a few things that are done in the delivery mechanism of the drug that can effect half-life.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-23T11:20:15.232Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pharmacokinetics (half-life and other variables) of drugs and their different delivery methods are public knowledge, there are individual differences in metabolism of course.

When it comes to designing drugs there are quite a few things that are done in the delivery mechanism of the drug that can effect half-life.

For most drugs the elimination half-life is so long that a faster route of administration makes minor difference. For caffeine for example it's about 4.5 hours. You can shorten the absorption from < 1 hour to seconds but that probably won't matter much in this case.

You can make the absorption slower in a way that makes a difference however, for example there are several timed release versions of methylphenidate.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-23T14:57:50.505Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Pharmacokinetics (half-life and other variables) of drugs and their different delivery methods are public knowledge, there are individual differences in metabolism of course.

There are number that are public knowledge. Those numbers do have meaning. On the other hand individual differences are also important.

A lot of pseudoscience comes from people having a rough theory about isolated facts and personal observations. I think it's often very valuable to stay with personal observations instead of trying to fit them into a simple theory you made up that seems to fit and that corresponds to isolated facts you find in books.

You lose relevant information when you ask for half-life data instead of asking about what stimulants other people found useful for being stimulated at events closer to bed time without adverse effects on sleep.

Take Vitamin D. A lot of the published research on it is misguided because it presumes that blood level of Vitamin D is the central variable that matters. Whether you take Vitamin D in the morning or evening doesn't have much effect on long term Vitamin D blood levels. It therefore isn't subject to study in academia. Making too much assumption when you don't need to do so often hurts understanding.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-23T16:21:30.518Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Take Vitamin D. A lot of the published research on it is misguided because it presumes that blood level of Vitamin D is the central variable that matters. Whether you take Vitamin D in the morning or evening doesn't have much effect on long term Vitamin D blood levels. It therefore isn't subject to study in academia.

So, are you claiming that the blood level of vitamin D is NOT the central variable that matters? And that whether you take it in the mornings or in the evenings is important?

Links, evidence?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T00:33:24.360Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Links, evidence?

A bunch of QS people have observed that the timing of vitamin D supplements matters a great deal. Seth Robert wrote a lot about it (http://blog.sethroberts.net/2012/11/01/vitamin-d3-in-morning-improves-sleep-after-all-story-26/ for example).

As far as people you might trust, Gwern replicated the finding: http://www.gwern.net/Zeo#vitamin-d . Taking the supplement at night damaged his sleep.

I don't want to claim that blood level of vitamin doesn't matter at all, but I do claim that it's very unfortunate that there aren't more studies tracking the timing of vitamin D ingestion. I'm also thinking that getting the timing wrong is a good explantion for the studies that are out there that don't show improvement given vitamin D supplemention. Those studies are also the reason why the RDA of vitamin D is at 600 UI while QS folk generally recommend 2000 UI+ (again I think Gwern takes something like 5000 UI).

There a long term study called the VITAL study by Harvard Medical School in progress that tests the effects of 2000 UI vitamin D supplements on mortality rates. Unfortunately it doesn't track the intake of the timing so the resulting data might be worthless.

From the studies that showed effects for vitamin D you could deduce that the supplements can bring 2 additional years of lifespan. If the studies that say vitamin D does nothing come to that conclusion because of bad timing, that's a serious issue. As far as references go I remember the number of 3 years of lifespan for curing cancer.

I don't claim that I know with 100% certainity that it's in the timing and not in the average blood level. I do claim that the medical establishment is stupid for assuming that it's in the blood level. That's not even a real outsider opinion. That more or less the opinion I was thought by my bioinformatics professors. People in medicine make a lot of stupid assumptions that aren't based on evidence.

Now when I do QS I do make a bunch of assumptions that wouldn't pass in the academic context of bioinformatics. On of the great things about QS is that you aren't blind. You know reasonably well when you take your supplements while the doctors who administer clinical trials don't have any information in their data by default about when their subjects take the supplements.

As a result it's good practice to stay near empiricial data and not make assumption unless they will help you.

Model the problem as seeking of being tired as seeking an efficient stimuluant is a choice. When I instead propose that he should focus on getting better at relaxing than I'm pushing a different model for the situation.

It's not that my model is inherently based on the truth. It is in some sense "science inspired" when I use the mental model of the body downregulating itself via a cybernetic process. Thinking in terms of cybernetics (the word doesn't get used much these days) is one of the model I learned at university. That doesn't make it right but it's an available model to explore for the problem.

Now I have different kind of evidence that over a handful of different trance states that I learned about in different contexts help people to sleep better afterwards. Hypnotherapists do have a body of theory that predicts that's a usual effect side effect of hypnosis. One of my hypnosis teachers for example told a story about how a person who didn't even spoke his language and who was escorting a patient got into trance while watching the session and afterwards resolved her problem of not being able to sleep well. It's an effect that can happen as "correlateral damage".

I don't know the exact kind of relaxation protocol that best for btrettel. I didn't even try to push my favorite relaxation protocol that gave me QS validated benefits for another medical issue because he wouldn't find a practioner for it in Texas anyway.

Comparing different relaxation protocols against each other isn't something that well done by the academic establishment because it not really in the model of how to go about treating a patient. No patents that pay for expansive clinical trials. Exactly the area where it's good to do your your empirics.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-24T02:06:05.024Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A bunch of QS people have observed that the timing of vitamin D supplements matters a great deal.

Matters for what?

Your links say that the timing of vitamin D intake affects sleep. Fine, but that's not really what most people take vitamin D for. There is a variety of claims for vitamin D supplements which generally have to do with bone health, viral infections, CVD, etc. I don't want to get into evidence for and against these claims, but are you saying that the timing of vitamin D affects these outcomes?

Looking at it in the most general fashion, the overall claim is that taking vitamin D supplements affect mortality. Crudely, you live longer. That may or may not be so, but do you think that timing of vitamin D ingestion would affect that? What evidence do you have? Sleep disturbance is a time-local short-term effect, it isn't obvious to me that it indicates problems with long-term consequences.

I do claim that the medical establishment is stupid for assuming that it's in the blood level.

Why? "Stupid" is a strong word. If your hypothesis is that timing matters but the blood level doesn't matter, what's the underlying biochemical mechanism? Is there any evidence that the right time in the circadian cycle is crucial?

Also, if you are taking vitamin D supplements wouldn't you be interested in your blood level? How would you know how much of vitamin D do you need?

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-24T17:36:18.496Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If your hypothesis is that timing matters but the blood level doesn't matter, what's the underlying biochemical mechanism? Is there any evidence that the right time in the circadian cycle is crucial?

I see evidence that both matter to sleep. It seems that the blood level of vitamin D is linked to excessive daytime sleepiness. (Warning: the authors of this paper overfit the data, so you can ignore their conclusions about race and very low vit. D levels, but their data does show a negative correlation between serum vitamin D levels and excessive daytime sleepiness.)

My own serum vitamin D level was pretty low, but since supplementation, it has increased appreciably to within the normal range. So far, I don't think it has had an effect on my daytime sleepiness, but I have not been keeping track of the appropriate factors, so take what you will.

It also seems that taking vitamin D at night seems to disrupt sleep for some individuals. My experience suggests taking vitamin D at night has no effect, but (as before) I have no hard data to justify this. It is possible that the sleep disruption only applies to those who have adequate blood levels of vitamin D. The explanation that I have seen (which I can't find right now) is that vitamin D influences your circadian drive as sunlight would because your body synthesizes it from sunlight; taking vitamin D is like getting "concentrated sunlight". I'll agree with ChristianKI, though, that no mechanism needs to be identified to validate an observation.

For other things (i.e., not sleep), I haven't seen any evidence of timing effects.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-24T17:58:38.389Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems that the blood level of vitamin D is linked to excessive daytime sleepiness. (Warning: the authors of this paper overfit the data, so you can ignore their conclusions about race and very low vit. D levels, but their data does show a negative correlation between serum vitamin D levels and excessive daytime sleepiness.)

I haven't read the paper, just looked at their plots, and my impression is that there is nothing there but noise.

It also seems that taking vitamin D at night seems to disrupt sleep for some individuals.

We have anecdata, but have there been actual studies?

And speaking of timing of vitamin D supplementation, it is well-known that the absorption of it varies, in particularly depending on whether you take it with fats (in your food) or not. That would have to be controlled for in any experiments designed to figure out timing effects.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-24T18:37:31.594Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read the paper, just looked at their plots, and my impression is that there is nothing there but noise.

That may be true. The correlation is at best weak. There appears to not necessarily be a causative link between vit. D and daytime sleepiness; increasing my vit. D levels had no perceptible effect on my own sleepiness. Though others have had different experiences.

We have anecdata, but have there been actual studies?

I have not seen any studies into that. The closest that I've seen is gwern's tests.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T12:17:42.713Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sleep disturbance is a time-local short-term effect, it isn't obvious to me that it indicates problems with long-term consequences.

Why do you think humans sleep at all if sleep disturbance has no long term effects? I think it's fairly straightforward to think that humans do undergo processes that further health during restful sleep. After quick Googling http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/ is a study that says so.

Your links say that the timing of vitamin D intake affects sleep. Fine, but that's not really what most people take vitamin D for. There is a variety of claims for vitamin D supplements which generally have to do with bone health, viral infections, CVD, etc.

Bone health might be just about Vitamin D's role in calcium absorption.

From the paper I linked above:

Sleep Loss Is Associated with Cardiovascular Morbidity

Sleep loss and sleep complaints are associated with heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and perhaps stroke, according to several large epidemiological studies

I can't find talk about viral infections on that page but I would assume that you can also make a case that a sleep deprived individual is at higher risk for them.

Why? "Stupid" is a strong word.

Investing tens of millions in experiments based on a hypothesis that you don't really test is stupid. To use the words of Feynman you could also say cargo cult science with Feynman used to describe the rat psychology experiments of his time.

If your hypothesis is that timing matters but the blood level doesn't matter, what's the underlying biochemical mechanism?

When I say blood level I mean the level you measure when you give a individual a blood test every month and make a study based on that data. I don't mean the level you would get if you measure every minute.

But I don't need to point to a biochemical mechanism to validate an empirical observation. Currently drugs get often designed based on an idea that you want to target a biochemical mechanism but when they do work, the work in mysterious ways that aren't exactly the way the people who designed the drug would have thought beforehand. Of course most of those drugs fail anyway. It's much better to focus on things that produce empiric effects than going to deeply into theory.

But as far as vitamin D goes, there plenty of evidence that it can work as a hormone. It also a hormone that gets naturally produced at specific times as the sun usually shines at specific times of the day and not at night.

How would you know how much of vitamin D do you need?

The empirical method. You can take different amount of vitamin D and see the effect on yourself. That means you have either good awareness of your own body, QS tools or both.

Coming to your own judgments instead of trying to follow what some authoritative doctor or doctrine tells you is what Kant described in his day's as his ideal of enlightenment. The way is real empiricism. Paying attention to real world feedback.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-24T15:49:20.579Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Investing tens of millions in experiments based on a hypothesis that you don't really test is stupid.

The hypothesis being tested is that the blood level of vitamin D is relevant for the outcomes. You think they should test another hypothesis but that doesn't mean the original researchers are stupid.

The empirical method. You can take different amount of vitamin D and see the effect on yourself.

If I am interested in the effect of vitamin D on overall mortality, it's kinda difficult to "see the effect on [my]self".

Coming to your own judgments instead of trying to follow what some authoritative doctor or doctrine tells you is what Kant described in his day's as his ideal of enlightenment.

Yes, but you're confused between blindly following authority and looking at data from people other than yourself.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T18:18:54.243Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The hypothesis being tested is that the blood level of vitamin D is relevant for the outcomes. You think they should test another hypothesis but that doesn't mean the original researchers are stupid.

I didn't call individuals stupid but I spoke about the practice they follow. I also don't call 18st century scientists stupid even when a lot of their mental models were stupid from the perspective of knowing what I know today.

In this case, before you spend a lot of money on a long term mortality study it's better to run a few smaller studies to gauge whether variables such as the timing have an effect.

If I am interested in the effect of vitamin D on overall mortality, it's kinda difficult to "see the effect on [my]self".

Until the VITAL study get's completed it's also impossible to get that data elsewhere directly. Just that you don't misunderstand myself, I don't oppose that fact that the VITAL study get's run. It's better value for money than many other things nutrition academics fund.

I mean at the moment we have the situation that we do have a meta review that says that we can expect to gain two years of life expectancy via daily 2000 UI vitamin D supplements.

We have other academics that are less optimistic. But nearly nobody claims that taking 2000 UI vitamin D is really dangerous. Academics have different opinions on whether you should take vitamin D supplements.

Additionally you don't lose anything as an individual if you take your vitamin D in the morning because of anecdotal evidence. Even if the timing doesn't matter you still get the benefit.

Yes, but you're confused between blindly following authority and looking at data from people other than yourself.

I never said that one shouldn't look at data from people other than yourself. I said you shouldn't simply copy their way of modeling the problem. Even when it comes to something like hypnosis/NLP I'm perfectly willing to read academic papers and try to understand the empirical observations that they made. I might not agree with the interpretation but I'm not one to turn down good data.

There no good data at all for the claim that taking blood vitamin measurements and changing the amount of vitamin D supplements that you consume based on that data does anything for you that's better than just taking 2000UI (or 5000UI). That not something that they studied as far as I knowledge is concerned.

Kant was explicit in his papers that one shouldn't use his doctor has authority for one's health to override your own self determination.

comment by Prismattic · 2014-01-24T00:02:58.951Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Search on vitamin D at blog.sethroberts.net -- you'll get a bunch from the self-tracking perspective.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-22T01:32:31.332Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

gwern is partly right about my motivations.

I have some sort of sleep disorder (perhaps narcolepsy; the sleep study I had was inconclusive on that, though it did rule out sleep apnea) where the treatment might involve taking stimulants. My sleep quality at night might be particularly bad in general, and taking a stimulant could make it worse. Modafinil's half-life is about 15 hours, which is quite long. Even if I took it in the morning, it still might impact my sleep at night.

Also, the stimulants I have had generally do not agree well with me. Often they make me nervous, even in low doses.

If I were to take a stimulant regularly, I'd rather take a short-acting one, and only take it when absolutely necessary.

I have some armodafinil now and am going to do a study on myself. My sleep doctor suggests testing my concerns as they may not pan out in reality.

comment by Ishaan · 2014-01-26T08:30:01.306Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm under the impression that taking substances in intense spikes generally causes tolerance to occur more quickly than taking a slow build-up and slow come-down dose. The former profile is also superior for avoiding negative high/crash side effects resulting from rapid ramp-up / come-down.

However, the only actual sources I can find for which this is true relate to insulin, which could easily be a special case, and I'm not really sure where I got this impression. It's filed away in my mind's "conventional wisdom" drawer and I've never questioned it until today. Can anyone who actually knows confirm/deny this?

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-26T15:10:46.035Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've read that short half-life drugs in general build tolerance faster. No idea if it is true. I too would be interested in confirmation or denial of this line of thought and the others you mentioned.

With that being said, my sleep doctor doesn't think stimulants taken infrequently (a few times per week at most) would have significant tolerance effects. I don't mind a crash too much; might just take a nap because of it.

comment by Ishaan · 2014-01-26T18:08:40.747Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't mind a crash too much; might just take a nap because of it.

That wouldn't be too bad, but don't stimulant crashes involve more irritability / low affect / lack of focus than they do sleepiness?

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-26T20:05:42.517Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In my case, I wouldn't know. I can't say I've ever experienced a crash any time I've taken stimulants.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-22T13:11:44.051Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think he's right. You don't intend to have a stimulus for an activity right before bed time.

If you don't want to take a stimulant regularly you probably care more about side effects than about half-life.

One of the issues with caffeine is that it causes the body to produce more A1 receptors which you probably don't want given that your sleep is already screwed up.

Given what you wrote I would also look into non drug treatments. Especially something to reach a deep state of trance, be it meditation, hypnosis or a flotation tank.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-22T15:27:49.115Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the advice. I think I see what you mean in this post about asking a more general question. Perhaps I'll post a discussion item about advice for rationalists with hypersomnia disorders, or post something to the next open thread. Most of the advice I've seen about sleep on here seems to apply only to normal people, or even just a subset of normal folks.

Yes, I'm not very interested in stimulants largely because of the side effects (on my mood, or sleep, or cardiovascular system, etc.), but they are the first line of treatment for whatever it is that I have. My sleep doctor offered to prescribe me modafinil, but I declined, citing tolerance, its long half-life, and the side effects, so instead he gave me some free samples of armodafinil and said to try it and see, which is reasonable. (Perhaps this makes me a bad rationalist. Given all of the discussion of modafinil here, I'm sure some people would see declining legal modafinil paid for by my insurance company as a great folly.)

Non-drug treatments interest me greatly. Unfortunately, there is little research interest into them, but I have read two detailed reviews of behavioral treatment of narcolepsy and other hypersomnia disorders. My sleep hygiene is excellent, and could hardly be improved. Right now I'm working two naps a day into my schedule. Naps are one of the few behavioral changes I've found to help. There are some difficulties in terms of logistics, but once that is settled I should see a marked improvement in my functioning. I am also working in more exercise into my schedule, as exercise will wake me up (though not for as long as a nap, which seems supported by the literature I've read). I already get an adequate amount of exercise, but there seems to be a few things I can do to optimize my wakefulness and sleep quality via modifying my exercise routines.

I am curious. What would be the goal in getting into a deep state of trance? Would this serve to help me sleep more solidly?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-22T16:41:12.471Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am curious. What would be the goal in getting into a deep state of trance? Would this serve to help me sleep more solidly?

I mentioned three ways: 1) Meditation. My general advice would find a local group course.

2) Hypnosis. There are basically two ways. The first is to get some audio file to play right before you go to bed.

The second would be to find a qualified local hypnotherapist. A straightforward hypnosis format for going into a deep trance in an efficient manner is the Elman induction.

3) The third is to go into a floating tank.

As far as hypnosis session I would think that you need a handful or less for the effect. The same goes for a floating tank.

I would think that meditation group sessions and bedtime hypnosis audio tapes take a bit longer, but they might also have fast effects.

I am curious. What would be the goal in getting into a deep state of trance? Would this serve to help me sleep more solidly?

My model would be that some process that normally is to be supposed to switch into relaxation mode when you sleep is constantly in active mode draining energy. I believe that's a common failure mode of the human system that can cause the kind of issue that you have and that isn't well treated with existing drugs.

Just going once through the experience of switching into into relaxation mode, might be enough for your brain to learn how to switch the process into relaxation mode.

As you mentioned solid research going into non-drug treatments is often scarce.

In general I think the idea of trying to upregulate a body through stimulus drugs that purposefully downregulates itself because it doesn't get enough real rest to be silly. Yes you might get a positive test result on a clinical trial but you are fighting the body. I think it's a lot more sensible to focus on getting better at relaxation. Poisoning the body with sleeping pills is also not getting better at relaxation.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-24T16:14:34.794Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I had intended to try some meditation for other reasons. I'll investigate your other suggestions, as well. (Edit: Checking my notes, it seems I had considered some form of hypnosis before as well, but I forgot about it.)

Your idea of improving sleep quality at night to improve daytime functioning in hypersomnia disorders is not so unusual. The goal would be to increase deep sleep (most narcoleptics have far too little). One of the main treatments for narcolepsy takes exact approach via pharmaceuticals (Xyrem/GHB). Unfortunately, GHB is neurotoxic when used chronically, but there are other drugs (ritanserin, trazodone, etc.) that have the same effect. Ritanserin is particularly effective and has no real side effects best I can tell, but it's also unfortunately not available cheaply because narcolepsy is such a small market.

In my case, there's no objective evidence that my sleep quality is bad. My amount of deep sleep is not unusual, though it is a little low according to my sleep doctor. My sleep was not particularly fragmented, either. This does not explain why I don't feel particularly rested when waking after sleeping a normal (7 to 8 hours) duration. It is possible that my sleep study was misleading for any number of reasons (my sleep doctor suggested two weeks of data would be much more definitive), but until I set up my home EEG (I'll be using a modified NeuroSky Mindwave Mobile as Zeo went out of business), I can't check the accuracy of my sleep study. Whether my brain is actually doing what it should be when it's in deep sleep is another question. For the moment, I believe the sleep study was accurate, and my top hypothesis is that I'm a long sleeper who requires 10+ hours of sleep per night. This possibility has not been examined as rigorously as the others.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-01-22T05:44:09.277Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You should definitely test it. Many people find that modafinil does not interfere with sleep.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-23T10:50:46.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are individual differences in metabolism rates of all drugs, so you might want to try some in the 3-5 hour range to see how they affect you. If tolerance worries you consider cycling some drugs or taking days off.

Nicotine could increase the clearance of caffeine as much as 50 %, you could use this to your advantage.

Consider raising your alertness nonpharmacologically, like exercise or cold showers for example. Consider working in an upright position.

In the other comment you said you have problems with sleep. There are several options to improve that side too, so that you might tolerate the stimulants better. This of course makes no sense if the problem doesn't lie in your waking hours. Melatonin you can probably get OTC. The nervousness induced by stimulants could also be dampened in several ways.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-24T16:56:48.507Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your comment.

If I don't particularly like modafinil for its long half-life then I'll take a closer look at others. I'm sure my sleep doctor would be glad to give me a few samples of other stimulants.

I wasn't aware of the effect of nicotine on caffeine. Seems to be potentially useful.

Nonpharmacological treatments generally don't do much anything in my experience. Naps work fairly well, though they can leave me groggy. Exercise wakes me up during its duration, but not for much longer afterward (This is consistent with normal people's experiences). Though, I have used exercise before to "anchor" my circadian drive (i.e., running in the morning helped my body know when to wake up), which I found worked well. Standing prevents me from falling asleep involuntarily, but it won't stop me from feeling very sleepy. Neither does walks; I need a certain level of physical activity to counter sleepiness. Some large meals make me very sleepy, but not all. Eating delicious greasy food at an alehouse on Fridays with some coworkers last summer at about noon tended to cause outright collapse at 2 pm (note that I don't drink alcoholic beverages), whereas eating a Chipotle burrito, which is similar in volume, causes no postprandial somnolence. Talking seems to wake me up more than I initially expected. I haven't tried cold showers, but I suspect they'd be counterproductive as a decrease in body temperature is known to trigger sleep.

I thought I had issues with my sleep quality at night. I generally don't wake up feeling rested, and the sleepiness continues through the day, usually abating sometime after dinner or an afternoon nap. I just recently got the results of an overnight sleep study, and they indicated that my sleep quality should be okay. Assuming that the study was not misleading in some way, this leaves the possibility that I am a long sleeper, i.e., that I require 10+ hours of sleep per night to function correctly.

I hadn't considered trying to counteract the nervousness induced by stimulants. I'll have to look into various relaxation techniques.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-24T18:23:25.084Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't considered trying to counteract the nervousness induced by stimulants. I'll have to look into various relaxation techniques.

You can do this pharmacologically too, with beta blockers for example. Consider asking your doctor about it.

Have you tried caffeine naps i.e. take a caffeine pill then start taking a nap? The caffeine absorbs while you sleep so when you wake up you could be more alert right away. This could also prevent oversleeping.

comment by btrettel · 2014-01-24T18:33:54.817Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are full of good suggestions!

I had not considered beta blockers at all. Perhaps I should; it appears that they also treat some of my other (minor) health issues.

I have not tried a caffeine nap. Doing some quick reading suggests that it may counteract the grogginess I experience.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-24T19:02:23.185Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the mornings I sometimes take a few caffeine pills after the alarm and continue sleeping until I wake up spontaneously when the effect peaks. Another way that works for me to increase morning alertness is to time some bright lamps to turn on an hour or so before wake up time.

comment by Error · 2014-01-20T20:22:18.271Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm thinking of doing a science-overview post on boredom, with the intent of working out how to notice and respond to it. How would I go about finding good existing studies on the subject, noting that I don't have access to university resources and have basically no academic training beyond undergrad level?

(this won't happen soon; it's on my Potential Next Projects list after my current project is completed. This is more so I can get an idea of how feasible or difficult such a project will be for me. I'll probably repeat this request if and when I decide to move forward.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-20T23:18:35.788Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not having access to an university proxy just makes things slower. Reddit scholar or the Lesswrong helpdesk can give you access to the papers that you need.

Google scholar also gives you abstracts and citation data for papers.

comment by Gvaerg · 2014-01-18T13:24:48.443Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What examples can you give of books that contain discussions of advanced (graduate or research-level) mathematics, similar to what Greg Egan does in his novels (I suppose the majority of such books are hard sci-fi, though I'm not betting on it)? I'm trying to find out what has already been done in the area.

comment by bsm · 2014-01-18T18:22:11.560Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's this in mathematics. Also, this website might be a good place to look, though most of its examples seem less advanced than what you are looking for.

comment by Gvaerg · 2014-01-18T20:42:38.283Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! Given that that site lists Egan (and other works that I knew about) and it strives to be complete, it seems it's what I had been looking for.

comment by pewpewlasergun · 2014-01-17T14:22:22.994Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to go against Robin Hanson's recommendation and tell people to go see Her. The visual direction is beautiful, as one would expect, and quirks like fashion, advertisements, and art are just jarring enough to remind you that its the future. I found it easy to overlook the 'why don't they just buy an AI and make it write the letters' problems because it isn't really a movie about technology changing us, but how relationships and their endings do.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2014-01-17T15:53:08.496Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Note that Robin doesn't recommend not seeing it. He's really quite complimentary about it.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-22T15:29:44.760Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are these monthly topic posts like "Open Thread", "Group Diary",... Are these managed somehow? Can I just start one?

I thought about a monthy (or so) polling thread where everybody may post a poll he is interested in but first has to vote all the polls already there (to ensure feedback and avoid excessive polls).

comment by drethelin · 2014-01-22T20:43:09.744Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

you can just make one

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-24T12:53:03.175Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The idea is that you start one if you think it's appropriate.

If people don't like it they will vote it down.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-20T13:30:18.440Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The LW survey shows that most LW people who used spaced repetition like Anki quit using it after some time. I would be very interested in the causes.

[pollid:581]

comment by drethelin · 2014-01-20T23:16:46.945Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Used it to learn some specific stuff but my day-to-day life doesn't involve memorizing things that much.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-20T23:22:36.439Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And you are happy to forget that stuff now, instead of periodically reviewing the cards?

comment by drethelin · 2014-01-20T23:27:16.327Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

yup.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2014-01-21T03:46:34.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm currently using it. I've tried it and stopped using it twice earlier. I was using it to study kanji, Lojban words and mathematical definitions, all of which was basically learning the vocabulary of a language I didn't actually speak. After some months, I got fed up from the feeling that I was memorizing what seemed to amount to mostly nonsense when I didn't have a routine of trying to learn to read and write the languages or trying to do math in the side. I also didn't like the Anki interface for entering new cards that didn't let me do card batch processing easily and the fact that the card database was stored in an opaque binary blob.

I'm currently using a text file as the card source and have a starter deck with quotations, historical dates and other fluff that's reasonably meaningful as stand-alone. I've been reviewing the deck since last December, so it's still too early to tell whether this one will last.

comment by KnaveOfAllTrades · 2014-05-22T21:39:43.346Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This was useful because I've been wondering about Anki for nonsense (e.g. math I don't already sort-of know, vocab for languages I don't know at all, etc.)

Re your second paragraph: Any updates to report?

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2014-05-23T05:01:48.109Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It didn't last. I wasn't actively studying anything and my deck was too dominated with fluff that I stopped wanting to repeatedly see after a month or two of not actively adding any material.

comment by Ishaan · 2014-01-26T08:42:50.116Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've always had a lot of trouble with memorization of arbitrary facts. I was trying to memorize the amino acids. I tried spaced repetition (there was a pre-made anki deck) and I stuck with it on and off for a few weeks, but the information didn't seem to really stick. I kept getting things wrong, and wasn't able to progress to longer repetitions.

What did end up working fairly effectively was videos like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq-rWb0fmzQ

I watched 4 or 5 different videos of this type and took notes. This particular video creates visual associations between the spelling and the shape of the amino acid. A few additional videos added additional visual links and some helpful acronyms and stories.

After I had build up a sufficient network of nonsensical links to hold all the information together, it was much easier to recall and it stuck for much longer. I suspect that creating these nonsensical links and then doing spaced repetition would be a good strategy if I wanted to memorize something in the long run.

I wouldn't bother with flashcards though - it would be better to just set a reminder to review it. It's unwieldy to put nuanced content on flashcards anyway.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-01-21T12:41:46.075Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There were a few contributing factors to me stopping, but probably the biggest was a combination of frustration and ineffectiveness. In any given session I would end up with a small handful of cards that for whatever reason just wouldn't go in. It'd present one to me, I'd 'fess up that I didn't get it right, and then it would wait just long enough for me to forget it before presenting it again.

There didn't seem to be any "honest" procedure for going "look, dude, I'm clearly not going to get these ones today, so stop showing them to me."

comment by Emile · 2014-01-22T09:01:56.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How about just suspending/deleting them? Or setting a half-hour aside to just rewrite those cards to make them much easier? (shorter answers, cues in the question, cloze deletion, break them into several cards...)

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-01-22T10:00:40.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They tended to be cards whose answers were either date ranges in periods of history I'm not familiar with, or in languages I don't have significant exposure to. Essentially material I didn't have any kind of infrastructure to pin the facts on.

Generally, though, if I'd go and read up on the area to develop that infrastructure, I wouldn't need Anki.

comment by palladias · 2014-01-21T03:01:48.866Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Finding a way to save asl pictures or videos and make anki cards of them was just too hellish.

comment by Emile · 2014-01-22T08:56:12.659Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I ran a similarish survey http://lesswrong.com/lw/ith/open_thread_october_13_19_2013/9w7m but didn't go into as much detail, so I'm looking forward to seeing the results on this one.

comment by Emily · 2014-01-21T17:54:39.525Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've used it for several-month periods on several occasions to prepare for exams. In each case, once the exams are done, I would certainly like to have some broad recollection of their content (especially a feel for what sort of knowledge exists in the relevant field and how I might go about seeking it out again) but I don't care about it at the detailed level that I needed for the exams, and therefore that I put into Anki. (Anki works best for detailed stuff anyway, I find.)

I'd quite like to pick up a more long-term Anki habit where I only add stuff that I do want to know long-term, but haven't got round to it I guess. I'm not sure where would be a good place to start without a specific goal.

comment by Emile · 2014-01-22T09:00:37.052Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I handled that by having many separate decks; especially, if there's something that's only useful up to a deadline (e.g. my driving code exam), or that I'm likely to stop finding interesting in the long term, or am not sure is worth learning (e.g. vim sortcuts) I make sure that it's in it's own deck so I can delete it easily.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2014-01-18T02:10:58.445Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I participate in a long-term game of Europa Universalis 3, which is about to convert to Victoria. We are in need of players for at least two major Powers. If you would like to play a weekly strategy game (Sundays, 1000 to 1400 Eastern time) with enormous opportunities for diplomacy, backstabbing, exposing your source code to other actors, and generally putting all that PD theory into practice, PM me.

comment by ThrustVectoring · 2014-01-18T06:13:03.102Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is that Victoria 2, or Victoria: Revolutions? There's a big difference in the two, and I have a lot more experience with the latter.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2014-01-18T19:55:13.736Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We will play with both the Victoria expansions, Revolutions plus Heart of Darkness. But we have every level of experience, from noob to world-conqueror.

comment by ThrustVectoring · 2014-01-19T02:49:17.650Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Uhhhh, what? Revolutions is the expansion for Victoria 1, and Heart of Darkness is the expansion for Victoria 2. The other expansion for Victoria 2 is A House Divided.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2014-01-19T20:07:19.633Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I beg your pardon; my mind bobbled. We are playing Victoria 2, with the expansions A House Divided and Heart of Darkness.

comment by bramflakes · 2014-01-20T10:14:17.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Modded?

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2014-01-21T02:59:35.968Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Some install required, yes, since it's a conversion game.

comment by mwengler · 2014-01-17T21:28:42.131Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If a human was artificial, would it be considered FAI or UAI? I'm guessing UAI because I don't think anything like the process of CEV has been followed to set human's values at birth.

If a human would be UAI if artificial, why are we less worried about billions of humans than we are about 1 UAI? What is it about being artificial that makes unfriendliness so scary? What is it about being natural that makes us so blind to the possible dangers of unfriendliness?

It is that we don't think humans can self-modify? The way tech is going it seems to me that its at least a horse-race (approximately 50:50 probability) as to which will FOOM first: the ability for humans to enhance themselves vs. the ability for an AI to modify itself.

Should we be more worried about UNI, unfriendly natural intelligence, meaning are we optimally dividing our efforts between avoiding UAI vs avoiding UNI given the relative probability weighted dangers each presents?

comment by Nornagest · 2014-01-17T22:02:30.710Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

We're unFriendly, but we're unFriendly in a weaker sense than we normally talk about around here: we bear some relationship to the implicit human ethics that we'd want an FAI to uphold, though not a perfect or complete one, and we probably implement a subset of the features that could be used to create a version of Friendliness. Most of us also seem somewhat resistant to the more obvious cognitive traps like wireheading. We're not there yet, but we're far further along the road to Friendliness than most points in mind-space.

We also have some built-in limitations that make a hard takeoff difficult for us: though we can self-modify (in a suitably general sense), our architecture is so messy that it's not fast or easy, especially on individuals. And we run on hardware with a very slow cycle time, although it does parallelize very, very well.

More colloquially, given the kind of power that we talk about FAI eventually having, an arbitrary human or set of humans might use it to make giant golden statues of themselves or carve their dog's face into the moon, but probably wouldn't convert the world's biomass to paperclips. Maybe. I hope.

comment by MrCogmor · 2014-01-18T01:23:27.961Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Humans would be considered UFAI if they were digitised. Merely consider a button that picks a random human and gives them absolute control. I wouldn't press that button because their is a significant chance that such a person will have goals that significantly differed from my own.

comment by drethelin · 2014-01-17T22:14:17.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A self enhancing human will still be hugely slower than a self enhancing AI. Compare the progress in computing power and software to the progress in human prosthetics. Computers don't die if you plug in a new RAM card (unless you're very unlucky). You can run a newly optimized algorithm on a computer in a way that you just can't do on an organic brain. If we get to a point where "humans" are as easy to optimize as computers then they won't be humans as we know them anyway.

comment by torekp · 2014-01-26T20:26:16.884Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a lesswrong post or sequence item that discusses the analog nature of the brain and the challenges it might pose to implementing brain-like properties in digital algorithms? And responses to those challenges? I did a Google custom search for "analog digital" and turned up no relevant results.

If there isn't one, would someone (please) like to create one?

comment by DanielLC · 2014-01-20T20:05:07.722Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Overconfidence bias causes people to give more extreme probabilities than the should. Risk aversion means that people don't accept risks without higher-than-necessary confidence. Isn't this the same as saying that people are about as confident and risk-taking as they should be, and they just suck at reading and writing probability?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-20T23:22:58.941Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think risk aversion means that people treat an event differently based on whether they model it with loss and gains.

comment by DanielLC · 2014-01-21T00:23:37.927Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The aversion is different if it's a loss or a gain, which shows that you can't entirely fix to problem by renumbering the probabilities, but people are averse to loss either way.

Although that makes me wonder: does confidence change based on whether it's modeled as a loss or a gain?

comment by Curiouskid · 2014-01-20T01:07:15.255Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going through the PGM coursera class (It's one of the classes in the MIRI course-list). I'm definitely going to finish it because I'm doing it as an independent study at my University.

Message me if you'd like to join me. I have a few friends at school who read LW who said they'll probably join me. The more the merrier.

comment by bramflakes · 2014-01-20T10:13:21.135Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is it still all in comic sans?

comment by Curiouskid · 2014-01-20T14:11:59.654Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

yup

comment by DanielVarga · 2014-01-25T13:02:43.872Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is this the latest open thread? Generally, how do I find the latest open thread? The tag does not help.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-01-25T16:40:28.149Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Click on the the words "latest open thread" in the sidebar (use your browser's search). The tag works if you reach the open thread via discussion, so that the word discussion appears in the URL, but not if you reach it in some other ways, like from going through an individual's recent comments. (I think that there may be some delay in updating these two sources, but they are both up to date as I write this, only two hours after the new open thread. That thread is two hours younger than your comment, perhaps its trigger.)

comment by DanielVarga · 2014-01-26T21:51:14.449Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-22T15:27:21.540Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can somebody explain the colors of the vote icon of a post? I see

  • empty, no number, only a dot - occurs even for posts that have been voted

  • a number in white

  • a number in green

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2014-01-22T17:27:00.370Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

empty, no number, only a dot - occurs even for posts that have been voted

Posted recently.

a number in white

Not posted recently, and in Discussion.

a number in green

Not posted recently, and in Main.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-01-22T18:28:55.427Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've occasionally seen green numbers in Discussion, but I think it happens when a thread has recently been moved to Main and parts of the database are still out of sync with each other.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-01-22T21:44:27.067Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, green circles are for promoted posts, not all main posts.

So why do they show up in discussion? I wouldn't expect many promoted posts to lose their promotion, let alone be sent to discussion. The only examples I have of green circles in discussion are meetup announcements, which are plausibly demoted as obsolete.

comment by jkaufman · 2014-01-21T20:26:03.887Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I just put a bunch of thought into some suggestions for a college reviews site.

comment by Metus · 2014-01-21T19:14:13.624Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone here done Foundation Training? How is the evidence supporting them?

comment by Vaniver · 2014-01-20T20:16:00.698Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Libertarians or liberty sympathizers who are undergraduates or recently graduated: the Institute for Humane Studies is accepting applications for their summer seminars. They're week-long, packed with lectures and discussions, and a tremendously fun and edifying experience. The two I've been to both definitely rank among the best weeks of my life. They're free (except for travel), and they try to get ideological diversity among attendees (so you shouldn't feel the need to misstate your beliefs on the application). If you've got any other questions about the seminars or the applications, just ask (here, in PM, or by email: I use gmail and my username).

comment by Omid · 2014-01-18T15:08:19.237Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How would I tell my girlfriend that gifts my love language love language without looking like I'm exploiting her for free stuff.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-18T17:21:17.404Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How do you know that gifts are your love language? What experiences did you had in your life that makes you conclude that's your main love language?

comment by Prismattic · 2014-01-21T01:30:51.594Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd actually thought about recommending this test on Lesswrong before. I don't know if the Five Love Languages accurately presents any theoretical/neurological underpinnings, but descriptively, it seems very accurate, at least for me.

(I'm the opposite of Omid -- physical touch and quality time together are very important to me; words of affirmation are a little important; but receiving acts of service or gifts does nothing for me, even though I enjoy performing acts of service/giving gifts to my SO) .

comment by Omid · 2014-01-18T17:25:50.779Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Because of how excited I got when I received gifts in the past. For example , I cherish an expensive scarf a girlfriend gave me even though I would never have bought it for more than a few dollars myself.

comment by kalium · 2014-01-18T19:40:15.556Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you also get excited by cheap gifts (flowers, candy, nice thrift-store finds, whatever) then tell her that. If the gifts have to be expensive for you to appreciate them, though, that's kind of awkward though maybe if you give her gifts of similar value it comes out fair.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-18T17:49:43.129Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The issue with that paragraph is that it doesn't contain the word "love". One could read the sentence as you using your girlfriend to obtain an expensive item for free.

If you don't want to appear shallow, then go deeper into the meaning and the emotions. Of course there are valid reasons why you might not go deep on a online forum.

Talking about past partners is probably no good idea for the first date. Further down the road you could just start by asking your girlfriend about her love languages. What made her feel loved in the past? Go through each of the five love languages and ask to what extend they matter to her.

If you do that, she's likely ask you as well.

comment by Torello · 2014-01-18T20:45:20.055Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have to agree with another commenter below--it's best to tell people what you like and what makes you happy.

Don't mean to derail the thread, but my ex-girlfriend tried to have me read/discuss the love language book and it seemed that the categories they established were pretty arbitrary. For me, the love languages book was an impediment to sharing needs, because it brought in seemingly invented categories and questionnaires to fit you to a category when instead you could just say what you want.

comment by palladias · 2014-01-18T17:00:02.385Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I did this with my ex-bf (not the cause of the prefix!) and then next time I told him I was really upset by something at work, I got flowers and felt much happier. And my delight was such that he was happy too.

I'd explain what about the gift from her makes you happy. I don't like tchotchkes or expensive-for-the-sake-of-signalling things, but I liked being surprised by some manifestation of my bf caring for me, especially when it was personal (i.e. in response to a sudden need, or carrying forward an inside joke, or just a lovely note in my inbox).

comment by falenas108 · 2014-01-18T16:07:21.646Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

http://lesswrong.com/lw/jis/tell_culture/

Say what you just said here.

comment by Dorikka · 2014-01-22T01:43:16.156Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Omid doesn't appear to be the OP -- comment permalink might be more useful if you're referring to a comment that he made in response to that post.

comment by Ishaan · 2014-01-26T08:07:48.993Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Try sending her a link to the quiz which proports to identify said "love languages", ask her what results she gets, and then tell her what results you got? (Bonus: you get to see her results, which is useful info if you think this quiz and accompanying classification system is useful)

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-18T16:31:38.787Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In general, do you have ways in your relationship of asking for things you want and having that be OK?

If so, how do you do it? I would think the same techniques would apply. (In my own relationship, I emphasize symmetry.)

If not, it might be better to start there, and worry about gifts and love-languages later.

comment by Omid · 2014-01-18T16:35:42.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm currently single so the question is hypothetical.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-18T18:19:14.130Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, gotcha. I guess I'd give the same advice hypothetically... establish a general framework in which asking for things you (both) want is a good thing. This is just a special case of that.

As for how to do that, well, it depends a lot on the people involved. Mostly, my advice is to ask for things you want, and encourage her to do the same, and see where that goes.

comment by Kawoomba · 2014-01-22T19:30:37.690Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

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comment by chegra · 2014-01-17T16:03:25.116Z · score: -4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I have created a skype group for anyone who wants to develop strong AI or are currently working on strong AI:

skype:?chat&blob=8vCsZ-zaNyxXCRsQpSNZ6pEFFl7VpQe33C5MJJnF2Wjo5f9HMgprBpDSZIf3Rfw_3q33nui7zCZoiDg5aPqlO8kU

Copy the link in a skype window and click on it. To get a better view of the link check my twitter: https://twitter.com/xyzgra/status/424217149394014208

comment by jkaufman · 2014-01-17T22:34:31.863Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think people are downvoting you because they don't think development of a strong AI is a good idea. The idea is that any AI developed now would be likely to be, at best, indifferent to humans, which would end up with everyone dead. Do you not think this is a problem?

comment by ThrustVectoring · 2014-01-18T06:18:59.505Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree - I think it's because there's likely insufficient membership control to have a worthwhile signal-to-noise ratio. AI discussion is notorious for this, because of the quantity of cranks around.

Furthermore, legitimate AI researchers know that there are many cranks around, so they're less interested in starting under-moderated and under-restricted discussion. So when someone comes around asking to start under-moderated and low-barrier-to-entry discussion on AI, it signals that they're likely a crank.