Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015

post by MrMind · 2015-11-09T08:07:19.775Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 175 comments

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

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should be posted in Discussion, and not Main.

4. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-11-09T17:11:05.206Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

In the news:

Google just open-sourced TensorFlow, its AI engine.

comment by ZankerH · 2015-11-10T23:19:15.589Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

*linear algebra computational graph engine with automatic gradient calculation

I really wonder how this will fit into the established deep learning software ecosystem - it has clear advantages over any single one of the large players (Theano, Torch, Caffee), but lacks the established community of any of them. As a researcher in the field, it's really frustrating that there is no standardisation and you essentially have to know a ton of software frameworks to effectively keep up with research, and I highly doubt Google entering the fray will change this.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-11-11T04:15:39.897Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Add Julia to the mix as well (which I currently use and I find personally better than those other ones).

I think TensorFlow's niche would be in the area of prototyping new ML algorithms as it seems pretty general, flexible, and fast. If you just want a simple deep neural net, it might be better to use Caffe or Theano. Those do not provide a flexible and general optimization framework, though. TensorFlow also seems more powerful in the area of language processing, as you'd expect.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-20T03:17:00.901Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to figure out the business strategy behind open sourcing this.

Android I got... open sourcing was a good play (maybe the only play) to compete with iPhone.

Opensourcing TensorFlow could be a recruitment strategy - but somehow I think Google already gets top machine learning talent.

Anyone have any ideas?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-11-09T11:43:41.250Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Zubon · 2015-11-09T12:46:38.255Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Note the alt text about talking its way out of the box.

comment by gwern · 2015-11-15T19:45:13.042Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So reading Popper's otherwise good book on Bitcoin, Digital Gold (review), I was reminded of some of the crummy arguments for particular people being Satoshi, particularly some of the old Szabo chestnuts. I know a number of LWers also seem to overrate particular prospects. So in the spirit of 'betting is a tax on bullshit', I'd like to offer some bets. (Unfortunately, neither Augur nor Truthcoin are currently at the point where I could try out using them for this.) Before accepting my bets, I remind you that I have a pretty good track record in predictions & bets.

The bets: 'X is not Satoshi Nakamoto and this will be acknowledged generally as decided by a neutral third-party by 2030, with a push if the arbiter decides the question is still open' (judges acceptable to me would include Eliezer, Yvain, lukeprog, nanotube, etc). I won't insist on escrow for any users with at least 500 karma or otherwise known to me, and I will be taking the anti side of each bet (ie I pay you if X is Satoshi, otherwise you pay me if they aren't); we'll denominate in dollars but can settle up in Bitcoin or Paypal, whichever is more convenient when the bet ends.

The odds I'm offering:

  • 10:1 against Nick Szabo
  • 20:1 against Hal Finney or Wei Dai
  • 40:1 against Jed McCaleb, Dorian Nakamoto, Michael Clear, David Chaum, Dustin Trammell, Gavin Andresen, Martti Malmi, Donal O'Mahony

up to a total exposure on my part of $2k.

This specific offer is open until 30 November 2015. If you want to bet after that, contact me and we may be able to arrange something (maybe with the same terms, maybe not).

(Contact me either as a reply here or email. I am backlogged on checking any replies through the LW PM interface.)

comment by MrMind · 2015-11-16T08:06:14.366Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

20:1 against Hal Finney or Wei Dai

Yeah, but how cool would have been if Satoshi was Wei?

comment by gwern · 2015-11-16T16:53:11.000Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It would've been neat (I like Wei, and it looks good for LW), but unfortunately, it's not true. If Wei is not Satoshi, I desire to believe he's not Satoshi, etc.

comment by mwengler · 2015-11-15T20:39:51.425Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you interested in betting it is one of the people on your list at 3:1 odds? My interest is academic, I have close to zero idea who may be Satoshi.

comment by gwern · 2015-11-15T21:15:39.194Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you interested in betting it is one of the people on your list at 3:1 odds?

You mean, would I be willing to take the negative on a bet that Satoshi is any of Szabo/Finney/Dai/McCaleb/.../O'Mahony at 3:1 odds? Hm... Yes, I would be willing to do that bet. (I know they sum up to more than that, but the odds aren't my true odds but upper bounds, otherwise I wouldn't make any money off offering the bets!)

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-11-10T03:19:06.873Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The trolley problem on steroids.

comment by VincentYu · 2015-11-11T05:04:29.208Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

See also Patton's (1988) "Can bad men make good brains do bad things?" (AKA "Brain in a vat on a trolley"), published in APA Proceedings.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-11-09T11:06:29.009Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Seeking mathematician for story's analysis

While I'm writing a story where a character tries to solve a problem using meta-uncertainty, I know a useful trick is to treat uncertainty on a logarithmic scale rather than a linear one, as that comes closer to usefully representing how increasing evidence increases certainty.

I'm working with a problem where the character's reasoning process itself is questionable, and so it's uncertain that the calculated most-accurate-possible level uncertainty is actually the most accurate possible level. I'm guessing that it may be useful to treat the calculated level of uncertainty as a normal Guassian distribution, with the X scale measured in logarithmic confidence units (" decibans ").

Converting the graph from a logarithmic scale to a linear one would seem to do interesting things. Using some rules of thumb and guesstimation, my current draft of the relevant paragraph reads:

"Let's see - let's say that my best guess, the centre of the curve on the logarithmic scale, is at ten decibans, with a standard deviation of something near ten decibans. About the only thing I remember about standard distributions is that a squidge over two-thirds of the area under the curve is within one standard deviation, and ninety-five percent within two. So something like, mm, a seventh of the probability mass would be between minus ten and zero decibans, a third from zero to ten, a third from ten to twenty, and a seventh from twenty to thirty. Converting from decibans to linear probability, a seventh of the probability would be between ten percent and fifty percent, a third from fifty to ninety percent, a third from ninety to ninety-nine percent, and a seventh from ninety-nine percent to ninety-nine point nine. Pretending for a minute that each of those four buckets have their probability equally spread out, and taking the averages, let's see... an average of somewhere around seventy-five percent.

If this character then consulted an actual mathematician, how much correction would be needed to turn this approach into a useful certainty estimate?

Thank you for your time.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T08:46:31.560Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Assisted suicide politics in Australia

The support for voluntary euthanasia crossed party lines; the majority of Greens voters (86 per cent), three quarters of Labor voters (75 per cent), and a little more than two thirds of Coalition voters (69 per cent) were in favour.

The Coalition is comprised of two parties, and they are in government. They are a centre right camp comprised of conservatives and liberals/libertarians.

Labour as the name sounds is a centre left party that pivots off the Union movements.

It has the highest backing from people over 55 years of age.

Among the different religions, 68 per cent of Protestants and Catholics supported euthanasia, while a fifth of both faiths were against it.

Both the NSW Liberal National Party and the Labor Party is opposed to assisted-suicide and allow their MPs a conscience vote on the issue.

The Australian Voluntary Euthenasia Party lobbies for legislation of dying only if: the person is of sound mind and the decision to end his or her life has been made freely, voluntarily and after due consideration; and two medical practitioners have confirmed that the person has an eligible medical condition.

Australias libertarian party, the Liberal Dems believe in assisted suicide for "rational" people.

The Sex party, another libertarian party has similar policy to the VUP. The Greens, a more mainstream progressive party (third largest after the Liberals (main partner in the Coalition) and Labor), have roughly the same policy (those with 'decision making capacity').

They're concerned about a backlash from religious organisations that would campaign against them, or bring public pressure against them and that means they're essentially silenced," he said.

Mr Parker said that before the 2011 state election, Catholic bishops leafleted his electorate and urged people not to vote for him.

"A lot of conservative MPs really fear that," Mr Parker said

but assisted suicide happens anyway for 'rational' people with 'decision making capacity'

He also said with expert palliative care, nobody should suffer at the end of their lives, although he was aware that heavy sedation sometimes leads to death.

"The person gradually dies because they're not ingesting food and that's a tricky way of doctors carrying out euthanasia without declaring it euthanasia," he said.

Constitutional lawyer Professor George Williams said there was no real data on how many assisted suicides take place in palliative care.

I think that, as a rationalist community, we have a position where we can see rationality as a very, very complex spectrum. It seems absurd to decide that one person is rational enough to act to cure their pain, or that they aren't. But that's just what I think. I'm interested in hearing other thoughts out there. And, the unasked question of interest - why should someone have to have a terminal illness or be in severe pain to die? They can die anyway - there are plenty of modes of suicide out there. Differences will be the cleanup, the shock to others who are living, and the psychological pain further imposed on the suicidal. The inefficacy of say, antidepressants on many people, and that of alternative and experimental treatment is well documented. There are many, many like that.

Quotes from ABC

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-10T09:55:33.148Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Computer science is taught the wrong way at universities. Problem solving isn't the best way to learn how to solve problems; Programming isn't the best way to learn computer science. Computers are an instrument of computer science, but not the field, just as trumbones are an instrument of music, but not music. I reckon universities ought to offer computation courses, and programming courses.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-12T08:18:07.361Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The general rule of teaching is to progress from specific things to more general things. (As opposed to explaining the general things first, when the students are unable to imagine a specific example. Or when the students only know one specific example, so they are unable to understand what is the benefit of speaking abstractly.)

I suspect the issue with programming is related. "Write a program that solves problem X" is too abstract for a beginner, who hasn't seen yet enough specific examples of "a program that solves a problem".

The correct way is to start with giving examples: "program P1 solves the problem X1 (now let's look how exactly it accomplishes the task)", "program P2 solves the problem X2", "program P3 solves the problem X3", etc. Only after practicing this is the proper time to ask "what would be a program that solves a problem X".

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-11-15T17:18:16.474Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Whether to start from the specific or the general probably depends on the student-- I have a general memory (sorry for lack of details) from someone who couldn't learn a programming thing until they had a explanation of what it was supposed to do.

I'm not sure if this is the same thing, but I couldn't do word problems until realized that I was supposed to translate the words into equations and then crank it through mechanically. I thought I was supposed to read the problem and then perceive the answer directly. (It's quite possible they told me to do translation, but I wasn't paying attention.)

comment by solipsist · 2015-11-15T05:26:50.010Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think the article was making a stronger statement: programming isn't the best way to learn programming (at least at first). Sounds bonkers to me, but I don't trust my pedagogic intuitions.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2015-11-14T09:19:16.856Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think most people are in it to learn programming though, if we redefine comp sci like this then it sort of changes what it means.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-12T19:54:05.583Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My Karma score vs. time and vs. my participation seems to be volatile. Is this unusual?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-11-12T20:55:23.644Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Short answer: No, it isn't unusual. You have 23 comments total, if my lazy calculation is correct, all of which were made within the last three months, and around half of which were made in the past month. Your comments tend to be negatively voted, and some percentage of people here, when finding a comment they don't like, go through a user's history to downvote other comments they don't like. (The reverse is somewhat rarer, by my estimation, but also happens.)

Since you're new and aren't well-calibrated on how a given comment will be taken, your comments will be all over the place. I note in particular a political angle to some of your comments, which - well, some of those who agree with you will upvote, most people here will downvote, as politics are discouraged.

You have one comment with -20 Karma. I'm honestly impressed. I've never seen a Karma value that low before. One out of every three of your downvotes has come from that one comment.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-13T16:56:33.208Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your answer.

How do I find that -20 comment? Outliers can be ignored but at the risk of not learning something new.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-11-13T18:01:19.321Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is the page of your comments. I got to it by clicking on your username, then clicking comments at the top. Unfortunately, the comments can only be sorted chronologically with the most recent first unless you use something like WeiDai's tool, which can be sorted (but apparently only in descending order, and it doesn't seem to have the -20 comment).

Since you have so few comments, it's relatively easy to look at them all and find it here.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-16T01:34:08.133Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Found it.

The info in the -20 comment is, I believe, accepted as common knowledge by people who study "sexual politics." The different goals have to do with the nine months of discomfort females may have to endure while men have no such risk. Also see

I'd hope persons who feel that strongly would post their reasons for objecting but in this case I take what I read as fact.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-11-16T15:00:20.801Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd hope persons who feel that strongly would post their reasons for objecting but in this case I take what I read as fact.

Your statement isn't interpreted as a dry statement of fact, but a signal about your beliefs about human sexual politics. Don't bring up, or hint at, those politics (or any politics, really) here, if you don't want to get downvoted.

Nominally Less Wrong is anti-politics. In practice, there are political views that -can- get you upvotes, because people have a tendency to treat political beliefs they agree with as truths, rather than politics. I strongly recommend you stay away from anything even vaguely political until you see the patterns, however.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-16T01:46:10.561Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... accepted as common knowledge ... I take what I read as fact.

I don't understand in which sense a statement along the lines of "it is the job of adult males to impregnate as many females as possible" can be seen as a fact.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-18T08:07:53.553Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Some obvious objections:

  • most adult males don't do this as a job;

  • technically, it should be maximizing the number of offsprings, not the number of partners; also, maximizing the number of offsprings that reach reproduction age, not just the number that is born, or even conceived;

  • if an adult male would literally try to "impregnate as many females as possible" (as opposed to merely professing trying to), he would have to become a serial rapist, a cult leader, a sperm donor -- probably all of that together -- but most adult males don't do that;

  • is–ought distinction, evolutionary-cognitive boundary, et cetera.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-17T15:51:48.028Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To raise the likelihood that your genes will survive. Same reason for women finding a man with resources. It's probably somewhere in Game Theory. The oil sheik with harem arrangement may be an example of this.

For me this is settled but if you can find counterexamples I'd like to read them.

You could also try

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-17T17:05:52.286Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To raise the likelihood that your genes will survive.

That's not my "job" and isn't really an imperative either -- lots of people remain childless by choice. I think it is an empirically observable fact that males do NOT attempt to impregnate as many females as possible and the women do NOT stick to the richest male they can attach themselves to. It's just not happening.

Maybe you think this is the way it should be or was meant to be, but your opinion is normative, not descriptive.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-18T00:53:31.727Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I give up.

comment by gjm · 2015-11-18T12:18:35.421Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You would do better to engage and consider seriously the possibility that you might be missing something.

It looks to me as if either (1) you are taking pop evo-psych as literal unquestionable fact, in which case you're making a mistake, or (2) you are deliberately being inexact and handwavy while others take you literally, in which case they're making a mistake but you can correct it and move on.

If #1, then I think Lumifer's objections really should be sufficient to make you reconsider. It demonstrably isn't the case that men devote their lives to maximizing offspring, still less to maximizing the number of different women they impregnate; similarly for women and maximizing the quality of their offspring. So any set of ideas that leads you to say they do must be wrong.

If #2 -- e.g., if what you really mean is something like "there are evolutionary pressures pushing us toward maximizing offspring number for men and offspring quality for women, and maximizing these things is very different from thinking rationally and may sometimes be impaired by it, so we shouldn't expect our brains to be well optimized for rational thinking" then I think you will find that (as well as getting a better reception here) you will think about this stuff more clearly if you're more explicit and careful about what you're claiming. E.g., it seems like rational thinking could be a useful tool for maximizing offspring number/quality so it's not at all clear that being optimized for offspring has to be an obstacle to thinking rationally; there's some pressure for men to optimize quality and women to optimize number too, which maybe makes some difference; there are such things as kin selection and (in special circumstances, whose rareness is disputed) group selection, and these can help genes to prosper even if their direct effect on offspring is negative; etc., etc., etc.; it's easier to assess the impact of considerations like these on your argument if your argument is more precise and less handwavy.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-18T22:08:04.813Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

See above.

comment by cursed · 2015-11-15T08:26:44.810Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a good word for The closest word I can think of is "countersignaling", but it doesn't precisely describe it. I've noticed this sort of behavior a lot on Facebook recently, with the Paris terrorist attacks.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-16T08:30:47.409Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This seems related:

there are many ways to try and signal wisdom. But trying to signal wisdom by refusing to make guesses - refusing to sum up evidence - refusing to pass judgment - refusing to take sides - staying above the fray and looking down with a lofty and condescending gaze - which is to say, signaling wisdom by saying and doing nothing - well, that I find particularly pretentious.

... part of it also has to do with signaling a superior vantage point. After all - what would the other adults think of a principal who actually seemed to be taking sides in a fight between mere children? Why, it would lower his status to a mere participant in the fray!

Similarly with the revered elder - who might be a CEO, a prestigious academic, or a founder of a mailing list - whose reputation for fairness depends on their refusal to pass judgment themselves, when others are choosing sides. Sides appeal to them for support, but almost always in vain; for the Wise are revered judges on the condition that they almost never actually judge - then they would just be another disputant in the fray, no better than any other mere arguer.

... On this point I'd advise remembering that neutrality is a definite judgment. It is not staying above anything. It is putting forth the definite and particular position that the balance of evidence in a particular case licenses only one summation, which happens to be neutral. This, too, can be wrong; propounding neutrality is just as attackable as propounding any particular side.

There's a difference between:

  • Passing neutral judgment;
  • Declining to invest marginal resources;
  • Pretending that either of the above is a mark of deep wisdom, maturity, and a superior vantage point; with the corresponding implication that the original sides occupy lower vantage points that are not importantly different from up there.

-- Pretending to be Wise

comment by cursed · 2015-11-20T08:33:53.704Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't bad, though I feel like:

This I call "pretending to be Wise". Of course there are many ways to try and signal wisdom. But trying to signal wisdom by refusing to make guesses - refusing to sum up evidence - refusing to pass judgment - refusing to take sides - staying above the fray and looking down with a lofty and condescending gaze - which is to say, signaling wisdom by saying and doing nothing - well, that I find particularly pretentious.

would apply to the XKCD example, but not to the people claiming that the Lebanon attacks should've been publicized more than the Paris attacks. I hope I'm not treading too much into political territory here.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-20T09:19:51.755Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That would be closer to Nirvana fallacy, applied to activism. "People do something good. You criticize them for not doing something better instead." This argument happens all the time. See also The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics.

There is a standard solution S0 that almost everyone chooses. Someone chooses a better solution S1. They get attacked for not choosing even better solution S2.

The harmful part is that choosing S1 over S2 is socially punished, while choosing S0 over both S1 and S2 flies under the radar. If the reason for choosing S1 over S2 was that the solution S2 was too complicated or too expensive, we effectively teach people to choose S0 over S1 to avoid the punishment in the future.

(Specifically: S2 = reporting on Lebanon and Paris attacks appropriately; S1 = focusing on Paris; S0 = ignoring both.)

comment by cursed · 2015-11-30T22:04:06.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Great analysis, thanks!

comment by Bryan-san · 2015-11-15T16:32:52.716Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Correction: first is an example of weak man argument mixed with personal uncomfortability. However, we could also strong man that as character 1 being agnostic and annoyed at people's attempts at arguing for certainty on the topic.

Second comment is a variant on "my opponent believes something" (noncentral fallacy territory) but breaks into genetic fallacy with the emotion part. My opponent feels annoyed by two opposing groups which is kind of like he thinks that they are intrinsically inferior which is kind of like he thinks he is better/smarter than them which is kind of like he had a superiority complex which is kind of like he doesn't care about the issue at all which is kind of like he is just self centered which is kind of like he's a bad person.

(I may have added extra steps but you get the picture)

Also, good job at noticing your own confusion and uncomfortableness with it even if you weren't sure why!

comment by mwengler · 2015-11-15T20:42:05.543Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Meta-signaling? He appears to be signaling something by signaling something.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-12T18:35:18.917Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Fun stuff. Apply to LW at your own risk X-)

comment by username2 · 2015-11-13T12:14:52.469Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A mix of interesting ideas and unsubstantiated not even wrong stuff.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-16T09:44:29.077Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A shorter version of how I understood it:

  • There are people who love creating X.

  • There are people who admire X. Not being creators, their love of X manifests by supporting the creators: socially or otherwise.

  • Sometimes a cool community appears as a result.

  • There are many people who want the "cool" part, but don't intrinsically care about X. They join the group, but they complain that the X is too X. (What they really want is something 99% mainstream, with a small flavor of X, pretending to be the original X-centered community.)

  • Unless actively fought against, these people soon become a majority in the community, because the population contains much more people who want to be cool than people who love X. This creates a tension between the old fans and the new fans.

  • Finally someone sees the real dynamics of the group, and provides the masses exactly what they want (something 99% mainstream, with a small flavor of X, pretending to be X), in exchange for fame and money. Now there is a tension between the old creators + fans and the new creators + fans.

  • The old creators + fans complain that the community does not care about X anymore, but they are a minority, so they gradually retire from the community. (If they try an open conflict, they lose.)

  • In the absence of people who care about X, the community loses what made it unique. It is not cool anymore. Everyone is disappointed... except for the new creators, who easily move to another community ready to be exploited.

What can be done to prevent this?

  • Create costly barriers to entry; don't let the "fake fans" in. -- Problem: You give up the resources that even the "fake fans" would bring. Also, by being less famous, even the people who care about X may not find you.

  • Keep a limit on the number of "fake fans". (Author suggests that 6:1 ratio of "fake fans" to "true fans" is optimal; 10:1 is too much to handle.) -- Problem: The old members would have to consciously understand the strategy and agree on it. Also, it's difficult to regulate the "fake fans", because they come in waves.

  • Recognize the "fake creators" and eject them. -- Problem: Impossible. Geeks are famously bad at excluding. Also, at that moment the geeks will already be a minority in their own community; they may get steamrolled by the fans of a "fake creator".

  • Accept this life-cycle as a reality, and when things start doing downhill, be ready to quit and start a new hardcore-X community. -- Problem: Some old members will feel strongly about their old identity. Also, still a waste of resources.

  • Accept the "fake fans" as a reality, and create also what they want in exchange for their resources. (Still try to eject people who create only for the "fake fans".)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-16T15:51:12.724Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What can be done to prevent this?

Why do you think this should be prevented? "Accept this life-cycle as a reality" seems like a reasonable approach. The "old members" can keep their identity if it's really tied to hardcore-X. Or they can sit on their porches and grumble about kids these days :-)

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-18T08:13:36.035Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you think this should be prevented?

It's a waste of resources.

For example, if the LessWrong website becomes boring and people move somewhere else, they will again have to design the web page, implement technical features, etc. Even more resources lost if the same thing would happen with MIRI or CFAR. Not only the money and work would be lost, but also prestige and contacts; some useful people would probably be left behind...

There are more options than just "go away a start again" or "grumble". But these two are the easiest options, which is why people have to choose between them if they are not strategic.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-18T15:43:26.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's a waste of resources.

Only from the central-planning point of view.

In a fluid and dynamic system the fact that something was useful a couple of years ago does not mean that it's still useful now. Your "waste of resources" is re-confirmation that X is still useful and can draw people, otherwise it's deadwood and should be discarded to die in a fire.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-11T15:55:55.477Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting discussion on HN: "On Being Smart".

comment by username2 · 2015-11-10T18:50:51.155Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Short version: If telecommuting was an option, would you live in a big city? Why? Why not?

I don't know whether I am overestimating the impact of city population on my daily life. What change can I expect from moving from a city with a population of 200K to one with 2M(and between that and one of 20M)? (or, on the contrary, to one with 20K) I always wanted to move to {regional large city}, but I can't name anything that my current locale lacks, that I would really like it to have. (I know that we don't have toastmasters here, but that's not an active current desire of mine. Some specific goods ren't sold in the shops, but those need to be so specific, that eBay becomes the standard venue for acquiring them anyways.) Jobs don't matter for me specifically, as I can work from anywhere.

I think I've seen more people with colorful hair there, and traffic seemed like it could easily turn into a nightmare. (which is less of an issue, if I intend to use the underground. I don't have a car either way)

Looking into the demographics, the average age is higher, number of children low, with a significant trend of people over 20 to migrate there. I couldn't determine the make up of the migrants from a glance, but I suppose with the help of an actuarian table, I could calculate the difference between expected number of people of that age, versus actual.

I don't know whether absolute number of people with similar interests to mine, or their relative density matters more.

I am wary that I may 'want to be where it's at', or where I assume it's at, shouldering the financial costs, and not getting any of the expected benefits. (I assume job opportunities are the usual attractors)

comment by chaosmage · 2015-11-12T17:24:22.338Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm out in a small town pretty much every week, and I'm always happy to go back to the city.

Mostly it's the people. Everybody smart enough to do a knowledge worker job has left. Everybody creative enough to make art has left. Everybody who understands the value of excellent education for their kids has left. Everybody young and beautiful enough to get into the dating scene has left. Everybody who wants an exciting life has left. The people who remain are still nice (everybody everywhere is nice, really) and often admirably hard-working, but they're slow and seem to live inside fairly tight horizons. I like to be among people I can learn from, and I find those in the city.

I also like life in the city because I like to travel, mine has an airport and excellent public transport, and I really like not owning a car. To live an hour away from the nearest big city would mean that everything in the world would be an hour further away.

So I might reconsider when I can call up a self-driving electric taxi to take me places at any time, or when VR takes off in earnest and I spend much of my time in there. But by that time, I imagine life in the city will have become even more interesting, and life in the country will have fallen even further behind.

comment by philh · 2015-11-12T15:06:57.775Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mostly only answering the short question, but: most of my friends are from reddit. This is super convenient, and I'd be very hesitant to move somewhere that didn't have a similar ready-made community for me.

(But I don't know how I'd tell. I imagine only a handful of cities worldwide have a suitable subreddit, and a handful have large rationalist communities. Beyond that, I'd want to check for sunday assembly and for Meetup groups. But I guess not every community of suitable size and demographic will be a good fit for me, and I don't know how I'd test that in advance.)

London also makes it easy to take up hobbies, and I imagine that would be more consistent in big cities. Your current location might not lack anything you currently want, but that may be partly because you haven't had a chance to discover you want them.

comment by SGrouchy · 2015-11-13T23:15:33.716Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

London also makes it easy to take up hobbies, and I imagine that would be more consistent in big cities.

I'm in NYC, and hobbies here are INSANELY expensive. Sure, there multiple makerspaces, but their memberships are all $400/mo+. Classes are expensive. Rent is so high that no one has room for hobby equipment. I would like to try brewing, but have nowhere to put a big jug. There are a lot of hobbies I would like to try but I have to space for it. Also, there's not a lot of free and open space for hobbyist groups.

Contrarily, I've also lived in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest in mid-sized cities, and THERE was the sweet spot for hobbies. Big enough that there are people interested in esoteric things, but small enough that it was affordable and there was space for it.

Also, I actually prefer the more tight-knit groups that result from esoteric hobbies in midsized cities. In NYC, there are hundreds of people interested in Underwater Basketweaving, but in Generic Midwest City there are only 10, and so those 10 people become a close-knit community.

Furthermore, in NYC it takes an hour to get ANYWHERE. For one of my main "LOCAL" hobby groups, all the get-togethers are anywhere from 1:30-2:00 away. Almost everyone I've dated here lives about an hour away (the exception is if they happen to live off the same subway line). But in Generic Midwest Town, you're never more than half an hour away from local groups. Travelling two hours would put you in a completely different city/scene.

comment by Dagon · 2015-11-10T23:18:03.697Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect there are regional differences that matter as much or more as size does. A 200K city in Europe that's a short train ride from a larger city is going to feel very different from one in the southern USA with no easy connection to a metropolis or one in the west that's kind of sprawling connection of similarly-sized cities, which adds up to a large city, but over many square miles.

Job is definitely one of the most common motivators, but a lot of people are drawn to aspects of the "character" of a location, which is more some mix of common habits, popular amenities, and other social expectations which make your life and interaction styles seem more or less weird than other places.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-10T18:56:34.405Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A quote from Snowcrash, emphasis mine:

Young smart people like Da5id and Hiro, who take the risk of living in the city because they like stimulation and they know they can handle it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-10T18:54:55.510Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there are LW meetups in 200K cities. Big cities allow more interesting events to happen.

comment by knb · 2015-11-10T19:41:04.325Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, but typically you are not obligated to remain within your city of residence. Hence lots of people like to live in small towns close to the orbit of larger cities. The benefits of a more cohesive community/lower density/lower cost of living and a short commute to more specialized interests.

comment by username2 · 2015-11-10T00:22:00.770Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's the best way to make my body more flexible?

comment by pianoforte611 · 2015-11-10T03:48:30.750Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What's the goal? Dancing? Gymnastics? Less pain? Without a goal I know I would inevitably give up.

But to answer the question: stretch, do yoga or pilates (these are good because they create a goal, something to improve upon).

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2015-11-14T21:10:54.826Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Surgery to replace the bones with rubber things.

Oh wait, you had some constraints on the problem?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T08:51:44.902Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've been looking into labour laws lately after hearing that job insecurity, lack of organisation justice and other work stressors are as bad as second hand smoking, quantitatively. I'm biased towards the right and assumed, by extrapolation of idealistic economic models, that minimum wages are downright bad. Not to mention coersive and taking away delicious profits from those capable, deserving and able to use it in the public interest.

But a little research suggests they may not be so bad. suggests some employers are not competitive enough to cut employment in response to minimum wage). Expert opinion suggests that it would and does occur in response to minimum wages on a larger naturalistic scale however.

Whatever the case may be, the private sector often does things better and less coersively than governemnt. I wonder if kinds of government regulation could be replaced by enterprising individuals starting say a 'minimum wage of $20 across this organisation' type thing and compete on that basis for high quality employees or consumers?


comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T03:42:33.452Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Whatever the case may be, the private sector often does things better and less coersively than governemnt. I wonder if kinds of government regulation could be replaced by enterprising individuals starting say a 'minimum wage of $20 across this organisation' type thing and compete on that basis for high quality employees or consumers?

In many countries, trade unions negotiate industry-wide wage agreements in the absence of national wage laws, but in the presence of anti-union-busting laws.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-09T11:23:02.031Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if kinds of government regulation could be replaced by enterprising individuals starting say a 'minimum wage of $20 across this organisation' type thing and compete on that basis for high quality employees or consumers?

It likely depends very much on the organisation. I don't think Google would have a problem with that policy.

comment by Elo · 2015-11-09T09:12:18.585Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

a cross-employee policy affects all employees. however it affects them individually. selfish people (and there are enough of them) will only see the benefit once; and to themselves. Everyone might agree that this policy would be a good one; but every person only "feels" it once. The magnitude of the policy affects a larger scale than it personally "feels" like it does. So it would be a hard sell.

having said that - Ford (I think) decided that he wanted his employees to be able to buy his cars. so pushed the wages up and the car prices more affordable.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-17T07:43:50.563Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Any enterprising rationalists know a thing or two about the Tequila industry?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T02:19:59.736Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, no one to date has put together a directory of the best available evidence-based treatment for personality disorders. Sure, there are books, most of which are filled with out-date psychodynamic bullshit.

So, here is the start (many missing) of the first and only list, after about 10 minutes of google-ing:

Psychological treatments for narccissm

Pharmacological treatments for narciissm

both withdrawn, Cochrane y u do this?

Sociopathy (incl. psychopathy treatment

Shyness treatment

Systematic reviews don't exist for: dependent personality disorder (clingyness) or self-defeating personality disorder (masochism, not necessarily sexual). No attempt made to find summaries for sadistic personality disorder (they're not gonna be looking for a treatment, probably), or borderline personality disorder (cause clinicians stigmatise them and frequently, clearly demonstrate they don't give a fuck about evidence based treatment for BPD, unfortunately)

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-15T15:07:29.597Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

there are books, most of which are filled with out-date psychodynamic bullshit.

On what basis do you claim that the textbooks on the subject aren't evidence based but bullshit?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T22:26:50.862Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Have a read of them. I might post some links (perhaps biased by my particular google search results) of the stuff that comes up when I look for books on the topic. But for now I gotta study for a goddam exam!

comment by tut · 2015-11-15T14:31:39.214Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Systematic reviews don't exist for: ... borderline personality disorder ...

I thought that got Dialectic Behavior Therapy.

Also, the shyness treatment article has been withdrawn. They intended to make one but didn't find any good sources.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T22:28:20.056Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, DBT is the best evidenced from memory, but I haven't researched it heavily. DBT is a pretty fancy name for a lot of ''common sense'' advice + CBT. There are systematic reviews of DBT for BPD, but that doesn't mean that there are systematic reviews for treatment of BPD 'objectively'.

Thanks for the update on shyness.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T02:03:18.886Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you agree with this statement: 'my work/school is the most important part of my life' (it's a item used to measure conformity with masculinity, haha) and why?

I suspect it's a shitty, very ambiguous question but that's the way psychological questioners often are.

I'm trying to ascertain ways that double barreled questions might be interpreted. I don't really care about your specific answer, just how you come to either a ''agree'' or ''don't agree'' if your answers are going to be coded as one or the other.

comment by gjm · 2015-11-16T01:21:22.436Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I bet most people answering this question do so not by any sort of reasoned consideration of how important work, family, sleep, video games, music-making, sport, etc., etc., etc., are to them, but by a quick System-1-ish consideration of how the question makes them feel. And I bet anyone using this question to measure "conformity with masculinity" or any other psychological characteristic are relying on that. This sort of thing is omnipresent in psychological questionnaires, which I guess is what you're getting at in your second paragraph.

So, anyway, the sort of things I would think about if I were trying to answer this question while taking it more seriously than I think its authors did:

  • What would hurt most to lose? (This is Tem42's approach.) By this criterion, work comes out quite important but other things -- e.g., my family -- clearly ahead.
    • But that may be misleading; e.g., one reason why losing my job would hurt less than losing my daughter is that I can probably get another job much more easily and quickly than another daughter. But that doesn't seem like it's the same thing as importance.
  • What gives me most satisfaction? By this criterion, work does OK -- I like my job pretty well -- but many other things do better.
    • That may also be misleading. If I really disliked my job but had no savings and a family to feed, work might be very high up on the list of important things while still coming below Nothing At All in satisfaction conferred.
  • What do I spend most time thinking about?
    • Could well be work. But does this mean that if my employer suddenly demanded double the working hours (and for some reason I couldn't refuse or quit or anything) it would become much more important to me? I'm not sure that's right.
  • What do I voluntarily put most effort into?
    • Could well be work. But it seems like we should be distinguishing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation -- a major reason for putting effort into work is simply that I get paid for my job and I like being paid, and that's not obviously the same thing as importance.
  • What do I think most valuable to the world?
    • I think this is a very reasonable sense of "importance" but probably too far removed from the questioner's intent.
comment by Tem42 · 2015-11-15T13:24:02.426Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If I were fired, this would be bad, but not too terrible. If a family member died this would be worse. I could come up with further examples, but there is no need to; I now have enough information to answer this question: don't agree.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T22:29:13.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! Just the kind of insight I'm looking for. I hope others will contribute.

comment by crmflynn · 2015-11-12T09:18:38.812Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There was some confusion in the comments to my original post “Newcomb, Bostrom, Calvin: Credence and the strange path to a finite afterlife” ( which makes me think I was not nearly clear enough in the original. I am sincerely sorry for this. I am also really appreciative to everyone who left such interesting comments despite this. I have added some notes in an update to clarify my argument. I also responded to comments in a way that I hope will further illustrate some of the trickier bits. This should make it more interesting to read and perhaps inspires some more discussion. I was vaguely tempted to repost the original with the update, but thought that was probably bad etiquette. My hope is that anyone who was turned off by it being unclear initially might take a second look at it and the discussion if it seems like an interesting topic to them. Thank you.

comment by Starglow · 2015-11-12T05:47:04.461Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hi! This may seem a bit off topic, but I would really appreciate it if someone could answer my question. A few months ago, I found and played a nifty little game that asked you to make guesses about statistics and set an interval of confidence, is mostly about updating probabilities based on new information and that ultimately requires you to collect information to decide whether a certain savant (philosopher or mathematician, I don't remember) is more likely in his cave or at the pub. I've been wanting to have another look at it, but I have been entirely unable to find it again.

Could anyone point me to it? I'm fairly certain it was somewhere around here. Thanks for the help!

comment by Unnamed · 2015-11-12T06:24:44.522Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Adventures in Cognitive Biases

comment by Starglow · 2015-11-12T18:20:52.670Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you so much!

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2015-11-10T17:49:08.692Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As a test of your understanding of modern American socio-political dynamics, answer this question before Googling: Are people upset because:

A) Starbucks increased their usage of Christmas-themed imagery on their coffee cups, thereby appropriating Christian cultural material for crass commercial purposes.
B) Starbucks decreased their usage of Christmas-themed imagery on their coffee cups, thereby reducing the influence and prestige of Christian culture in the US.


NB - this is a calibration exercise about an empirical fact, I am not trying to start a debate about this issue.

comment by username2 · 2015-11-13T12:21:20.052Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why should we even care about viral videos? There are plenty of more important and interesting events to use as calibration exercises.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T03:36:12.351Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Neither answer is correct. Snowmen and such are not properly Christmas-themed. American Protestants just lack all knowledge of winter festivals other than the exact combination of Northern-European-pagan and Christian that they celebrate.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-11T01:18:53.385Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It would have been good to ask for credence instead of a boolean choice.

comment by banx · 2015-11-11T00:52:09.058Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had already heard about this, and was 95+% sure of my answer. But you didn't say to not answer if you already knew, so I voted. I'm letting you know so that you can disregard the vote if you want to.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-11-10T20:22:12.233Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-10T18:03:56.234Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Not sure where is the calibration part.

comment by username2 · 2015-11-10T03:33:38.031Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My somewhat asocial tendencies, and immersion in more technical subjects left me stunted in using both english (due to only using it to consume media) and my native tongue (my not being sociable the general factor, and the inability to even name the concepts I am otherwise immersed in (and which I would much prefer to talk about) also contributing (this is sort of necessary: english has two orders of magnitude more speakers that my native language, and if we take class/occupation or what have you, this is even more extreme with e.g scientists. I wouldn't even dream of finding a textbook on 'findings in chemistry up until 2015'. I am of the understanding that in the Arab world, for example, they tend to co-opt french as a language for studying sciences, but in my country, language became entangled with national identity, (more so than for the Scotish, anyways) and I see no chance for that to happen anytime soon)

I find it unlikely that I would ever expand my native vocabulary to be communicative in more technical fields, and secretly wonder if local scientist actually speak english among themselves.

But I also desire social interaction, which I am currently hard pressed to do with either. If I were to simply focus my efforts on english conversational abilities, (a language shift is long overdue, anyways, right?), how would that go down with others? I find the ability to understand it to be a rather good shibboleth (even more so if the type of text is considered), but if I am not, I can not expect others to be conversant with it, either.

Fellow LW-ers of the non-english speaking world: if a native started speaking to you, and insisted on continuing to do so in english, would you get the incessant urge to smack him in the head? Would you consider it elitist? I find unnerving parallels with the nobles who spoke french among themselves.

And on pronunciation, how do you get that to a level where it is not a sore to the ears anymore? (I must mention that I had a logopedist involved in this even for my native language)

And generally, what would you do to improve readability, comprehensibility of your texts? How much does that overlap with that of the spoken word? If not much, what would you do for training the latter? With a focus on conversation, and not on giving speeches.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-10T09:29:38.107Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would enjoy having more opportunities to practice spoken English. But I would have to trust the other person to speak correctly, so they are not teaching me their mistakes. Non-English native speakers talking to each other has a risk to propagate "false friends".

I am much better at writing English than at speaking. It helps that I can "cheat" by using Google Translate in the few difficult cases. But also because I have much more practice writing, and in conversation I sometimes realize I am actually not sure how the word is pronounced... or I just pronounce it my way, and the see the confused look on the other person's face.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-10T13:10:12.994Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fellow LW-ers of the non-english speaking world: if a native started speaking to you, and insisted on continuing to do so in english, would you get the incessant urge to smack him in the head?

I live in Germany and I do from time to time use English to speak with friends who are natively German. But nobody of them cares about German national identity. As far as I understand many people who do care about their national identity wouldn't just switch to English because it goes against their political beliefs. Two average Frenchman would feel like traitors for switching to English with each other.

And on pronunciation, how do you get that to a level where it is not a sore to the ears anymore? (I must mention that I had a logopedist involved in this even for my native language)

Have you thought about using text-to-speech software to create texts on the computer? I would guess that trains proper pronunciation because otherwise the computer won't understand you.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-10T06:45:07.815Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Elitist, probably, annoying, depends on what they have to say:)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-10T01:01:07.488Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lacteeze doesn't seem to work on me. Not sure how common that is, but lactose intolerance is very common.

The prevalence of primary lactose intolerance is estimated to be 7 to 20% for people of Caucasian descent, 65 to 75% for African descent, over 90% in some Asian populations and approximately 70% in Australian Aboriginal populations.

Where are the businesses selling lactose free cheese containing products? I have to make my own pizzas! I want to buy pasta, nachos and burritos like any other human.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T12:20:51.561Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Prepare yourself.

This may shock some of you, even by my standards.

Suspend your judgement for a moment to objectively consider the prospect of chemical castration.

There are health benefits, and growing numbers of voluntary eunuchs who don't do it because of prostate cancer or coercion.

I, for one, have felt compelled to chemically castrate for many years. I do not know if the feeling that my sexual urges are more trouble than they are worth is idiosyncratic or more widely shared, but too taboo to act upon. So, I'm opening up the question to the thread!

I have some reservations based on implementation. So, even if I do decide it would be a desirable course of action, the execution may be delayed until the evidence of safety becomes clearer or new techniques emerge.

My concerns specifically are:

  • The ambiguous evidence on the reversibility of bone mineral density losses due to long term use of chemical castrates.
  • De-masculanisation resulting in lower attractiveness (physical or behaviour) and therefore less social, political and career clout, esteem.

I would appreciate any evidence anyone can dig up on bone mineral density loss and chemical castrates, relating to long term use and reversibility. I'm struggling to find what I need. And, in the spirit of improving my research skills - if you can give me suggestions for how to do it myself (keywords for google scholar, for instance) that would be good as an alternative! It seems to be a very long and specific question so it's hard to get clarity!

I'll probably trial depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (antiandrogen associated with bone mineral loss for long term use) and trial Benperidol (antipsychotic that reduces sexual urges) instead of Androcur, since the latter has well known depression and withdrawal side effects. There seems to be a huge vacuum on internet information and research on the antipsychotic. But, it may be easier for me to get access too since I have other, ambiguously psychotic symptoms. Any info on that antipsychotic truly appreciated. Given that it's the most potent neuroleptic (tranquiliser), and I've been on other antipsychotics which were overwhelmingly neuroleptic (and thus I discontinued them), I most likely won't give it a try, actually.

edit: I'm considering this now in light of reflection on other libido reducing substances (antidepressants) that didn't feel very good. Sexual desirelessness felt and probably will feel undesirable in light of this, contrary to my earlier thoughts

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-11-09T14:06:32.161Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

As a general rule, please ask a doctor before you ask the internet.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:24:08.270Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why that order? Why not the other way around?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-11-11T14:21:03.743Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

With a doctor you are likelier to get someone who actually knows what they're talking about. On the internet you can never be sure.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2015-11-09T17:21:45.738Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Well... I think the general rule is to ask your doctor before doing something that's different to what everyone else is doing. I think asking the internet is fine iff you ask the doctor before effecting a plan.

(Unless you have personal expertise or otherwise a well-evidenced model about why your doctor is inaccurate in this particular situation)

comment by CAE_Jones · 2015-11-09T14:04:21.098Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Meta/style: I expect the first two sentences of your comment to attract more negative feedback than the rest of it. I might have upvoted if they hadn't primed me to be annoyed. (I read the comment before I read your name, and I'm glad to see the subject taken seriously; the frustration comes from those two sentences. I'm not sure how to explain why. I understand the cultural assumptions that led you to include them, assuming this was genuine and not shock-bait, which seems a safe assumption.)

comment by knb · 2015-11-09T20:56:02.345Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There used to be a LW user (Lojban) who frequently posted about the supposed values of castration.

comment by Fluttershy · 2015-11-09T20:12:30.553Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What are the specific reasons you are considering this procedure-- for libido reduction, or for the health benefits, or for the ostensible life expectancy increase this procedure might provide? You don't have to answer these questions here, but I'm posting them to make sure that you yourself know your own specific reasons for wanting to be castrated; if you know them, you can focus your research on those areas.

Regarding bone density, I'm not sure how much chemical castration hurts you. In any case, I seem to vaguely recall that there's other stuff you can do to maintain bone density as you age (some of which women tend to pay more attention to then men), so do look into that if you decide to follow through with castration.

It's been a while since I looked into this, and I looked into the stuff on physical, rather than chemical castration, anyways (I don't have a good intuition on how much the two differ on most axes, since I didn't ever look into the chemical castration side of things much). What I'm trying to say is that it may be wise to set aside the research you find on physical castration if you are committed to going the chemical route, unless you're able to convince yourself that it's relevant.

Now that I've disclaimed that which I needed to disclaim, in the spirit of blatant self-promotion, there's always this post.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:18:24.605Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For all the reasons you mentioned!

I prefer chemical since it's reversible.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2015-11-09T13:55:58.650Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It would be the most helpful if done prior to puberty.

I'd worry about cardiovascular side-effects, fat accumulation/redistribution, mental side-effects (something something spatial rotation)... basically, I've studied this on and off since puberty (and not before, because life would be boring if I could do anything right the first time), and concluded that, given my current state of health, castration would probably make more things worse than it improves. Actually, I concluded that circa 2008, and I'm pretty sure I was ever-so-slightly healthier then.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:26:54.809Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting, might have to look into this some more.

Yeah, the fat distribution thing motivated me not to transition MTF when I was in high school. That and plenty of trannies regret it, most don't pass, and transitioning is more fad than evidence based treatment to gender dysphoria. Plus I reckon in retrospect it was just a bit of transvestic fetishism which isn't good to 'treat' with transitioning.

But yeah, different reasons now.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2015-11-12T19:24:39.822Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That and plenty of trannies regret it, most don't pass, and transitioning is more fad than evidence based treatment to gender dysphoria.

Really? I'd heard the opposite, that regret is rare and that transitioning clearly improves quality of life. Based on a brief Googling, most studies seem to find low regret and improved quality of life post-transitioning, according to e.g.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T00:24:28.179Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

IIRC, transitioning improves QOL for people who don't fall into a number of exclusions that I'd suspect are very frequently comorbid with self-reports of transgender identity and/or gender dysphoria. On the same token, I reckon lots of people without gender dysphoria can benefit from transitioning, depending on their risk tolerance, undersanding of sexual strategy and such. But that's not gonna be a useful spiel for many if anyone who will read this.


Yes, I would hear the opposite too predominately, before I started looking into it with a neutral frame. I'm not saying the evidence would stack that way again now, since I did my informal survey of the evidence for myself years ago. But, some reasons to be skeptical of the answer of 'transition' to the instances of gender dysphoria:


On the internet, there are some of the most blatant reporting biases. Particularly when there are communities to generate a particular kind of sentiment. Combined with significant political influence and 'alliance' with the other LGBI bla bla bla letters, you get yourself, well, a huge circle jerk.

If you're looking for something with the slightest bias in your keywords, you're likely to find it. Heck, Google's AI could pick up on bias in your keywords 6 months ago in the search results it shows you.

The systematic review linked to is very good, actually. But it's hosted by a trans collective. I'd be suspicious of bias naturally. That may just be an artifact of pay-walling that they're kindly willing to flour though.


Their primary outcome of interset is suicide risk yet it looks like there are only 3 studies that report on it - 1 saying transtiioning increasing risk the others saying it decreases, then about 20 studies not reporting on it...doesn't give me any confidence in the paper. My general impression from interaction with an (albeit, marginalised subpocket) of transexuals is that the sophistication of current psychological tools are insufficient to grasp the complexities of this issue. They aren't an exception in this, I reckon the same could be said about a number of personality disorders (of which gender dysphoria is not one).

Importantly, the first thing that sets of alarm bells in the article is that they term transitioning as 'treatment'. Standard literature would use the term intervention or an otherwise neutral term. It's just a bit odd. I didn't read through the bulk of the content below the table so I won't comment, but it looks properly cited and I saw words like depression and anxiety.

Oh forgot, the other primary outcome of interest seems to be 'overall impression of quality of life years'. I can't take that seriously based on a number of things - e.g. non-apriori specification of what would constitute better quality of life, QUL measures are, as a class, shit psychometric tools (tell me about validity all you want).

Ok, I've got to the end of this little rant and I'm coming to suspect my frame of mind looking at the paper was to dispute what you said. Not to evaluate it objectively at all. Please frame what I've said in that way - I've been very biased myself here.

Fuck you motivated reasoning.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-11-11T12:30:12.020Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That and plenty of trannies regret it, most don't pass

I'm not sure that any ever do. It is, I have heard, standard wisdom amongst experienced transsexuals, that every time you walk down the street, you will be read (as they call it). Not by everyone all the time, but every time by someone. The most that can be achieved, which is largely up to the people around one rather than oneself, is to be accepted as a transsexual, as someone who has chosen to adopt certain gender appearances and performances. Becoming indistinguishable from the other sex, even if only in non-intimate situations, is not currently possible.

comment by raydora · 2015-11-09T20:38:02.239Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure the potential risk of side effects of the drugs in question are worth such a change. I don't know how old you are, but your libido might also diminish over time.

I used to have similar thoughts as a teenager, so I understand the sentiment, but like everything else at that age, those concerns seem minute in hindsight.

How much fun do you have? Increasing hedons might yield a more efficient balance.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:10:49.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in my 20's and 'have fun' a few of times a year..(no steady partners)

comment by raydora · 2015-11-13T22:58:35.188Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm talking about pleasure in general. Not just sexual.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T23:29:31.430Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh. Ummmm. I guess I have more pleasure than I'd like to. I'm somewhat bad at controlling impulses.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-09T19:56:26.541Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

". . .my sexual urges. . ." You're scaring me.

I'm not a doctor, but DSM II through V may give you a prognosis, and society's views on your problem as those views evolved over these several editions.

Evidently your symptoms are ego-dystonic, which speaks well for change.

Avoid slippery slopes. With drugs, look for irreversible side effects (that may not show up for years).

Good luck.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:21:47.688Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Booo! I'm the monster under your bed!

Haha. I don't think I'm any one of those. I don't think I'm sexually deviant, just keen to prioritise for now.

comment by WhyAsk · 2015-11-19T17:57:11.342Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Considering castration seems to indicate that you believe you are the monster, under the bed or wherever.

This may be a reasonable viewpoint for you or for others, or you may view sexual urges of any kind as deviant.

Get other opinions. For the outlying opinions, visit Provincetown, MA [either in person or virtually].

Good luck with what you are struggling with.

comment by tut · 2015-11-19T19:39:23.498Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that he wanted to be castrated for the sake of other people, but for his own sake. Maybe the "urges" are distracting and useless. I sympathize, but castration has too big side effects for me to use it.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-19T18:03:27.580Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For the outlying opinions, visit Provincetown, MA

It's a New England touristy small town :-/

Even the Castro district in San Fran would offer better "outlying opinions" :-D

comment by MrMind · 2015-11-10T08:34:35.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would appreciate any evidence anyone can dig up on bone mineral density loss and chemical castrates, relating to long term use and reversibility. I'm struggling to find what I need.

As far as I can tell, there have been no study about the bone density issue in male castration, so good luck on finding one. However, the problem has been study in relation to DMPA used as a contraceptive, and in that case the effects are shown to be real, although reversible. It is possible that the effect on male are not wildly different.

My concerns specifically are: [...] De-masculanisation resulting in lower attractiveness

That strikes me as peculiarly contradictory: why would you care about attractiveness once sexual urges are gone?

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-10T09:16:10.676Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

why would you care about attractiveness once sexual urges are gone?

It may impact other areas in your life. Even if you are not interested in other people sexually anymore, other people may feel attracted to you, and this may uncosciously influence their decisions to e.g. hire you at their company. (One of those things that shouldn't happen in the ideal world, but happen all the time in our world.) People attracted to you will more likely become your fans, if you want to be an artist. They may even be more likely to interview you if you are as scientist.

Shortly, other people's opinions matter, and other people's opinions of you are often based on how attractive they consider you (see: halo effect).

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:03:35.922Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yep this is what I was thinking along the lines of

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T11:03:28.967Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Last month Astra Zeneca released a whole load of pre-clinical cancer data to the public. It's a great move towards pharmacotransparency. However, their extensive 'AI' causality mining subsidiaries have probably identified anything individual researchers may hope to find. Viva la machina!

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-09T11:21:06.158Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

However, their extensive 'AI' causality mining subsidiaries have probably identified anything individual researchers may hope to find.

I think that's unlikely. Having more data about what drugs do is useful for a lot of individual researchers who have complex models to predict the activity of chemical substances.

Over time algorithm get better and there's more data to be aggregated.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:27:54.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Didn't think of that, cheers.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T09:24:32.697Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hypothetically, say I'm an independent politician, or a politician from a minor party, in a Governments senate. The ruling party or their opposition has promised me a diplomatic appointment after my term in parliament ends in return for my support in certain things. Given that politicians frequently lie, and if I leave parliament I will have minimal media clout thereafter, can I somehow use a smart contract or some kind of political manoeuvre to ensure compliance without revealing the nature of the agreement prematurely, which may damage the clout of my associates and political allies?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-09T11:13:16.784Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think you have a good model of politics. Politics is about people. A promise like this isn't made by "the ruling party" but by individual politicians of that party.

Political cooperation also frequently comes with the sharing of documents and other secrets that are not for public consumption.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:28:29.745Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So...what exactly is wrong with my question?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T10:37:07.649Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What are you trying to achieve by posting these very specific hypothetical situations? The common theme seems to be "how one can adequately protect oneself, given future plans that somehow undermine one's present position" but the specific circumstances vary too much.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:30:45.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, I didn't realise that commonality. I'll have to think this through for a bit.

I'm plainly trying to understand my strategic environment. The question isn't really that much of an abstraction from reality. I currently work in politics (but I'm not a politician nor work for the hypothetical senator).

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T12:35:11.205Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was especially thinking of a previous comment (maybe in another open thread) about a hypothetical PhD researcher working for industry but interested in revealing some confidential information later on. Having seen that comment which seemed to lack awareness of the kinds of legal agreements that are made in such cases, when I saw this one I wondered whether it was another "outsider" hypothetical with a more general goal.

I work in research, not in politics so I can't offer any suggestions on this one.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T20:21:55.357Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah yes, the 'would this constitute inside trading' hypothetical. Yes, that was also an NOT abstraction of a real situation, perhaps maybe, plausible deniability. I think I'm just privy to a lot of risk taking behaviour by people who are willing to risk current positions for future ones.

comment by PipFoweraker · 2015-11-14T04:12:11.249Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One area to explore would be the concept of smart contracts, currently best exampled by experiments with blockchain technology - Ethereum and transparency in prediction markets would have places to start. One possible solution to a real-world non-criminal application of that problem would be to hire a neutral third party with appropriate confidentiality trust - like a lawyer - to create an agreement, witness it, and hold it in trust.

This becomes less reliable when you start delving into the ethical problems outlined by other responders if you're trying to create something deniable, but you can probably work around that with an 'if-then' agreement with a lawyer and a pre-sealed envelope.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-17T06:58:59.828Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Facts are facts

Corporate tax is bad, land tax is better. Workers get the worst deal from inefficient (bad) taxes.

-Australian Treasury


The wicked problems, and focus of ideological debates in most Western liberal democracies like Australia boils down to persuasion around the trade-offs in efficiency vs equity. There are pros and cons to each of those, independently of one another, let alone in trade-off. Though, political debates are frequently black and white (or 'blue and green', if you're a sucker for over-ellaborations of what could have otherwise been a list of cognitive distortions. Not that being of a sucker for that is a bad thing. Persuasive devices of different kinds are used to persuading different audiences. Though, the audience here has evolved over several purges and I reckon the way it will fortuitiously head is towards intense information density, and standardisation (other than the more predictable trends that have been already identified and/or cultivated by others).

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T02:05:07.147Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could a data analysis be conducted on Kaggle itself to determine what kind of methodology is predicts the the top answer for a given dataset?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-10T18:29:00.905Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just throwing this app in here. Would that be the most anti-LW thing around?

comment by username2 · 2015-11-10T21:44:05.783Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's an old idea from 4chan

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T03:34:55.083Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Would that be the most anti-LW thing around?

People on LW aren't allowed to like fighting for sport?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-15T18:09:22.183Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The sensible way to fight if you like fighting for sport is to go to a martial arts class when you have a fixed enviroment with rules. Using such an App is likely not a good way.

comment by Manfred · 2015-11-11T01:20:04.184Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Almost, LRR.

comment by knb · 2015-11-10T19:41:38.633Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's gotta be fake, right?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-10T19:53:31.171Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know for certain, but I would assume so. Even without the liability issues, this is probably plain illegal in many jurisdictions.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T09:24:59.725Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In general, should we usually assume no effect modification for the continuous of character outside groups that share some features of an exemplar, or assume effect modification, assuming coding all novel exposures as binary traits (e.g. if I know trees are dangerous, and I see a grass (perceiving a small tree), should I assume it's dangerous? or do I assume that because it's small that will modify effect and outcome will be non dangerous?) there name for this?

comment by Bryan-san · 2015-11-15T16:28:11.617Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is this a quote from something? Please rephrase in plain English so every user who reads it doesn't have to take time decoding it.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T22:25:48.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's not a quote from something. It's very abstract and includes technical language that doesn't capture very well the concepts I'm trying to articulate. The absence of terminology to describe what I want makes it hard to understand. This isn't aimed at everyone.

comment by gjm · 2015-11-16T01:36:59.978Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it has other problems besides abstraction and technical language. Example 1: "for the continuous of character" doesn't appear to be grammatically correct and it's not clear what you actually mean by it (is one of the words an autocorrect error for something else?). Example 2: when you ask "is there [a] name for this?" it's not clear what "this" actually refers to.

(Also: the key virtue of technical language is its ability to capture certain concepts precisely. In cases where it fails to do this, you should at least seriously consider abandoning technical language.)

It seems like the point of your answer to Bryan-san is to say that your intended audience won't need to expend time and effort decoding what you wrote. I think you are wrong unless the intended audience is empty.

Since you apparently don't value your readers' time enough to make your meaning clearer, I'll have a go. I may well fail, for exactly the same reason as it seems like a paraphrase might be useful.

People often have attitudes towards particular classes of things (e.g., someone might think that trees are dangerous, or that men are sexy). Our ideas of those classes are often based on "typical" examples we've encountered (the oak tree in the neighbour's garden; Brad Pitt). So suppose something comes along that kinda fits one of these classes but differs from those typical examplars in some way (e.g., a blade of grass is a bit like a tree but much smaller; Maggie Smith is a bit like Brad Pitt but older and female). Should we expect that difference to change those attitudes?

If something like that is the question you're trying to answer, I think it's obvious that the answer is: The question is much too vague to be answerable, in the same way as "Suppose I'm thinking of a number. Is it an odd number?". Some differences affect (or should affect, or could reasonably be expected to affect) some attitudes. Some don't. Without more information there's nothing more to say.

(Note: I do not myself generally consider trees dangerous or men sexy. Hypothetical examples are hypothetical.)

comment by 9eB1 · 2015-11-16T05:59:29.069Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think your paraphrase makes sense if Clarity was accidentally using the term effect instead of affect (in it's "feeling or emotion" definition). But that doesn't really fit with the last use of effect, so I would translate Clarity's use of effect as "property" or "trait". My paraphrase would be:

Suppose that our understanding of the properties of objects is entirely binary, they either have a property or not. Assume objects are categorized into groups based on their observed properties (this isn't stated in the original, adding that for clarity). In general, should we assume that if we see a new object which shares some but not all properties with a group, that it shares other properties as yet unobserved?

I would say that if this is the intended meaning, you should assume that it shares other properties, even though it differs, strictly speaking. Mostly this is because we are coding all properties in strictly binary terms rather than as probabilities. If you had extensively studied dangerous trees, then someone showed you grass, and then they asked you binary questions about its properties, you'll be correct in assuming the answer to the questions was identical for the tree and the grass. You'd get some of them wrong, but the vast majority you'd get right. Trees and grass are much more closely related than grass and petroleum, or grass and love, or grass and President Obama.

We do this in the real world. Most cleaning supplies are toxic, but none of them are carbonated. If someone handed you a bottle of some novel cleaning supply, and you saw it was carbonated and milky white, you'd be right to assume it was toxic even though it clearly has some properties different from all the other cleaning supplies you've seen. Of course it would be better to have a probability distribution about whether it's toxic.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-15T03:00:56.661Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps this has some éxtra' significance in light of Paris, but I'm really feeling this at the moment:

  1. What global problems do you consider most important at the moment? How would you solve them?

Identity crisis is the main global problem. People lost their identity, their orientation, their life quality standards. They don’t care about who they are, they develop personalities based on the mainstream trends, they play roles and they waste their lives in their attempts to adjust to what some few others expect from them and their lives. People have neither time nor any intention to realize what life is about. They are born and live to become consistent and excellent workers, minor pieces of a giant puzzle for some few strong people’s entertainment purposes and benefits. Therefore, they don’t care about the quality of their lives, about other lives, about relationships and the society in general, about our children’s future. It is indeed a pity, however it is a fact. Education could be helpful towards self-realization, awareness, knowledge, mental maturity, overcoming any external restrictions and limitations. As I usually say to my psychotherapy clients, the solution to any problem is to make a stop and one step back.

-Highest IQ dude. He's also sorta handsome.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-16T11:04:54.700Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The usual bias of highly intelligent people: "You have to do everything alone!"

Why it exists -- Well, if most of the time you are surrounded by people who compared to you are idiots, cooperating with them or delegating tasks to them seems like a really bad idea. And the obvious alternative is to do it alone.

How it fails -- Once internalized, it is difficult to get rid of the habit even when you meet other highly intelligent people. Also, if you do the math correctly, many tasks are worth delegating to less intelligent people, because the average value of the outcome is still positive.

How it shapes people -- If you alieve that cooperation is impossible, your remaining options are either fatalism or hero worship (and depression, when you realize you are not the superman, and will never be), depending on whether you believe that individuals able to fix large problems single-handedly exist or don't.

Why did I post this as a reply to your comment:

They are born and live to become consistent and excellent workers, minor pieces of a giant puzzle

So far (cutting away the rest of the sentence), there is nothing wrong with this; it describes a productive person.

for some few strong people’s entertainment purposes and benefits.

Here comes the hero worship.

Education could be helpful towards self-realization, awareness, knowledge, mental maturity, overcoming any external restrictions and limitations.

Here is how we should make everyone a hero.

There is nothing wrong with having a hero now and then, but if you imagine a society where everyone tries to "overcome any restrictions and limitations", but no one is willing to be an "consistent and excellent worker"... actually, this could be funny to observe (but horrible to live there).

comment by mwengler · 2015-11-15T20:54:18.919Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Global Warming is high on my list. The cost for reducing CO2 in the atmosphere seems low enough that this may be the best way to solve it. There are proposals to remove CO2 from the atmosphere at ~$100/tonne. Intuitively, it seems the cheapest way to "remove" CO2 from the atmosphere is to not put more there in the first place: to stop digging up C and burning it. We could still have liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuel, we would just need to derive it form biomass: algae and jatropha are both probably in the less than $100 per barrel range, with, I think, algae being very scalable. I wonder if buying up all the coal and oil in the ground and keeping them there once owned wouldn't be the cheapest way to keep C from underground from making it into the air.

Human Population Growth. With less population, all other resource constraints become easier to shift towards sustainable solutions. I'd like to see fertility control tied to aid: you want welfare or international aid, you get fixed. It strikes me the absolute best place to lower population growth is among populations that can't support themselves.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T03:33:16.395Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Who wants to take bets on the current remaining lifespan of the human race as a technological civilization? In this state of information, my inclination is to bet on continued survival for quite some time, at least until such time global warming knocks us to the pre-industrial ages and leaves no resources to recover a hi-tech civilization later (if that happens at all).

I might change my bet if more information is given that shows we're all gonna die very soon, but right now I'd like to see someone take the "death bet" and see what odds we can negotiate.

Or more workably, we should bet on how quickly obviously Unfriendly AI will emerge and begin the destructive acts that will eventually destroy us all.

Step right up, one and all!

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-13T19:12:41.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or more workably, we should bet on how quickly obviously Unfriendly AI will emerge and begin the destructive acts that will eventually destroy us all.

I think even if you believe that UFAI will kill us the scenario that there will be obvious UFAI and at the same time a world where a bet like this will be played out is inprobable.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-11-13T21:10:43.723Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The version that sort of works are "existence futures" (that's not the standard name, unless I happened to reinvent it). Eli pays someone $1 now, and that person pays Eli $N dollars in M years. N is a combination of the interest rate and the person's belief that they and Eli will still exist in M years. If I think there's a 50% chance that the world will end at the start of 2016, and Eli thinks the chance is 0%, both of us would see a deal where he gives me a dollar now and I give him $1.50 on Feb 1st as profitable.

The trouble with them is that if I really think the world is likely to end on Jan 1st, I'm probably making a host of similar decisions that make it unlikely that I'll actually be able to repay him on Feb--if I'm selling everything and playing video games until the world ends, then when the world doesn't end, where is the money going to come from to repay Eli?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-13T21:31:17.468Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

where is the money going to come from to repay Eli?

The usual answer is escrow.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-11-13T22:04:05.963Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The usual answer is escrow.

Right, but the only way this makes sense for Eli is if he's paying me less money now than I'll pay him in the future, and the only way it makes sense for me is if I get to spend the money before the world ends. If I have to put $1.50 into escrow in order to get access to $1, then I'm losing money, not getting it.

You might be able to get it to work with durable assets--if I want to use my car and house up until the world ending, then I can ask Eli to pay me for them now in order to get them after I think the world will end. But it's not clear this works out any better for the endtimer than taking out a standard 30-year loan that they don't expect to have to repay.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-16T01:47:01.251Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see. Yes, you point out a valid problem.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T23:24:03.660Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think even if you believe that UFAI will kill us the scenario that there will be obvious UFAI and at the same time a world where a bet like this will be played out is inprobable.

Why? I don't think UFAI can kill us in mere hours/minutes, and at some point during the months or years it will probably take, someone, somewhere, will notice what's going on. They probably wouldn't be able to stop it, but there's every chance it would become known.

And for my apparently abundant downvoters, the whole reason I'm asking to take bets is because some people repeatedly profess to believe precisely that every fresh machine-learning advancement is a dangerous step closer to a very sudden self-improving UFAI that destroys us all. So I'd like to find out their degrees of certainty regarding exactly how far machine learning can go before it crosses a classification boundary and becomes UFAI.

Anyway, I've got the first of several ANNABELL training sets being processed on a spare machine in the office.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-13T23:51:35.842Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why? I don't think UFAI can kill us in mere hours/minutes, and at some point during the months or years it will probably take, someone, somewhere, will notice what's going on.

By the standard of "someone somewhere noticing" we have proof that aliens are on earth. Nobody will take that as a way of resolving a bet.

A powerful UFAI can control cyberspace before it kills everyone. You would need cyberspace to function to resolve a bet.

It took a while after WWII till Italy's public recognized that the Mafia was back. An UFAI would make a mistake at waging infowar for it's identity to become public knowledge. If you believe that UFAI's would go FOOM then they are unlikely to make mistakes.

And for my apparently abundant downvoters, the whole reason I'm asking to take bets is because some people repeatedly profess to believe precisely that every fresh machine-learning advancement is a dangerous step closer to a very sudden self-improving UFAI that destroys us all.

You get the downvotes because the average person who holds that belief has no reason to take the other side of the bet. Getting money on doomsday is not a valuable outcome.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T20:23:48.097Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Given that the public ledger can be scrutinized to identify insider trading by financial institutions prior to commitment, and the high-cost to entry into the bitcoin market what incentive do orthodox financial institutions have to buy-into and legitimize the bitcoin market instead of adopting the technology afresh in cahoots with one another? Ya know, other than just petty diversification for the sake of trading later rather than evolving into financial infrastructure.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-12T00:02:48.648Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I understand part of Ripple's plan is to provide banks with the ability to easily settle debts internationally. I don't see a reason why a bank would use Bitcoin.

bitmesh might be a way for bitcoin to get larger adoption. It seems to me like having a micropayment transaction every 5 seconds as their current video suggests isn't doable at bitcoins transaction fees. Doing it in Ethereum where it's possible to put money into escrow might make more sense.

Ethereum also has decent business models with Augur and Proveance that have the possibility to provide value that people can't get easily outside of crypto-currencies.

comment by mwengler · 2015-11-15T21:28:41.260Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

what incentive do orthodox financial institutions have to buy-into and legitimize the bitcoin market instead of adopting the technology afresh in cahoots with one another?

Orthodox institutions will potentially have the same reasons to adopt bitcoin as they have for adopting USdollars, swiss francs, and the euro: there are customers willing to pay for their bitcoin services.

Bitcoin will be adopted by customers (ignoring speculators and fanboys) because there are things they want to do that they can do more easily, more quickly, or less expensively with bitcoin than through other means.

Will Bitcoin be adopted by customers at sufficient rate to be adopted by financial institutions, or more generally, to succeed? I certainly don't know. I do know that I have no reason to adopt bitcoin. My credit cards cost me nothing, even though they may cost the businesses I use them at a few percent. I am not involved in transferring money internationally.

Credit cards and international transfer of money are two areas where I have read claims bitcoin provides less expensive service. I am not convinced, however.

Can bitcoin replace credit cards? I don't think so. Credit cards allow for an instant transaction with a fee of a few percent charged for the instantness. That fee is presumably largely there to pay for fradulent transactions. Does bitcoin do this? No. Bitcoin may provide fraud free transactions through the blockchain, but only if you wait, with guidelines suggesting a day, and "common sense" suggesting maybe three blocks in the blockchain showing the transaction in question. So thirty minutes? Certainly if Amazon offered me a 3% discount on my purchases if I used bitcoin, and they wouldn't ship until 1 hour had gone by, I would take it. But would I want to pay for a meal in a restaurant and be physically restrained from leaving for 30 minutes while we waited for blocks including my transaction to come in? Credit cards used in the real world for small transactions are not going to be threatened by bitcoin in my opinion.

I can't speak to international transfers due to lack of knowledge.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-16T02:12:18.162Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Bitcoin may provide fraud free transactions through the blockchain

Irreversible does not mean "fraud free". In fact, one the useful aspects of credit card transactions is that they can be reversed if need be.

international transfer of money

International transfer of money is basically about avoiding national capital controls. Bitcoin got quite a boost out of the Chinese trying to get their money out of the country.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-15T23:18:51.387Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Bitcoin may provide fraud free transactions through the blockchain, but only if you wait, with guidelines suggesting a day, and "common sense" suggesting maybe three blocks in the blockchain showing the transaction in question.

For most purposes a single block is enough. I think there only one case in bitcoin history where it wasn't and the victim was a gambling service that was considered to be hostile to the bitcoin network for spamming it.

But would I want to pay for a meal in a restaurant and be physically restrained from leaving for 30 minutes while we waited for blocks including my transaction to come in?

In many places restaurant these days accepts checks. There no real reason for a restaurant not to trust a person to not double spent.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-16T02:08:32.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In many places restaurant these days accepts checks. There no real reason for a restaurant not to trust a person to not double spent.

Trusting a check implies that you can trace it to a bank account, which, thanks to the Know Your Customer regulations, in most cases can be linked to a specific person. Trusting a bitcoin payment implies that you trust a disposable number.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T08:10:15.802Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I heard strawberry jam can be made with just strawberries, water and sugar on a frying pan on the radio. Sounds simple. Sounds simple to exclude the sugar, too. I don't see any minimalist jam like that on the supermarket shelves though. Does it taste poor or have I found nice little market (albeit, with incredibly low barriers to entry)? And, how could I format my last sentence so I get out of this terrible habit of ending sentences with brackets!

comment by Kyre · 2015-11-10T04:44:58.985Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I heard strawberry jam can be made with just strawberries, water and sugar on a frying pan on the radio.

I'd use a stove.

comment by SGrouchy · 2015-11-09T18:19:54.504Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Pretty sure the sugar is necessary for preserving. You could make it without sugar, but it would just be pulpy juice-water (the sugar is also a thickening agent), and you would have to eat/drink it pretty fast because it will go bad quickly (I would guess a couple days)

comment by TezlaKoil · 2015-11-10T10:58:52.854Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In a sterilized and sealed jar, jam made without sugar can last for years. Once you actually open the jar, you have about 7 days to eat it, and you better keep it refrigerated. You don't need the sugar for thickening - the pectin in the fruit thickens jam just fine.

However, if you don't add any sweetener, the result will be very sour.

Source: been making my own jam for years, had plenty of time to experiment.

comment by Pfft · 2015-11-10T19:17:44.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Source: been making my own jam for years, had plenty of time to experiment.

So did you actually make jam without sugar and then stored it for years before eating it?

comment by TezlaKoil · 2015-11-10T19:32:17.059Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Diadem · 2015-11-09T11:49:14.444Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

When I was a little kid we used to make blackberry jam. You can just pick wild blackberries in some places, which is quite a lot of work, but hey, you're out in nature, it's fun, and it's free. Looking back I think it was mostly my parents picking berries while my sisters and I were running around and playing in the forest and eating half the berries our parents picked.

The recipe for making jam is indeed just berries, water and sugar. We used a large pot though, not a frying pan. Just cook and steer until it's done. Pour the jam into a jar while it's still hot, and screw the lit on. As the jam cools it'll create a slight underpressure in the jar, helping preserve the jam and tightening the lit even further.

Sealed properly it can stay good for a long time. One year we kind of overdid things (my sisters and I were a bit older, and actually starting helping instead of 'helping') and ended up with over 300 jars of blackberry jam. They were still good 10 years later.

Self-made jam tastes much better than store-bought jam. Whether that is because it actually tastes better, or because your brain just thinks it tastes better because you made it yourself, I don't know. But it doesn't matter, the end result is the same.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:27:14.868Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yum! Thank you!

comment by Elo · 2015-11-09T09:09:53.988Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

selling foods in Australia requires food safety certificates (just another barrier)

preserving food generally - yes. People preserve food in many way, and sell it in many ways. Fruit gets dried with ease too. That might be a more viable option.

Do you have an angle on the marketplace that others do not. i.e. strawberry growers, existing jam making companies? I suspect you have no chance to compete... (this is a rational check generally - "are other people poised to have seen this idea first and acted on it". While not always possible to predict; and not always accurate - for simple ideas it can help temper the excitement of shiny new ideas)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-11T09:34:45.301Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have an angle on the marketplace that others do not. i.e. strawberry growers, existing jam making companies?


I suspect you have no chance to compete...


comment by Elo · 2015-11-11T20:50:08.598Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

+1 for updating!

comment by tut · 2015-11-09T09:08:23.150Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It tastes very good. It is a little bit runny and turns brown after a while. Lots of people make their own jam this way. Except that they use a large pot rather than a frying pan. If you have berries I recommend that you try it. However, it is more expensive than the factory jam.

comment by Algernoq · 2015-11-15T01:25:26.915Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The "Normies REEEEEEE" meme is how I feel about average people.

comment by Viliam · 2015-11-16T10:03:19.532Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Trust me, many non-normies are even worse.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-13T09:36:26.442Z · score: -5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Thought about posting this in the research help thread but it's a little more robust of a challenge for us than I reckon can be pinned on the kind few but extremely intelligent souls that man that thread. You may have heard the intravenous fluids aren't used in African hospitals. Conventional wisdom pinned this on poor resourcing. An RCT was stopped early which found African children actually have a much higher septic shock mortality when given the fluid bolus (IV). We still use that drip in the West. The obvious question is, how good was the initial analyses indicating the Western data to IV fluid. One author of the African study raised that quesetion but didn't seem keen to do it herself. Can you help me dig up the original data, or perhaps the 'original' paper on whatever the guidelines are based off. Some easy lives can be saved with a bit of statistical analyses here I reckon and the LW hivemind can get this done!

Get up to speed:

The issue - WHO guidelines for IV bolus for septic shock haven't been updated 2 years since the release of a paper leaving it beyond doubt that children will die more with IV treatment. There's shitty evidence for the guidelines and we don't know (ok, there's the regular reasons like this why the relevant guidelines aren't evidence based yet given how easy it is to get an infectious disease in Africa...

The cost - estimated at 100,000 lives over 2 years by the studies authors one of whom recently appeared on Australian radio

what is fluid bolus therapy? here's a neatest summary

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2015-11-14T20:57:35.611Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for being a stream of consciousness.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-13T18:57:33.826Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure whether "African children" is a good mental category. Africa is very diverse. Just because something holds for one African country doesn't mean that generalizes across Africa.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-11-13T19:43:46.140Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

WHO guidelines for IV bolus for septic shock haven't been updated 2 years since the release of a paper leaving it beyond doubt that children will die more with IV treatment

Why do you think that a single paper leave's something beyond doubt? A lot of papers don't replicate.

There's shitty evidence for the guidelines and we don't know (ok, there's the regular reasons like this why the relevant guidelines aren't evidence based yet given how easy it is to get an infectious disease in Africa...

Why do you use "we"? What do you mean with it?

It might very well be true that you lack the understanding of how the WHO works. While likely a lot of people on LW don't have a strong understanding on WHO internal politics I don't think it's nice to start a post by claiming that your audience is ignorant of a subject (if we is supposed to mean the readers of your post).