Open Thread November 2018

post by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2018-10-31T03:39:41.480Z · score: 17 (None votes) · LW · GW · 44 comments

If it’s worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.


comment by yagudin · 2018-11-01T08:06:08.521Z · score: 49 (None votes) · LW · GW

A very successful crowdfunding for printing HPMoR has happened in Russia. 21k books are going to be printed: some of them will go to public/university libraries, some to gifted students. More good HPMoR related news are coming from Russia, but too early to announce them.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-18T00:24:28.550Z · score: 21 (None votes) · LW · GW

Suggestion: a new “Welcome to Less Wrong!” thread for introductions and so forth. (Which should be sticky’d, at least for a while.)

This sort of thing [LW · GW] is good, but probably shouldn’t be its own post. This old welcome thread [LW · GW] got two thousand comments (the most of any post in all of Less Wrong history), and other welcome threads have also been popular; it seems to me that this would be a good way to ease some more people into contributing.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2018-11-18T01:45:08.286Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

Yep, I basically agree. I will run it by the team on Monday and see what people think, but I've been thinking that we should have a welcome thread as well, and stickying it only seems sensible.

comment by Raemon · 2018-11-19T00:59:05.451Z · score: 9 (None votes) · LW · GW

"Stickied" feels a bit like the wrong abstraction to me here.

I want newcomers to easily be able to find such a thread. I probably wouldn't want to see it all the time. There's only so many threads that can realistically be stickied without overwhelming people with choices.

I think this sort of thing makes me want to have threads that appear until they've been engaged with or toggled off. (Maybe make this true of stickied threads in general: give people the option to click 'cool I've seen this and don't want to engage with it anymore')

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-19T02:01:56.703Z · score: 12 (None votes) · LW · GW

This kind of thing is exactly what (possibly collapsible and/or hideable) sidebars are for!

I think this sort of thing makes me want to have threads that appear until they’ve been engaged with or toggled off. (Maybe make this true of stickied threads in general: give people the option to click ‘cool I’ve seen this and don’t want to engage with it anymore’)

This seems like a good idea to me.

comment by cousin_it · 2018-10-31T14:23:30.870Z · score: 21 (None votes) · LW · GW

A couple days ago I unfollowed everyone on Facebook, now my news feed is completely empty. (Still friends with everyone though, and still using messenger and events.) So far it feels great! If anyone wants to wean themselves off Facebook and needs an actionable first step, this is it.

Now I'm thinking about what kind of online persona I want to create next. Facebook's focus on real world identities was kind of a stopper for my self-expression, as I'm only realizing now. Reddit has pseudonyms, but it's also a bit restrictive because you have to stay on topic for each subreddit. Similar for LW. (Though I do write a lot, both here and on Reddit, and not going to stop.) The old LiveJournal was great, but now it's dead and everyone on my feed has stopped posting in like 2013. Maybe Tumblr? There I'll be free to write day-to-day stuff colored with a certain persona, which is what I want. What other nice places exist?

comment by Viliam · 2018-11-05T23:45:18.142Z · score: 12 (None votes) · LW · GW
What other nice places exist?

Blogs of nice individuals, I guess. (That includes SSC.) If you make a blog for yourself (for your persona) and keep making comments at the few blogs you read, that could easily be the nicest possible way of using internet.

comment by Luke Tospace · 2018-11-02T10:07:16.869Z · score: 6 (None votes) · LW · GW


comment by ryan_b · 2018-11-08T21:08:28.595Z · score: 17 (None votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone studied linguistics and then gone on to learn another language? Was it any easier?

I have just read in The Horse, The Wheel and Language that Hopi grammar requires specifying how you know the information (first hand, second hand, or eternal truth); it occupies a similar level of importance to tenses and plurals in English. This made me think that maybe taking a tour of linguistics and picking up a language with complementary structure might be a useful tool for clarifying thinking.

comment by Elo · 2018-11-08T21:29:52.732Z · score: 8 (None votes) · LW · GW

I read language files textbook.

Have not tried to learn a language but I find:

  • it helped my writing massively. (and helps me to edit other people's writing and importantly - explain why a change is better)
  • helps me to understand some psychology of word choices that people (and I myself) make and have tidbits of insights into preferences or avoidances based on language choice.
  • helps me to overhear context of other languages when I hear them. I get a clue of what's going on by having a sense of language structure.
  • I feel like I could pick up a new language fairly easily by going to a foreign country and staying there a while. (unfortunately no proof of this or how I know it)
comment by ryan_b · 2018-10-31T20:37:29.025Z · score: 8 (None votes) · LW · GW

Do we see a lot of finance activity with a strategic goal in mind? I know activist investors are a thing, but most of the examples I am familiar with are traditional issues like human rights, environment, etc. or patsies for a larger profit motive, like when Gazprom takes out an energy startup.

It might make more sense for me to ask "are we seeing more or different strategic goals pursued via finance operations, as the finance industry grows?"

comment by yagudin · 2018-11-02T14:30:53.845Z · score: 6 (None votes) · LW · GW

Divestment and mission hedging are examples of politically motivated finance activity. Divestment seems to be somewhat popular, but inefficient. Mission hedging is not well-known, but probably quite good.

comment by ryan_b · 2018-11-08T20:01:18.003Z · score: 6 (None votes) · LW · GW

I just wanted to circle back and say that mission hedging is exactly the direction I was hoping would be explored - thanks!

comment by yagudin · 2018-11-09T09:30:42.131Z · score: 4 (None votes) · LW · GW

Great to hear!

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-01T15:46:50.707Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

It's very hard to say from the outside how much venture capitalists believe that the companies that they fund are going to make the world a better place and how much they are purely interested in profits.

comment by namespace (ingres) · 2018-11-14T00:27:35.433Z · score: 7 (None votes) · LW · GW

I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see "ourselves". . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune Do is simply the direct expression of one's feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive. Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back.

- Bruce Lee

comment by Donald Hobson (donald-hobson) · 2018-11-08T22:54:40.312Z · score: 6 (None votes) · LW · GW

Suppose Hypothetically that I had a brilliant AI idea, (I haven't) I don't know much about AI strategy or arms races, Im not quite sure what follows from this idea, but I have reason to suspect that made building a powerful AI much easier. Naturally I don't want to share this Idea if its dangerous. If I specify too exactly what the implications are, people could work backwards to the idea. People knowing the idea exists could be bad if it encourages them to entice the idea out of me. I suggest it would be useful to make some sort of dangerous AI idea decision tree, and/ or helpline.

For a concrete example, what would you do if you had discovered a linear time AIXI?

comment by DanielFilan · 2018-11-09T00:36:26.447Z · score: 6 (None votes) · LW · GW

[I'm a grad student at CHAI, but I am not officially speaking on behalf of CHAI or making any promises on anybody's behalf]

If you reached out to a grad student at CHAI or one of our staff, I strongly suspect that we would at least screen the idea for sanity checking, and if it passed that test, I predict that we would seriously consider what to do with it and how dangerous it was.

comment by cousin_it · 2018-11-08T23:24:23.999Z · score: 6 (None votes) · LW · GW

Contact FHI.

comment by Rana Dexsin · 2018-11-26T08:44:30.777Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

How do I report a top-level post to the moderators? I see a kebab menu for comments, but I don't see anything like that for top-level posts, neither on the front page nor on the post page. The specific situation is that there currently seem to be multiple spam posts in the “all posts” queue, but I'd also like to know how to do this in general for future reference.

comment by Raemon · 2018-11-27T00:41:54.228Z · score: 5 (None votes) · LW · GW

We're working on a new spam filter that should just solve this problem in a more thorough fashion. (And meanwhile, admins automatically read all new posts so the report button wouldn't actually alert us any faster than we already are).

However, it probably still makes sense to include a report post (and report user) button, to handle issues more nuanced than the current wave of spam.

comment by Rana Dexsin · 2018-11-27T07:42:07.013Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

It would be appreciated (and pleasingly symmetrical). Thanks for the response.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-18T00:20:28.683Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

Suggestion: the current month’s Open Thread should be sticky’d.

(Not much more to say about this one, seems obvious to me; any reason not to do this? It would be much more convenient!)

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2018-11-18T01:46:20.323Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

Yep, we've been doing this for the last few months. I think Ben accidentally removed it from this one a few days ago. I added the sticky flag again.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2018-11-18T02:17:37.096Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

I did not do such a thing. Something is resetting our stickieds! (wow that spelling looks wrong)

comment by Pattern · 2018-11-19T21:37:46.610Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

Should the plural of "stickied" be stickies?

comment by Raemon · 2018-11-28T20:29:14.090Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. This happened to me yesterday (Solstice thread was randomly unstickied).

comment by Richard Meadows (richard-meadows-1) · 2018-11-13T08:30:13.265Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

In the post editor, is there any way to use markdown or HTML instead of rich text? (For example, to superscript footnotes, or centre-align text.)

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2018-11-13T18:47:29.384Z · score: 12 (None votes) · LW · GW

It's pretty trivial for us to add footnotes to our markdown editor, so if a bunch of people upvote this, I can get around to it this or next week (we use markdown-it, which has a plugin for footnotes).

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2018-11-13T18:48:19.540Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

Centering text doesn't seem to have a plugin available, and I haven't really seen it anywhere, so we probably won't have that.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-13T19:13:43.088Z · score: 9 (None votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, it’s likely that the absence of a text-centering plugin is deliberate (to the extent that a community/cultural consensus can be “deliberate”). After all, Markdown is a tool for structuring text, not styling it. (To put it another way, Markdown is a markup syntax for converting text to HTML, not to HTML+CSS!)

Empirically, we should not expect to find any centering plugins any more than we should expect to find Markdown plugins to paint your text with all the colors of the rainbow, to change the font to Zapfino, to rotate it 75° counterclockwise, etc.; and, normatively, we should not write such plugins (even though we totally could).

comment by Richard Meadows (richard-meadows-1) · 2018-11-14T01:13:13.910Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

Neat, thanks! No worries about centering text. Footnotes would be much more valuable; especially the ability to automatically insert jump links (or display on mouse hover) rather than having to scroll up and down/open the document in two tabs.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-13T08:49:11.199Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

I do not think LessWrong’s editor framework supports either footnotes or centering (and nor does Markdown in general, for that matter). There is no way to use HTML that I’m aware of.

That having been said, there are two ways to use Markdown instead of the default (“rich text”) editor:

  1. Go to your account settings (click on your name in the top right -> click “Edit account”), and check the “Activate Markdown editor” checkbox.
  2. Alternatively, use GreaterWrong, which provides a Markdown editor by default (and exclusively).
comment by Richard Meadows (richard-meadows-1) · 2018-11-13T09:08:37.010Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. You're right - I haven't used markdown much, didn't realise those features weren't available. Will have a look at GreaterWrong for composing future posts.

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-05T11:59:56.726Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

How bright should my monitor be? Has anybody looked more into the issue of optimizing monitor settings and has a strong opinion on what they should be for a programmer?

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-09T00:52:53.877Z · score: 9 (None votes) · LW · GW

Seconding f.lux. (I don’t use dark themes[1] per se, but I do sometimes use f.lux’s “Darkroom Mode” feature, which has a similar effect.)

The brightness question is impossible to give a canonical answer to, because how bright your monitor should be depends on ambient illumination. It should be bright enough to see, but not so bright that it hurts your eyes. What that means in practice depends on where you are and what light is shining where, etc.

[1] Anyone who likes dark themes and uses GreaterWrong: check out both the Dark theme (theme selector button ‘B’) and, also, the theme tweaker’s “Invert colors” setting!

comment by Pattern · 2018-11-05T21:42:37.235Z · score: 8 (None votes) · LW · GW

I use Dark Themes (dark background with non-white text) when coding, and flux.

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-06T16:33:59.157Z · score: 3 (None votes) · LW · GW

That still leaves the question of how bright the monitor should be open.

comment by MakoYass · 2018-11-18T03:27:13.954Z · score: 2 (None votes) · LW · GW

I think I remember hearing that a brighter working area boost alertness, but I don't know if it replicated or if it applies to just monitors (although you must always make sure the monitor is at least as bright as your surroundings, else visual strain)

comment by Alephywr · 2018-11-28T03:18:35.070Z · score: 1 (None votes) · LW · GW

In the future there will be dragons

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2018-11-28T03:47:14.773Z · score: 4 (None votes) · LW · GW

damn straight

comment by Pattern · 2018-11-29T00:11:26.603Z · score: 1 (None votes) · LW · GW

Before I die?