Open Thread June 6 - June 12, 2016

post by Elo · 2016-06-06T04:21:53.526Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 126 comments

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


Notes for future OT posters:

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126 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by gjm · 2016-06-06T12:51:49.902Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Spammer, apparently around since 2015 but not booted then.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-06-07T15:58:07.274Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Done.

comment by gjm · 2016-06-07T19:31:06.604Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks!

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T15:38:26.555Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, dear. Psychology, can you please get your act together and stop being an embarrassing mess?

Researchers have fixed a number of papers after mistakenly reporting that people who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.

As one of the notices specifies, now it appears that liberal political beliefs are linked with psychoticism. That paper also swapped ideologies when reporting on people higher in neuroticism and social desirability (falsely claiming that you have socially desirable qualities); the original paper said those traits are linked with liberal beliefs, but they are more common among people with conservative values.

comment by MrMind · 2016-06-13T06:58:36.981Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is this some kind of meta-psychological experiment? At least let's hope it is...

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T14:47:27.320Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If it is, it's about gullibility, isn't it? X-/

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-13T09:02:23.830Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe it's a clever way to find out political bias in academy. Write two papers claiming that one or the other side of the political spectrum is scientifically linked to insanity, submit both papers to random journals, and see which version becomes the official academic "truth".

Just kidding, but it would be an awesome experiment.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-09T13:19:06.014Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone have any good studies on the benefit of jobs, net of pay? I have a vague memory of some, but am not finding them when I look.

Edit: Might help to clarify purpose. I'm inclined to believe the answer is "not much," and that employment is generally a bad thing, apart from the not dying of want bit. I want to see the strongest arguments that I'm wrong, and y'all steelman better than pretty much anyone I know.

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-10T14:55:22.880Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just some anecdotal evidence:

For some people, jobs provide a scaffolding of their daily time. It's what makes them wake up in the morning. Take the job away from these people and here is what happens: wake up at 10AM, slowly make a breakfast, eat it, watch the TV a bit, make a lunch and eat it, now it's 3PM, feels like too late to do anything meaningful, so just watch the TV, make a dinner and eat it, watch some more TV, go to sleep, repeat over and over again. It seems like people without jobs should logically have more free time, but some of them actually manage to achieve less while unemployed.

For some old people, jobs provide social opportunity that is hard to replace when they retire. Suddenly, instead of spending their day interacting with a dozen people they know, they spend their day alone at home, complaining that their children don't visit them more often.

Without routine, some people's lives "fall apart". Humans are not automatically strategic. In theory, a life without job (with basic income, or retirement money, or just savings that allow you to take a really long vacation) should be better, but in practice sometimes it isn't. Think about all the superstimuli around us: for some people, their job may be the only thing that gets them offline most of the days.

(Disclaimer: This all said, I would still prefer to have a basic income and get extra 8 hours of freedom every day. There is a risk my life would become less amazing than I imagine it, but I would gladly take the risk.)

There is a possible counter-argument that the effects of losing the job might be only temporary. Like, if people have been conditioned for years to organize their lives around their job (and school), of course it gets them out of balance when the job suddenly disappears, because they never had the opportunity to learn how to organize their lives for themselves. But given enough time, they might develop the skill.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T17:20:19.500Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

but some of them actually manage to achieve less while unemployed.

Parkinson's Law ("work expands to fill time available") can lead to some pretty ridiculous results.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T17:29:03.213Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for that Vil. I accept these benefits, and agree that there might be a better way, but it's always good to know what issues are likely to occur to one.

comment by WalterL · 2016-06-10T17:15:17.609Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm a pretty well off person. Recently I went jobless for a while. I missed, above all, the structure. Like, this may sound cliche, but because I didn't have to get up I didn't regulate when I went to bed. So I started to go to bed later and later, and thus, get up later and later.

It isn't that my sleep schedule got off sync with the world's (although, of course, it did that), its that it got off sync with itself. Week by week I'd stay up a little later, get up a little later. It became hard for me to commit to things ahead of time, because I might well sleep through it.

Ultimately, before I started interviewing again, I had to spend a week pretending I had a job. That is, setting my night clock to go to sleep, my wake clock to get up, etc.

Looking back on the months I spent between jobs, I accomplished less towards my day trading and writing goals than I did in an equivalent period in my last gig. For me, at least, jobs are good for more than money. I doubt I could make myself do them if they didn't pay, mind, but that seems to be the reasonable truth.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T17:26:31.082Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for that Walter. I feel like I have a sense of this phenomenon (I retired at 33 and was expecting to be WAY more bored and less satisfied than I am), and am very interested in a full study (I haven't found it; any of y'all run psychological studies for money?), but I hear more stories like yours than the alternative.

Were you looking for employment, or were you on the fence between retirement and a break? Knowing you have to go back eventually might be a factor.

comment by gjm · 2016-06-10T20:37:51.652Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Apologies for the digression and please feel free not to answer, but I'm curious: How were you able to retire at 33? Successful startup? Family money? Working in finance plus reasonable frugality?

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-11T13:14:29.064Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just genetic lottery. My family owns a chain of convenience stores in upstate NY, and after some time in banking I decided I'd prefer not to work any more. I am writing a book, but I don't feel comfortable calling myself an author until I publish it.

I'm comfortable talking about it as long as I don't feel like I'm being perceived as bragging about something over which I have no control (which is stupid, and which I see in other people all the time)

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-13T10:15:06.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess the important question for most of us is: "Is that something I could try to replicate?" Obviously no, unless your family is planning to adopt some LessWrongers. :D

Still, we can hope that your experiences will be useful for our children one day.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-13T10:36:18.445Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yup. And being at K&C for most of my life, any windfalls get passed forward, so I'm not competing with anyone for those going forward. But not especially helpful in replication.

Oops. Hit a one way button. Will just use edit to rewrite next time But now I know what "retract" does :)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T17:36:56.367Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why are you interested in a study? Studies typically tell you about the averages and in many cases the averages are not what you need. In some cases, they are, actually, what no one needs.

Some people fall apart without externally imposed structure, but some people thrive in the absence of constraints. The latter are often called "self-directed" or "self-motivated" or some other term like that. Both types exist, not to mention the intermediate cases, of course.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T18:04:53.205Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because I plan on doing some more serious campaigning for a more aggressive GBI (among other things) than what a lot of people advocate. I plan on making the case that there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone deciding to just live off the dole and not work, and that people who choose that are often more in the way of people making progress than helping them when they show up to clock hours. I also plan to assert that people who don't have to work, effectively on penalty of death if I want to sound dramatic, will have a better wheat/chaff ratio for what they do do. Of course I want to make sure it's true first :P

If I get to design the study it'll be a little different from the study I seek because I don't think I can expect anyone to have done that study. And I'll be more interested in the whole study than the executive summary for exactly the reasons you describe.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T19:15:24.671Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone deciding to just live off the dole and not work

Within which framework? From an individual point of view, sure. From the point of view of the society, not so much -- someone has to produce value which this person will consume. Arguing that it's psychologically healthy to not work isn't a relevant argument here.

that people who don't have to work ... will have a better wheat/chaff ratio for what they do do

You know that the primary function of the markets is provide incentives for wheat and disincentives for chaff, right? They perform this function quite well. You will argue that without the guiding prod of the market people will produce more of better stuff all by themselves?

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T19:26:12.714Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. Well I have a much longer argument for this in the book, but I propose that the amount of work people will do because they want to is more than enough to run society. 40h per person per week (ish) is, in my view, largely makework.

  2. Of course.
    The markets have a major confound, imo, in the form of pro-job policy. I believe, and I have some support for this but not enough to prove the point yet, that if "jobs creation" did not occur as a political activity, the market would normalize below the level people would produce without, again using the provocative language descriptively not manipulatively, the lingering threat of dying of want.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T19:40:19.312Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I propose that the amount of work people will do because they want to is more than enough to run society

That's classic Communist utopia straight out of Karl Marx. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". Why do you believe this to be true?

Another question, related to the role of the markets as conduits of information, is why do you think the work people will do is the work that other people need? As a first-order approximation I would expect that you won't have any problems having your portrait painted, but your clogged toilet will stay clogged for a long time.

if "jobs creation" did not occur as a political activity, the market would normalize below the level people would produce without, again using the provocative language descriptively not manipulatively, the lingering threat of dying of want.

First, that's not self-evident. Job creation policies mostly reallocate labour (from productive use to less productive). Getting rid of make-work jobs, in the absence of other regulations, will just free up these people to be employed in other areas where their talents can be utilized better. The net effect would be higher productivity but not necessarily a lower level of employment.

Besides, do you want this "below the level"? You interpret this a lots of leisure. I interpret this as a poor society.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T20:39:36.620Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1a. I don't think that follows. I'm not saying people should work according to their ability, but that on the whole, the output humanity will have anyway will run the world. As time goes by, we can and have gotten more inequality, and by some measure I saw once (citation needed, but I'm preparing to host a party soon. Delaying not deferring) the achievements of some group of say 100 people have done more than the rest of the world put together. I do not think most of them were in it to keep body and soul together, but more research is needed.

1b. Money, same as now. I'm not waving a wand and declaring superabundance here, just saying if we're not ready as a society to let people die of want, let's not mess about and let's just give everybody money. I do not have a counterargument to "He who does not work shall not eat," except to say that that is a coherent view and a different set of values than I think most of America holds. If you're okay with a lazy fella dying on the street, I don't know how to bridge the gap in basic premises.

2a. This is another "jury question" I'm afraid, and I don't have the data. Getting rid of make-work jobs (and fractional things in that vein) will free up people to not have to work for society not to collapse, but the big issue leads right into...

2b. This is really the bedrock question. Is it better to work five fewer hours a week to get to the moon a year later and keep the old iPhone an extra few months? What are the real numbers for that (those came straight from the rectal number generator)? I'm still working on that one, and as with most questions of value, it will likely vary, but it can still be clarified.

And OT, this right here is why I don't want LW to die. Every other venue of which I can think (apart from one friend, incidentally the one that introduced me to LW) would either say "that's dumb" or "Cool idea" with no further helpful commentary. Off to party setup if I don't reply it's not me being evasive.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-06-11T11:36:02.946Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"The output humanity will have anyway will run the world."

In the first place, at least some people would stop working. That would mean that less goods would be produced. That would mean that the price of goods would increase. If it increased too much, then the quantity established as a "basic income" would no longer be enough to support people. Then if you wanted to maintain the system, you would have to increase the amount of the basic income, and a cycle would ensue.

It is not clear where that cycle would end. It is possible it would end with enough people working to support everyone else. It is also possible that it would not, in which case money would become worthless, and each person would either survive on his own work, or die. I do not think it is a good idea to simply assume that the first thing will happen.

I agree with Lumifer that, to a first approximation, no one in America or Europe today dies of starvation because they are lazy. I would be surprised if anyone can find even a single example of this happening. But part of the reason for this is the existence of social incentives that move many lazy people to work anyway. If you take away those incentives, there is no guarantee that lazy people will not actually die.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-11T01:48:42.784Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

the output humanity will have anyway will run the world

Sure, but at which level? Hunter-gatherer societies have no "jobs" and "run the world" (or at least used to) -- would you like to go live in one?

if we're not ready as a society to let people die of want, let's not mess about and let's just give everybody money.

First, no one in America will die of starvation because of unwillingness to work. Right here, right now, no one.

Second, I don't see the need for the black-and-white approach: GBI or nothing. There are nuances and incentives matter.

Is it better to work five fewer hours a week to get to the moon a year later and keep the old iPhone an extra few months?

How about medical care?

In any case, if you want to discuss the issue it would help to get specific. For example, your main point is that GBI would be great. So specify how large ($/year) and what does "great" mean (what are you going to measure and what you will be willing to trade off for that).

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-11T18:03:35.384Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Amen, and amen, and amen. I agree with everything you say here and consider none of it refutation.

Fresh eyes: I fell into a trap here. "Because I plan on doing some more serious campaigning for a more aggressive GBI (among other things) " was poorly phrased, and I fell into a pattern of defending it. I focused there because it seemed the nearest point of contact to this community. My intent was largely to dodge answering questions about my actual thesis because I'm not public with it yet.

In doing so, I sound like a bad parrot of all the other GBI plans that spend a lot of time talking about how pretty the island over there probably is and far less time on boat schematics. GBI is compatible and has a foothold, but is not my core thesis. And while I assumed the downvotes were just the social conservative faction doing what they do (I don't know anything specific I've done to tick them off, but I disagree more with them than any other LW faction and it's a documented tactic of theirs, so it was an easy out), I now think maybe some folks noticed this and didn't have time to type it up. Thanks guys, message worth hearing.

So I'll respond here and wrap up, unless you want more, because my question was already answered.

  1. I think there are a variety of preferences on the issue, and that policy is skewed toward accomodating the work-hard-play-hard group. I'd like that rolled back a bit.

  2. Golly that did read like a false dilemma didn't it? Sorry. My intent was to say that I have heard that argument a few times, and I can't beat it. I definitely agree there are compromise positions, and even though I'd love a non-means-based GBI with tax simplification, in practice I bet we end up with one in the best reasonable case. But 2a is a total strawman. It is uncontroversially true, nobody I've ever met denies it, and it has nothing to do with my argument. If I say "if you argue that gravity is a repulsive force originating from dark matter that only looks attractive because we're in gravity shadows I can't defeat that argument.," "nobody in America is being repelled by gravity under the current system" is not a rejoinder.

  3. Yup, medical care is a tough one. We're not immortal yet, and that's a problem. It's a good point, and I hope it gets a good answer in actual policy.

Anyway, thanks for your patience.

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-13T09:16:18.147Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't worry much about the downvotes; we have a local village idiot who automatically downvotes every single comment made by anyone whom he suspects of left-wing opinions -- I guess you were just added to his list. (He got already banned for this, but he just makes another account, and the tech support is too busy to deal with him effectively. Sigh. Long story I don't want to start here, it's just the explanation that seemed most likely to me at the moment.)

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-13T09:37:45.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh I'm not worried. I was just saying I had assumed that it was that and missed the signal for the noise and might have picked up that I was making a mistake earlier if I hadn't. Though when "Thanks for your help" gets downvoted... maybe it's not zero effect :)

It's like when I waited tables. I don't think I'm alone here, but when I got a bad tip, as long as I didn't pour coffee on the customer's lap, there was only one reason for a bad tip. The customer was a cheap bastard of course. Might be why I never stopped being a very bad waiter until I stopped being a waiter :)

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-13T09:12:34.328Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lumifer, I find it ironic that a few comments above, Ixiel asked for a study, and you said something like "meh, who cares about averages"... and a few comments later now you lecture Ixiel about the need to define and measure stuff. :D

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T14:30:19.686Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yep, I don't see any contradiction in that. The accents have shifted, however, because when we were talking about studies I thought Ixiel had in mind her own situation, but then it turned out she really was planning a book and that's a different kettle of fish...

comment by morganism · 2016-06-12T22:12:08.349Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes please, can we start a UBI thread so we can discuss methods and actions, rather than communism/capitalism and lazy/lucky ?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T14:34:23.958Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

can we start a UBI thread

Is there anything stopping you?

comment by [deleted] · 2016-06-26T03:02:30.633Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Money, same as now. I'm not waving a wand and declaring superabundance here, just saying if we're not ready as a society to let people die of want, let's not mess about and let's just give everybody money. I do not have a counterargument to "He who does not work shall not eat," except to say that that is a coherent view and a different set of values than I think most of America holds. If you're okay with a lazy fella dying on the street, I don't know how to bridge the gap in basic premises.

A basic income won't help here. The lazy fellow dying in the streets will squander the money you give him on booze and drugs and then still be dying in the streets.

Original thread here.

comment by WalterL · 2016-06-10T18:48:47.193Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Initially I thought I'd take a few months, veg out, etc. After I lived that way for a while though I became interested in getting a new job again. Took a couple weeks from deciding to work again to getting the job.

So, sort of both? Started out with no strong opinions on work again vs. not, migrated to looking for job.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T19:18:51.708Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right on. Thanks!

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-09T14:23:21.514Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

the benefit of jobs, net of pay

Compared to what?

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-09T17:39:04.684Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, compared to not having a job. Working for a certain salary vs. getting that salary and not working.

comment by tut · 2016-06-09T16:17:47.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Compared to not having a job presumably. But you raise a good point. It might be easier to find relevant studies by looking for research on the effects of unemployment or retirement.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-09T16:37:55.275Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Compared to not having a job presumably.

I can easily come up with very very different subgroups who "do not have a job", e.g.:

  • housewives
  • trust fund kids
  • chronic welfare recipients
  • retired people

The benefits of having a job are likely to be very different for them.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-09T17:42:46.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh? I was thinking of a study I saw and lost, but differences in benefits to those groups sound fascinating to me also. I would not have guessed the answer to be all that different, again net of pay. I won't ask you to run me a free study (but if you want to... ;) ) but do you have any basic ideas on the matter philosophically?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-09T18:45:25.777Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A study requires data which I neither have nor can easily get :-/

Handwaving my guesses about job benefits...

  • Housewives: more growth and development (capabilities, self-respect, etc.), less reliance on the breadwinner, larger social circles, a chance to achieve something notable.
  • Trust fund kids: similar to housewives but without the reliance issue. Also, a lesser chance to spend your life being a nobody doing nothing,
  • Welfare recipients: potential to climb out of the poverty pit, breaking dependence habits, reintegration into productive society, etc.
  • Retired people: less boredom and social isolation, a potentially meaningful way to spend your time, a (limited) purpose to get out of bed each morning and make oneself presentable.
comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-09T19:03:16.563Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see similarities, but the differences are useful too. Thanks for the reply.

I've self-identified as three of those things as the same person (retired, housewife, and independently wealthy ("trust fund kid" feels like I'd imagine the 'n' word feels to a black man or "faggot" to a gay one. Pretty unoffendable myself, but just fyi) )as full disclosure.

If I find the study I want, I'll let you know. Thanks for the help!

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T01:45:49.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"trust fund kid" feels like I'd imagine the 'n' word feels to a black man or "faggot" to a gay one.

So, them's fighting words in your neck of the woods? Does uttering them dramatically raise the probability of someone being punched in the face in the immediate future? or gasp! not being invited to the next bbq?

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T10:02:09.306Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's somewhere a little below the 'n' word or the 'r' word, but above "douchebag" or "liberal." As one might imagine, it doesn't come up much. And again, I was commenting on how it feels from the inside, not on how it looks to the audience.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T14:21:09.927Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The rankings of insults in subcultures is a fascinating topic :-) What's the "r" word, redneck?

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T14:35:37.228Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mentally challenged person. I wonder if it's considered less offensive among people who use etymologically similar words, like firemen (flame retardant) or biologists (to retard growth.)

Like for me, "faggot" is not in my calling-people-it vocabulary - AT ALL; I know like five gay people, all of whom cool, one of whom my uncle, and of none of whom am I afraid, so please don't think I'm homophobic - but in hearing others' reactions it seems to be more offensive to people who collect less firewood. If the 'n' word were also a day to day common noun, I wonder if I would be more okay using it demonstratively even with such an evil history.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-10T14:50:23.307Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder if it's considered less offensive among people who use etymologically similar words, like firemen (flame retardant) or biologists (to retard growth.)

It's less offensive among those who actually work with retarded people :-/

"Mentally challenged" type of insults seem to have their own cycles of use. Words like "idiot", "imbecile", or "cretin" used to be a clinical diagnosis, then stopped being medical terms, and nowadays are considered to if not mild then non-horrible.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-10T16:15:14.743Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suppose that makes sense. Still raises my heart rate when I hear it, but that's my problem not the speaker's, and I'll defer to people with more experience on propriety.

comment by Houshalter · 2016-06-07T17:00:21.383Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ingres updated the Lesswrong survey results to include the write-in responses people gave. I think it's worth posting this here because most people probably missed it. And it was one of the most interesting parts of the survey. Here are some of the files, there are many more on the post:

Community Issues Now Part One

Philosophy Issues Now Part One

Community Issues at Lesswrong's Peak Part One

Philosophy Issues at Lesswrong's Peak Part One

Rejoin Conditions Part One

These were just the writeins. It isn't representative of the average survey taker. There was also a section of multiple choice responses for issues. I think the multiple choice section will be more complete, since most people filled it out with yes or no answers, and it included the main grievances people have. But it hasn't been analyzed yet.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-11T03:48:33.782Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The lazy fellow dying in the streets will squander the money you give him on booze and drugs and then still be dying in the streets.

It's actually a bit worse than that.

The GBI is a guaranteed income stream, right? So, can I sell it? Can I put it up as a collateral for a loan? Can I get that shiny car right now if I sign over my GBI to you for the next ten years? Deal!!

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-06-11T15:29:40.577Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's actually not that bad.

People on welfare can already borrow money on credit cards and so on. If they get into default the only legally enforceable repayment arrangements are ones where they are not forced below subsistence levels. Yes, lenders can end up getting pennies a week. Yes, it is basically their fault,

You can get the situation where someone borrows against their livelihood in some kind of libertopia where the lenders right to their money overrides the borrowers right to eat.

Also, if someone is using GBI to start a business, borrowing to buy equipment is pretty reasonable,

comment by [deleted] · 2016-06-26T03:03:09.208Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, if someone is using GBI to start a business, borrowing to buy equipment is pretty reasonable,

And what happens if the business fails?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T14:42:48.164Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People on welfare can already borrow money on credit cards and so on.

Your picture of people on welfare seems a bit rosy. You think everyone has credit cards?

If they get into default the only legally enforceable repayment arrangements are ones where they are not forced below subsistence levels.

Correct. However that generally involves declaring personal bankruptcy, at which point you're locked out of all credit (including credit cards) for a few years.

It is, of course, possible to make GBI, to use a legal term, "non-garnishable" meaning it cannot be collected to satisfy a judgement against a person. But that would make it impossible to use it as collateral for a loan to buy equipment, for example. The child support payments also could become an issue.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-06-22T16:17:13.033Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your picture of people on welfare seems a bit rosy

Does it? I didn't say it was a good thing.

You think everyone has credit cards?

I don't need the premise that everyone has credit cards to support the conclusion that some people on welfare do. I hear news stories about it.

It is, of course, possible to make GBI, to use a legal term, "non-garnishable" meaning it cannot be collected to satisfy a judgement against a person. But that would make it impossible to use it as collateral for a loan to buy equipment, for example.

But you could set a non-garnishable component that is less than the whole GBI. I am still not seeing a novel problem.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-22T18:39:46.103Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not saying there is a novel problem. I'm saying there are old problems that GBI does not magically solve, mostly revolving around the very old observation that a fool and his money are soon parted.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2016-06-24T00:14:54.547Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did anyone say it solved those problems?

Penicillin doesn't cure the common cold either.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-06-11T18:08:26.140Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The GBI is a guaranteed income stream, right? So, can I sell it? Can I put it up as a collateral for a loan?

It's up to the willingness of the country giving out the loan to regulate whether it wants to enforce those loans. Many countries have a legal system where you can't collect money from people who need that money to live.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T14:46:02.186Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

whether it wants to enforce those loans

Generally speaking yes, it does. What particular kind of contracts do you think a country wouldn't want to enforce in this context? As to subsistence-level income not being collectable, see my answer to TheAncientGeek.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-06-13T20:52:33.425Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Welfare payment in Germany aren't basic income because people need to active look for a job to receive them.

Those payments are also non-garnishable. The don't exist to finance loans. The point of basic income isnt to give people collateral for loans but to provide them with money to cover their basic needs.

If you want a higher income of say 1500$ you can make 1000$ non-garishable so that the person can always cover their basic need and make the rest garnishable.

comment by bogus · 2016-06-13T22:03:57.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Welfare payment in Germany aren't basic income because people need to active look for a job to receive them.

True, but Germany has big tax breaks for entry-level, low-income jobs - what they call MiniJobs, MidiJobs etc. So the combination of unemployment insurance (the 'welfare' you describe) and easily available work acts much like a UBI as far as low-income folks are concerned.
The United Kingdom is now trying the same strategy, but with less success: though entry-level work is untaxed and quite widely available, many people there are still living on the 'dole' and not working, perhaps because the economy is still in bad shape and this lowers wages/worsens working conditions. A low-level UBI would be a nice solution to this issue.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-06-14T12:27:06.197Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, UBI means that you get money even if you decide against working. That's inherently different than conditional welfare payments.

There nothing unconditional about receiving money from an entry-level low-income job.

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-08T14:59:27.077Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are a programmer, you might be interested in IPSC 2016, an online competition of individuals and teams of at most three members. Participation is free, you can register online anytime you want (even during the competition). You can use any programming language you want; the programs themselves are not rated, only whether you transform the inputs to outputs correctly. Anyone can participate, but there will be separate ranking for teams of high-school students.

It is on Saturday, June 18th, 11:00-16:00 UTC.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-06-07T19:59:55.981Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

[Link] Nudge Theory

Nudge theory was named and popularized by the 2008 book, 'Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness', written by American academics Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. The book is based strongly on the Nobel prize-winning work of the Israeli-American psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

This article:

  • reviews and explains Thaler and Sunstein's 'Nudge' concept, especially 'heuristics' (tendencies for humans to think and decide instinctively and often mistakenly)
  • relates 'Nudge' methods to other theories and models, and to Kahneman and Tversky's work
  • defines and describes additional methods of 'nudging' people and groups
  • extends the appreciation and application of 'Nudge' methodology to broader change-management, motivation, leadership, coaching, counselling, parenting, etc
  • offers 'Nudge' methods and related concepts as a 'Nudge' theory 'toolkit' so that the concept can be taught and applied in a wide range of situations involving relationships with people, and enabling people to improve their thinking and decision-making and offers a glossary of Nudge theory and related terms

I'm somewhat surprised that Nudge Theory hasn't been discussed or linked here. It seems to be a recap of many well-known biases and such and a set of well-structured counter-measures or exploits. These latter parts being the interesting thing.

Example:

1 Positioning - Positioning, moving things, prominence, proximity, etc. The physical or visual positioning of something that people engage with, or which influences the way people engage with something else.

2 Limiting - Expiry dates, limited stock, and 'forbidden fruit'. The impression that opportunity could be lost, or something is in limited supply.

Other are "Sympathy", "Accessibility", "Likeability", "Relevance", "Mood-change", "Fear", "Facilitation", "Sensory". All of these have dark-art potential.

more positive examples are

Counter

Anchoring and adjustment = Using known things to estimate unknown things.

By

Give the audience factual comparisons and references that are relevant to them. Publicize statistics and facts about things which distort people's thinking and which are misleading influences.

Counter

Availability Heuristic = Familiarity and perceived commonness or rarity.

By

Offer statistics which give true scale of popularity, frequency or rarity of issues. Correct common faulty assumptions.

And so on for many more biases.

comment by Cariyaga · 2016-06-07T06:47:52.729Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An AMA by Federico Pistono, author of "Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK" and "How to Create a Malevolent Artificial Intelligence."

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-14T16:05:45.564Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Milton Friedman's negative-tax proposal was intended to replace the "War on Poverty" policies, which in turn were enacted out of a genuine fear that the poorest would be unable to support themselves.

Huh? As far as I know, the "War on Poverty" policies weren't motivated by the fear that the poorest will be unable to support themselves (after all, they managed to do so throughout all the preceding times). They were motivated by the optimism and can-do attitude -- the economy was growing very well, the middle class was booming, the progress towards the shining future was inevitable, so the Federal government should help the less fortunate get on the shining-future bus.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-14T15:58:06.247Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The generally-agreed rationale of UBI is that growing use of automation might eventually make it hard for people who lack relevant skills to support themselves even by working

That's an often-quoted reason, but it's far from "generally-agreed". For one thing, there is the obvious retort to it: we'll consider UBI when the robots actually make people unable to "support themselves even by working" and not before that.

A lot of people (e.g. Charles Murray) support UBI as a less-painful alternative to the metastasizing bureaucracy of welfare, etc., and with less mis- and disincentives, too. It is basically seen as a welfare equivalent to the "taxes on a postcard" (or maybe flat tax) movement.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T17:14:10.674Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A basic income would be basic, as in really, really low

That's a pretty major thing that routinely gets only vaguely handwaved at. What does "really, really low" mean, in numbers? "Comfortable living" is a very ill-defined measure and not usually associated with "really low" income, anyway.

Really really low basic income already exists, for example all residents of Alaska get a "dividend" each year which varies somewhere around $1,000-2,000. Presumably, UBI would be greater, but how much greater?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T15:10:34.581Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is not a bad outcome in itself ... have a chance of achieving more that way

Would you like to provide some data/arguments in support of this assertion?

one which allows for less government involvement

That really depends on the details of the implementation. You can structure UBI so that it provides either independence from or dependence on the government.

comment by bogus · 2016-06-13T15:16:25.433Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you like to provide some data/arguments in support of this assertion?

The Mincome experiment in Canada is relevant. It's widely reported that reduction in labor supply was largely explained by teenagers in school and women with pre-school-aged children. Two groups with especially high opportunity-costs of working, and the former with generally low productivity - quite close to what theory predicts.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T15:38:36.439Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Mincome experiment in Canada is relevant.

Is it? That experiment didn't involve that much money (if I'm reading the Wikipedia table right, between $3,800 and $5,500 annually) and explicitly reduced the payment if you were working -- so it looks more like welfare (granted, of the no-questions-asked kind) and less like UBI to me.

But there is a bigger question: what is a "not a bad outcome"? Obviously, if you pump external money into a community, that community's life will get better. But on the scale of a country, there is (usually) no external money, so you are just redistributing money from some people to some other people. At this point the issue is, basically, economic efficiency. If you give $X to a group of people, what happens to their economic output? If it did not grow by at least $X, well, you can justify this transfer by a variety of moral arguments (justice, fairness, etc.), but there is no economic justification -- the "achieving more that way" part does not work.

comment by bogus · 2016-06-13T16:47:58.280Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

At this point the issue is, basically, economic efficiency. If you give $X to a group of people, what happens to their economic output? If it did not grow by at least $X

That's not how economics works. People differ massively in the value they would put on the marginal dollar that they earn, and this is the main reason why giving some "free" money to low-earners can make economic sense, even if that money is raised via taxes.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T17:08:40.015Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People differ massively in the value they would put on the marginal dollar

Yes, of course.

giving some "free" money to low-earners can make economic sense

When you say "make economic sense", what do you mean? If you mean that the aggregate utility of the society would increase, that's not how economics work.

comment by morganism · 2016-06-11T22:37:39.483Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

VC capital and startups in AI and machine learning

http://renewableelectron.com/venture-capital/

and an interesting article on a Mars constitution, based on the Antarctic an Outer Space Treaties.

http://qz.com/702624/as-silicon-valley-lays-plans-to-colonize-mars-researchers-offer-a-blueprint-for-governing-it/

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-11T18:05:41.529Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do you think so? What I've seen from GiveDirectly and the conversations I've had with poor people don't bear this out. I'm not saying you're wrong, but do you have factual support for this I could see?

comment by gwern · 2016-06-11T21:42:18.252Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

GiveDirectly and the direct transfer RCTs in Africa/Third World countries don't answer the question about First World poverty because almost everyone, including the industrious and drug-free and high functioning people, in those countries is dirt-poor; in the First World, there is a much stronger correlation of pathology and poverty. To give an example, the direct transfers in Africa work because people there really are in poverty traps where $100 can make a big difference in letting them buy a cow or a motorcycle, and this is why the direct transfer RCTs show benefits; no one in America will show big benefits from a few transfers of $100 because poor people there have problems which can't be solved by some cash.

The upcoming YC-funded experiment will help test the generalizability of basic income results, and the original American experiments decades ago suggest that a basic income wouldn't cause lots of self-destructive behavior (or at least, wouldn't make things noticeably worse), but on the other hand, the natural experiments of lotteries in the USA and elsewhere like Sweden show minimal benefits to random shocks of wealth (which could've been invested for income). So I wouldn't be totally pessimistic, but I also wouldn't be surprised if BI experiments in the USA do worse than one would predict from the earlier GiveDirectly results.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-12T00:16:09.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I hadn't thought of that, good point. It still rings of the best example I have, but maybe not by as much. I have zero experience with actual people dying on actual streets so I use what I've got.

Yeah, I hope if experiments are done they're done well. A half-baked experiment could easily do more harm than good.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-06-26T03:03:53.626Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've had with poor people don't bear this out.

Are you talking about poor people, or the fellow dying in the street. There's a difference.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-06-09T15:23:58.635Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wow. Look at the "Top Contributors, 30 Days" on the sidebar. Overall activity perhaps has found a new low here on LW.

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-10T09:09:52.766Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Overall activity perhaps has found a new low here on LW.

Connotational disclaimer: There is nothing necessarily wrong with this.

I mean, if all people in the "Top Contributors, 30 Days" list would now write thousand new one-karma comments, the numbers would increase, but the quality of the website probably wouldn't improve.

comment by Pimgd · 2016-06-09T15:46:30.893Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What was the previous low?

comment by [deleted] · 2016-06-09T16:04:57.059Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There was a low point just before the LW Survey came out and everyone got the mutual karma bump for posting "I did the survey" temporarily inflating contributor scores. But now all those +1s have fallen outside the 30 day window, and not even the open thread is attracting comments any longer.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-06-09T17:03:25.324Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know. Not even sure this is the lowest. It looks pretty bleak as far as activity though. I would love to see some data visualization detailing the downfall...

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-06-14T15:59:35.886Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What we see in Germany is mostly the latter, and is thus of little practical consequence.

One of the most influential politicians in favor of UBI in Germany is Dieter Althaus from the CDU (the right). I also don't think it makes sense to see billionaire Götz Werner as wanting to give his consituents free money for votes.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-06-14T15:28:40.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The generally-agreed rationale of UBI is that growing use of automation might eventually make it hard for people without skills to support themselves even by working, at least for broadly reasonable working hours and conditions.

Various people support UBI for different reasons. It's not true that nobody in Germany calls for UBI. You might personal oppose UBI in a country like Germany but that doesn't mean that other don't want it.

Milton Friedman also wasn't concered about growing use of automation when he proposed UBI as negative taxation.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-06-13T18:41:26.956Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Answered by private message.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T18:28:57.148Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe $8k/yr

OK, cool, we have a ballpark number. Would that UBI (as is often said) replace all forms of welfare, unemployment benefits, special subsidies, etc?

And, what does this kind of UBI aim to achieve? It's not to prevent starving people from dying in the ditches because that already doesn't happen. It doesn't look like it will end poverty. So... make things a little better for the very poor? Is that all?

David Friedman argues that people could in fact live on what you get for the Alaska dividend

Well, not really live. He estimates how much money you need to spend in order not to die in the near future. Essentially it's the per-capita expenses of running a concentration camp in the tropics when you don't care much about life expectancy, never mind quality.

ETA: Here is Charles Murray arguing for a UBI that replaces everything including Social Security and clocks in at $13K/year (or $10K/year in cash after the mandatory health insurance takes $3K). And here is John Cochrane discussing Murray's proposal.

BTW, that's what a high-level discussion looks like.

comment by bogus · 2016-06-13T19:38:48.144Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would that UBI (as is often said) replace all forms of welfare, unemployment benefits, special subsidies, etc?

Short-term unemployment insurance would still exist, as would special, largely in-kind support for children in poor families (free lunches in school, protective services etc.) Much of the rest could be replaced.

It doesn't look like it will end poverty

It makes sure that the very poor aren't altogether dependent on the labor market for their survival. This is a meaningful improvement in their condition - perhaps the only possible one, given that poverty in the U.S. is in fact quite materially luxurious compared to, say, middle-class life in Namibia.

Essentially it's the per-capita expenses of running a concentration-camp in the tropics when you don't care much about life-expectancy, never mind quality

Of course, and I said as much, but the interesting question is what you need to add to that in order to really satisfy people's 'basic needs' in a reasonably objective sense - and in a way that's sustainable in the long term. Many people in poor and undeveloped countries manage to adjust to remarkably low living standards, and are nonetheless quite satisfied with their lives. So material deprivation is clearly not an issue for them at least.

And here is John Cochrane discussing Murray's proposal

He raises some good points, but I think he overestimates the political unfeasibility of the whole thing. Market-based policy reforms have worked quite well in the past, and they might work here too, especially with 'bi-partisan' support. He also wants to make people go through a purposefully uncomfortable process in order to keep qualifying for the "benefit", which is a terrible idea. High-income people will be offsetting the UBI with their taxes anyway; they're not the problem as Cochrane implies.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T19:51:37.683Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It makes sure that the very poor aren't altogether dependent on the labor market for their survival.

But they are not, right now. The problem of starving people dying in the ditches by the side of the road has been solved without the UBI.

Of course, and I said as much

I agreed with you :-)

the interesting question is what you need to add to that in order to really satisfy people's 'basic needs' in a reasonably objective sense

I am not sure what "reasonably objective sense" could mean. As you point out there are very poor communities (and historically, almost all communities were very poor by contemporary standards) but their members do not spend all their time in deep depression caused by the horribleness of their lives. From the point of "enough calories to not starve and enough warmth to not freeze" you have a continuous scale going up and I don't know on which basis will you decide that some point on this scale is "reasonably objective".

I think he overestimates the political unfeasibility of the whole thing

I am not so sure about this either. The US is rapidly progressing towards sclerosis and ossification -- it is losing the capability to just get things done (since we've mentioned Cochrane, see this). A UBI represents a massive new social contract which will upset a lot of people who gain something from the status quo.

A relevant quote from Larry Summers:

an aspect of American sclerosis — a gaggle of regulators and veto players, each with the power to block or to delay, and each with their own parochial concerns. All the actors ... are reasonable in their own terms, but the final result is wildly unreasonable.

comment by bogus · 2016-06-13T20:06:25.956Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But they are not, right now. The problem of starving people dying in the ditches by the side of the road has been solved without the UBI.

These problems have been 'solved' via a combination of welfare benefits (broadly understood; including food stamps, subsidized housing etc.) and heavy-handed labor market regulation which in practice leaves the most vulnerable unable to get a job at all, and in danger of losing their very freedom as they turn to crime in response. In other words, this is so costly a 'solution' to the issue that it's barely a solution at all. UBI would be radically simpler and more effective.

From the point of "enough calories to not starve and enough warmth to not freeze" you have a continuous scale going up and I don't know on which basis will you decide that some point on this scale is "reasonably objective".

True. I think the closest thing an 'objective' answer is that it's not just about calories/food and shelter, but the ability to form something like a community, and pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps from that point. (The Amish, Memnonites etc are another interesting example here.) Living in a concentration camp won't cut it, true, but you don't need that much more.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-13T20:11:31.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

UBI would be radically simpler and more effective.

Radically simpler -- yes. More effective -- I'll wait for implementation details :-/

Look at Obamacare for an example of how a simple idea ("people should be able to buy health insurance") got implemented.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-06-13T15:34:09.141Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If there was a basic income, I would not work. And people who know me are extremely unlikely to identify me as someone who "wouldn't be doing much worthwhile at work anyway." So that's surely a false generalization. And since we have no measure of how false it is, there is definitely no proof that the resulting situation would be desirable.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-13T09:45:13.162Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, that's interesting data, thanks. None of that is true in my nearest city but that in no way proves it's not the norm. If a person is actually mentally incompetent you're probably quite right, and organized crime could be a wrench in a lot of systems if it's organized enough.

Though maybe economics should - if you'll forgive the allusion - remove the log from its own eye first, and maybe then if it has any spare juice move on to solving health care problems and law enforcement problems. I haven't given this enough thought to be sure about it, but it's a thought.

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-13T10:26:35.899Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This probably depends a lot on local laws. Essentially, what does the law say about people who are so insane they are unable to handle the basic economical tasks, but who refuse to be institutionalized.

In some countries, the consent is not required, insane people are institutionalized against their will. They are removed from the streets, and average people don't see them anymore. This was e.g. the situation in my country during communism.

In some countries, as long as the person is not clearly dangerous to themselves or to others (i.e. not agressive nor suicidal), they have a right to refuse institutionalization, which usually means they will leech off their relatives, and then end up begging on the streets. Sometimes they starve or freeze to death, but the idea is that if they choose this way of life, they have a right to do so. This is e.g. the situation in my country now.

Some countries may allow them the freedom to do what they want, and provide for them enough free food and free accomodation, so they will neither starve nor freeze. But that requires money and organized help in every city. Not sure if there is a place where this system works well. It's probably easier in places where freezing isn't a big risk for geographical reasons.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-06-13T10:41:54.035Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, we have "Code Blue Saratoga" in the winter (branding, nothing to do with respiration) to provide extra shelter to the homeless when it gets below a certain temperature, so temperature is a factor.

It's actually quite a bit overfunded (charity, not taxes). I really hope it moves into some other ways to serve the people it's there to serve, even if not exactly in the way intended. I don't expect a "Red Cross didn't give my disaster relief check to the right disaster!" outcry here. Food is pretty much at equilibrium, but there might be some comfort items possible.

comment by morganism · 2016-06-12T21:33:32.066Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Looks like they have narrowed down the telomere argument to show that stem cell exhaustion is the key to, at least blood and immune system support. Looks like birth cord/placental blood storage from your birth is the best life extension insurance....

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25458-blood-of-worlds-oldest-woman-hints-at-limits-of-life

comment by DataPacRat · 2016-06-12T02:27:32.925Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which words?

I'm currently working with an uncommon non-English language, and in the near future, may have the opportunity to ask a native speaker for translations of terms not available in any existing dictionary. Which words, terms, phrases, and ideas do you think it's most important to be able to use?

Eg, to start with, I'm going to make sure any gaps in the basics of math and physics are covered: negative numbers, chemical elements, planet names; the sorts of things you'd find in a typical SETI primer. And I'll be including some present-day technologies that were invented since the most recent dictionary available - cellphones, the Internet, etc.

But if I can convince this individual to supply translations for concepts such as "existential risk", "intelligence explosion", "cryonics", or "decision theory", which ones should I actually ask about? (Especially as they have their own life, and I may only be able to get so many translations.)

Put another way, for people who aren't using English, what post-1970ish ideas are the most important ones to have specific words for to be able to talk about?

Put yet another way, as a thought experiment, if you were involved in helping put together a new conlang like Klingon, which concepts would you want to be sure the language included?

Put still another way, for a language that simply adopted the English word 'cheese' for the new concept, which post-1970ish-concept words do you think should be created from the language's own building-blocks, and which should use English's trick of simply incorporating a foreign term?

comment by Viliam · 2016-06-13T11:13:26.561Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This actually happens all the time -- some new word is invented, often in English, and now the other languages have to find a way to deal with it.

One possibility is to take the English word, and do the minimum necessary modification to make it feel natural, such as add or modify a suffix... more or less what a neural network trained on similar kinds of words would do. Another possibility, if the new word is composed from existing roots, use the translations of those roots and try to connect them in similar way.

Sometimes the rules do not allow an analogical operation, for example, in some hypothetical language it could be very unusual to derive the adjective "existential" from the noun "existence", so you might end up with a more clumsy phrase for "existential risk" such as "dangers threatening the existence" or similar. Maybe not this specific example, but sometimes other languages are less flexible in some places than English.

Ultimately, the rules are not 100% exact; even if you translate the term breaking some of the rules, as soon as the translation gains momentum, people will use it, even if some language purists would complain.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-06-09T05:10:09.406Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To whom it may concern:

Apparently, if you need antitoxins to botulinum, rabies or tetanus in Ukraine, right now you've got to BYOB.

comment by root · 2016-06-07T12:14:57.589Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm no expert (paging gwern?) but could an AI have it's code put inside a DNA? Idea from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_digital_data_storage

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-06-07T15:46:47.591Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You mean like humans do?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-06-07T14:38:52.847Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

DNA encodes proteins, basically. So by manipulating the DNA code you could construct the proteins you want. Let's push the idea further and postulate that you can construct a biological creature to your specifications. But then what? That creature will be limited by biological constraints. Wetware doesn't get very fast or very strong.