Comment by a_gramsci on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... · 2012-02-14T21:52:38.132Z · LW · GW

The thing about that is, is that not everyone is donating at the same time, so that they can see the expected value change.

Comment by a_gramsci on Biointelligence Explosion · 2011-11-09T02:18:11.442Z · LW · GW

I don't know. The question of self is a hard one. I would not, because I would like my consciousness, as in the one that I control (a little recursive, but you get the point) to be alive, and because that other me is another distinct set of atoms, and therefore my neurons don't control him. So I would say no

Comment by a_gramsci on Query the LessWrong Hivemind · 2011-11-08T21:33:46.026Z · LW · GW

You're right, that was one of the erroneous assumptions I made. The problem with that is that there are an infinite number of permutations of possible universes. Even if only a small fraction of them are habitable, and a small fraction of those are conducive to intelligent life, we still have the multiplying by infinity issue. I don't know how valid using infinity in an equation is though, because when there are two infinities it breaks down. For example, if they're are an infinite amount of dogs in New York, and 10% of dogs are terriers, technically the probability of the next dog you see being a terrier is equal to that of any other dog. That again simply doesn't make sense to me

Comment by a_gramsci on Biointelligence Explosion · 2011-11-08T20:22:34.490Z · LW · GW

Random question that just occurred to me: would you be fine if an exact copy was made of you (ignore quantum mechanics for now), and the old you was killed off?

Comment by a_gramsci on Query the LessWrong Hivemind · 2011-11-08T20:14:22.983Z · LW · GW

On your argument, there is little need to flawlessly compute the universe. If a civilization sees that their laws are inconsistent with their observations, then they will change their laws to reflect their observations. Because there is no way to conclusively prove your laws are correct, it is impossible for a simulation to state that "Our laws are correct, therefore there is a flaw in the universe". Furthermore, on the probability that our ancestors have obtained the computing power of running a simulation:

An estimate for the power of a (non-quantum) planet sized computer is 10^42 (R. J. Bradbury, “Matrioshka Brains.”) operation per second. Its hard to pin down how many atoms there are in the universe, but lets put it at around 10^80, and with 128 bits needed to hold each coordinate, to the degree of one pm, and another for its movement, that puts it at around 10^83 operations to run a simulation.

So at first it looks impractical to compute a universe, but this computer need to perform its operations in a seconds time. (Practical value of a computer that runs infinitely slowly), it can compute its values infinitely slowly. And so, no matter the size of the universe, a computer can simulate it. And because it can compute its values infinitely slowly, it can compute an infinite number of universes.

So in conclusion, there is a very low probability that a civilization evolves to the point where it can simulate a universe, and the motives are also dubious. But, because of that fact that if it does, there is no upper bound to the number of universes the civilization can simulate, and so we are almost certainly in a simulated universe, because the probability of us being in a simulated universe is determined by n/p, where p is the probability of a universe being simulated, and n is the number of universes being simulated, that ends up being a probability of infinity, and so we are most likely part of a simulated universe.

Comment by a_gramsci on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-11-05T00:22:53.109Z · LW · GW

That's really interesting; maybe we need a new name for the (convoluted) modern Socratic method?

Comment by a_gramsci on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-11-04T22:58:53.032Z · LW · GW

That's why I think that the basic concept of "building block" schooling works-you essentially keep the distance constant, but teach them ever more challenging topics. The one time where there is a large gap is in the introduction of completely new ideas or subjects. For example, in physics when people first learn of general relativity there is a large inferential distance, which is very hard to remedy.

Comment by a_gramsci on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-11-04T22:51:24.484Z · LW · GW

Interestingly, the one time that I find that the modern Socratic method works is math. Because it is so much more helpful in math to have an innate understanding of the subjects, you have to be able to explain why an equation or theorem works/is true. So when time permits, guiding them with questions is very helpful, as figuring something out sticks in your mind more than having it on a board.

Comment by a_gramsci on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-11-04T21:12:26.650Z · LW · GW

You're right, I really wasn't thinking of a specific method of comparison, rather I was just kind of ranting on how much I dislike it. Of the teaching methods we have: Lecturing- Above average students might be bored if the teacher is telling them information they already knew, but it many times has just a blanket boredom effect

Demonstrating- Even if certain students already know information, can still be interesting if they try to extend their thinking on the demonstration. The opposite of a lecture, many times has a blanket engaging effect

Socratic- See above post So really, there is no silver bullet, only what you say of devoting attention to specific subsets of class. Apart from the limited use cases of a demonstration, the only way to maximize what part of the class is interested is by catering to the largest subset

Comment by a_gramsci on Calibrate your self-assessments · 2011-11-04T19:27:26.351Z · LW · GW

On the Socratic method; I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about that or could write an article on the benefits and consequences of it. From what I see is that the above average students get frustrated when the jump to conclusions faster than the teachers guide the class to them, and the below average students who consistently aren't understanding the questions, with the Socratic method really only working for the average students (this scale though can be re-calibrated, for example if the teacher caters the to the below average students, now the average students are also frustrated, and vice versa.)

Comment by a_gramsci on How to manipulate future self into being productive? · 2011-11-04T19:13:16.475Z · LW · GW

The issue with that line of thinking, while I think it is the optimal result, is that you have some degree of control over your future self, in setting up binding or non-binding systems for you to follow in the future. But you have no control over your past self, only your present and some control over your future. So now, you have to think of yourself as the soon to be past self, and your future self as your present self. That then goes against the authors original goal, because then you will be working forever, as the gratification is always in the future.

Comment by a_gramsci on Better Disagreement · 2011-10-31T03:07:42.160Z · LW · GW

I find this is the most constructive way to resolve a debate between two people (see: But in long-running debates, or ones with heated debaters, this is much harder. Firstly, because many debates are long running precisely because this strategy cannot be applied to the,. The issue with heated debaters is that this requires an open mindset of looking for truth versus looking to prove yourself right, which I find lacking in many debates.

Comment by a_gramsci on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... · 2011-10-30T15:52:37.514Z · LW · GW

What happens in that situation is that people continue to invest in malaria nets, so much that the marginal cost of saving another life goes from say, $500 to $700, and for $600 dollars you can dig a well, saving another persons life. In essence, you donate to the most efficient charity until that money has caused the charity to have to pay more to save lives, and therefore stops being the most efficient charity.