Posts

Are the Born probabilities really that mysterious? 2021-03-02T03:08:34.334Z
Adele Lopez's Shortform 2020-08-04T00:59:24.492Z
Optimization Provenance 2019-08-23T20:08:13.013Z

Comments

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Prefer the British Style of Quotation Mark Punctuation over the American · 2021-09-11T19:38:34.759Z · LW · GW

I remember being taught the American style as a kid, and deciding that it was stupid and that I simply wasn't going to follow it (except for when sucking up to authorities).

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Is MIRI's reading list up to date? · 2021-09-11T19:09:45.168Z · LW · GW

Some books not on the list which I highly recommend:

  • Topology via Logic by Steve Vickers (good supplement to learning topology with Munkres, it has a very different approach -- in particular this book dissolves the mystery of why topology is so relevant to this sort of research)
  • Seven Sketches in Compositionality by Brendan Fong and David Spivak
  • Modern Thermodynamics by John Denker (excellent book which is very relevant to the "Realistic World-Models" research direction)
Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Is LessWrong dead without Cox’s theorem? · 2021-09-05T04:16:25.043Z · LW · GW

FWIW, Van Horn says:

"There has been much unnecessary controversy over Cox’s Theorem due to differing implicit assumptions as to the nature of its plausibility function. Halpern [11, 12] claims to demonstrate a counterexample to Cox’s Theorem by examining a finite problem domain, but his argument presumes that there is a different plausibility function for every problem domain."

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on A Better Web is Coming · 2021-08-22T00:12:40.716Z · LW · GW

Arbital is on life-support indefinitely.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on How much interest would there be in a fringe theories wiki? · 2021-06-28T21:27:01.042Z · LW · GW

This is the most similar resource I know of: http://www.rexresearch.com/1index.htm Unfortunately, it of course has terrible epistemic hygiene, it would be nice to have a resource like this that presented from somewhere grounded in reality. There are lots of obscure but sound ideas there though.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Covid 6/24: The Spanish Prisoner · 2021-06-27T04:09:38.952Z · LW · GW

It's not clear that they were not responsible for killing him, and they were definitely responsible for the killing of Fred Hampton.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Arguments against constructivism (in education)? · 2021-06-22T01:30:49.472Z · LW · GW

The theory behind it is described here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303721842_Theory_of_Instruction_Principles_and_Applications

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Reply to Nate Soares on Dolphins · 2021-06-11T22:32:40.698Z · LW · GW

Or, imagine if in 2014, Yudkowsky suddenly started saying the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, without acknowledging that anything had changed. That's how weird this is.

This is a strong overstatement. Eliezer clearly has invested orders of magnitude more effort in defense of his MWI stance than he did in defense of his original dolphins-aren't-fish "stance".

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Which animals can suffer? · 2021-06-02T18:20:29.314Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I meant what I said about chimps experiencing suffering. To the extent that consciousness and social identity are relevant, I believe chimps have those to a sufficient degree.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Which animals can suffer? · 2021-06-01T23:39:51.568Z · LW · GW

Thanks!

Suffering seems like a natural category to me, at least in the way it's used to classify experiences.

Even if it is a social construct, that doesn't mean that animals or AIs couldn't experience a meaningfully similar experience. I'd be quite surprised if it turns out that e.g. chimps truly do not suffer in any of the common senses of the word.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Which animals can suffer? · 2021-06-01T20:00:03.531Z · LW · GW

I think the experiments you describe on humans is a reasonable start, but that you would then need to ask: "Why did suffering evolve as a distinct sensation from pain?" I don't think you can determine the function of suffering without being able to answer that. Then you could look at other systems and see if something with the same functionality exists. I think that's how you could generalize to both other animals and AI.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Which animals can suffer? · 2021-06-01T05:49:38.165Z · LW · GW

I think the functional approach is ultimately correct, but that suffering is a much more complex way of being than any system having learnable negative feedback. A simple way to illustrate this is to notice that the amount of suffering changes drastically (in my own experience) across functionally very similar negative feedback loops. Walking along a path involves negative feedback (which I can learn from), but I don't feel like I'm suffering at all when I notice I'm deviating slightly (and even if it turns out I am, the amount of suffering is still much much lower than for standard suffering). In fact, it suspiciously seems like the amount of suffering is correlated with experiences which would likely have harmed my reproductive fitness 20,000 years ago. It even disconnects from the sensation of pain: e.g. I suffer much less from painful experiences which I believe are healing compared to ones which I believe are harmful, even if the raw sensation feels the same. Another strange thing about suffering is that it increases the more attention I pay to a constant pain signal. On the other hand, emotional pain doesn't seem (in my experience) to be as separated from suffering. Anyway, the point is that we need to vet definitions of what suffering is in just our own experiences before trying to use them on animals.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Fixedness From Frailty · 2021-06-01T04:50:54.627Z · LW · GW

I think it's true that insanity/trickery is always going to be a stronger hypothesis than these truly outlandish claims. At the same time, if you could still model the nature of the entities in your hallucination, it would end up being equivalent to believing you were in a simulation. So in practice, you would go about using your psychic powers as if they were real, and wouldn't have to suffer for being rational in an extremely unlikely world, while still believing that you must actually be in some sort of simulated world. And as a bounded agent, it seems like there would be another point where your belief that you're in a simulation with memories of an old life in a strange world would start feeling insane.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on A Medical Mystery: Thyroid Hormones, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia · 2021-05-31T19:52:40.376Z · LW · GW

She's seems to agree there's an issue:

There are cases where there’s a lot of evidence that “standard” cut-offs are in the wrong place. “Subclinical hypothyroidism” still benefits from supplemental thyroid hormone; higher-than-standard doses of allopurinol control gout better; “standard” light therapy for seasonal affective disorder doesn’t work as well as ultra-bright lights; etc. More Dakka.

(from https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/personalized-medicine-for-real/)

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on How counting neutrons explains nuclear waste · 2021-05-30T23:08:25.753Z · LW · GW

Yeah, but it's surprising that it doesn't begin until after Bismuth, given that. It seems like it skips one on the neutron side as well.

Does the shell theory explain why it becomes unusually unstable once there's two neutrons past the shell (and not when there's two protons past the shell)?

And also, why does the decay mode suddenly change to alpha particles? I guess the alpha particle decay becoming favorable explains why it "skips one" on each side, and perhaps since He_4 is also doubly magic, maybe that's why it prefers to do alpha decay in this region.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Wrist Update · 2021-05-30T22:55:35.743Z · LW · GW

Sure! There's not really a specific exercise as much as a method for dealing with issues. The following is just my interpretation of what he taught me in person, so YMMV.

If you move your hand/wrist/arm around, you can usually identify a configuration where there's a threshold at which it "catches" and starts hurting noticeably more. Then you keep your arm fixed at that position, and make small motions along each of your wrist/elbow/shoulder joints one at a time, to identify where the issue is:

  • wrist movement crosses threshold --> issue is in your forearm
  • elbow movement crosses threshold --> issue is in your upper arm
  • shoulder movement crosses threshold --> issue is in your back or neck (typically near the shoulder blades or up your armpits)

You should also be able to feel what side the pain is on, and so (still keeping it at the threshold configuration) you gently press in that area with your other hand until you identify an especially tender or "knotted" spot (it doesn't always hurt, I often have to go by feel). Then you try to put a shear force on this area, as if you're trying to move the overlying muscle or tendon out of the way for whatever is below. While holding it out of the way, you try slowly moving your arm past the threshold again. If successful, it will be further out than before (and if not, you probably have the spot a little off, or aren't putting the right kind of force on the area, so experiment a bit to find what works). You'll want to keep moving your arm back and forth across the former threshold, making sure to move all three joints in the process. Then you can release the force and ensure that the threshold remains at the new location (and if not, reapply the force and move through it more).

It can help to have a partner to apply the force, since it is sometimes is required in really hard to reach locations.

By the time you're having serious wrist issues, you likely have issues in several locations all along your arm, back and neck. It seems to be easier to start with the issue nearest to your hand first, and work your way up (sometimes requiring you to go back down as a new issue surfaces). It's common for fixing one issue to make new issues apparent. With David, I've also experienced sudden numbness/pricklyness, or sudden hot or cold in a strangely specific part of my arm, but I don't experience these when doing it myself.

I don't have a great model for what these issues actually are or why this technique helps, but I do appreciate the kinematic approach to the problem. David says it may have to do with the overlying muscle putting excessive pressure on the tissue below, causing the tissue to get inflamed, which then causes a high-friction point when moving in certain ways. I think there is likely more to the story than that, but I don't know enough about the anatomy to say what.

Hope this is able to help you.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on How counting neutrons explains nuclear waste · 2021-05-30T21:50:19.928Z · LW · GW

Do we know what's up with the yellow square starting at Polonium where the half-lives suddenly get short?

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Wrist Update · 2021-05-30T05:02:32.438Z · LW · GW

I would highly recommend seeing David Bacome (based in SF). I had really bad wrist problems which he was able to fix (and teach me how to keep them from getting bad again) after doctors had me do useless exercises that didn't help at all.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion · 2021-05-26T18:50:57.097Z · LW · GW

This would be a deal breaker for me too.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Covid 5/13: Moving On · 2021-05-15T15:20:42.443Z · LW · GW

I have an 89 y.o. relative who is using a similar excuse, though not with the "strain" term in particular.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion · 2021-05-09T17:06:06.193Z · LW · GW

I'm curious about the list of places that would be good except that they don't have the right kind of property available.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion · 2021-05-09T15:02:01.960Z · LW · GW

I think Reno is the one I would be most likely to move to. It's fairly close to the SF Bay Area, which is where my family lives, and thus a major plus for me (and major minus for anywhere on the east coast). It's also one of the sunniest places, which would significantly enhance my enjoyment of being outside (I know the luminators are pretty good for SAD indoors, but going outside still doesn't give me the same boost/refreshment if it's cloudy/dreary). I'd prefer it over Austin because I'm wary of living in a red state. Unfortunately, Reno has an ugly aesthetic IMO, but it also has a very nostalgic feeling for me since I grew up in Utah, which is similar minus the neon. Another nice thing is that it's close to lake Tahoe.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on The AI Timelines Scam · 2021-05-04T20:51:26.107Z · LW · GW

Really? My impression is that rapid AI timelines make things increasingly "hopeless" because there's less time to try to prevent getting paperclipped, and that this is the default view of the community.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Your Dog is Even Smarter Than You Think · 2021-05-03T02:36:36.311Z · LW · GW

Ah, good catch thanks!

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Your Dog is Even Smarter Than You Think · 2021-05-02T13:56:27.625Z · LW · GW

I find it quite fascinating that in the videos I've seen with Bunny, she tends to use SOV word-order (Subject Object Verb) even though her owner always (that I've seen) uses the SVO order of English. Most The majority of human languages use SOV, about 75% 45% of the ones that care about word order. It seems to be mathematically convenient as well.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Would robots care about Meaning and Relating? · 2021-04-28T02:23:16.372Z · LW · GW

I've had some ideas that have made me feel somewhat less confused about what "meaning" means. Consider a gene in an ancient bacterium, in a time before there were any other kinds of cell. It seems to me that even then, this gene still meant something. But what exactly? The protein perhaps? That's definitely part of it, but there also seems to be a meaningful difference between this gene and other genes. Maybe this protein specifically detects Na+ ion concentrations. It seems reasonable to consider this part of the meaning of the gene. But wait, this gene happens to have a mutation that makes it detect K+ ions instead. Is that the true meaning? And what does it even mean to "detect" something? As I keep asking myself these sorts of questions, the picture that emerges looks like this:

  • The meaning of something is due to its ability to cause its own existence.
  • This gene exists because it is part of a reproducing bacteria species
  • In particular, this gene exists because the bacteria which had it were better able to reproduce themselves.
  • And the content of this gene's meaning lies within the causal mechanism by which it contributes to this.
  • Specifically, that this gene exists more because it responds in different ways to different Na+ ion levels.
  • The mutated instance of the gene does not yet have an additional meaning; the fact it "detects" K+ ions is simply happenstance.
  • However, if this bacteria is better able to replicate because of this ability, the gene will acquire a new meaning due to this ability.
  • What about the meaning of something artificial, like a piano?
  • A given piano exists because humans like the concept of the piano; it's meaning is as a meme.
  • If there was a happy accident in the development of the piano, leading to a specific feature, that feature acquired meaning once the inventor decided to intentionally keep that feature because of a specific quality it had.

This idea of meaning also seems to hold up well when considering colloquial usage of the word, which I didn't expect. For example, one of the most meaningful events that you can experience is having a child, which straightforwardly is a way in which "you" can exist more. More generally, people consider life to be intrinsically meaningful. Something which often causes people to feel as if everything is meaningless is realizing that they will die, or that the universe itself will eventually die.

Some ways in which I'm still dissatisfied with this are:

  • What exactly is existence?
  • How does it make sense that even imperfect copies count as existing more?
  • Is there a measure for existence?
  • What exactly is causality?
  • This seems to require a notion of causality deeper than the Pearlian description of causality for Bayes nets.
Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on A casual intro to Geometric Algebra · 2021-04-28T01:47:13.913Z · LW · GW

Nice intro! I agree that the cross-product should be deprecated in favor of the wedge product in almost every physical application.

I like Geometric Algebra, but I find that its proponents tend to oversell it (you aren't doing that here, I just mean in general). Which is unfortunate, since it increases the entropy (on all sides) of pretty much all discussions of it. On the other hand, it does seem to add more energy toward people learning it.

Anyway, here are some of my observations on potential blindspots. I think the way it mixes types (e.g. the geometric product of two vectors is the sum of a bivector and a scalar) sometimes adds more confusion and complexity than it removes. As an example of this from Hestenes himself, from page 18 of this, he describes trying to find the right way to use GA to model kinematics (i.e. translations, rotations, and their combination: screws). At first, this seems like the perfect excuse to add a vector to a bivector, and get a coherent geometric meaning out of it! However, he found that it was actually better to add some null basis elements, so that translations and rotations both end up being bivectors. Another case where I think type conflation is happening is in the identification of the dual space with the primary space; these have different physical units (but to be fair, standard math is terrible about conflating these too)!

None of this is to say that there aren't a bunch of great insights from thinking about things from the GA viewpoint! In particular, I find thinking of spinors as exponentiated bivectors is especially enlightening! Just a note of caution about some blindspots of the community that I've noticed since first being interested in it.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-14T02:33:23.023Z · LW · GW

You can just DM me :)

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-13T01:02:46.974Z · LW · GW

I'm not going through the lectures myself (at least not in a systematic way), but I do spend a lot of time thinking about physics concepts and trying to imagine them in more geometric, conceptual ways. I am interested in making visualizations based on my insights, however I haven't had time to make them yet. I'd love talking about ideas on how to do this though!

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Another (outer) alignment failure story · 2021-04-13T00:15:57.043Z · LW · GW

How bad is the ending supposed to be? Are just people who fight the system killed, and otherwise, humans are free to live in the way AI expects them to (which might be something like keep consuming goods and providing AI-mediated feedback on the quality of those goods)? Or is it more like once humans are disempowered no machine has any incentive to keep them around anymore, so humans are not-so-gradually replaced with machines?

The main point of intervention in this scenario that stood out to me would be making sure that (during the paragraph beginning with "For many people this is a very scary situation.") we at least attempt to use AI-negotiators to try to broker an international agreement to stop development of this technology until we understood it better (and using AI-designed systems for enforcement/surveillance). Is there anything in particular that makes this infeasible?

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Communication Requires Common Interests or Differential Signal Costs · 2021-03-26T18:39:01.548Z · LW · GW

It doesn't seem generally true that communication requires delicate maintenance. Liars have existed for thousands of years, and languages have diverged and evolved, and yet we still are able to communicate straightforwardly the vast majority of the time! Like you said, lying loses its effectiveness the more it is used, and so there's a counter-pressure which automatically prevents it from taking over.

Perhaps this analogy will help us talk about things more clearly. We can think of a communication-sphere as being a region with a temperature. Just as a region must be at equilibrium in order to have a temperature at all, so a communication-sphere must have enough interaction that there's a shared sense of meaning and understanding. The higher the temperature, the more uncertainty there is over what is meant in an average interaction. Normal society operates around room temperature, which is quite far from absolute zero. But machinery and computers and life are all able to operate functionally here even so! On Less Wrong, the temperature is around liquid Nitrogen, quite colder, but still not particularly close to absolute zero. People are a lot more careful with the reasoning and meanings here, but various ambiguities of language are still present, as well as some external entropy introduced by deceptive processes. It takes some effort to maintain this temperature, but not so much that it can't exist as a public website. It seems to me like you are advocating that we (but who exactly is unclear) try to bring things down to liquid Helium temperatures, maybe because unusual levels of cooperation like superfluidity become possible. And it is only around here where this temperature becomes fragile, and requires delicate maintenance.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What's So Bad About Ad-Hoc Mathematical Definitions? · 2021-03-17T03:05:18.756Z · LW · GW

Ah, that makes sense, thanks! I'd still say "sentences in a logic" is a specific type though.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What's So Bad About Ad-Hoc Mathematical Definitions? · 2021-03-17T00:05:02.337Z · LW · GW

Things that you can cast as a finite set. You can stretch this a bit by using limits to cover things that can be cast as compact metric spaces (and probably somewhat more than this), but this requires care and grounding in the finite set case in order to be unambiguously meaningful.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on MetaPrompt: a tool for telling yourself what to do. · 2021-03-16T23:59:44.347Z · LW · GW

Do you have the code for the failed attempts?

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What's So Bad About Ad-Hoc Mathematical Definitions? · 2021-03-16T23:49:53.038Z · LW · GW

This doesn't make sense to me. It seems that if you're being strict about types, then "plain old probabilities" also require the correct type signature, and by using Shannon entropy you are still making an implicit assumption about the type signature.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What's So Bad About Ad-Hoc Mathematical Definitions? · 2021-03-16T21:04:52.690Z · LW · GW

Shannon entropy is straightforwardly a special case of von Neumann entropy, so it applies to at least as many kinds of universes.

I still feel a bit confused about the "fundamentalness", but in trying to formulate a response, I was convinced by Jaynes that von Neumann entropy has an adequate interpretation in terms of Shannon entropy.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What's So Bad About Ad-Hoc Mathematical Definitions? · 2021-03-16T19:26:49.856Z · LW · GW

Something that bothers me about the Shannon entropy is that we know that it's not the most fundamental type of entropy there is, since the von Neumann entropy is more fundamental.

A question I don't have a great answer for: How could Shannon have noticed (a priori) that it was even possible that there was a more fundamental notion of entropy?

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What's So Bad About Ad-Hoc Mathematical Definitions? · 2021-03-16T19:21:25.185Z · LW · GW

Maybe entropic uncertainty (conjectured by Everett as part of his "Many Worlds" thesis, and proved by Hirschmann and Beckner) is along the lines of what you're looking for. It's a generalization of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle that applies even when the variance isn't well defined.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-12T22:09:33.997Z · LW · GW

The Poincarè recurrence theorem doesn't imply that. It doesn't imply the system is ergodic, and it only applies to "almost all" states (the exceptions are guaranteed to have measure zero, but then again, so is the set of all numbers anyone will ever specifically think about). In any case, the entropy doesn't change at all because it's a property of an abstraction.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-10T06:06:41.548Z · LW · GW

You should think of entropy as a subjective quantity. Even by thinking in terms of different fluctuations, you're imposing a frame/abstraction that isn't part of the actual structure of reality. Entropy is a property of abstractions, and quantifies the amount of information lost by abstracting. The universe, by itself, does not have any entropy.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-10T05:54:41.489Z · LW · GW

Yes! As Jaynes teaches us: "[T]he order of increasing entropy is the order in which information is transfered, and has nothing to do with any temporal order."

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on MIRI comments on Cotra's "Case for Aligning Narrowly Superhuman Models" · 2021-03-09T20:14:56.931Z · LW · GW

My guess is that a "clean" algorithm is still going to require multiple conceptual insights in order to create it. And typically, those insights are going to be found before we've had time to strip away the extraneous ideas in order to make it clean, which requires additional insights. Combine this with the fact that at least some of these insights are likely to be public knowledge and relevant to AGI, and I think Eliezer has the right idea here.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Adele Lopez's Shortform · 2021-03-05T17:58:54.554Z · LW · GW
  • Stealing Jaynes
    • Ability to stand alone (a la Grothendieck)
    • Mind Projection Fallacy
      • Maintain a careful distinction between ontology and epistemology
        • Lots of confusing theories are confusing because they mix these together in the same theory
        • In QM, Bohr is always talking on the epistemological level, and Einstein is always talking on the ontological level
      • Any probabilities are subjective probabilities
        • Don't make any unjustified assumptions: maximum entropy
      • Meta-knowledge is different from knowledge, but can be utilized to improve direct knowledge
        • probabilities
        • Subjective H theorem
    • Infinities are meaningless until you've specified the exact limiting process
    • If the same phenomena seems to arise in two different ways, try to find a single concept encompassing both ways
    • Failures of a theory are hints of an unknown or unaccounted for principle
    • On effective understanding
      • Learning a sound process is more effective than learning lots of facts
        • Students should be taught a few examples deeply done in the correct way, instead of lots of examples hand-waved through
      • There's often much to be learned from the writings of those who saw far beyond their contemporaries
        • Common examples
          • Jeffreys
          • Gibbs
          • Laplace
      • Conceptual confusion impedes further progress
      • Don't let rigor get in the way of understanding
    • Toolkit
Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on I'm still mystified by the Born rule · 2021-03-05T06:18:53.660Z · LW · GW

Awesome!

So, trilinear forms are a thing: for example, if you have 3 vectors, and you want to know the volume of the parallelepiped they form, that's a trilinear form. And that clearly has a "cubicness" to it, and you can do this for arbitrary numbers of vectors and covectors. The Riemann curvature tensor is perhaps the most significant one that has more than 2 (co)vectors involved. FWIW the dual space thing also seems likely to be important for my confusion about why phase space "volume" is 2-dimensional (even in super huge phase spaces)!

I would say that distance is bilinear in arbitrary dimension because it's also inherently a comparison of two vectors (a vector to measure, and a "unit" vector to measure it by). Not sure if that reduces things any for you.

For me, it doesn't feel like there's going to be anything beyond "because comparison is important, and inherently 2-ish" for this. I do think part of why a metric is so significant is related to the dual space, but my guess is that even this will ultimately boil down to "comparison" (maybe as the concept of equality) being important.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on I'm still mystified by the Born rule · 2021-03-05T04:21:11.867Z · LW · GW

I think quantum darwinism is on the right track. FWIW, I found Zurek's presentation of it here to be more clear to me.

The gist of it is, AFAICT:

  • Entangled states have a symmetry called envariance
  • This symmetry implies certain states must have equal probabilities
  • Other states can be decomposed into the kind from before
  • Putting this together implies the Born rule
Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on I'm still mystified by the Born rule · 2021-03-05T03:53:14.407Z · LW · GW

"what is the nature of the connection between orthonormality and squaring"

I have a different answer to go alongside AlexMennen's answer.

In differential topology, there is an important distinction between vectors and covectors. To see what this is, we need to look at the behavior under a change of basis. If we double our basis vectors, then we'll need to halve the coordinates of a vector, but we'll need to double the coordinates of a covector. A good way to visualize this is as a geographical map with contour lines. Position differences are vectors, and the contours are covectors.

You can think of covectors as measuring vectors, but without adding something new, there's not a natural way to compare two vectors to each other. To compare two things, you need a function that will take those two things as an input, and return a scalar. In order for such a function to be invariant under change of basis, it will have to be a (0, 2)-tensor (aka a bilinear form). Let's call this tensor T(u,v). Now if we multiply u and v by a scalar r, then bilinearity forces that T(ru, rv) = r^2 T(u,v) which is the squaring we were looking form (and in general, you can prove that T(u,u) is a quadratic form, and that it must actually be quadratic if we want both inputs to matter).

So to summarize:

  • Orthogonality is inherently a way to compare two things of the same type.
  • To compare 2 things of the same type in a differential space inherently requires a bilinear form.
  • Non-trivial bilinear forms are inherently quadratic.
Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Are the Born probabilities really that mysterious? · 2021-03-02T04:08:37.069Z · LW · GW

I don't think that's what Eliezer found mysterious about the Born rule.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk · 2021-02-28T20:51:07.944Z · LW · GW

FWIW: a lot of my motivation (in general) stems from my love of my future children.

Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on Utility Maximization = Description Length Minimization · 2021-02-19T02:48:26.446Z · LW · GW

This gives a nice intuitive explanation for the Jeffery-Bolker rotation which basically is a way of interpreting a belief as a utility, and vice versa.

Some thoughts:

  • What do probabilities mean without reference to any sort of agent? Presumably it has something to do with the ability to "win" De Finetti games in expectation. For avoiding subtle anthropomorphization, it might be good to think of this sort of probability as being instantiated in a bacterium's chemical sensor, or something like that. And in this setting, it's clear it wouldn't mean anything without the context of the bacterium. Going further, it seems to me like the only mechanism which makes this mean anything is the fact that it helps make the bacterium "exist more" i.e. reproduce and thrive. So I think having a probability mean a probability inherently requires some sort of self-propagation -- it means something if it's part of why it exists. This idea can be taken to an even deeper level, where according to Zureck you can get the Born probabilities by looking at what quantum states allow information to persist through time (from within the system).
  • Does this imply anything about the difficulty of value learning? An AGI will be able to make accurate models of the world, so it will have the raw algorithms needed to do value learning... the hard part seems to be, as usual, pointing to the "correct" values. Not sure this helps with that so much.
  • A bounded agent creating a model will have to make decisions about how much detail to model various aspects of the world in. Can we use this idea to "factor" out that sort of trade-off as part of the utility function?
Comment by Adele Lopez (adele-lopez-1) on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2021-02-16T17:20:37.568Z · LW · GW

Basically, you move your arm around until you get to a position where it starts to hurt (or hurts more). Then you try to find a spot with your other hand where if you apply a shear force, the pain goes away when you try to move again.