What's the status of third vaccine doses? 2021-08-04T02:22:52.317Z
A new option for building lumenators 2021-07-12T23:45:34.294Z
Bay and/or Global Solstice* Job Search (2021 - 2022) 2021-03-16T00:21:10.290Z
Where does the phrase "central example" come from? 2021-03-12T05:57:49.253Z
One Year of Pomodoros 2020-12-31T04:42:31.274Z
Logistics for the 2020 online Secular Solstice* 2020-12-03T00:08:37.401Z
The Bay Area Solstice 2014-12-03T22:33:17.760Z
Mathematical Measures of Optimization Power 2012-11-24T10:55:17.145Z
Modifying Universal Intelligence Measure 2012-09-18T23:44:08.864Z
An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction 2012-07-11T08:05:20.544Z
Should LW have a separate AI section? 2012-07-10T01:42:39.259Z
How Bayes' theorem is consistent with Solomonoff induction 2012-07-09T22:16:02.312Z
Computation Hazards 2012-06-13T21:49:19.986Z
How do you notice when you're procrastinating? 2012-03-02T09:25:08.917Z
[LINK] The NYT on Everyday Habits 2012-02-18T08:23:32.820Z
[LINK] Learning enhancement using "transcranial direct current stimulation" 2012-01-26T16:18:55.714Z
[LINK] Cryo Comic 2011-12-12T05:31:12.630Z
Free Online Stanford Courses: AI and Machine Learning 2011-09-10T20:58:52.409Z
Young Cryonicists Conference 2011 2011-05-13T00:19:14.885Z


Comment by Alex_Altair on What's the status of third vaccine doses? · 2021-08-04T17:09:01.467Z · LW · GW

Whelp, to answer my own question, this is above the fold on the NYT right now. 

The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for a moratorium on coronavirus vaccine booster shots until the end of September to help all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations, appealing to the world’s wealthiest nations to address dramatic disparities in global vaccination rates.


Scientists have still not come to a consensus on whether booster shots are necessary. But as worries emerge about continuing pandemic waves and future lockdowns, an increasing number of countries like Germany, Israel and France are preparing to give part of their population booster doses, or have already started.

Studies have indicated that the immunity generated by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is long-lasting. Researchers are still working to understand recent Israeli data suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined in efficacy months after inoculation.

(Granted, the WHO is not the CDC.)

Comment by Alex_Altair on What's the status of third vaccine doses? · 2021-08-04T05:46:41.576Z · LW · GW

Meta comment: You can leave comments on questions as well as answer, so since this is not an answer you could move it into a comment.

Comment by Alex_Altair on How to Build a Lumenator · 2021-07-12T23:46:08.510Z · LW · GW

You can now just basically buy this! 

Comment by Alex_Altair on Saving Time · 2021-05-18T21:19:53.417Z · LW · GW

An agent is a mechanism through which the future is able to affect the past

I love this!

Comment by Alex_Altair on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-03T05:41:29.819Z · LW · GW

Similarly, for instrumental rationality, I've been trying to lean harder on putting myself in environments that induce me to be more productive, rather than working on strategies to stay productive when my environment is making that difficult.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-03T00:03:28.145Z · LW · GW

As a note on terminology, I don't think that (Yudkowskian) rationalists use the word "rationalism" to describe our worldview/practice. It's a natural modification of "rationalist", and I've seen a few people outside the rationalist community use it to refer to our worldview, but e.g. no one ever comes up to me at a party and says, "Have any thoughts about rationalism lately?" We tend to just say "rationality" or "the art of rationality".

I'd also strongly advocate that we not start using the word "rationalism" for it. Mostly this is because I share your grumble about how the word "rationalist" already has a well-defined meaning to the rest of the world, and I don't want to extend that overloading and inevitable confusion by using the word "rationalism" alongside it.

I'm tempted to try to come up with better names for our worldview, but there are actually some advantages to not having a clear proper-noun-type name. One is that everyone immediately gets the gist of what "rationalists" are about. Stereotypes aside, it's an advantage over being called "the Frobnitzists" or something else inscrutable. Another is that, as described in the virtue of the void, we don't know exactly what the name is for what we want; we're trying to move toward that which cannot be named. If we give our current best-guess a proper noun like the Debiasers or the Bayesian Conspiracy, then we might be stuck with that even after we shift to a better understanding, or worse yet, we might think we've found the ultimate answer and become stuck to it through the name.

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-27T01:27:51.809Z · LW · GW

It's someone peering under the veil of the celestial sphere to gaze at the underlying machinery of nature. It's a common image for depicting science.

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:58:00.189Z · LW · GW
Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:55:06.551Z · LW · GW

This depicts a community of scholarship.

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:51:26.808Z · LW · GW
The School of Athens
Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:49:48.767Z · LW · GW
The Flammarion engraving
Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:46:25.587Z · LW · GW

It would be hard to say, because he's outside the entire paradigm of being an agent.

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:44:00.849Z · LW · GW
The Antikythera mechanism
Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:41:40.056Z · LW · GW

This is one of the most beautiful images I've ever seen. The optical effects are stunning, and the fact that you can see the entire scope of it, for a planet of inconceivable size, in one view just blows me away. This image feels like the essence of cosmological wonder. It's almost painful to take in.

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T23:04:20.295Z · LW · GW

Worth noting that these are all photographs. (Some of them are modified, e.g. the earth is added from another picture, and some of them are colorized.)

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T22:46:53.246Z · LW · GW
Dr. Wernher von Braun, chief architect of the Saturn V program, standing in front of the rocket.
Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T22:41:36.307Z · LW · GW

I find this a fascinating choice because of how not-rationalist Dr. Manhattan is for much of the novel.

Comment by Alex_Altair on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2021-03-26T22:38:31.184Z · LW · GW

Maybe these should be moved into answers, instead of as this comment? (And as separate answers, so people can vote/discuss them separately.)

Comment by Alex_Altair on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T02:45:13.754Z · LW · GW

Widget bug; they have a tiny bit of transparency such that you can read the back of the card before clicking.

Comment by Alex_Altair on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T02:24:34.501Z · LW · GW

Small note of feedback on style; something feels weird to me about using named, hypothetical people for each of the described types of self-control. It's like you're introducing a character that I'm supposed to keep track of, but then you never reuse them. To use another analogy, it feels like you're highlighting each paragraph with a different color, but then those colors are never used again and have no meaning.

I'm guessing that you're doing it strategically, possibly based on some social science studies about how it makes people remember content better. If so, far be it from me to deny the outside view! But I personally find it kind of... infantilizing? As if I'm reading a kid's book, or something.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Clubhouse · 2021-03-16T00:37:22.851Z · LW · GW

There is listener demand for informal unscripted conversation.

This reminds me of the popularity of streaming, a la Twitch. Instead of being a conversation between guests, Twitch streaming is a conversation between the streamer and whatever chat messages the streamer decides to interact with.

I've also noticed for myself that I've been slowly drifting toward watching youtube content where a person is essentially just talking. Unscripted, and only lightly edited. If I care about the content, then listening to it will take up my full attention. If I don't care about the content, then I'll listen to it as ambient background audio. I haven't had other people tell me that they do the same thing, but it felt very similar to the content of this post.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Where does the phrase "central example" come from? · 2021-03-12T06:51:42.847Z · LW · GW

I see. I just searched for "central example" on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and it pops up there in tons of results too. Although there still isn't e.g. a page called "Central Example".

Comment by Alex_Altair on This is my 100ᵗʰ post on Less Wrong · 2021-02-15T01:36:41.819Z · LW · GW

This post was a one-two punch for me. The first hit was "Otherwise these people are literally taking your life." It had a screaming resonance in my head, not because of the specific case of arguing with people online (which is not a problem I have) but because of the general "time is life" idea that the linked Paul Graham post talks about.

The second hit was the paragraph about action. Another line that screamingly resonates in my head is "LET'S GOOOO", which I first heard in reference to deploying the COVID vaccine. Somehow, it now feels to me like it applies to the whole human endeavour.

I love the Paul Graham post, and I noticed with delight that the URL's slug is just "vb", which presumably stands for vita brevis. Here are a couple links that contain similar messages. 

Comment by Alex_Altair on One Year of Pomodoros · 2020-12-31T04:53:17.708Z · LW · GW

In a bizarre coincidence, I just noticed that seven years minus two days ago, another person named Alex submitted a post with the exact same title.

(I noticed because the slug my post generated had a -1 at the end.)

Comment by Alex_Altair on The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order · 2020-12-22T23:44:31.041Z · LW · GW

My copy just arrived in the mail and it's exactly as good as I expected!

Comment by Alex_Altair on Logistics for the 2020 online Secular Solstice* · 2020-12-03T05:13:21.299Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I expect Chromium-based browsers will have a good chance of just working, but we will have no resource margin for properly testing anything but Chrome. (I also sort of expect that the kind of person who uses an uncommon browser will be the kind of person to try it anyway.)

Comment by Alex_Altair on The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order · 2020-12-03T02:56:26.461Z · LW · GW

You can also buy a physical copy of Eliezer's Inadequate Equilibria.

Comment by Alex_Altair on The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order · 2020-12-03T02:44:54.463Z · LW · GW

This made me want to buy the hardcopy of RAZ. But I only see the first two books on amazon; is that right? Is there any status update on printing the other books of RAZ?

Comment by Alex_Altair on How I Write · 2020-12-03T02:08:43.048Z · LW · GW

I recommend to all new writers to try and sell a pitch to an edited magazine

I'd be curious to hear more about this recommendation. I've written a few things that I think are good, but when I've considered the idea of submitting to an established outlet, it just feels obvious that there's no reason they should even be giving me the time of day. Do you recommend that I try it anyway, or is your recommendation more like, "write regularly for a few months, get some posts shared on social media, then try contacting editors"?

Comment by Alex_Altair on Why indoor lighting is hard to get right and how to fix it · 2020-10-29T20:34:48.887Z · LW · GW

I've been using this multi-plug remote controller set for several years, and it's great.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Why indoor lighting is hard to get right and how to fix it · 2020-10-29T20:31:48.113Z · LW · GW

One thing I'd emphasize is that, if you're optimizing for as much light as possible, adding diffusers will make your end lumen count take quite a hit. I've never measured it, but I would guess that the loss is on the order of tens of percents. This is pretty unfortunate since naked bulbs are both pretty unpleasant to have in your periphery, and also very unaesthetic. But if you're going as far as erecting structures that power bulbs that are circumnavigating your living room, I'd advocate putting a lot of thought into diffusing the light while minimizing lumen losses.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T21:28:31.150Z · LW · GW

Side note; I would say that the discussion conventions of LessWrong discourage copious use of emphasis with things like bold, underline or all caps. The idea is that writers should strive to convince people with their words, and not with their formatting.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T18:26:39.425Z · LW · GW

I feel like citing WHO is just about as valid as it gets in this context. WHO is just as much "from authority" as citing a few scientific papers.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread · 2020-03-01T18:15:10.105Z · LW · GW

Worth noting that a lot of metal handles will be coated with a finish that prevents you from actually touching the metal. This is because these metals (especially copper) can leave a strong metallic smell on your hands which people typically dislike, and also because it prevents the metals from tarnishing. These handles will not help reduce infection and will need copper tape on them.

Comment by Alex_Altair on 12020: a fine future for these holidays · 2019-12-27T06:04:42.276Z · LW · GW

Do you happen to be making a reference to the Holocene calendar? (Which was popularized by this Kurzgesagt video.) It advocates that we reset the zero-year to be 10k years older, thereby set before most of human civilization.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Do you use twitter for intellectual engagement? Do you like it? · 2019-08-15T19:58:06.954Z · LW · GW

I seem to have fallen into a pretty specific type of twitter usage. I have a particular domain (spaceflight/astronomy) that I want to get regular information about. I follow all the experts and news sites in that domain. If any of those people also use their twitter account to post e.g. political memes, I just unfollow them. This results in my twitter feed being a consistent source of interesting detailed information on that topic, much of which I wouldn't find elsewhere.

Hope that helps!

Comment by Alex_Altair on Meetup : Maine: Automatic Cognition · 2015-06-19T17:09:08.852Z · LW · GW

Sorry I can't be there for this! The Bay stole me three years ago. But it's cool to see a meetup there.

Comment by Alex_Altair on The Bay Area Solstice · 2014-12-23T14:14:26.364Z · LW · GW

That is correct!

Comment by Alex_Altair on Why CFAR? · 2013-12-29T04:56:48.509Z · LW · GW

In 2014, we’ll be devoting more resources to epistemic curriculum development; to research measuring the effects of our curriculum on both competence and epistemic rationality; and to more widely accessible curricula.

I'd love to hear more detailed plans or ideas for achieving these.

we’ll be devoting more resources to epistemic curriculum development

This is really exciting! I think people tend to have a lot more epistemic rationality than instrumental rationality, but that they still don't have enough epistemic rationality to care about x-risk or other EA goals.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Why CFAR? · 2013-12-29T03:31:18.220Z · LW · GW

MIRI has been a huge community-builder, through LessWrong, HPMOR, et cetera.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Why CFAR? · 2013-12-28T23:18:25.599Z · LW · GW

Excellent post! I wish my donation didn't have to wait a few months.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Book Review: Naïve Set Theory (MIRI course list) · 2013-10-03T20:16:54.443Z · LW · GW

The material covered in Causality is more like a subset of that in PGM. PGM is like an encyclopedia, and Causality is a comprehensive introduction to one application of PGMs.

Comment by Alex_Altair on How to Have Space Correctly · 2013-06-23T21:18:59.545Z · LW · GW

Maybe just add a section with a few more examples or advice. The post was a quick read for me, I could have handled more.

Comment by Alex_Altair on How to Have Space Correctly · 2013-06-23T21:17:38.750Z · LW · GW

I love this post.

spatial arrangements that simplify perception

This is why you should make your bed in the morning. Also this is why paragraphs exist. And why math notation isn't linear. And why parentheses look like they're encircling the text. And periods and kerning and oh god I can't stop coming up with examples

I'm an extremely visual thinker, and I think I think about these things all the time. I wonder though, if this stuff is as useful to people who aren't visual thinkers. I've experienced having disagreements with people on what heuristics to use, based on the fact that the other person wasn't a visual thinker.

I also find that this has huge application to my computer usage. For example, I always put my cursor off of text. I always have the line I'm reading at the top of the window. I always strategically place my chat windows in the margins of websites so I can see them while reading the site.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Good luck, Mr. Rationalist · 2013-04-29T21:50:33.427Z · LW · GW

I prefer the variant, "May you choose wisely." Also "May your premises be sound."

Comment by Alex_Altair on A thought-process testing opportunity · 2013-04-23T03:01:24.875Z · LW · GW

Saw the video before this post, thought to make a prediction, and was correct! :D

Comment by Alex_Altair on Standard and Nonstandard Numbers · 2013-04-19T17:05:50.180Z · LW · GW


Comment by Alex_Altair on Cold fusion: real after all? · 2013-04-18T03:25:11.630Z · LW · GW

I once had my friend calculate the probability of a single pair of hydrogen nuclei fusing in the reaction of 2H2 with O2 in a balloon (which produces a cool boom resulting in water vapor). Despite the enormous number of atoms, and the fact that at the high energy tail of the distribution some fraction of atoms should be going really fast, the probability that any were going fast enough to fuse was e^-somethinghuge.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Help us name the Sequences ebook · 2013-04-16T02:27:38.317Z · LW · GW

Slight rework; From AI to Zombies: Thinking Clearly About Truth, Morality and Winning in This And Other Worlds.

Comment by Alex_Altair on Why AI may not foom · 2013-03-25T02:15:21.408Z · LW · GW

technically, any decision problem implemented by a circuit is at least O(n) because that's how the length of the wires scale.

That is a pretty cool idea.