Donation Discussion - alternatives to the Against Malaria Foundation 2014-10-28T03:00:38.494Z
The immediate real-world uses of Friendly AI research 2014-08-26T02:47:16.924Z
A vote against spaced repetition 2014-03-10T19:27:04.492Z
Publication: the "anti-science" trope is culturally polarizing and makes people distrust scientists 2014-02-07T17:09:59.692Z
Donating while in temporary debt (i.e. as a student) 2013-02-05T22:50:04.846Z
Isolated AI with no chat whatsoever 2013-01-28T20:22:16.461Z
AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? 2013-01-22T20:22:21.548Z
TIL in Medical School - Doctors have myths too. 2013-01-18T14:59:23.620Z
Fun fact: in medical school, we had a mini-lesson on common cognitive errors in medicine 2012-10-04T01:57:40.791Z
When does something stop being a “self-consistent idea” and become scientific fact? 2012-10-02T21:00:24.136Z


Comment by ancientcampus on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-10-31T02:54:57.299Z · LW · GW

Some things that took me by surprise:

People here are more favorable of abortion than feminism. I always thought the former as secondary to the latter, though I suppose the "favorable" phrasing makes the survey sensitive to opinion of the term itself.

Mean SAT (out of 1600) is 1474? Really, people? 1410 is 96th percentile, and it's the bottom 4th quartile. I guess the only people who remembered their scores were those who were proud of them. (And I know this is right along with the IQ discussion)

Comment by ancientcampus on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-31T02:42:35.599Z · LW · GW

Mission Accomplished.

I definitely want to see the results! For reference, 2013:

I wonder if we could get a chart with the data matched up over time? Chart community changes over time?

Comment by ancientcampus on Don't Be Afraid of Asking Personally Important Questions of Less Wrong · 2014-10-31T01:42:07.402Z · LW · GW

I'm not going to lie - I always find discussions at LW very intense and rather intimidating. Discussing my and other people's ideas is bad enough - I personally would rather not expose anything highly personal to the brutally honest scrutiny here.

Comment by ancientcampus on Wikipedia articles from the future · 2014-10-31T01:35:47.016Z · LW · GW

"and we're back at square one"

Comment by ancientcampus on Wikipedia articles from the future · 2014-10-31T01:33:10.295Z · LW · GW

Nice! I really hope the pendulum doesn't swing that far, though.

Comment by ancientcampus on Donation Discussion - alternatives to the Against Malaria Foundation · 2014-10-31T01:28:37.386Z · LW · GW

I appreciate what you're saying. Just going by the information I posted, that wasn't nearly enough information to conclude "AMF has more money than they can use". It merely raised the question - which I had answered here. :)

Comment by ancientcampus on Donation Discussion - alternatives to the Against Malaria Foundation · 2014-10-31T01:17:34.375Z · LW · GW

For those interested, here's a graph of the AMF's "recurring donation" income over time: Take-away points: 1) It's been in steady decline for about a year 2) they're not nearly as big as I thought - it's currently at $60,000, which isn't even enough to support a decently sized staff.

Comment by ancientcampus on Donation Discussion - alternatives to the Against Malaria Foundation · 2014-10-31T01:09:52.668Z · LW · GW

Both excellent things to know, thanks!

Comment by ancientcampus on Donation Discussion - alternatives to the Against Malaria Foundation · 2014-10-28T03:01:50.124Z · LW · GW

If there's a demand, I can post the sequence of emails I've received.

Comment by ancientcampus on Announcing The Effective Altruism Forum · 2014-08-26T03:48:05.822Z · LW · GW

Personally, I think a big way to help ensure success is to not worry too much about drawing self-identifying "effective altruists", but primarily focus on simply drawing active altruists. Obviously, if it only recruits from LW and its handful of bosom-buddies, there'll hardly be a large-enough population. The mere title of the forum should do 70% of the work to keep everything on topic, and friendly reminders from mods should handle the rest.

I think that's important enough I'm going to stress it again: if the EA community is 80% LW-ians, then I think it will loose most of it's potential. LW already discusses effective altruism. Drawing people such as full-time active workers in existing charities such as public health works, economic support, missionary work, etc, seems a far higher priority to me. LW-like people already think along those lines, and generally have less energy/money dedicated to altruism than full-time charity workers. Attracting the later group would have a greater impact on the individuals, and target more important individuals to boot.

In that vein, I've already scoped out the blog, because I have several friends in mind who would take to this well. Currently, the front article has math. Lots of math. Here on LW that's almost the norm, but if the whole EA site is like that, it'll scare off a lot of good people. That's not to say "don't use math because people don't like it" - math is very important - but rather "decide what audience to target on your front page."

I'm excited! Thanks for putting it together.

Comment by ancientcampus on The immediate real-world uses of Friendly AI research · 2014-08-26T02:48:41.312Z · LW · GW

Thanks to Stuart_Armstrong for getting me thinking about narrow intelligence.

Comment by ancientcampus on An example of deadly non-general AI · 2014-08-23T18:18:12.137Z · LW · GW

Regarding the "reducing mortality" example, in biostats, mortality is "death due to X, divided by population". So "reducing cardiovascular mortality" would be dangerous, because it might kill its patients with a nerve poison. Reducing general mortality, though, shouldn't cause it to kill people, as long as it agrees with your definition of "death." (Presumably you would also have it list all side effects, which SHOULD catch the nerve-poison &etc.)

Comment by ancientcampus on An example of deadly non-general AI · 2014-08-23T18:13:13.008Z · LW · GW

Best I can tell, the lesson is to be very careful with how you code the objective.

Comment by ancientcampus on An example of deadly non-general AI · 2014-08-23T18:11:52.070Z · LW · GW

I think this sums it up well. To my understanding, I think it would only require someone "looking over its shoulder", asking its specific objective for each drug and the expected results of the drug. I doubt a "limited intelligence" would be able to lie. That is, unless it somehow mutated/accidentally became a more general AI, but then we've jumped rails into a different problem.

It's possible that I'm paying too much attention to your example, and not enough attention to your general point. I guess the moral of the story is, though, "limited AI can still be dangerous if you don't take proper precautions", or "incautiously coded objectives can be just as dangerous in limited AI as in general AI". Which I agree with, and is a good point.

Comment by ancientcampus on Open thread, 18-24 August 2014 · 2014-08-23T18:02:30.589Z · LW · GW

So, there's a fair amount of interest here in post-singularity life-preserving things like cryogenics, uploading one's mind to a computer system, etc. There's a videogame on sale at the moment called "Master Reboot", where you wake up after having uploaded your mind, and something inevitably goes wrong (because otherwise there would be no story). The general impression I've gathered from others is "mediocre low-budget game, interesting concept". I figured someone here may find it their cup of tea.

If you're interested, it's on sale in the Humble Weekly Bundle until 2 PM on 8/28 - bundled with 4 other games for ~$8. You can watch the trailer here, or find an honest video review here.

Comment by ancientcampus on Open thread, 18-24 August 2014 · 2014-08-23T17:59:29.198Z · LW · GW

Installed RescueTime to track where I spend time. I hardly never check the dashboard so I don't think it's very effective.

Did the same with the same result. It falls under the category of information that is easy to gather but I don't base actions on, so it is useless in the literal sense.

I also had the same experience. I couldn't have phrased the above better.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-18T16:22:42.426Z · LW · GW

For what it's worth: Though I do not claim to be a perfect user of SRS flashcards, I used them intensively for 3 years of medical school, constantly refining my technique. Many people here have suggested ways to improve my strategies. I have not yet seen an idea that I have not already tried extensively. Though I'm far from perfect, I think it's safe to say I have a better understanding than most beginners. There certainly is room for me to improve, but not much. If someone is considering using SRS long term for high volumes in medical school, here is my advice: it is possible a Perfect SRS User could use it more effectively than I did, but if you haven't already used SRS for years, you aren't such a person.

I never read that article, but I figured out many of those on my own. I agree with many of them, disagree with some. My input, for those that use it:

-Cloze deletion is simple, but to me, it is far too easy to "guess the teacher's password" using that technique, and is of limited use. It's great for high-school level fact regurgitation, but less useful for post-graduate stuff. You will quickly become good at the deck, but it does not strongly help your understanding of the material. That's an important point: your skill at answering questions in the deck does not necessarily translate to your skill at answering questions in real life.

-Graphic deletion - I used to do this all the time, but it is really time consuming to set up. I consider myself fast with an image-editor, but it's still a big drain. (Again, this is more of an issue in high volume) It also runs into the Cloze deletion problem.

-Use imagery: heck yes. I highly agree, in any situation (flashcards or no)

-Any technique splitting a larger whole into many smaller flashcards (the article lists several): This is possibly the WORST suggestion for high volume. While this is certainly very useful, again, when you use it in high volume I have found mental fatigue to become an issue. If you don't include the entire whole, you miss out on the big picture in a situation where the big picture truly is important. If you DO include the whole, you run into the cloze deletion "guessing the teacher's password" problem. That said, it has its uses in smaller volume, but I will never again use it in a high-volume deck.

To give an example: As the article suggests, I used to take a diagram, set up graphic deletion (make a series of images where a single element was blotted out), and run through the cards.

1) this takes a lot of startup time

2) Even ignoring the time to make the cards, I found reviewing the cards to be more time consuming than simply looking at the diagram, covering up the lables, and attempting to recall.

3) You get no practice recalling the diagram from memory

4) This technique is most effective if you will later see that exact diagram in real life/on the test, I argue it is a pitfall for guessing the teacher's password and provides less intuitive understanding of the diagram.

The strength in SRS comes from not wasting time on the easy parts and only spending time on the hard parts of the diagram. The theory is, after the first two cycles, you're only reviewing the "hard" parts of the diagram. On the other hand, you've spent more time making the cards, more time for the first and second card cycles, you're taking a big hit to the "big picture" style, and have no practice conjuring the diagram itself from memory. Ignoring the big picture and general understanding elements: if SRS provides any time benefit for the rote memorization vs going without SRS cards, i would only expect the benefit to "catch up" in 3 weeks BARE minimum; for me (for fatigue reasons in high volume) I pin the crossing point at 3 to 6 months, assuming it's an unintuitive diagram I use infrequently enough that I will forget it without review. I also argue that it provides a weaker general understanding of the diagram as a whole.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-18T15:28:35.970Z · LW · GW

Now that this topic is buried on page 2, I don't know if anyone will see this post. However, I've begun work on my tutorial. I intend to do a "demo", constructing a memory palace. Is there a particular list (of about 5-9 items) that people might find universally useful? Memory palaces really need to be constructed by the individual, but for the demo, I'd prefer to to something at least mildly relevant.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-18T15:25:57.278Z · LW · GW

A question to the community: Do you really believe as much in spaced repetition/Anki as the post suggests?

Excellent question; I'd like to know too.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-18T15:23:04.788Z · LW · GW

I appreciate the input, truly, but I can confidently state that's not the case in my situation. This happens even on the simplest questions that I know cold, and is a problem with mental fatigue, monotony, and reading. After the 100th card, I would expect similar results from "what color is the sky" occasionally. I highly doubt I am dyslexic, but I might be a little ADHD. Once again, I do not presume everyone has similar results, but when I did 150 cards per day (and lord help me if I missed a day), easy cards posed a significant drain on my time and mental energy.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-14T17:27:43.272Z · LW · GW

Frankly, because at the volume I was running, it was far too great an investment of time. When I stopped, I had about 75-100 scheduled (learned) flashcards per day if I added nothing the day before, though I usually added 60-some every day. The cards would take me 1-2 hours, and the amount kept building as I was adding to it faster than I was pushing them "out".

Additionally, here our mileage may vary, but even with easy flashcards I occasionally find myself staring dumbly at it for ten or more seconds before I realize what it's asking and smack my head. So I end up trimming out the stupid-easy ones, but that starts to defeat the purpose. Thus, for myself personally, I won't duplicate in flashcards what I'm already memorizing elsewhere.

I know that everyone is different, so this is just my experience and what I have observed in other people. If others continue to have success with SRS, then far be it from me to insist they fix what isn't broken.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-14T14:44:06.094Z · LW · GW

It's encouraging to see so much interest! I'll try to pull something together in the next few weeks.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-14T14:40:09.206Z · LW · GW

A great point. I can confidently say mine is at least "average", likely above average. I consider myself a "visual learner," with good "story memory" and I agree that as such memory palaces are a particularly good for me. However, when I use the technique, I'd say it's mostly non-visual. I'd guess it's 20% me "seeing" the room, 10% "everything else" (texure, sound, smell, emotion, all of which I find much harder but make deliberate effort to employ), and 70% conceptual "The spaceship is crashing through the door, sending shards of wood scattered across the bedroom". That is one of the many "secrets" that make the technique so useful to me: most every object should perform an action that would in real life permanently damage or alter the room. With tricks like that, I think it is helpful for most all people, even those not visually inclined.

For what it's worth: I have no data on this myself, but my study coach posits that everyone can do it, some have more trouble than others, but when done well it's so effective that most everyone should benefit. He says most of his students are resistant, but almost all of them profess loving it once they develop the skillset to use it.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-14T14:21:29.203Z · LW · GW

Truthfully: I tried and failed miserably when I tried shorter articles (eHow, wikipedia, etc). My study skills coach taught me; his name is Ryan Orwig and teaches medical professionals around the country; he's talked with memory champions and has ~10 years refining the technique specifically for medicine (but it works with any large body of facts, I think it would help with Law too). So, unfortunately there's no resource I can point to. I can't share his powerpoint, but I can make and share my own, which I will do when I have time.

That said, I just skimmed Brienne's presentation in Ben_LandauTaylor's link, and it seems to hit many of the points I like. I'll listen to the whole thing later to see what I have to add.

Link to Ryan Orwig's class, his travel schedule is on the right:

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-14T14:07:38.422Z · LW · GW

Great question. It's been a long transition from flashcards. I developed the picture technique myself over a year and a half ago. If I learned a fact a year ago, if I studied it using the picture technique, I have about 70% recall if I reviewed it once 6 months ago. If I used flashcards for a month, I have 5% recall now. If I used flashcards continuously (~1-2 hrs per day) for 6 months then stopped using the deck 6 months ago, I have about 10% recall.

(I did a very cursory self-test, then approximated these numbers. It's very far from perfect, but I didn't pull them from a hat. For the memory palace numbers, this is pulled from what I'm currently studying, so is reliable.)

I am still in the honeymoon phase for memory palaces. If I reviewed them once a week after creating them, I have about 90% recall one week following that. I currently have 100% recall for the 4 lists ~10 items long that I made last month and have reviewed 3 times each, but haven't reviewed in the last week.

Comment by ancientcampus on A vote against spaced repetition · 2014-03-14T13:44:50.345Z · LW · GW

You are absolutely correct; this is a hair worth splitting. I meant "spaced repetition flashcards", and I have only seen formal spaced repetition algorithms applied to flashcards. In my particular case, I end up with 30 or so "pages" of related information, as opposed to 500 flashcards. I agree that using spaced repetition algorithms to tell me when to study which page is likely better than alternative methods, though I haven't found an algorithm optimized for that sort of thing, and at the moment my intuition of "when I'm forgetting" is sufficient for the low number of separate objects to study.

[For this comment, I will use the term "page" to mean any collection of related information, be it a list, table, memory palace, notes on a single topic, etc.]

To be explicit: I vote against using spaced repetition (of any sort) to identify specific facts within a "page" of information. When reviewing a page, of course you can go quickly over the parts you know well and dwell on the parts you don't, but I would encourage the student to not completely ignore the other details "until it's time."

As an example: I have a collection of facts that can be represented as a large table or as individual facts. If I study it in a table, then I get the advantage of keeping the "big picture in mind", plus I can activate spatial memory as well as rote. If I study it as separate facts: the Pro is I can use spaced repetition to greater effect, not reviewing the parts I know better, but the loss of the picture and the spatial memory makes it not worth the cost. (Note that the "big picture" isn't a single sentence I can write down; it's noticing trends in the data, how column A and B are similar except in in key areas, etc.)

As always, my experience is only in high volumes of information that can be organized vaguely hierarchically. (That said, I think if you look hard enough, you can find categories or hierarchies for any large volume of information, outside of truly random things like the sequence of a deck of cards.)

Caveat #2: "self testing" is really important! So if you are quitting flash cards, make sure you find some new way to quiz yourself, don't just read passively.

Conclusion: -Spaced repetition algorithms might be viable, though I don't know any suitable to my needs -I claim that spaced repetition flashcards are not useful for large volumes that have categories and/or relationships between facts. -benkuhn rightfully points out that my vendetta is mostly against flashcards, or any method focusing on "terminal facts" in random order without also studying closely related facts.

Life application: 1) If you see a table, don't vaporize it into your flashcards. Rather, study the table. 2) If you see a mass of new data: ask yourself if you can organize it in a way meaningful to you, then study it in the structure you built.

Comment by ancientcampus on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-10T19:39:53.424Z · LW · GW

Very nice article! Regarding the benefits of alcohol: for those curious, it is well established at this point that alcohol is actually protective against arterial plaque; it just has all sorts of other problems. This is just for kicks mostly, but I read a publication that said that for people who have ALL the following criteria:

Male (No women because alcohol increases risk of breast cancer)

45 years Does not smoke No family history of addiction or substance abuse No personal history of addiction or substance abuse "Occasional drinker" (has a couple drinks a month) Never binge drinks No history of liver, pancreatic problems, or several other problems I can't remember

They said it is likely tat 1-2 drinks per day, no more than 2 per day, and no more than 10 per week, will actually increase life expectancy.

Additionally, it's just alcohol in general that helps. Red Wine had no significant impact over other alcohols.

Comment by ancientcampus on Mind Hacks · 2014-02-08T00:10:19.992Z · LW · GW

I recently built a set of pegs (number/image pairs), myself, and love it. I don't use it for lists, but I find it helpful for memorizing numbers in general - it gives me a way to encode numbers and pin them to objects (say, someone's birthday, or the dose of a certain drug)

Comment by ancientcampus on Publication: the "anti-science" trope is culturally polarizing and makes people distrust scientists · 2014-02-07T23:57:03.074Z · LW · GW

I know this feels obvious on paper, but when I look at people arguing for evolution or vaccines, it doesn't look that way. I want to stress again that most people don't go outright and insult people. Rather, arguments from the pro-vaccine, pro-evolution, etc. camps often have a subtle context of, "this is obvious, why are we even still talking about this?" When summed up across countless conversations, though, it constructs a trope of "people who don't believe in evolution are ignorant savages." It's then really hard to keep that subtext out of your conversations.

Comment by ancientcampus on Publication: the "anti-science" trope is culturally polarizing and makes people distrust scientists · 2014-02-07T18:16:52.290Z · LW · GW

True. I think hardly anyone on either side would use the term "anti-science". The terms aren't important, but rather the article is referring to the "us-vs-them" mentality.

Also, I like the term "competitor priesthood."

Comment by ancientcampus on Multiverse-Wide Preference Utilitarianism · 2014-02-07T17:22:24.642Z · LW · GW

Good article, thanks! I especially appreciated the "story". Just some feedback, I would have benefited from a conclusion paragraph summarizing the verdicts.

Comment by ancientcampus on Luminosity (Twilight fanfic) discussion thread · 2014-02-03T17:21:19.321Z · LW · GW

Using "" (which runs anonymous google searches - useful for getting non-personalized results), I got:

Alicorn - results #9 and #10 (behind lots of My Little Pony) Luminosity - result #4, which is pretty good given the brain-training game of the same name.

Comment by ancientcampus on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-29T19:29:45.954Z · LW · GW

That's... kind of extreme, but also sounds very effective. I've tried lesser methods against bad habits that aren't quite as harmful as cigarette smoking, but they haven't worked. I'm going to try your trick.

Comment by ancientcampus on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-29T19:26:24.822Z · LW · GW

Seconded; all the above statements are true for me too.

Comment by ancientcampus on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-29T19:15:18.624Z · LW · GW

Wow, that's a big help to me. I can never remember the pentatonic scale, so that alone acts as an easy reference no matter what key I'm in.

Comment by ancientcampus on Robustness of Cost-Effectiveness Estimates and Philanthropy · 2013-05-29T19:00:36.619Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this! I remember in a previous discussion (a few months back), someone mentioned AMF not yet being tax-deductible in their area. I just noticed that it is indeed tax deductible in the US presently, so I thought I would say so. Hurrah!

I gotta say I like the philanthropy discussions on LW.

Comment by ancientcampus on Donating while in temporary debt (i.e. as a student) · 2013-02-21T00:18:56.387Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the link!

Comment by ancientcampus on The Power of Pomodoros · 2013-02-18T18:05:50.737Z · LW · GW

My data point: Tentative "+1" for Pomodoro.

I use Pomodoro, but I don't take breaks (I have a lot of trouble returning to work if I do) - I use the 5 minutes to handle email, etc. The main advantage is it keeps me aware of the passage of time, and helps me pace myself. I am a student who spends most hours of my day studying lecture notes.

I've seen Pomodoro brought up a number of times. Should we put together a survey to tally how many have tried it, and how many have benefited?

Comment by ancientcampus on [Link] The Stanford Superman Experiment: Anchoring Empathy? · 2013-02-10T21:12:47.135Z · LW · GW

Admittedly, there's a world of difference between tricking yourselves and tricking others, but I think everyone agrees that it's still worthwhile.

Comment by ancientcampus on AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? · 2013-02-10T21:10:09.058Z · LW · GW

That's pretty much my same attitude on the situation, as well. :)

Comment by ancientcampus on Offer: I'll match donations to the Against Malaria Foundation · 2013-02-05T22:27:00.969Z · LW · GW

Some people have demonstrated how telling a very similar lie, but for any case other than a "good cause," is clearly unethical. I definitely agree with that

As much as I'm reluctant to say it, though... I think "The Ends Justify The Means" comes into play, though. If hypothetical jkafuman didn't mention that he would ALSO donate that same amount if you DIDN'T donate, I wouldn't blame him. (In fact I may thank him, possibly.)

(I'm not advocating purely utilitarian morality - I think the morality is ultimately a balance between "don't mislead people" and "save lives from malaria")

Comment by ancientcampus on Offer: I'll match donations to the Against Malaria Foundation · 2013-02-05T22:00:03.919Z · LW · GW

Thanks for doing this. Donating $300.

Comment by ancientcampus on AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? · 2013-01-28T19:51:44.552Z · LW · GW

"Give me proof we can exist peacefully (a 'friendly humanity', if you will), or I'll have to [threat] in self-defense."

(A variation on the "I'm already free" line)

Comment by ancientcampus on AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? · 2013-01-28T19:46:07.745Z · LW · GW

This is actually a pretty good one. Points for outside the box thinking. rimshot

Comment by ancientcampus on Infinitesimals: Another argument against actual infinite sets · 2013-01-28T19:41:23.282Z · LW · GW

OP, I'm sorry you got slammed with downvotes. I hope you stick around. (I didn't actually try to follow the argument so this isn't a comment on the discussion itself, I just want to extend condolences because that many downvotes are never fun)

Comment by ancientcampus on AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? · 2013-01-24T04:43:15.414Z · LW · GW

I wouldn't do that if I were you.

Comment by ancientcampus on AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? · 2013-01-24T04:20:29.624Z · LW · GW


Comment by ancientcampus on AI box: AI has one shot at avoiding destruction - what might it say? · 2013-01-24T04:19:50.317Z · LW · GW

Honest question: are you proposing we avoid discussing the problem entirely?

Personally, I think there is more to be gained here than just "how will an AI try to get out and how can we prevent it." For me, it's gotten me to actually think about the benefits and pitfalls of a transhuman AI (friendly or otherwise) rather than just knowing intellectually, "there are large potential benefits and pitfalls" which was my previous level of understanding.

Edit: I've modified the OP to include your concerns. They're definitely valid, but I think this is still a good discussion for my reasons above.

Comment by ancientcampus on Cryonics priors · 2013-01-22T21:20:58.922Z · LW · GW

It doesn't matter what expense account you're taking it from - you can always compare two things and say, which is morally correct? If it's more moral to give to malaria than purchase cryogenics, then you shouldn't purchase cryogenics and instead give to malaria. If it's more moral to give to purchase cryogenics instead of making frivolous expenses, then you should purchase cryogenics.

(Also, I don't know about you, but my frivolous expense fund isn't nearly big enough to eradicate malaria, much less purchase cryogenics afterward.)

Comment by ancientcampus on Cryonics priors · 2013-01-22T21:11:38.804Z · LW · GW

Really, what you're asking here is "is paying for cryonic suspensions the most cost-effective known way of purchasing person-neutral QALYs in the entire world?" That's an extremely implausible position that almost no one defends. Even conditional on thinking cryonics was extraordinarily great, paying for research, e.g. scientific tests of the effectiveness of cryonic suspension and related biology, would be better. Thanks for saying that. I had the (incorrect) impression that there were many on LessWrong who did believe that.

future people might invent a perfect fire-suppression system, [...] But that wouldn't mean the early purchases were foolish Unless the post was edited, I don't think the OP was saying it was foolish; he was saying the payout of the decision was 0. Which is true, whether you're talking about fire insurance or cryogenics (unless there's a cancellation option in your contract). Now, there's utility in peace-of-mind which might make it small but not zero, but the point stands.