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Comment by antanaclasis on Fire Law Incentives · 2021-07-23T14:12:55.672Z · LW · GW

Do you have any recommendations of such stories?

Comment by antanaclasis on Working With Monsters · 2021-07-20T22:26:04.866Z · LW · GW

If you also consider the indirect deaths due to the collapse of civilization, I would say that 95% lies within the realm of reason. You don’t need anywhere close to 95% of the population to be fully affected by the scissor to bring about 95% destruction.

Comment by antanaclasis on Re: Competent Elites · 2021-07-15T17:46:51.292Z · LW · GW

Sorry if I was ambiguous in my remark. The comparison that I’m musing about is between “fierce” vs “not fierce” nerds, with no particular consideration of those who are not nerds in the first place.

Comment by antanaclasis on Re: Competent Elites · 2021-07-15T15:30:08.032Z · LW · GW

It’s interesting to read posts like this and “Fierce Nerds” while myself being much less ambitious/fierce/driven than the objects of said essays. I wonder what other psychological traits are associated with the difference between those who are more vs less ambitious/fierce/driven, other things being equal.

Comment by antanaclasis on Musing on the Many Worlds Hypothesis · 2021-07-06T14:04:20.411Z · LW · GW

Nice poem! It’s cool to see philosophical and mathematical concepts expressed through elegant language, though it it somewhat less common, due to the divergence of interests and skills.

Comment by antanaclasis on What are examples of the opposite of perverse incentives? · 2021-06-18T18:20:02.151Z · LW · GW

I’d say a lot of domains have reasonably-aligned incentives a lot of the time, but that’s a boring non-answer. For a specific example, there’s the classic case of how whenever I go to the grocery store, I’m presented with a panoply of cheap, good quality foodstuffs available for me to purchase. The incentives along the chain from production -> store -> me are reasonably well-aligned.

Comment by antanaclasis on Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination? · 2021-06-15T07:17:20.585Z · LW · GW

J&J (1 shot): mild tiredness the next day, no other symptoms.

Comment by antanaclasis on How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy - A Short Summary · 2021-05-30T15:09:43.559Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the summary. A minor copyediting note: the sentence «They begin as the caracter becomes uncontent with their situation, and» cuts off part way.

Comment by antanaclasis on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-05-30T14:56:15.289Z · LW · GW

Is there anywhere that there are transcripts available for these conversations?

Comment by antanaclasis on Questions are tools to help answerers optimize utility · 2021-05-25T00:07:41.291Z · LW · GW

Copyediting note: it appears that the parenthetical statement <(Note: agent here just means “being”, not> got cut off.

Comment by antanaclasis on Sympathy for the ferryman of Hades, or why we should keep Trump off Twitter · 2021-05-23T00:38:25.927Z · LW · GW

I think it is? That was kind of the implication that I read into it at least.

Comment by antanaclasis on People Will Listen · 2021-04-12T02:49:04.512Z · LW · GW

You mention the EA investing group. Where is that? A cursory search didn’t seem to bring anything up. Also, more generally speaking, what would be your top few recommendations of places to keep up with the latest rationalist investment advice?

Comment by antanaclasis on Violating the EMH - Prediction Markets · 2021-04-12T02:42:03.529Z · LW · GW

On this note, I would definitely be willing to pay premium to be part of a fund run by a rationalist who’s more intimately involved with the crypto and prediction markets than I am, and would thereby be able to get significantly more edge than I currently can.

Comment by antanaclasis on Eric Raymond's Shortform · 2021-03-26T16:20:39.662Z · LW · GW

It would definitely be neat to read a history of that sort. Having myself not read many of the books that Eliezer references as forerunners, that area of history is one that I at least would like to learn more about.

Comment by antanaclasis on A dashboard for progress · 2021-03-22T04:25:58.902Z · LW · GW

Yes, I’d just say that there’s a lot resting on that “up to a point”. Lots of goods, cars included,, fairly rapidly saturate in the benefit that they bring, and hence in how much of them get consumed. At least in the US, we’re at the point where there’s almost as many cars as people, and there’s fairly little use to more than one car per person. This puts a pretty hard upper limit on how much increased car production quality/efficiency will show up (and to a lesser extent, has shown up) in material use.

My informal perception is that in the “developed world” at least, a significant proportion of goods are already far enough along in this process that there’s a substantial decay in the quality of their inputs as proxy measures.

Comment by antanaclasis on A dashboard for progress · 2021-03-21T06:41:41.254Z · LW · GW

As you briefly mentioned, the focus on input measures (like quantity of materials consumed) can be different from the progress we’re really looking for. In making a progress dashboard, I’d be pretty wary of including such measures in roughly the same way I’d be wary of judging how good a university is by how many employees/student it has — at best the measure is correlated with good things, but even then it’s a cost being paid to get those things, not a benefit in its own right.

Similarly, much of the gain of technology is in making better use of resources, and especially given that many human wants can’t really be satisfied just by scaling up the quantity, I’m not sure how good of a proxy the input measures are. For example, certainly cars have gotten a lot better over the last half century, but this doesn’t much show up as any increase in the amounts of rubber and metal used in their construction.

Lest my response give the wrong impression, I do like the idea of a progress dashboard; I just am not sure that input measures are all that good a candidate for inclusion in it.

Comment by antanaclasis on What are fun little puzzles / games / exercises to learn interesting concepts? · 2021-03-18T18:07:20.017Z · LW · GW

Velocity Raptor

A fun interactive demonstration of special relativity. It’s good for getting an intuitive sense for some of the “weird” things that happen in relativistic conditions.

Comment by antanaclasis on Against neutrality about creating happy lives · 2021-03-16T16:53:39.143Z · LW · GW

In a world where the fixed costs of creating a being with 0 utility are 0 (very unlike our world), and the marginal costs of utility are increasing (like our world), the best population state would be an ~infinite number of people each with a positive infinitesimal amount of utility relative to nonexistence.

However, the characteristics of personhood and existence would need to be so drastically different in order for the 0 cost to create assumption to be true (or even close to true, even virtual minds take up storage space) that I don’t really think that the conclusion in that particular case teaches us anything much meaningful about universes like our own.

Comment by antanaclasis on Against neutrality about creating happy lives · 2021-03-16T06:11:13.910Z · LW · GW

At least to me, intuition is clearly in favor of creating said new people, as long as the positive utility (relative to the zero point of nonexistence) of their lives is greater than the loss in utility to those who already existed.

I do not view this as problematic from a consequentialist perspective, as I see that outcome as a better one than the prior state of fewer, somewhat happier people.

Just to be clear, due to the substantial (somewhat fixed) costs of creating and maintaining a person, the equilibrium point of ambivalence between creating or not creating new positive lives is at a level where each person’s utility is a substantial amount above 0 (rather than just barely preferring existence to nonexistence, as occasionally seems to be imagined).

Comment by antanaclasis on Remarks on morality, shuddering, judging, friendship and the law · 2021-02-21T20:46:41.523Z · LW · GW

One other essay on roughly this topic is https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/28/contra-askell-on-moral-offsets/, sorting these considerations into three levels, axiology (what world-states are good), morality (what actions are good), and law (what behavior to enforce).

Comment by antanaclasis on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-02-08T06:31:30.137Z · LW · GW

Another few reasons that I've heard for what's opposing later high school start times are 1) due to limited numbers of buses, doing high school later would require the lower schools to be earlier, and parents don't want their elementary schoolers out before sunrise, and 2) after-school activities like sports would be disrupted, both in an absolute sense (they already sometimes run pretty close to sunset) and a relative sense (a school that moved to a later schedule would either not be able to do sports games with other schools, or would have to have the athletes miss much more school than they already do in order to match the schedules of the other schools). To be clear, I do still think that the cost-benefit is clearly in favor of later starting.

Comment by antanaclasis on Reflections on the cryonics sequence · 2021-02-03T16:58:26.691Z · LW · GW

Thank you for making this sequence. I’ve been cryocrasinaing for a while, in part due to the complexity of the forms and insurance, and I hope that this sequence will give me the confidence to move forward.

Comment by antanaclasis on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-01-31T01:59:26.635Z · LW · GW
  1. The FDA (and to a lesser extent regulatory agencies generally) being extremely over-reluctant to approve things, because of the misaligned incentive that heavily punishes approving something that ends up being bad, but doesn't generally punish failing to approve something that would have been good. For the greater public good, individuals within the organization would have to take on substantially more personal risk, with little to no corresponding personal gain.
  2. Much lumber and other treated wood is treated with formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which then vaporizes back out of the wood over time, causing a health risk. The EPA regulates the allowed quantity of formaldehyde emission, but the limits, while they prevent acute poisoning, leave a substantial carcinogenic effect. The costs (an increased level of cancer in some people, likely dozens of years later) are diffuse and hard to notice, so there is no great incentive for the EPA to reduce the requirement, and formaldehyde is a useful treatment, so the companies themselves have no incentive to unilaterally reduce their use of formaldehyde. Thus, people who work with wood and those in newly constructed wooden structures bear an increased risk of cancer.
  3. Schools starting at times much earlier than the window of wakefulness for teenagers. It's likely that the knowledge diffusion problem has some impact (I do not have good information about how many school administrators don't know the science, vs how many are just ignoring it), but even with appropriate knowledge diffusion, a degree of incentive misalignment remains, where the people who suffer the most (the students) have nearly no power to enact the policies, while the adult administrators, with their earlier circadian rhythm, bear no personal cost from the schedule. Likely the combination of both leads to the current state of affairs persisting, as there is some incentive for the administrators to use better schedules, as students would be able to perform better on tests when properly awake.
  4. Ongoing overfishing of ocean fish. Each individual fishery (and, at a higher level, each country) would prefer a world where everyone fishes a sustainable amount, rather than overfishing and crashing the fish populations that they all rely upon, but without a centralized enforcement mechanism, they have no way of ensuring that the other fisheries (or countries) go along with them in cutting back on fishing, so unilaterally doing so would simply make them get out-competed by others.
  5. The lemon problem. Someone is selling their used car, and they know that it works fine, but they have no real way to cheaply, credibly give that information to prospective buyers. Pretty much any assurances that the seller could give the buyer could also be given by someone with a lemon, as long as that lemon works at least some of the time, so the information can't reliably propagate, and the used-car market remain inefficient, with the uncertainty effectively being a tax on all transactions.
  6. Countries building up their militaries. Most of the use of sizable militiaries is fighting against other militaries (and as a deterrent against such), so they are overall a negative-sum game. If countries all agreed to cut back their militaries, they would (for the most part) all benefit, but due to the competitive nature, there is a strong incentive to not cut back. Even if a cutting-back deal were arranged, there would be a strong incentive to merely produce the appearance of cutting back, while maintaining as much capacity as possible, as doing so would lead to an advantage against their newly-weakened rivals. Thus, the combination of the multipolar nature (hindering cooperation in the first place) and the difficulty of credibly demilitarizing puts an upward pressure on military expenditure.
  7. The "race to the bottom" problem. Using companies producing widgets as an example, each company might wish to fairly pay their workers, maintain a safe work environment, and not pollute the environment. However, other companies can gain an edge by sacrificing things in favor of producing more widgets (e.g. hiring more workers at cheaper wages). Thus, the principled company must make similar changes, or get outcompeted. This can continue until the companies have all sacrificed everything they can in favor of more productivity, even if all of them would have preferred to peacefully coexist with comfortable work conditions.
  8. Doctors being overly cautious in treatment. Similarly to the first example, the incentives punish positive mistakes much more heavily than negative ones. In this case, any deviation from what is considered to be the "proper" way of dealing with a case subjects the doctor to risk of being sued for malpractice in a way that sticking to the "proper" method does not, even if the deviation would have been a net positive in expectation for the patient. On a similar note, severe problems as a result of treatment gain much more than proportional negative attention relative to minor problems, so doctors have an incentive to avoid even small chances of severe negative results, in the process causing much larger amounts of harm to patients through large amounts of small harms (e.g., the doctor's more at risk if one patient gets a stroke than if a thousand get headaches).

EDIT: For some of these, the end-state is not especially stable by itself. In those cases, central enforcement would likely be the most realistic way to stabilize it.