Superintelligence and physical law 2016-08-04T18:49:19.145Z · score: 10 (11 votes)
Scope sensitivity? 2015-07-16T14:03:31.933Z · score: 1 (4 votes)
Types of recursion 2013-09-04T17:48:55.709Z · score: 16 (17 votes)
David Brooks from the NY Times writes on earning-to-give 2013-06-04T15:15:26.992Z · score: 8 (11 votes)
Cryonics priors 2013-01-20T22:08:58.582Z · score: 6 (9 votes)


Comment by anthonyc on Will autonomous cars be more economical/efficient as shared urban transit than busses or trains, and by how much? What's some good research on this? · 2019-08-01T15:25:23.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I'm not convinced in either direction that the efficiency boost from autonomous vehicles will be able to overcome Smeed's law ( ).

I still think that trains and subways will make sense for major arteries, and buses for very common (especially not-straight-line) routes.

I do think mixed-use-planning would both reduce trips and increase the impact of autonomous vehicles by making longer-distance commutes less common. However, there's a lot of friction from other parts of society. It's easier to change jobs (and job locations) than to move, especially if you own instead of rent, and especially especially if you live with a partner and you each work in different places in and around the city.

Comment by anthonyc on "Other people are wrong" vs "I am right" · 2019-03-29T00:04:06.442Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW
(I went back and told the guy about the result of me looking into it. He said he didn’t feel interested in the topic anymore and didn’t want to talk about it. I said “wow, man, I feel pretty annoyed by that; you gave me a moral criticism and I took it real seriously; I think it’s bad form to not spend at least a couple minutes hearing about what I found.” Someone else who was in the room, who was very enthusiastic about social justice, came over and berated me for trying to violate someone else’s preferences about not talking about something. I learned something that day about how useful it is to take moral criticism seriously when it’s from people who don’t seem to be very directed by their morals.)

I've run into this phenomenon myself at times. Popehat calls it the "Doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker," :

The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn't like. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker applies different levels of scrutiny and judgment to the first person who speaks and the second person who reacts to them; it asks "why was it necessary for you to say that" or "what was your motive in saying that" or "did you consider how that would impact someone" to the second person and not the first. It's ultimately incoherent as a theory of freedom of expression.
Comment by anthonyc on The Costly Coordination Mechanism of Common Knowledge · 2018-03-30T19:22:28.295Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I really appreciate the start-up example. Over the last few years I felt first-hand what it was like to work at a company as it grew from ~60 people to ~130 people, as informal communication and common-knowledge building broke down and management hadn't yet put in more formal structures (which eventually took a change in management to achieve). Over the course of that period, I regularly talked about this with my co-workers, and explicitly framed it in terms of Dunbar's number (a concept I generally had to explain as well), but without buy-in from the C-level no subset of us was able to effect stable change.

The fact that we've lost so several society-wide coordination mechanisms that took centuries to build up is really scary.

Comment by anthonyc on Extended Quote on the Institution of Academia · 2018-03-30T15:07:46.111Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Parts of this kind of work sound analogous to the kind of work consulting and market research and tech scouting firms do. I work at such a company with a technology focus (my own background is in materials science and physics). Basically my job is to review literature, talk to the people and companies inventing things, and distill it down to, "Here's what's happening, here's the timeline it's happening on, here's our best estimates as to how much impact it will have on each other thing we could think of, here are the assumptions driving it, and we've condensed/crystallized it into as few pages or paragraphs as possible but are happy to talk in more detail as needed." Our individual clients are companies, or investors, or governments, who don't have incentive enough to each do it all themselves, but collectively they are all willing to each spend a little on it getting done.

I'm not saying the same types of companies are well suited to the specific goals outlined in the OP. But I *do* think the skill sets involved overlap, and you might want to look at those kinds of companies for people who know how to go about answering these kinds of questions in ways that also get various stakeholders interested enough to contribute actual money. Once done, and once you reach a wide enough audience, such companies' brands and predictions also start to form anchoring points that everyone in a field at least recognizes and respects.

Similarly, the hard but still important work of filling in critical details, or filling in a common groundwork, for any intellectual or technological problem with eventual real-world impact, often happens not in universities but in consortia involving companies, governments, national labs, universities, and start-ups. It's a massive coordination challenge, though, to do it well.

Comment by anthonyc on Beyond the Reach of God · 2015-12-13T20:38:11.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

'The theory that humans are Turing machines is one that needs to be investigated."

Yes, but that question isn't where we need to start necessarily. It is a subset of a possibly much simpler problem: are the laws of physics Turing computable? If so, then humans cannot do anything Turing machines cannot do. if not, then the human-specific question remains open.

We don't know, and there are many relevant-but-not-too-convincing arguments either way.

The laws of physics as generally taught are both continuous (symmetries, calculus in QM), and quantum (discrete allowed particle states, Planck length, linear algebra in QM).

No one has ever observed nature calculating with an uncomputable general real (or complex) variable (how could we with human minds and finitely precise instrumentation?), while any computable algebraic or transcendental number seems to be fair game. But, building a model of physics that rules out general real variables is apparently much more difficult.

Even if there are general real variables in physics, they may only arise as a result of previous general real variables, in which case whatever-the-universe-runs-on may be able to handle them symbolically instead of explicitly. Anyone here who decides to read my many-years-late wall of text have any idea what the implications would be of this one? Possibly may or may not allow construction of architectures that are not Turing computing but also not fully general, limited by whatever non-Turing-computable stuff happens to have always existed?

If space and time are quantized (digital), that makes for more even trouble with special and general relativity - are the Planck length/time/etc.somehow reference frame dependent?

Also, see

Comment by anthonyc on Beyond the Reach of God · 2015-12-13T18:57:59.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The main issue with your question is the word "the."

There are vastly many possible ways to define the word "god," any one of which could exist or not. But most of those are also individually vastly complicated and exceedingly unlikely to exist unless there is some causal process that brought them into being, which in the eyes of many actual current human believers of a particular version would disqualify them from godhood.

Comment by anthonyc on Beyond the Reach of God · 2015-12-13T18:43:19.815Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"trillions of currency units are doing nothing but bloating as 1s and 0s on hard drives"

This seems very unlikely. Most people with significant savings have it invested in stocks, bonds, or other investments - that is, they've given it to other people to do something with it that they think will turn a profit. Of the money that is sitting in bank accounts, most of it is lent out, again to people planning to actually do something with it (like build business, build houses, or buy things on credit).

Comment by anthonyc on Beyond the Reach of God · 2015-12-13T18:34:39.711Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eight years late reply, but oh well.

I think one of the problems with UFAI isn't just human extinction, or even future human suffering. It's that some kinds of UFAI (the paperclip-maximizer comes to mind) could take over our entire future light cone. preventing any future intelligent life (Earth-originating or otherwise) from evolving and finding a better path.

Comment by anthonyc on Non-communicable Evidence · 2015-11-20T21:21:18.524Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I can't imagine being a professional programmer until it's a System 1 activity at least half of the time.

This. In just about every field. It helps that in programming, and some of the sciences, that there is quick feedback. I have a physics degree but my job is fuzzier than that. After 4 years a lot of the time judgments start as "This doesn't sound right " and a lot of the work is reconstructing a communicable line of reasoning.

Comment by anthonyc on The Octopus, the Dolphin and Us: a Great Filter tale · 2015-08-17T10:36:13.587Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We can do quite a lot with light elements now, after we spent millennia figuring out metals. We still use a lot of metal equipment and catalysts in the manufacturing of polymers and carbon fiber. I'm sure there are processes for making them without metals, but getting civilization going in the first place would be much harder without elements heavier than iron.

Comment by anthonyc on "Risk" means surprise · 2015-05-23T17:12:39.283Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As at least one of the other commenters pointed out, you're proposing to withdraw 10% a year, so of course the higher-average-return works better. The rule of thumb for safet is usually said to be around 4%/yr. Ass you point out, most Americans don't have nearly enough retirement savings.

In the simulator, the crossover where 50/50 becomes safer is around 5%/yr withdrawal rate for a 30 yr retirement, and around 6.5% for 20 yrs.

Comment by anthonyc on [POLITICS] Jihadism and a new kind of existential threat · 2015-03-27T13:35:49.200Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think seer and Nancy are using two different definitions of "decency."

"modesty and propriety" vs. "polite, moral, and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people"

Also, if we take google's usage-over-time statistics, the big drop in usage of the (English) word "decency" happened in the 1800s:

Comment by anthonyc on Defeating the Villain · 2015-03-27T01:49:10.820Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There were other gods than Sauron (and Morgoth before him). The Maiar and Valar could probably have un-corrupted them, if they had deigned to bother to try instead of just accepting the gradual decline of the Good in Middle Earth. Maybe when the last of the elves got to Valinor they could have persuaded them to do so.

Comment by anthonyc on Summary and Lessons from "On Combat" · 2015-03-24T20:32:20.303Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Having tried half a dozen styles, I've met to find one that suggests striking on the inhale. Citation? Unless it was a joke and I missed it.

Emphasis on kiai varies tremendously, but one of the common themes is that you breathe out for pushing and breathe in for pulling - in/out as an analogy both breathing and movement to help keep your whole mind and body focused on a coherent action. Also, exhaling when you get hit (or just before) tightens muscles in the torso which can be protective.

Comment by anthonyc on Twenty basic rules for intelligent money management · 2015-03-23T01:34:11.080Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basic question: if every stock, bond, and government debt investor started actually believing the obvious advice and buying index funds and holding for the long term, where would the stock prices themselves come from?

Comment by anthonyc on Twenty basic rules for intelligent money management · 2015-03-22T15:23:51.108Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Very true. I did. I forgot to mention that; The rule of thumb people give seems to be to assume you'll spend 1% of the home's value per year on maintenance. I assumed 2%, on the assumption that at first there would probably be lots of little things cropping up and I have no handy skills at all.

Comment by anthonyc on Twenty basic rules for intelligent money management · 2015-03-21T12:07:22.080Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

An excellent list, agreed on all points.

On homes: yes, assuming you buy with a mortgage, these are short-term risky, but they are also long-term safe. This also means they are short-term high-expected return and long-term lower return. On average home prices rise at just slightly above the inflation rate (in my area a little faster right now, about 3%). So when I bought a $335k house with 5% down (<4% interest, 30 yr mortgage), that means my equity (initially ~17k) rose by close to 80% in the first year. Factor in closing (read: transaction) costs and it's still an expected 50% return. But that will fall to 3% over 30 years once my equity rises to 100%. And in my case, the mortgage payment + taxes was already hundreds of dollars less than my previous rent (and the mortgage payment will never go up), interest and property taxes are tax deductible, and my state has programs to significantly reduce the costs of PMI. I stared at a lot of spreadsheets before pulling money out of my brokerage account to buy a house.

Comment by anthonyc on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-17T02:38:24.536Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"But bringing up the quantum Hamiltonian? FTL signalling? Su3su2u1's analysis is correct."

Is it? Noether's theorem implies the Hamiltonian is conserved. The Hamiltonian is the quantum operator that give you the energy of a system. If energy conservation is violated, either the basic equations of quantum mechanics don't hold, or (magical) physics is not time invariant. I'm not saying Harry is being technically precise but he's not completely wrong, either.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T20:20:12.623Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Line may not - in ch 86 Dumbledore hints he got in via phoenix travel:

"You took James and Lily there? " Minerva said.

"Fawkes can go to many places," Albus said. "Do not mention the fact."

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T20:10:48.896Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Recent chapters make me wonder what "and his time" really means, as well as "the world and its magic."

I can understand destroying the world, but how can the Interdict make the loss of the world's magic less likely? Actually, are "magic" and "the world's magic" likely to refer to the same thing? Is the source of magic a physically embodied thing, and if so is it on Earth?

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T20:06:26.887Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

About 10-15 chapters ago he responded in these threads to a similar "he doesn't read this anymore" comment. I think what he wrote was something like, "ahem"

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T20:02:00.153Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He also thought of antimatter, negatively charged strangelets, black holes, and up quarks, any one of which could, potentially, physically destroy the Earth.

Note also that if the vow interprets the words to mean the physical Earth, then future starlifting Harry could make a replica Earth and move all the muggles there, then tell them about magic.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118 · 2015-03-10T22:08:29.720Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is nonzero finite surface energy involved in cleaving an object in two, which you need to impart (minimum applied force). But for a living thing the minimum would be low. And you can prevent falling over by using a circular wire that shrinks (or 2 or more wires arranged symmetrically) to counter any pushing non-cutting forces

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118 · 2015-03-10T01:36:18.074Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

My take: Harry has QQ('s legacy) and Hermione to protect, and kills dozens of death eaters etc. etc. to make it happen

McGonagall has her students to protect, and commits publicly to doing so, no matter who their parents are, and takes up the role of headmistress (which we know she thought herself unsuited to) to do it

The students have themselves and future cohorts to protect, and commit to passing on QQ's teachings themselves to do it

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118 · 2015-03-10T01:29:53.697Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry deleted (or tried to delete, we don't know he succeeded) LV/QQ's episodic memory, not his procedural memory (skills and spells). In principle, this could be fixed - in canon memory charms could sometimes be reversed, and in HPMOR most of LV's memories are backed up by the horcrux network. Sufficiently advanced magic might be able to extract those.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118 · 2015-03-10T01:21:07.385Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wondered the same thing, But couldn't he also later use the stone to reverse it by re-transfiguring it to Voldemort's body?

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T21:35:20.690Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Alecto and Amycus Carrow are siblings, and Flora and Hestia are twins (see ch 46). That means one birth per each of their marriages.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T21:31:46.153Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I sympathize, but... 1) McGonagall has grown since the Roles arc, and is more likely to think about the consequences of her actions, now. 2) She is more maternal than Dumbledore was, he wouldn't have necessarily thought that way and he was in charge after the first dark war 3) Time - it is much more obvious to McGonagall how the newly-orphaned students will react and will be treated, then it would have been for her to realize how much of a target Neville was 4) Similarly, the likely treatment of death eater orphans is probably much more physically severe than what Neville goes/went through 5) Up until the Self Actualization arc, Hogwarts did not take bullying seriously. Many real-world schools still don't

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T21:01:25.226Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In that event, Voldemort survives and finds another host. Maybe not sad in the same sense, but certainly a bad situation.

Comment by anthonyc on Pretending to be Wise · 2015-03-02T21:45:04.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not worse than Sauron, no, but certainly culpable for a lot. For example, they refused to share their knowledge with humans or even with the part-elven Numenoreans Aragorn is descended from - and it was that refusal that got the Numenoreans listening to Sauron in the first place. Of course, the gods are on the elven side, which is even worse, though I fail to see how it absolves the elves.

Comment by anthonyc on How to avoid dying in a car crash · 2015-02-07T17:09:23.621Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wouldn't it pretty much have to be half on average?

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102 · 2015-02-02T23:00:42.141Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"We can rule out an emergent property of the three Hallows in combination. We can mostly rule out someone breaking the established rules of time travel (though I have to qualify that because I don't know how prophecy works)."

I'm not so sure. Harry has observed that magic should b e arbitraarily powerful, and was presumably invented to have the rules it does. Rot13 because of spoilers in a story EY referenced in author's notes, Ra: Jr nyfb xabj gung RL ernq orsber Whyl 2014, fb znlor ur jnf vafcverq ol gur angher bs zntvp va gung fgbel: 1) gung bevtvanyyl vg nafjrerq qverpg erdhrfgf, "Qb jung V zrna" nsgre fvzhyngvat shgher jbeyq fgngrf gb frr jung fngvfsvrf zl gehr, abg fgngrq, qrfverf, 2) gung guvf yrq gb qvfnfgre naq gur qrfgehpgvba bs gubhfnaqf bs vaunovgrq cynargf, 3) gung gur fheivibef perngrq neovgenel ehyrf gb erfgevpg hfr bs zntvp, naq 4) gung gur fheivibef gurzfryirf cerfreirq n zrnaf gb pvephzirag gubfr yvzvgngvbaf.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-02T22:47:42.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At the beginning Quirrell had said any tests he gave would grade itself in real time so students could help each other for bonus points. So Some method of achieving a similar effect exists.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-02T22:37:25.146Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hermione transfigured single walled carbon nanotubes

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-02T22:36:28.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is the present king of France bald? I'm not sure where Quirrell and Harry stand on the truth of vacuous statements- if Hogwarts plays zero games of quidditch, all of them do not involve the snitch.

Also, technically Harry wished that "in Hogwarts we should play quidditch without the Snitch." Should can mean "will" but it can also mean Quirrell will somehow make it a moral fact that quidditch should be played that way, not a factual matter of actually playing that way.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-02T22:30:36.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell in Ch46 said they " sound like something of a riddle," which I guess could be interpreted to mean Tom Riddle, which may be evidence in favor of horcrux-status or something similar.

Comment by anthonyc on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-02T22:21:49.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In that scenario he could become a closed timelike curve: go back, become the being that invented magic in the first place, and program it to record the brain states of everyone at every moment in there lives for future recall given a spell or ritual that he would then know. This could also explain the "Atlantis erased from time" business. It would rely on magic changing the laws of physics in a way that allows magic time travel to operate before magic existed - or for the invention of magic to have happened outside the timestream.

Comment by anthonyc on Rational Home Buying · 2015-02-02T21:57:40.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Re: Commuting time: as others have noted, there may be a big difference between driving vs. public transit. I take a bus and train to work, and when I moved from a 40 minute each way trip to a 1 hr 10 minute each way trip I noticed very little difference because I spend the time reading the newspaper and playing games, or sometimes napping. On really crowded days sometimes I will even take the train the wrong way one stop to the end of the line and get back on so I can have a seat. Though, I also work from home 2 days/wk, which helps a lot too.

Re: Guest rooms. In my neighborhood in the Boston suburbs, the price difference between otherwise comparable 3 and 4 bedroom houses is essentially 0 or very close to it. But let's say it was $20k. At current 30 yr mortgage rates that would be about $100/month, or 6-10 nights/yr in a hotel. So, do you have guests more often than that? My friends are scattered across the country, so for me I hit that number easily. And as others mentioned, at least some of that expenditure you would get back when you eventually sell the house. Also, there is value to having the extra closet space, or maybe the guest room doubles as an office (mine does), or you need an unused room to display the hideously ugly tchotchke grandma gave you.

Comment by anthonyc on Rationality Quotes January 2015 · 2015-01-07T21:56:20.336Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True as far as it goes, but is really likely that men, elves, and orcs (really all but hobbits) could have that many thousands of years of civilization at a stable or declining level of technology and magic, with so many wars and disruptions of bloodlines, without trying out any form of government other than a kingdom? I know elves are stubborn, but that seems a bit much, even if there is a literal Divine Right of Kings passed down from Numenor.

Comment by anthonyc on When the uncertainty about the model is higher than the uncertainty in the model · 2014-12-01T18:50:46.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interested financial outsider - what would it mean for prices to be non-continuous?

Comment by anthonyc on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-24T10:30:01.131Z · score: 46 (46 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by anthonyc on Crossing the History-Lessons Threshold · 2014-10-18T12:58:53.132Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. Hadn't noticed that connection. I don't think I had anything quite that sophisticated in mind, but that's the underlying idea.

Comment by anthonyc on Crossing the History-Lessons Threshold · 2014-10-18T12:53:23.393Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hegel also sometimes get cited for inventing history.

I'm pretty sure you need to go back to at least Herodotus to get that title.

Comment by anthonyc on Crossing the History-Lessons Threshold · 2014-10-17T11:49:10.884Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's really awesome. I'd never heard the term big history. I've always tried to convey a similar idea with terms like "stepping back from your own point of view" or "cosmic perspective."

To the original post: do you think there is a fourth tier, maybe with predictive value, where someone (a human being, not a Bayesian superintelligence) can draw on these observations to identify these leverage points and make informed decisions during them?

Comment by anthonyc on On Caring · 2014-10-09T13:22:20.613Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I understand what you mean by saying values and rationality are orthogonal. If I had a known, stable,consistent utility function you would be absolutely right.

But 1) my current (supposedly terminal) values are certainly not orthogonal to each other, and may be (in fact, probably are) mutually inconsistent some of the time. Also 2) There are situations where I may want to change, adopt, or delete some of my values in order to better achieve the ones I currently espouse (

Comment by anthonyc on On Caring · 2014-10-09T13:16:58.545Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And any number of bioengineering, societal/cultural shifts, and transporation and wealth improvements could help increase our effective Dunbar's number.

Comment by anthonyc on On Caring · 2014-10-09T13:02:33.433Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, I forget which post (or maybe HPMOR chapter) I got this from, but... it is not useful to assign fault to a part of the system you cannot change, and dividing by the size of the pre-existing altruist (let alone EA) community still leaves things feeling pretty huge.

Comment by anthonyc on Three Dialogues on Identity · 2014-10-08T16:47:09.313Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have, at least once, wondered if a farther future civilization bringing back their ancestors (via cryonics or anything else) might first insert them into a near-to-their-own-time future simulation (sped up several-fold with respect to the time of the simulating civilization) as a way to bring them up to speed while also diminishing the intensity of future shock.

Comment by anthonyc on On Caring · 2014-10-08T16:18:53.667Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I accept all the argument for why one should be an effective altruist, and yet I am not, personally, an EA. This post gives a pretty good avenue for explaining how and why. I'm in Daniel's position up through chunk 4.

Ditto, though I diverged differently. I said, "Ok, so the problems are greater than available resources, and in particular greater than resources I am ever likely to be able to access. So how can I leverage resources beyond my own?"

I ended up getting an engineering degree and working for a consulting firm advising big companies what emerging technologies to use/develop/invest in. Ideal? Not even close. But it helps direct resources in the direction of efficiency and prosperity, in some small way. I have to shut down the part of my brain that tries to take on the weight of the world, or my broken internal care-o-meter gets stuck at "zero, despair, crying at every news story." But I also know that little by little, one by one, painfully slowly, the problems will get solved as long as we move in the right direction, and we can then direct the caring that we do have in a bit more concentrated way afterwards. And as much as it scares me to write this, in the far future, when there may be quadrillions of people? A few more years of suffering by a few billion people here, now won't add or subtract much from the total utility of human civilization.

Comment by anthonyc on The Octopus, the Dolphin and Us: a Great Filter tale · 2014-09-08T02:11:13.259Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At least in other Less Wrong posts and comments on the topic, the question is usually presented probabilistically, as in "Does the bulk of the great filter lie ahead of us or behind us?"

Though, it is usually not specified whether the writer is asking where the greatest number of candidates gets ruled out, or the greatest fraction. Maybe there are ten factors that each eliminate 90% of candidates prior to the technological civilization level (leaving maybe a hundred near-type-I civilizations per galaxy), but one factor (AI? self-destruction by war or ecological collapse? Failing to colonize other worlds before a stray cosmic whatever destroys your homeworld?) takes out 99% of what is left. In that case nearly all the great filter would be behind us, and our odds still wouldn't be good.