[LINK, TED video] Kathryn Schulz on Being Wrong 2011-05-04T15:52:43.415Z
Quantifying ethicality of human actions 2009-10-13T16:10:14.847Z


Comment by bogus on LW Migration Announcement · 2018-03-22T16:32:39.554Z · LW · GW

Hi, it currently appears to me that the LW2 functionality around 'recovery email' addresses is subtly broken, and if I am correct, this will impact LW1 users who did not set a recovery email until after the first database import to LesserWrong, as well as any users wishing to change their associated 'recovery' email in the future. Please see this subthread (or GreaterWrong link) for details about the issue. I'm not confident that opening a formal "issue" ticket on GitHub would be appropriate here, because all I have is circumstantial evidence, and I am quite unsure how things were expected to work in the first place. However, I do think some cursory attention from the devs would very much be appropriate, if only to ascertain whether there's an actual issue here.

Comment by bogus on Cryptography/Software Engineering Problem: How to make LW 1.0 logins work on LW 2.0 · 2018-03-22T15:29:49.122Z · LW · GW

Any progress on this? With the switchover from LW1 now imminent, I've looked at the LessWrong code on github a bit more and from a cursory review, it really does seem that the usecase or 'flow' of a user editing their own "recovery email" address is broken. The code calls the proper Meteor/Vulcan functions when creating a new user, and will in turn create new users when importing them for the first time from a legacy (LW1) database, but aside from that, there is no acknowledgement that Vulcan/Meteor has its own functions in the 'account'-related packages for setting/updating these data. Did you test this user flow (even just in a test instance of the code) and verify that it can be used to set an email address that the "forgot password/reset password" will rely on?

Comment by bogus on Naming the Nameless · 2018-03-22T09:10:57.933Z · LW · GW

Part of it is just semantics, really. In contemporary times, "art" tends to be connoted as left-wing, while "design" and "craft", which occupy much of the same space, as apolitical or even loosely on the 'right'. Wiewing website design as "art" as opposed to a "craft", or even just one design activity among many, isn't quite a value-free choice!

Comment by bogus on LW Migration Announcement · 2018-03-22T07:57:23.214Z · LW · GW

There's currently a lot of useful content at the LessWrong (LW1) Wiki, What will happen to it? It seems that at a very minimum, you should request a wikidump as well from Trike; it would even be relatively easy to make a public dump available, using the tools that MediaWiki makes available for this purpose.

Comment by bogus on LW Migration Announcement · 2018-03-22T06:19:21.993Z · LW · GW

Great news, overall. However, do notice that, by all indications, this migration will in fact break links, for the case of "links to comments on a deleted LW1 post". As I mentioned on LW1 itself, given such a LW1 "permlink", you can freely explore "parent" comments and replies. Lesser Wrong does not support individual "permlink" pages, so it simply links to the individual comment as part of an "all comments" listings, which breaks in the "deleted page" case (It also impacts the case of a page with a large number of comments--if only from a sheer usability POV--because a user is now effectively forced to load all comments instead of just requesting what she's actually interested in-- and possibly even with "what she's interested in" being buried in a deep subthread somewhere, beyond the "load more comments" feature and nowhere to be found in what actually was loaded!). I mention this in a simple comment here rather than opening a formal "issue report", because I do not regard this as a true "bug" with the site that can be easily fixed or that even has truly significant impact. However, since (due to the vicissitudes of early LW1 history, with at least one major contributor having wiped his whole presence from the site!) there is actually quite a bit of early content that's impacted by this, it may be something to think about at a later time, for a more complete restoration of early LW history.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-21T11:03:08.078Z

I actually thought the "coalitional" part did deserve a mention, precisely because it is one of the few facets of the problem that we can just fight (which is not to say that coalitions don't have a social and formal role to play in any actual political system!) Again, I think Crick would also agree with this, and ISTM that he did grapple with these issues at a pretty deep level. If we're going to go beyond our traditional "no politics!" attitude, I really have to wonder why he's not considered a trusted reference here, on a par w/ the Sequences and whatever the latest AI textbook is.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-21T10:23:05.722Z

... I'll just briefly note for the benefit of others that this excerpt seems like the biggest crux and point of disagreement. ...

In tne interest of the general norm of "trying to identify cruxes and make them explicit", I'd like to endorse this - except that to me, the issue goes well beyond "human coalitions" and also encompasses many other things that would generally fall under the rubric of 'politics' in a broad sense - or for that matter, of 'ethics' or 'morality'! When people, plausibly, were 'politically' mindkilled by Duncan's Dragon Army proposal, this was not necessarily due to their belonging to an "anti-Duncan", "anti-rationality" or whatever-coalition; instead, the proposal itself may have been aversive to them in a rather deep sense, involving what they regarded as their basic values. This impacts the proposed solution as well, of course; it may not be sufficient to "actively fight back" a narrow coalitional instinct, but a need may arise for addressing "the political [or for that matter, moral, ethical etc.] aspects of things" at a somewhat deeper level, that goes beyond a conventional "arguments and evidence" structure to seek for 'cruxes' in our far more fundamental attitudes, and addresses them with meaningful and creative compromises.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-21T08:09:05.534Z

That this can be a place where people will actually put forth the effort to get the basic everywhere everyday flawed human communication bugs out of the picture, and do deliberate and intentional communication and collaborative truth seeking on a meaningfully higher level. ... Everything Scott said in that post rings true to me about people and populations in general. But the hope is that LessWrong is not just humans doing business as usual. The hope is that LessWrong is actually different.

Look, I hate to break the news to you, but just like Soylent Green, Less Wrong is people! Your goals and aspirations are extremely worthwhile and I entirely agree with them, but to whatever extent they succeed, it will NOT be because "LessWrong is not just humans doing business as usual"! Rather, it will be bdcause the very definition of "business as usual" - and, crucially, "politics as usual"! - will have been successfully modified and perfected to make it more in line with both human values (humaneness) as they actually exist out there, in the real world, and a general norm of truth seeking and deliberation (which is however, i claim, not a sufficient condition to achieving this goal, other 'norms of engagement' being just as important). This is what it actually means to "raise the sanity waterline"! Making us less human and perhaps more Clippy-like (that is, with the entirety of accepted discourse being "Hey, it looks like you might be having problem X! Would you like me to use advanced Bayesian inference techniques to help you assess this problem and provide you with a helpful, canned solution to it? [OK]/[CANCEL]") is not a sensible or feasible goal, and it is indeed somewhat puzzling that you as a CFAR instructor yourself do not immediately notice and engage with this important point.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T22:50:23.891Z

Ah, but who will argue for the "Alex's" who were genuinely made uncomfortable by the proposed norms of Dragon's Army - perhaps to the point of disregarding even some good arguments and/or evidence in favor of it - and who are now being conflated with horribly abusive people as a direct result of this LW2 post? Social discomfort can be a two-way street.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T22:23:01.304Z

I myself was wrong to engage with them as if their beliefs had cruxes that would respond to things like argument and evidence.

This is a fully-general-counterargument to any sort of involvement by people with even middling real-world concerns in LW2 - so if you mean to cite this remark approvingly as an example of how we should enforce our own standard of "perfectly rational" epistemic norms, I really have to oppose this. It is simply a fact about human psychology that "things like argument and evidence" are perhaps necessary but not sufficient to change people's minds about issues of morality or politics that they actually care about, in a deep sense! This is the whole reason why Bernard Crick developed his own list of political virtues which I cited earlier in this very comment section. We should be very careful about this, and not let non-central examples on the object level skew our thinking about these matters.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T21:59:06.309Z

Thank you Qiaochu_Yuan for this much-needed clarification! It seems kinda important to address this sort of ambiguity well before you start casually talking about how 'some views' ought to be considered unacceptable for the sake of our community. (--Thus, I think both habryka and Duncan have some good points in the debate about what sort of criticism should be allowed here, and what standards there should be for the 'meta' level of "criticizing critics" as wrongheaded, uncharitable or whatever.)

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T10:04:49.998Z

... in at least some ways, it's important to have Quirrells and Lucius Malfoys around on the side of LW's culture, and not just David Monroes and Dumbledores.

This is an interesting point - and, ISTM, a reason not to be too demanding about people coming to LW itself with a purely "good faith" attitude! To some extent, "bad faith" and even fights for dominance just come with the territory of Hobbesian social and political struggle - and if you care about "hav[ing] Quirrells and Lucius Malfoys" on our side, you're clearly making a point about politics as well, at least in the very broadest sense.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T08:56:27.594Z

I suspect they think that you're not being sufficiently polite toward those you're trying to throw out of the overton window

Actually, what I would say here is that "politeness" itself (and that's actually a pretty misleading term since we're dealing with fairly important issues of morality and ethics, not just shallow etiquette-- but whatever, let's go with it) entails that we should seek a clear understanding of what attitudes we're throwing out of the Overton window, and why, or out of what sort of specific concerns. There's nothing wrong whatsoever with considering "harsh criticism [that] might be seen as threatening" as being outside the Overton window, but whereas this makes a lot of sense when dealing with real-world based efforts like the Dragon Army group, or the various "rationalist Baugruppes" that seem to be springing up in some places, it feels quite silly to let the same attitude infect our response to "criticism" of Less Wrong as an online site, or of LessWrong 2 for that matter, or even of the "rationalist" community not as an actual community that might be physically manifested in some place, but as a general shared mindset.

When we say that "the behavior of the critics Duncan is replying to are [not] the sort of behavior we want/need to accept in our community", what do we actually mean by "behavior" and "community" here? Are we actually pointing out the real-world concerns inherent in "criticizing" an effort like Dragon Army in a harsh, unpolite and perhaps even threatening (if perhaps only in a political sense, such as by 'threatening' a loss of valued real-world allies!) way? Or are we using these terms in a metaphorical sense that could in some sense encompass everything we might "do" on the Internet as folks with a rationalist mindset? I see the very fact that it's not really "explicit who (or what) [we're] responding to" as a problem that needs to be addressed in some way, at least wrt. its broadest plausible implications-- even though I definitely understand the political benefits of understating such things!

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-19T22:21:02.477Z

I don't think the difference between "talking about internet stuff" and "talking about stuff that's happening IRL" has any meaningful relevance when it comes to standards of discourse.

Well, human psychology says that "stuff that's happening IRL" kinda has to play by its own rules. Online social clubs simply aren't treated the same by common sense 'etiquette' (much less common-sense morality!) as actual communities where people naturally have far higher stakes.

I don't want to carve out an exception that says "intellectual dishonesty and immature discourse are okay if it's a situation where you really care about something important,

If you think I'm advocating for willful dishonesty and immaturity, than you completely missed the point of what I was saying. Perhaps you are among those who intuitively associate "politics" or even "tribalism" with such vices (ignoring the obvious fact that a 'group house' itself is literally, inherently tribal - as in, defining a human "tribe"!) You may want to reference e.g. Bernard Crick's short work In Defense of Politics (often assigned in intro poli-sci courses as required reading!) for a very different POV indeed of what "political" even means. Far beyond the usual 'virtues of rationality', other virtues such as adaptability, compromise, creativity etc. --even humor! are inherently political.

The flip side of this, though, is that people will often disagree about what's intellectually dishonest or immature in the first place! Part of a productive attitude to contentious debate is an ability and inclination to look beyond these shallow attributions, to a more charitable view of even "very bad" arguments. Truth-seeking is OK and should always be a basic value, but it simply can't be any sort of all-encompassing goal, when we're dealing with real-world conmunities with all the attendant issues of those.

Comment by bogus on [deleted post] 2018-03-19T21:33:11.336Z

I think it's important to have public, common-knowledge deterrence of that sort of behavior. I think that part of what allowed it to flourish on LessWrong 1.0 is the absence of comments like my parenthetical, making it clear that that sort of thing is outside the Overton window

There is a very important distinction to be made here, between criticism of an online project like LessWrong itself or even LessWrong 2, where the natural focus is on loosely coordinating useful work to be performed "IRL" (the 'think globally, act locally' strategy) and people 'criticizing' a real-world, physical community where people are naturally defending against shared threats of bodily harm, and striving to foster a nurturing 'ecology' or environment. To put it as pithily as possible, the somewhat uncomfortable reality is that, psychologically, a real-world, physical community is _always_ a "safe space", no matter whether it is explicitly connoted as such or not, or whether its members intend it as such or not; and yes, this "safe space" characterization comes with all the usual 'political' implications about the acceptability of criticism - except that these implications are actually a lot more cogent here than in your average social club on Tumblr or whatever! I do apologize for resorting to contentious "political" or even "tribal" language which seems to be frowned upon by the new moderation guidelines, but no "guidelines" or rules of politeness could possibly help us escape the obvious fact that doing something physically, in the real world always comes with very real political consequences which, as such, need to be addressed via an attitude that's properly mindful and inclined to basic values such as compromise and adaptability-- no matter what the context!

Comment by bogus on Cryptography/Software Engineering Problem: How to make LW 1.0 logins work on LW 2.0 · 2018-03-19T20:18:57.815Z · LW · GW

Huh, apologies for not being available for 'realtime chat' then. I just tried this quickly with a JS console, but weirdly enough I don't see any message when pressing that button - all I see is the usual error message "user not found" popping up in the browser webview (This is probably an issue on my end, though - I'm not really familiar with how the browser console works). What I do see (though in the network view, not quite in the console) is the info being updated when I submit the "edit account" form, and I notice that the resulting object has an "email" property with the desired address as a string. (However, from quickly perusing the Meteor source code, it looks like it has all sorts of specialized functions on the server side for creating/updating/setting 'account email' data - e.g. it seems to keep track of 'verified' status and to also support multiple emails per user. I wonder if the problem is that the "edit account" 'flow' is not resulting in these functions being called? Or perhaps it's not providing data in the format they expect? Something to look into, perhaps. I'm not sure how LW2 itself changes what Meteor does by default here)

Comment by bogus on Cryptography/Software Engineering Problem: How to make LW 1.0 logins work on LW 2.0 · 2018-03-19T18:05:36.344Z · LW · GW

Um, yes I did? (The email does appear in my 'account' page, after all.) Anyway, this issue is not so critical to me that I need "real-time support" from the site devs or anything like that. I only really care to the extent that other users may be similarly affected (as seen, e.g. from recent discussions on LW1!). So if it turns out that this is not a generalized problem w/ the site that would also hit other people, I'd think it preferable to just wait until other work on LW2 is completed and perhaps revisit the issue at a later time.

Comment by bogus on Dating like a Pro · 2018-03-19T14:50:21.125Z · LW · GW

Aside from whpearson's point (which I broadly agree with), it's just a fact of life that most people are boring. And folks who literally pay for ordinary social interaction (seriously, that's what she's selling: Social Interaction As A Service!) are likely to be far more boring/awkward than average. A lot of dating success is simply "be less boring, and mske sure that you're aware of when you're boring someone to death, so you can course-correct". Perhaps it's just me, but I see this as fairly obvious.

Comment by bogus on Cryptography/Software Engineering Problem: How to make LW 1.0 logins work on LW 2.0 · 2018-03-19T14:11:22.427Z · LW · GW

Um, now there is a "reset password" link, but it does not work properly at least in my case. My recovery address from LW1 was not in the version of the database that was imported to Lesser Wrong, and apparently setting that address as an 'email' in the "edit account" page did not help, either - it is not seen by the "reset password" functionality as a recovery address associated with my user. Weird.

Comment by bogus on Cryptography/Software Engineering Problem: How to make LW 1.0 logins work on LW 2.0 · 2018-03-19T03:10:51.763Z · LW · GW

I do agree that as soon as you log in, we should strongly encourage the user to create a new password. I will try to implement that soon.

Was the "change password" page actually tested to work for users who have logged in with 'legacy' LW1 credentials? E.g. I notice that there's a textfield asking for my 'current' password on that page, and I have no idea how that would interact with your solution. I also edited the 'email' field in my user options, expecting it to set a 'recovery' address, but I have no idea if that worked properly. (I didn't get a 'verification' message at that email, whereas that happened right away when I added it on LW1.) All this makes me quite nervous about fiddling with my LW2 credentials at this time, either by 'changing' or 'resetting' them. I'd rather deal with a theoretically 'insecure' hashing function for a while.

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-18T19:18:30.200Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Do you plan to add support for the new-to-LW2 "log in with LW1 credentials" flow? It seems to need some special-cased client-side support, according to this post - I suppose you can check out the related commits on LW2 code for the details of how to make it work! (Logging in and participating on LW2 itself is still unbearably slow for lower-powered devices-- and I'm not willing to go through the whole prospect of having to change (or worse, "reset") my credentials there in order to make them usable on GreaterWrong-- at least, not unless I hear back from multiple users who have done this with no issues!)

Comment by bogus on Cryptography/Software Engineering Problem: How to make LW 1.0 logins work on LW 2.0 · 2018-03-18T15:24:37.408Z · LW · GW

This is insecure if LW1 hashes get leaked or were leaked at some point.

Isn't this vulnerability inherent in the whole "hashing passwords on the client" setup? (indeed, it seems to miss the whole point of hashing?) Or am I misunderstanding what Meteor does?

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-17T03:53:35.671Z · LW · GW

Indeed, it's working properly with the show=posts and show=comments URL parameters, and no content seems to be lost. Great news, but that was definitely non-obvious - thanks! (I'd naïvely assumed that if the individual chronological listings were available, that the combined listing would be built by searching for offset_posts and offset_comments such that offset_posts + offset_comments = offset, and the timestamps for the post at offset_posts and comment at offset_comments are as close as possible. Shouldn't require more than log(N) reqs in the worst case - far less than that typically. But perhaps there's some snag that makes this approach unworkable!)

Perhaps a notice should be added to the "combined" user pages to the effect that the 'Posts' and 'Comments' options may be preferable for some uses.

ETA: There seems to be some remaining edge cases around comments on deleted posts, or something like that. In LW1, you get a permlink to the comment from the user page, and can then browse the individual thread. Greater Wrong does not have a notion of viewing a single thread or anything similar, so it tries to get data about the post as a whole, fails, and clicking on the link to the post returns an error page. I have not investigated what LW2 does. This is a very minor issue overall of course. I mention it mostly because I'm wondering how it impacts preservation of e.g. the original discussions about the LW basilisk, which were on a now-deleted page.
(Yes, some comments - including e.g. Eliezer's initial reaction - were totally deleted, but many others were not! And yes, to be quite explicit about it, there are many popular misconceptions about the basilisk, and having these comments preserved is perhaps the one really effective way of addressing them. There was a very clear perception - from people who had actually read the original post! - of how silly it was for Roko to even come up with such an unlikely and contrived scenario, and then bring it up as something that might happen. Roko subsequently wiped his whole presence off the site - posts, comments and all; that he was such a major contributor in the early days is part of why this issue of accessing "comments to something that was deleted" comes up more often than people might expect otherwise!)

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-15T23:08:08.947Z · LW · GW

So it seems that I have to wait until I've been locked out of lw1.0 and only then I can try if I can log into lw2.0 ...

Good catch. It would make sense to keep some version of LW1.0 running for a while even after the "final import" is done, purely for the sake of supporting existing users in migrating to LW2. However, I understand that the reddit-derived LW1 code is practically unmaintained by now, so Trike (the folks who host LW1) aren't willing to keep it going for much longer. This means that the site devs' hands are somewhat tied at this point and the status quo is not really tenable.

Updating firefox seems to require (after several layers of depencies) updating udev - which requires updating kernel or it will might make the system unbootable.

Kernel updates are relatively foolproof, unless you did something fancy like compiling a patched version with support for some sort of custom hardware. And you can probably install a newer version alongside the old, without updating udev, so you can get a choice at boot and have a way to ensure that the new version works before you make your system reliant on it. Even if you can't in fact do this (because the newer kernels turn out to be incompatible with some feature of the existing system, like old udev), all you really need is a "live" boot disk to make sure that your hardware plays nice with the new kernel - everything else should be recoverable.

BTW, it's only the very latest versions of Firefox that break all old-style addons. IIRC, 52esr still supports them and is relatively current.

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-15T04:14:59.632Z · LW · GW

Are you saying that Greater Wrong is currently requesting the whole 1000 comments history when you go to a user page and browse the user history? If so, I think you should get in contact with the Greater Wrong dev(s) and work on a solution that can work with the current pagination on that site. In practice, making sure that full comment history works on Greater Wrong is probably the easiest and quickest way to avert the perception of a regression from what LW1 makes available. Having a "proper" user history with monthly listings, etc. is a nice-to-have of course, but it does not strike me as critical.

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-15T03:55:23.521Z · LW · GW

...error message "User not found" appears...

This is expected behavior if the recovery email address was not set in the user data LW2 imported from LW1 back in September, or whatever - LW2 simply doesn't know about that email address at the moment! The LW2 devs have promised a "final import" of LW1 data, which should fix this sort of issue (again, assuming that you have set your email here; if you haven't done this yet, you should do it right now, and follow the instructions in the automated email LW1 sends you to verify that you control that address!); though of course it would be nice to have proper confirmation of this. Again, just my 2¢.

(The version of Firefox you mention is positively ancient, BTW - are you sure that you can't update software on that GNU/Linux computer? It should be possible to do so without impacting system requirements much.)

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-14T06:33:08.813Z · LW · GW

You should set your recovery email here on LW1 (if you haven't done so already), so that it has a chance of being part of the previously-announced "final import" of LW1 data; assuming that this occurs successfully, you'll then be able to "reset your password" on LW2 (or, more conveniently for you, on GreaterWrong) using that email address and log in there. Just my 2¢ here, since I'm not a LW2 developer.
(It would sure be nice if we had more participation from the devs here, since after all we're thinking about a major migration and there are still unresolved issues with the new site, as e.g. my toplevel comment in this thread shows! I'm not at all opposed to the migration per se - especially since we now have GreaterWrong! - but I would like to see some commitment from them that meaningful efforts will be made to address these issues)

Added: I just checked and apparently "reset password" is not available on GreaterWrong, only on LesserWrong - and it seems to rely on JavaScript. LW2 devs, could you provide a simple JS-free page for the "password reset" functionality, so that GW can link to it and users on e.g. old computers or cheap mobile devices or with accessibility needs (which are often exacerbated by JS-heavy, 'modern' web designs) can use this function of the site? Alternately, could you enable its use from GreaterWrong itself?

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-12T20:34:17.155Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure that I understand your question. It is obviously an annoyance, and something that high-karma LW1 users may specifically want to be aware of, since they're far more likely to be affected by it. There are users on the site with far more impressive commenting histories and/or karma scores than mine, and I think the assessment of whether this bug is a 'blocking' issue should be left to these users.

Comment by bogus on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-12T10:55:58.010Z · LW · GW

There is an annoying bug/limitation on the new site, in that users who have posted more than 1000 comments (including yours truly, but this is affecting other prolific commenters to a far greater extent of course) cannot access their full commenting history, albeit they can here on (Tested on, but I assume that the same limit would apply on lesserwrong.) The comments do exist on the site, attached to discussions (albeit a similar issue may exist, affecting discussions with more than 1000 comments or so). This is annoying because I do want my commenting history to be easily accessible in full, and the same is likely true of many other users.

Comment by bogus on Open thread, January 29 - ∞ · 2018-01-29T20:37:35.058Z · LW · GW

Thanks for adding this, then! Personally, I'm just waiting to create an account/log in there until the 'final' LW-importation goes through. (Users who were late setting the e-mails to their accounts here did not have these imported to LW2 initially, which can lead to all sorts of problems. But a new importation from LW's updated user list can fix this - or maybe it can't, but then there's no loss in just creating a new user!)

It would be nice to have more than just a single page of 'new' content, since as is, it can even be hard to check out all recent posts from the past few days, or whatever. It's great that the archive is available though. (Similarly, it would be great if we could access more of a user's posting and commenting history directly from their user page. On LW and LW2, you can see everything that a user has posted to the site simply by browsing from the userpage, and many LW users do rely on this feature as a de-facto 'index' of what they've contributed here.)

Comment by bogus on Open thread, January 29 - ∞ · 2018-01-29T15:44:07.241Z · LW · GW

There is an alternative interface to the new site at Greater Wrong. It has a few problems (namely, it's hard to access archived content; all you get is a day to day listing of posts) but compared to Lesser Wrong it's at least usable. LW2 should support it officially in addition to the Lesser Wrong website, and perhaps even add features like logging in and posting content through it.

Comment by bogus on Open thread, October 30 - November 5, 2017 · 2017-11-10T03:59:09.574Z · LW · GW

The "first release" of LessWrong is, well, this site. What's happening with LW 2.0 is actually called "introducing regressions", and I don't think the startup folks would endorse that. The combination of a full rewrite-from-scratch and a stringent deadline - the switchover was originally supposed to happen around this time, as far as I understand, albeit it has likely been postponed by now - is considered especially unwise.

Hopefully the LesserWrong folks can come up with something that's genuinely usable - there are quite a few things I do like about the new site. But the challenges are just as real.

Comment by bogus on Open thread, October 30 - November 5, 2017 · 2017-11-09T18:31:56.074Z · LW · GW

I think I know what you mean - the site has recently become just barely usable on the simplest of its pages. But as soon as you do something that happens to poke the "JavaScript VM" the wrong way (crazy things like, idk, looking at recent postings by date, viewing a user's recent contributions to the site, or even just opening a popular post w/ lots of comments!), it just grinds to a halt. It's maddening.

Comment by bogus on Open thread, October 30 - November 5, 2017 · 2017-11-07T19:32:03.212Z · LW · GW

I think you're right in a way, but it's definitely a problem. LW 1.0 is easily usable on a mobile internet device (a tablet or even a phone!). LW 0.2 (sorry, I meant "2.0"!) is horribly sluggish even on a fairly reasonable desktop. How can we honestly expect such a site to ever become popular among the "cool kids" of today? (And come to think of it, plenty of "cool kids" read, say, Scott's blog, and that's a lot closer to LW 1.0 than to the newer version of the site - it certainly performs reasonably!)

Comment by bogus on Open thread, October 30 - November 5, 2017 · 2017-11-07T06:25:20.029Z · LW · GW

an acknowledgement that it's a fundamentally combative activity, and accepted as a necessity for goodness

This is why they should be called the "Trolling Regiment" or "Legion of Trolls". (And yes, this is a serious proposal!) Yes, they're supposed to be trolling for goodness, but we all know that, right? And of course every troll pursues their own personal version of "goodness" as they see it!

Comment by bogus on Open thread, October 30 - November 5, 2017 · 2017-11-07T06:20:28.294Z · LW · GW

The biggest "issue" with LesserWrong right now is not whatever "features" are missing; it's that performance on that website sucks, to the point of making it quite simply unusable. It feels like LW 0.2, not LW 2.0 - it's even a lot worse than Arbital, which is hardly a high-performing website itself! The way I see it, everything else is secondary - unless this situation is improved well before the vote, I can only assume that lots of people will be voting against the merge, since LW-as-we-know-it would be dead either way, and the "against" option at least keeps archives easily accessible!

For the record, this is not what I, or even most of us (or so I would imagine) actually want! We want a usable LesserWrong, of course. But will we get it?

Comment by bogus on Social Insight: Status Exchange: When an Insult Is a Compliment, When a Compliment Is an Insult · 2017-08-27T16:56:54.194Z · LW · GW

The interesting thing when it comes to compliments specifically is that both 'honest assessment' and 'status negotiation' are part of the interaction. You can even use this ambiguity in a ploy to gain status by "qualifying", i.e. when you do compliment someone, make sure that it does reflect some good quality of them, and keep it very low-tone. Very few people will feel insulted bh such a move, but by understating you get a free boost in status. I suppose that many sorts of everyday flattery work pretty much the other way around, in that you're giving up some perceived status to persuade someone about what qualities might make them impressive, and how you could help them be even more iimpressive!

Comment by bogus on Social Insight: When a Lie Is Not a Lie; When a Truth Is Not a Truth - Pt. 2 · 2017-08-16T07:49:10.454Z · LW · GW

Another 'old classic' by esr, that's quite related to Eliezer's point.

Comment by bogus on Social Insight: When a Lie Is Not a Lie; When a Truth Is Not a Truth - Pt. 2 · 2017-08-16T07:02:50.592Z · LW · GW

I suspect that the real skill is knowing when the mating^H^H^H^H^H^H signaling dance is worth the effort. Among your fellow geniuses at the IAS? That's a clear 'yes' even if emulating monkey-level neural circuitry does require some effort. In politically-relevant settings as mentioned in the OP? That's another 'yes'. However there are many, many environments where being the top monkey gives you nothing except more mediocrity!

Comment by bogus on Social Insight: When a Lie Is Not a Lie; When a Truth Is Not a Truth - Pt. 2 · 2017-08-16T06:41:06.222Z · LW · GW

I agree. I also like your username!

Comment by bogus on Social Insight: When a Lie Is Not a Lie; When a Truth Is Not a Truth - Pt. 2 · 2017-08-16T06:38:56.673Z · LW · GW

I for one didn't find issue with the "mood" of OP's post. Of course, the content is not exactly news either - we all are familiar with the 'X is not about Y' pattern! But it's nice to see a well-written reminder of this every once in a while.

Comment by bogus on Book Review: Mathematics for Computer Science (Suggestion for MIRI Research Guide) · 2017-07-23T21:55:02.183Z · LW · GW

More generally, say we want to prove a theorem that looks something like "If A, then B has property C." You start at A and, appealing to the definition of C, show that B has it. There's probably some cleverness involved in doing so, but you start at the obvious place (A), end in the obvious place (B satisfies the definition of C), and don't rely on any crazy, seemingly-unrelated insights. Let's call this sort of proof mundane.

There is a virtue in mundane proofs: a smart reader can usually generate them after they read the theorem but before they read its proof. Doing is beneficial, since proof-generating makes the theorem more memorable. It also gives the reader practice building intuition by playing around with the mathematical objects and helps them improve their proofwriting by comparing their output to a maximally refined proof.

On the end of the spectrum opposing mundane is witchcraft. Proofs that use witchcraft typically have a step where you demonstrate you're as ingenious as Pascal by having a seemingly-unrelated insight that makes everything easier. Notice that, even if you are as ingenious as Pascal, you won't necessarily be able to generate these insights quickly enough to get through the text at any reasonable pace.

I'm skeptical that this is a huge problem in practice,and my hunch is that this is mostly a matter of the original proof being badly conveyed. In the case of Pascal ingenuious proof of the gambler's ruin, what the exposition in MCS isn't conveying clearly enough is that we're essentially defining a "game" (or more subtly, a valuation) as f([gambler's capital]) that is fair in the expectation sense, and, more importantly, results in "ruin" or "win" exactly when the original game does. If you start with a proof of this statement, you're back in the familiar pattern of "If A, then B has property C". We've just inserted a simple step of "Actually, we'll just need to show that B' has property C, and then B does too", which is mundane, because it just follows from what C is like!

The point though is that not all expositions make this obvious enough; some just focus on proofs that are "mundane" in your original sense, but this too is a kind of "dumbing down" and lack of mathematical maturity.

Comment by bogus on Against lone wolf self-improvement · 2017-07-09T00:50:08.541Z · LW · GW

Compared to any "anti-akrasia technique" ever proposed on LW or adjacent self-help blogs, joining a class works ridiculously well. You don't need constant willpower: just show up on time and you'll be carried along.

Hahahaha, this is so funny. You've never attended a seriously challenging class your entire life, I take it? There are a lot of topics/subjects that there's no feasible way to learn successfully, other than banging your head against them over and over until they finally sink in. This is painful in a quite literal way, and doing it with any real consistency calls for willpower and anti-akrasia techniques.

And yes, joining a class may even be suboptimal compared to just learning some thing like that on your own. A class is one-size-fits-all; they'll fully expect you to 'grok' something on the first try, and then just move on to some other thing. If your willpower is strong enough to keep up with that pace you can do fine, otherwise you'll just get left in the dust. This is hardly a solution to willpower problems!

Comment by bogus on What useless things did you understand recently? · 2017-07-04T05:40:48.634Z · LW · GW

Please do not link to NSFW tentacle-porn without warning!

Comment by bogus on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-29T01:28:31.666Z · LW · GW

Bitcoin is a settlement network, used for periodic netting of positions. The fact that settlement is primarily used for direct payment now is chiefly due to the fact it is easy to do

I'm not sure that there's any real distinction between "direct payment" and "settlement". For that matter, while BTC may in fact be strictly preferable to physical/paper-based settlement in resource use (though even then I'm not sure that the difference is that great!), that's rather small consolation given the extent to which electronic settlement is used today. (In fact, contrary to what's often asserted, there seems no real difference between this sort of electronic settlement and what some people call a "private, trusted blockchain"; the latter is therefore not a very meaningful notion!)

Comment by bogus on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-28T22:12:34.184Z · LW · GW

So Bitcoin is a couple of orders of magnitude short of overtaking banking.

Of course, BTC is also many orders of magnitude short of banking in the volume of trusted transactions it enables - this is hardly an apples-to-apples comparison! A single BTC transaction is actually rather economically costly, and this will only become more fully apparent to BTC users over time, as the current block-creation subsidy keeps dwindling further.

Now don't get me wrong, BTC and other crypto-currencies are still interesting as a heroic effort to establish decentralized trust and enable transfers of value in problematic settings, such that a conventional financial system is unavailable. But the amount of hype that surrounds them is rather extreme and far from justified AFAICT.

(In the long run, there is some chance that we'll come up with forms of automated "proof of work" that have beneficial side-effects, such as solving instances of interesting NP-hard problems. If so, this might reduce the collective cost of using crypto-currencies significantly, maybe even make them competitive with the traditional banking system! In fact, a prime example of this exists already although the chosen problem is little more than a mere curiosity. Clearly, we need a better characterization of what problems make for a good crypto-currency target!)

Comment by bogus on Self-conscious ideology · 2017-06-28T19:22:37.423Z · LW · GW

The main idea is that the world is built on logic and harmony which can be understood by an individual human mind. It was born from religious mysticism (Descartes, Leibniz)

Erm, Pythagoras was around a lot earlier than the likes of Descartes or Leibniz. Even the competing ideas that "the world is built on chance" or else that "all understanding is social" (or, to put it another way, "man is the measure of all things") are of comparable antiquity and not really more 'sophisticated' in any relevant way - except perhaps in an overly literal sense, being more conducive to "sophistry"!

Comment by bogus on Self-modification as a game theory problem · 2017-06-27T21:33:45.107Z · LW · GW

I think you need verifiable pre-commitment, not just communication - in a free-market economy, enforced property rights basically function as such a pre-commitment mechanism. Where pre-commitment (including property right enforcement) is imperfect, only a constrained optimum can be reached, since any counterparty has to assume ex-ante that the agent will exploit the lack of precommitment. Imperfect information disclosure has similar effects, however in that case one has to "assume the worst" about what information the agent has; the deal must be altered accordingly, and this generally comes at a cost in efficiency.

Comment by bogus on Open thread, June. 19 - June. 25, 2017 · 2017-06-27T01:21:47.971Z · LW · GW

the programs that people tend to use for satisfying them become less physical and more social in nature: society in effect reserves its highest rewards for those most practiced in social, rather than physical, cognition. The essay implies that he regards this as being, in at least some sense, contingent: in principle, society could be set up so that physical cognition played a greater role in the satisfaction of higher Maslow-needs

It seems hard to envision a society wherein belonging and esteem could be satisfied via physical cognition, at least until we can make building an AIBO pet dog robot in one's garage a common enough pasttime. So, the only realistic possibility for a meaningful change is in how self-actualization is pursued. But is it actually true that "social" paths to self-actualization are less collectively desirable than "physical" paths to the same?
Well, for a start, there are certainly "fine things in life" that are best understood in social terms; for a handy example that fits squarely in the realm of art, consider so-called "literary" fiction. Now I obviously cannot claim that writing literary fiction could ever be considered an "achievement" of the purest sort (in my preferred sense), since its value is not something that can be generally assessed in any widely-agreed upon way. And yet, it is certainly the case that, to the extent that works of literary fiction are widely considered to be valuable accomplishments, this is due to what they imply about the social universe, as opposed to the physical one!

The belief that I am implicitly denying here seems to be, as quoted directly from the parent comment: "To effectively create value requires skill in analytical/"near-mode" thinking" (emphasis added). And that's certainly true in many cases (it's also true, as you rightly point out, that many of the "finer things in life" are far from entirely social!) but not in general. This matters here, because it seems to lead you to incorrect conclusions about what exactly makes "self-actualization" value-creating and collectively desirable. It's not the absence of "social cognition" in its entirety but rather, of a few undesirable aspects of social interaction that are rather more pervasive at the level of "esteem" and "belonging". Vassar's essay is even quite clear that these aspects exist, and are important to his point!

Comment by bogus on Open thread, June. 19 - June. 25, 2017 · 2017-06-24T11:35:36.005Z · LW · GW

For some reason, it's not overly surprising to me that both Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman would directly endorse physical cognition - what with them being natural philosophers/physicists. It's less clear however that such "physical cognition" is directly relevant to e.g. music composition, except inasmuch as both physics and music composition are linked to self-actualization - as opposed to 'mere' love, belonging and self-esteem, which (if pursued in excess, due to a lack of "self-actualizing" pursuits) might "lead[] to increased unethical behavior" or "produce anti-social narcissism" according to the essay you link to.